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The importance of suppliers, and why we’ve terminated some

Posted on july 16, 2020 by ASK-Solutions in discussion

Image of handing over a packageWe as a business do our best to deliver the best quality products and services we can. Best quality does not only mean the literal end product quality, but also time delivered, costs for our customers, warranty and overall experience. To accomplish this, we need not only invest our effort, time and money, but we also have to invest in having knowledge and a good network of people and suppliers we can build upon. Having cheap suppliers is a good thing, but a bad thing if you can’t rely on consistent quality, a smooth ordering process, and reliable shipping. The latter both in time, quality of packaging and delivery.

In the past 20 odd years, we’ve only had to drop two of our business relations. One being a supplier, the other a bank. However this has changed. From mid 2019 till today we’ve had to drop four, with a fifth in the writing. The first supplier was slow to respond to questions, slow from ordering to handing over the package to the courier and refused repair or replacement of a brand new out of the box product. We could repurchase the part at full costs because the warranty period was supposedly over. The warranty period was over because they had stock and manufacturing problems resulting in a broken part to be delivered to us, outside of the warranty period. They defined the warranty period as starting from the day of purchase, not the shipping date, and wouldn't make an exeption to their rule.

Another example of us dropping a supplier was due to them selling us an in stock item, which was actually not in stock. They could no longer order the item from the manufacturer and offered us a refund. We received a credit note, but the refund was never payed out to us. Instead, a few weeks later they sent a replacement product with an invoice. We contacted them about the invoice and the promised credit. They made a credit note for the replacement product. Suddenly, months later we received a reminder of us not paying the replacement product. It took a couple of weeks emailing and calling back and fourth, with their only reaction that there was an open invoice and we had to correct our books and pay. We showed them the correspondence, the invoice and credit notes we received. Finally they came with an altered version of the first invoice. It had the same invoice number and invoice date, but different amounts and products. Claiming we were at error and this altered invoice was the original invoice. We told them about their changed invoice and informed them about both the orders they had already missed and us terminating our business relation. We’ve never heard back from them.

The supplier currently in the pen to be terminated as one of our suppliers is Allekabels.nl. About two weeks ago we ordered a few items. All items were in stock with 3 to 4 working days delivery time. A few days later we received an email apologizing for the delay with a new delivery date. However that day came and went without a shipping notification, package on our doorstep or message about delays. We waited a little bit longer and sent an email. A few day later we received an email back. They stated that one of the items was ordered especially for us, which their supplier hadn’t shipped yet, and immediatly offered us a refund for the especially ordered product. We checked their online catalog and saw that they currently have 250 pieces of that part on stock with a delivery time of 3 to 4 working days. So we replied, that it was an in-stock item at the time we placed to the order and they currently claim to have 250 pieces. We expressed our grief of not hearing from them and that we would like to have the other items shipped. They haven’t replied, not shipped anything to our knowledge and are currently playing a “we’re not here” game. The least they can do is admit an error and ship the items they do have on stock. Although it being their fault, we would understand and would have payed extra shipping. That is better than having to say no to our customers and make them unhappy with uncertain delays.

We’ve got a couple of similar examples, all suppliers, making an error, not fixing the error and then blaming it on either us or others. The point is, everybody makes mistakes, so do we. The difference is how you go about resolving the situation. Just admit something went wrong and try to make it right. Don’t create momentum, a reason, for your customers to start looking elsewhere. There is a good chance, that somewhere else the service is better, the price is lower or the product quality is better. We’ve replaced all of the dropped suppliers. In all cases, we’re better of with the new supplier and wished we’ve had known about them earlier. But until there was a reason to invest time to look somewhere else, we stayed, not knowing we would be better off somewhere else.

Update:

About 3 hours after posting, Allekabels.nl reacted per email:

Nasty case!

Unfortunately, at the moment, partially shipping orders is technically impossible. If you wish, we can remove the items that are not in stock from your order and ship the rest of your order today.

Awaiting your response.

Well, ship those items, but your just avoiding extra work and trying to save face. Not only could they have responded way earlier, but there are many possibilities to resolve the issue:

The most frustrating thing is, that there is no real apology. Not saying sorry we messed up. Sorry we did not respond earlier. Sorry we did not handle this pro-actively. Sorry our stock management failed. Sorry it took so long, how can we make this right? Sorry, we've learned something and will try to prevent this in the future from happening again.

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