CAUTION: Rant to follow
I’m an accountant, I’m not sure if I’ve said that enough, and quite frankly it doesn’t count for much right now, but you would think that would make me a good business person. It doesn’t. Not for my own business anyway.
I know all about fixed costs and variable costs and overheads and cost allocation and margin. I do not apply any of that to my pricing. I work out approximately what my products cost me in raw materials, I add on GST and round it by a few cents to a nice even number. Yes, I sell my stuff at cost price.
Why? Because I’m never going to be rich making concrete in my garage or doing crochet on my couch. I’m never going to be rich at all, because I’m not wired that way. All I need is enough money for shoes and trips to see my sister on the Gold Coast. Shit, if I can buy shoes while I’m on the Gold Coast, that is even better. Also, if I charged my qualified accountant hourly rate, one of those concrete marble candles that people um and ah about paying $20 for, would cost about $220.
Since finishing my last contract six weeks ago, I’ve lost the income with which to buy shoes and take trips to the GC, so the concrete, the crochet and the candles, they’re a sanity check for me. I’m prone to depression and if I have a bit of routine and I stay busy, I can keep the blackness at bay. Mostly.
We’re moving house this weekend, and will be houseless for a while, so I’ll be bunking in with my parents for six months or so, and I am more than mildly excited about that, because they are the best flatties ever.
There is no space to make a mess, atleast without the supervision of three cats and the flatties, so there’ll be no concrete or candles. I’ve been feeling a bit sad about it, and trying to think of a way that I can keep creating, then I get this email:
I got a few of these every week when I had the online clothing store, and that’s one of the reasons I gave up, couldn’t handle the dickheads. Particularly the dickheads who would try and get a refund on the $20 top that they bought from the Bargain Bin that had a landed cost of $60 and then tell me that they would go to the media about me ripping them off.
Now look, I obviously courier my stuff. I use Pass The Parcel, because I had too many breakages and missing parcels with NZ Couriers, and NZ Post is too expensive. I wrap the items in bubble wrap – lots of it (and that shit ain’t cheap), and then pack newspaper in and around the items, then I stick FRAGILE stickers all over the box. I drive my parcels to the courier depot (to reduce handling by courier drivers) and every time I say “these are fragile, will these FRAGILE stickers suffice?” and every time the incredibly bored looking person behind the counter says “yes, that will be fine”.
Shit happens, and inevitably there are breakages – it’s concrete, but when the parcel arrives it’s obvious that I have done everything that I can to mitigate the risk. So why be a dick about it? Why send me a shitty email inferring that I smashed your order to smithereens and then paid $15 in postage to send it to you.
Try this on for size:
My order arrived today – thank you. Unfortunately the items are broken. I have attached some pics for you. Does your courier provider offer you compensation for breakages? I really love your stuff, and some replacements would be great if you have them.
I would have replied with:
“Hello Normal Human
I am so sorry that your items are broken, that really sux ass. I’ll process a refund for you, as unfortunately I’ve sold out of those items.
My apologies again
Fellow Normal Human”
To add insult to injury, I called Pass the Parcel. The process is this: The recipient (who is clearly the agreeable and cooperative type), needs to call Pass the Parcel and arrange for a driver to come and pick up her order, with ALL the original packaging and then the powers that be at Pass the Parcel will decide whether or not they’ll reimburse me for the fact that their driver threw the parcel from the road side to the recipient’s front door.
As a small business, this is the shit that you put up with all the time. If you’re a small business you’re probably too worried about losing customers to post something like this, so this one is for you – I feel you. And if you’re the kind of asshole that writes shitty emails like this to small business emails, it costs nothing to be kind.