Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hello From the Apple Store!

Nothing to drink, the chatter of Apple buyers for music. I am so glad it's Saturday, I cannot tell you! It is (by my reckoning) the last day of the week, and, thus, with a new week I have an expectation of New Luck. Tomorrow (the beginning of a happy new week) I shall post a happy post (finally) about my incredibly lovely experience in Linda Ethier's Lost Wax class--complete with photos. But today, today I shall indulge myself in one last ranting bout of piteous whine. Topics? Department stores (and other corporately mired clients), and breakage (yes, the Apple Store at the Mall of Georgia ties into the breakage part of the story...).

I was very excited after doing the Dallas Finds show in January that I picked up a department store for a customer. It was a bit daunting (well, more than a bit) to go through their vendor requirement hoops, but I did with an eye to a bright and profitable joint future. The first thing I had to do was to research, acquire, and incorporate into my packing and shipping procedures real UPC codes (not just any barcodes, but real registered individually purchased codes--one for each piece of a different style or color). It was time-consuming, but not too expensive, and I stepped up to the plate.

Another "requirement" for doing business with this customer was that I use an electronic document interface (EDI) system to receive PO's, send advance shipping notifications, send invoices, and receive electronic deposits for payments. The EDI system is a technological dinosaur. It is large, slow, has very big teeth, and is expensive to feed. I balked, and I was lucky: Because they were used to dealing with other dinosaurs (sloooow moving) I was given 90 days to implement the EDI system so I had a little time to evaluate them as a client and to see if the volume of work they were going to order would merit the volume of work they were going to require.

The initial order was nice, but not handstand worthy. A subsequent order (really, the addition of another store to stock the same basic pieces as the other three stores) was nice, but I still wasn't overwhelmed. Part of my reticence in dealing with them came about because it was the Vice President of Home Furnishings and the Director of the Tabletop division who were so excited about carrying my work, but the sales rep assigned to take the order from me, interact with me, and send me ongoing orders was less-than-enthusiastic about it. Call me spoiled, but I like working with people who like my work and see the value in it. He eyed it dubiously and yawned. I bristled.

(Please forgive the length and ramble of the post, I have a lot built up and also took a painkiller for my leg so I'm a bit woozy.) Okay, I ship the first order out. It is comprised of 33 pieces split up between two PO's for three stores--one PO for one store through one distribution center and the other PO for two stores through another distribution center. Each of the three stores got 11 pieces in identical sets of three boxes each--same size, same weight, etc. Each store was sent two 12" bowls, two long rectangular platters, two 10" square plates, and two 8" square plates. So far so good, right? Oh heck no!

Payment came for the invoice on the PO for the two stores. They claimed that the shipment was short one bowl, one long rectangular platter, one 10" square plate, and one 8" square plate and, thus, their payment in commensurately short. I look into it and discover that I had inadvertently not put one of the tracking numbers for the shipment on the invoice. I apologized, and sent the correct documentation. I also point out that the two bowls, two rectangular platters, and four square plates were all shipped in the same box for each store so it was physically impossible for an odd number of pieces to be missing--they were either short 0 or 2--they couldn't be short one of each.

A month later I get a form letter telling me they looked into my dispute of the chargeback and, they're sorry, I'm still wrong, the shipment was short, they're not going to pay me. I call. I explain verbally. I fax my documentation again and provide further backup for my assertion that each store got the exact same pieces by showing them the documented weights of each of the three boxes for each of the three stores (nine boxes total in sets of three with identical sizes and weights ERGO identical contents!). It was NOT POSSIBLE for them to be short 50% of the contents of one box and have the box come out weighing the same as the other two boxes in the shipment with identical contents.

Another two weeks pass and today I got another form letter telling me they're sorry, I'm still wrong, they're still not paying. I'm done. I will not be implementing the EDI system. I will not be accepting anymore PO's from them. I WILL be writing to the VP, the Director AND my buyer and letting me know how disappointing my experience with them was.

Now about the Apple Store. On this blog recently there has been much expression of the sentiment that I need to Slow Down. Maybe the universe enforcing that edict through the sleeping deerhound whom I tripped over and broke my leg earlier in the week. If that is the case, the universe is still talking to the deerhound because today when she was heading outside for her morning ablutions she caught her leg in my laptop's power cord and pulled the laptop off the coffee table onto the floor with a thud. It died with a whimper--the battery was dead and the power cord connection (that I had replaced a couple of months ago) broke (again) so the laptop wouldn't boot up anymore (again). Something in the display was also broken and the screen is very dim. Clearly the universe thought I just wasn't working to capacity with my current laptop.

So now I sit at the Apple Store in the Mall of Georgia cloning my old laptop onto new laptop with the help of a borrowed battery. There are three minutes (approx) left in the exchange process (of an hour and a half) and their battery is showing almost dead (redlining). My fingers are crossed that I get everything across!!


Anonymous said...

Oh, dear. Please allow me to indulge in another saying, "When it rains, it pours." I normally would say, "Out of chaos come harmony." However, I think my sayings have worn out their welcome.

Be well.
Nancy Goodenough

Bill said...

Talk to Bridget about the joys of doggie depredations on laptops...

Douglas said...

I am so sorry about your experience with the Ark company. Was it one of the Tulsa stores? If so Karen said she can check into it for you. We think we know the store and she has several friends in management here in Tulsa. Send us a private email and if we can help we will.


PS Glad your leg and toes are better.