Here's the 411.
I order an item from a catalog brand within a Catalog Holding Company. As you remember, a Catalog Holding Company is a brand that owns 3+ catalog companies. This Catalog Holding Company is one that the 40% of our catalog-centric audience absolutely adores. Conferences and Trade Journalists and Vendors love this Catalog Holding Company. Many of you have purchased from this company. You probably know somebody who works for the Catalog Holding Company.
I ordered the item on August 9.
The item was "not available", but was backordered and would be available in early September.
Amazon has comparable items that are available via Prime and are cheaper and could be delivered to my remote rural home within 48 hours.
Like an idiot, I stay loyal to the Catalog Holding Company. I defend the industry. It's hard to help an industry if you choose Amazon, right?
On September 7, I receive an email (#automation) telling me that my item shipped.
The item will arrive in 5 to 9 business days.
What is this, 1981? 5 to 9 business days?
Five business days pass. My wife says "where's the item?". I get crabby ... "THEY SAID 5 TO 9 BUSINESS DAYS, GIVE THEM 9 BUSINESS DAYS!!!!". Think about this ... I'm getting crabby with my wife, who is on my side ... and I am defending a Catalog Holding Company who couldn't care less about me. #priorities
Ten business days pass.
Fourteen business days pass.
I decide that it might be a good idea to call the Catalog Holding Company. I check the tracking number. FedEx says that SHIPPING INFORMATION WAS SENT TO FEDEX ON AUGUST 31. That's it. No shipment, no receipt of product, nothing.
I visit the website of the Brand owned by the Catalog Holding Company.
No live chat.
I know, I know, it's too much to expect of a Catalog Holding Company to offer technology that went mainstream during the Bush Administration.
I call the 1-800 number of the Catalog Holding Company.
The voice on the other end is bathed in silence. The kind of silence that suggests she is sitting in her living room watching ESPN. I provide my order number. She tells me, and I quote ... "MY INTERNET ISN'T WORKING PROPERLY, SO I CANNOT PULL UP YOUR ORDER NUMBER RIGHT NOW".
A minute passes.
"THERE'S YOUR ORDER! YOU JUST NEED TO LOOK AT THE TRACKING NUMBER. HERE'S YOUR TRACKING NUMBER."
She reads me the tracking number.
I already know the tracking number! I've been tracking nothing for fourteen business days.
I ask the person on the other end of the phone to look at the status of the item.
She says "THAT DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT."
I tell her "I agree"!!!
She says "WELL JUST WAIT A FEW DAYS AND IT WILL COME".
I tell her that I've waited 14 business days.
She hung up on me!
I go back to the website, and I type a message to customer service. I use up my 200 characters (or whatever the quantity was) pretty fast. I describe that I haven't received my item, that the tracking number shows that no item has been shipped, and that the customer service rep had internet problems and then hung up on me.
That was three business days ago.
No response from the Catalog Holding Company.
The Catalog Holding Company has had my $90.94 since September 7. Good for them.
Here's one of the comments I frequently get from CEOs and VPs at catalog brands.
- "It's just too hard to compete against Amazon, sales declines are not our fault."
Sales declines are ENTIRELY our fault.
On what planet should a customer sit for two months waiting for an item to ship, dealing with non-stop rampant incompetence, when Amazon can flawlessly deliver an item in a few hours in an urban environment and within 48 hours in a rural environment?
Meanwhile, my $90 has been split between vendors and the Catalog Holding Company.
- The paper rep will get paid in the future (because catalogers measure demand and not net sales).
- The printer will get paid in the future (because catalogers measure demand and not net sales).
- The USPS will get paid in the future (because catalogers measure demand and not net sales).
- The merge/purge vendor will get paid in the future (because catalogers measure demand and not net sales).
The Catalog Holding Company will not get paid. I will eventually obtain my refund.
But the Catalog Holding Company will keep sending me catalogs, treating me as a "hotline" customer because I have $90 of demand and $0 of net sales. This is not the way to run a profitable business, and you all know it. This company will spend $30 in the next three years cross-marketing me across their brands, but I won't spend a penny.
Friends, I am tired. I get feedback from you ... "please demonstrate that you are on our side that you love the catalog industry and are trying to help us". But being on the side of a Catalog Holding Company means nothing when our industry cannot execute the simple shipment of one item within an eight week window.
We have vendors who tell catalogers that all they have to do is "target the reactivated buyer with website activity, and then surgically offer discounts/promotions to 'win-back' the customer". Why in the name of Gary Comer should we offer discounts/promotions to 'win-back' a customer, when we can avoid the nonsense I went through on this order from a beloved Catalog Holding Company by simply executing the order correctly, from start-to-finish?
Why does it take 5-9 business days to ship an item, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why did you fail to execute delivery of the order, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why did your customer service rep not have reliable internet access, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why did your customer service rep hang up on me, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why don't you have live chat, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why don't you respond to customers who respond with a customer service request on your website, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why did you take my money but never deliver my item, dear Catalog Holding Company?
Why do you complain, dear Catalog Holding Company, that Amazon is wiping out your business?
This, my friends, contributes to the reason why a 38 year old shopper in Topeka picks e-commerce brands over a Catalog Holding Company. This particular Catalog Holding Company simply cannot compete in a modern marketplace. It simply does not matter how well this "brand" executes marketing tactics in a #relevant, #engaging, #personalized manner. Marketing does not matter when execution is poor.
Thoughts? Send them along at email@example.com.