Monday, July 16, 2007

Grrrrrrr . . . .

I just ran headlong into a generation gap.

I called Knit Picks, and got an older CS rep on the phone with a confident, calm voice. As I began reciting my order number, etc., I was remembering my last call to Knit Picks, when I also spoke with an older woman. She was very friendly, understanding, and kind. The type of woman you would love to have in your knitting circle on Tuesday nights. She helped me with my questions, and we ended the call cordially. This woman was 180 degrees from the previous one.

I called to ask about status on my order, which was placed on the 7th of July, and didn't ship for five days. When I try to track it, the system responds with a "no matching tracking numbers found" message. So, I called to find out if it had actually shipped. The tone of response I got was "Your order hasn't been in transit very long, and you shouldn't be worrying about it, you silly little thing." She explained, slowly so I could understand, the process of taking orders, picking the merchandise from the warehouse, packaging and shipping. When I saw that tack was a brick wall, I asked about the possibility of Knit Picks ever offering USPS Priority shipping, and was put down again--before I had even finished my question. Before my anger and frustration got the best of me, I broke in, thanked her for her time, and hung up.

I didn't even make a dent.

That CS Rep's generation, and economy, ran on the hero-worship mentality. Bigger was better. The larger the operation, the more respect and devout obedience were required. Schools, government officials, businesses, the whole lot knew they were lumped in with God, and expected kow-towing and humble submissiveness, or retribution was generously applied.

That world is dying, if not dead already.

Now, cue reality. Companies move quickly. 24-hour order processing is common, even for very large companies like Land's End and Fire Mountain. (Both of which I have ordered from numerous times.) They have very reasonable shipping rates and very quick and predictable order processing times. For pete's sake, even Amazon, with it's monstrous warehouses and inventory, will have my order to me in 48 hours or less if I place my order by the daily cutoff. Knit Picks' inventory is miniscule compared to theirs. Or to Fire Mountain's or Land's End's, for that matter. Please. What world are they living in?

I'm not quibbling with Knit Picks's shipping rates--they're standard for the shipping options they offer. Their standard shipping is dirt-cheap . . . but the speed at which it travels is about the same as dirt on a calm day. I could drive the 2,146 miles between my house and the warehouse in Ohio, pick up my order and drive back three days faster than my order travels to me. (Yes, I know it's not worth it to travel myself--this is for illustrative purposes only.) There should be some kind of middle option, instead of either paying $3 for standard shipping, or $13 for UPS 3-day service from Ohio to northern Idaho. Am I out of my mind to suggest that they offer Priority Mail to their customers? I thought not. Most of my orders would fit in a flat rate envelope or box, and get to me in three days. That beats seven days with a stick.

I've worked in shipping, in customer service, and in picking & packing operations. I've been a consumer for a lot of years, and have dealt with a tremendous number of CS reps and companies. Vern has worked for several software companies, and has seen how they've blundered and botched their way through customer service and marketing. We now are 50% owners in a software company, which deals directly with customers for the sale of its product.

But I know nothing about this whole topic. Babe in the woods, that's me. Yep.