Monday, May 2, 2016

Are you serious about your business?

I spent the bulk of my career in private industry, selling and delivering professional services and computer systems to a global customer base. No market was too small if there was the slightest chance of making a deal, and crossing borders with both people and products was commonplace. Of course the appropriate rules had to be followed such as visas and export permits and so on, but that was simply a cost of doing business, and one we accepted.

That was before the internet became so ubiquitous and global markets became a reality for pretty much everyone with an IP address. Today your customers can come from anywhere in the world, seamlessly crossing time zones, oceans, borders, and language barriers. And if you’re serious about your business you will figure out a way to service those clients.

But some haven’t got the message and are losing business as a result.

Today (and not for the first time) an inquiry to a US vendor of motorcycle parts was rejected with a curt “we don’t ship to Canada”. I had about $100 in small hard-to-find parts I wanted to buy from this vendor, but he couldn’t be bothered to put an extra couple of $$ postage (which I would pay for anyway) on exactly the same small box he would use if shipping to Calif. As I reminded him in my response, it must be nice to have so much business that you can ignore 35 million potential buyers.

And then there’s eBay, where it’s common to find free (or nominal) shipping Stateside but quotes of $50 or $60 for shipping to Canada. When the actual cost would be in the $5-$7 range that’s just another passive-aggressive way of telling us you don’t want our business when you don’t want to be honest about it.

To be fair it’s not all US-based vendors, not even close, but it sure rankles when you find something you really want or need only to be treated like you’re asking for the equivalent of a Mars resupply mission to have that $20 exhaust valve shipped 300 miles to your own mailbox.

End of rant.

12 comments:

  1. There have been many times that I have not ordered something from a US vendor simply because the shipping charge was more than the item's cost.

    Luckily, I now have an alternative. I ship to a US relative who travels monthly to Canada and brings the small items to me.

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    1. Edward - I have friends who have a US mailbox they ship everything to and then collect about once a month or so. May have to look into that option as well.

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  2. And then there is the eBay "Global Shipping Program" ... the $9 stamp on my latest delivery cost me $35 USD because the eBay seller would only use the eBay service for all international shipping. A new way to piss off not just 35 million but the entire rest of the planet as well!

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    1. Bob - Ah yes, forgot that scam. Avoid at all costs.

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  3. Well you're not alone. Many vendors either refuse to ship to AK or will only do it via UPS or FedEx overnight service. I've even had vendors tell me that it's "illegal" to ship tires to AK.

    What they are really saying is that they are too lazy to use USPS as they don't pick up where UPS and FedEx will. It's always a pleasure to find a vendor that has discovered flat rate boxes. (Truck tire chains fit in a large flat rate box! - 65 lbs)

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    1. Richard - That's true - often see "lower 48 only" in shipping. Canada Post had flat rate boxes for a short time but I believe they have discontinued that offering. Too many people shipping tire chains perhaps. :)
      BTW, wasn't it some guy from Alaska who, many years ago, shipped hundreds of concrete blocks to himself by USPS because it was cheaper than having them delivered?

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  4. Living close to the border helped us with the issue of humongous shipping cost. We had a post box in a warehouse a mere hour away from where we used to live... good times.

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    1. That seems to be the way to go if you're close to the border. We're about 2 hours away so it's not quick and easy.

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  5. If you ever need anything shipped to a US address, let me know. Send me an email. Ship it to our place and I'll re-address it and mail it to you no problem.

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    1. Trobairitz - Thanks so much for the kind offer. I just may take advantage one day.

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  6. Hi David,

    Long time no see-hope you're well. Trying to catch up with a few blogs and your post struck a chord as I've run into similar problems in the past. It's clearly quite an issue as the NZ Postal Service have set up a warehouse in Portland OR. What this does is gives NZ customers a dummy US address to ship to. They then trans-ship to NZ at incredibly competitive rates. It's a great service which I use a lot and they've just set up similar operations in London and Shanghai.
    Best,
    Geoff

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    1. Geoff - Good to hear from you. What a great service! Can't imagine Canada Post being that forward-thinking and customer-focused tho.

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