Sunday, September 23, 2007

Slow Boat from Canada

I've run out of some of my Hankettes supplies.

I placed my last order back in May. I know sometimes there was a lead time of a four to six weeks, so I always worked with plenty of time buffered in.

They didn't have the flannel to do the hankies. There was delay.

Then the machine needed repairs.

They bought a second machine to keep up with the orders.

Then finally I got the message that said the order was filled and it would be shipped.

When the order did not arrive in a few days I asked for when it was shipped.

Then I got a message that said it was shipped by a different method than they usually did.

I waited, and waited, and waited. When still no box arrived I emailed, "Where is my order?"

Then a message came to clarify that when they said "International" they meant "International via sea freight". Instead of the 10 to 16 days I expected -- which was instead of the normal three to five days -- it was now going to take four to six WEEKS!

Weeks!

I would have fallen off my chair, if not for the fact that I was standing.

The person who usually did the despatch was busy and someone else took the box to the post office and opted for the wrong service.

I felt a little queasy in the stomach. I cannot afford for the goods not to arrive. There are customers who want to buy hankies and they are not getting them. This is bad customer service.

On one hand I am really pleased for Hankettes that they are doing so well that orders are taking weeks instead of days to fill. That means, after pioneering a product for more than ten years, people are finally getting the idea about using reusable organic cotton hankies instead of single-use tissue paper usually made from virgin pulp.

On the other I feel terrible that I have to disappoint customers.

Ironically I had previously enquired about using sea freight instead of air freight thinking of the air miles. This would require more careful logistical planning, but if we could save on "hankie miles", then why not?

But I was told they preferred to send things out to me by air. It's like that with us smaller retailers. Unless we can fill a container load with goods, the suppliers, the forwarding agents and everyone else in between prefer to deal with air instead of sea cargo.

Looking on the bright side, this would give us a better idea of the implications of shipping rather than flying and we can add to our green credentials by opting for the former if we can work out the issues with payment (that's another story).

Still, we can only learn from our mistakes.

Back to Organic-Ally.

No comments: