Thick Skin to Sell Online?

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.

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7 thoughts on “Thick Skin to Sell Online?

  1. I am sorry to hear this! It is just part of business and sometimes that stuff happens. I would say to try not to let it bother you and contine doing what you do, because you enjoy what you do!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, it is a business and I should not take it personal, but the personal part of selling on Etsy is what I really love. The vast majority of buyers are wonderful. I love the stories and comments I get from them about how they will use their purchase.

  2. Pingback: Thrifting Blog Digest-#24 | Late Night Coffee

  3. Not sure if this was thru Ebay or Etsy, but I use ShipSaver insurance for both. Etsy has that app now too. It’s a 3rd party insurance company, cheaper than the USPS, and easier to deal with (from what I’ve heard).
    On Ebay I have it set up to automatically insure items over $40 including shipping. Anything under that, I figure I can cover myself.
    On Etsy, you have to remember to go add the insurance.

  4. I always make sure to insure anything breakable and include the shipping cost in the amount I insure. Dont give up. We all have good and bad (or horrible) buyers.

  5. Hi Karen,
    I have had some unfortunate things with international shipping too. I did the 3 day guaranteed delivery to France recently, (about $35) because my buyer was staying at a hotel in Paris for a

    week and requested the 3 day delivery service. It was a birthday gift for someone. The item was lost and then took over 2 weeks to make it to the hotel. Meanwhile the buyer was no longer in Paris. The buyer also wanted a refund for the entire purchase. She wasn’t mad at me just frustrated it didn’t arrive. So I filed the claim by calling the 1-800 number for the USPS, to get the postage refunded. I was told to go to my local post office. 4 employees there didn’t know what to do. I came back 3 times and was told each time, they didn’t know what to do. I finally went back again and the manager made me wait at a window for an hour while he looked up on the internet what to do. Finally he came out of his office and told me to start the process over by calling the 1-800 number to request a file be opened with the postal service in France. They need to verify the entire situation and send me some package verifying that this really happened. I had a stack of documentation, a letter verifying that the item never arrive, etc. Grrrrrr. I wasted so much time trying to get my money back. They make it so difficult. I quit trying. I was now losing money, by taking up so much of my time. I do a lot of international sales. But I may not ever do the rush service like this anymore. Or at least I will tell them that although guaranteed, it still may not make it.
    I would still keep shipping internationally, although maybe the breakable items make that too hard.
    Think of all those people around the world that are enjoying their sweet treasures from your shop 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, that is a horrible experience. I know that millions of pieces of mail get shipped every day, but if you pay for a guarantee it shouldn’t be so hard to get your money back. So sorry to hear you had this bad experience. As time is passing I am not so hurt, and I will keep shipping International, but may not ship some of the heavier, breakable ones International. Thanks for sharing your postal issue; it makes it easier knowing I am not the only one.

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