This photo I took has nothing to do with this post, it just makes me happy. Taken at the foot of the butte near Badlands Ministries near Medora, ND.
I just had one of the most difficult sales ever, and it has me wondering if I should be offering International sales for breakable items.
In late February I made a sale of a glass pedestal tray to someone in Australia. Wow, She paid $53.75 for shipping. I think I missed changing the shipping on this item when shipping costs went up in January. So it cost me $55.91 not considering packaging, etc. I carefully bubble-wrapped it and sent it out. I had contact with the buyer. She wanted to know how long it would take because she was buying it for her wedding in April. I told her about 2 weeks, but hopefully sooner. I live in rural, upper midwest of the United States. Mail is slow around here. It took 2 days just to get to Chicago.
One week into it, there was no update on the USPS site about where it was, but it was still early. However I received a message asking about why it hasn’t arrived. Knowing we had discussed that it could take 2 weeks, I responded nicely, but casually. My mistake. I then received three nasty, mean messages right in a row…calling me a Fraud, using capital letters, etc. Nope, I do not have thick skin. I even let a tear or two slide down my face when my 15 year old read the messages and promptly got up to give me a hug without saying a word. Those notes really hurt.
I pride myself in good customer service. Doing what I say I am going to do, and going beyond that if possible. I know there are people out there that are Frauds, take advantage of the system, and try to take you, but it was only a week later, I had communicated quickly and sent it out the same day I received the order with information about it sent to the buyer. I did not deserve such treatment.
However the customer is always right. I did what I could to get info. Have you ever tried working through the USPS mail system? It is a nightmare. Basically was told we would just have to wait, and they would open a claim. They have an agreement with Australia that they can take up to 23 days to respond. What? They said there were weather and strike conditions that had been delaying mail to Australia. I gave the information to my buyer and was basically told that was not true. What could I do, but wait?
10 business days after it was sent, it was scanned into Australia’s system, and we had to wait for it to be delivered. Delivered it was, all broken, smashed, not usable.
What could I do? The buyer sent a photo, and I promptly sent a full refund. Nope, it wasn’t my fault. USPS messed up, but I have to put this one behind me. I will try to work through the USPS get some sort of compensation since I ended up losing about $65 on this transaction because of the high cost of shipping to Australia, fees, and purchase price. Yikes. I don’t make that much on several sales combined. I do not have much hope of recovering any of it though.
So needless to say I feel horrible. I am trying to decide if I should stop my International sales of breakable items. I have about 12-17% of my sales go International. I find that sending them International isn’t any more difficult to do than domestic mail. Just a few more clicks to fill out customs info. Do I just chalk it up to a part of doing business? Do I have thick enough skin to deal with someone who is probably a wonderful person but stressed because of her wedding coming up? By the way the buyer has been very nice about it since those original messages and has left me positive feedback. I would have been sad if she didn’t, none of this was in my control. I did everything and more than I promised in my listing.
So those of you that do online sales do you sell International? Have you had issues like this? Any advise to make sending packages overseas easier, less likely to get lost or broken? This whole transaction will bother me for a long while…how do I develop thick skin?
I think I will go hug my kids and get a few more items listed in my Etsy Shop.