Monday night, I received an order for my Valentine’s Day inspired red tissue paper heart card that simply says “Te Amo” for a gentleman located in the United Kingdom.
This is the first time I’ve sold this card (Hooray for first sale and congrats to me on an international sale to boot!) and I contacted the seller to let them know I’d be making a fresh one for them and asked if they needed it rushed. Now, of course, ordering something across the ocean rushed is a bad idea. I mean, we won’t even talk about time needed for the seller to write and mail the card, but mail and customs require time. Additional time.
Tuesday night, I made the card and packaged it up for Wednesday. Wednesday around 1:00pm, or just in time for the rain storm that started and went on until I slowly made it up the hill to the Post Office in soaking wet flip flops that only made the trek slower and longer. But I made it without any falling or sliding, well, minimal sliding.
When I walked in, I went straight to the counter and asked what would be the best method for getting a small package to England by the upcoming Tuesday. The woman who helped me said, “Honey, you need express mail. That’s 3-5 business days and it’s going to cost $38. If you do priority it’s 6-10 days, but cheaper.”
Without any hesitation, I packaged the card (the single card!) into an express envelope, filled out the proper paper work, including a customs form and went back to the counter. A different employee asked me if I was sure I wanted to spend $38 to send this package and I told her, “Well, yeah, it’s going to have to get there.”
With that said, I paid her my money and then walked out of the post office.
When I had a free moment, I emailed the customer and explained that I mailed the package express and that it is estimated, but not guaranteed delivery between Friday and Tuesday. I asked him to let me know as soon as he got the package, so I could confirm that it made it and then told him that the package had cost $38 instead of $4, but that I wasn’t going to ask him for the additional $34. Instead I was going to just scrap it as business and hoped he enjoyed the card.
He quickly responded with appreciation and I followed up with the delivery code just in case he wanted to track it, if he can.
I will not lie and say that part of me didn’t hope that he would offer to pay the difference, but I didn’t expect it. What customer would pay $38 for a single card shipped to them? I wouldn’t pay that much! Okay, maybe I would because I’m crazy and I’ve done crazy things (ask me about that time I express mailed donuts from Portland to Jersey) to get an item I wanted someone to have to that person, but $38 for an $8 card is just shear lunacy!
Except that I paid the $34 dollars for that card. I said (to myself), “you know what, you came into my shop, you clearly liked my item so much that you bought it and were willing to pay me $12 for it, so what’s the big difference if I eat the cost to express mail the card to you? If the person you give the card to loves the card as much as the customer and as much as me, the maker and designer, then that card deserves to get to that person.”
Not to mention, it’s just plain good customer service.
I don’t know that the customer would have said “no, please refund my money and cancel the order (even though I had already made the card)”, but I know I didn’t even give him the chance. Instead of going back and forth in Etsy transaction convos explaining that the cost is $38 and I only charged him $4 and I would have to charge him the additional $34, I made the executive decision to mail the item and eat the cost. I told the guy only because he’d get the envelope and see the $38 price stamp on it and I didn’t want him to be surprised, or email me asking questions. No, I wanted complete transparency from the beginning.
When I told one friend about the shipping, she told me I was crazy and that she wouldn’t have done it. When I told another friend, she told me I did the right thing. It’s funny how different people and businesses respond to customer service issues. The important thing here is that when I walked out of the post office, I didn’t feel bad for having shelled out the money. Nor did I feel taken advantage of. I made the decision and I stand by the decision (please know I don’t think I have to defend my decision here). My heart and my gut told me that I was doing the right thing.
Would I do this again? More than likely. I mean it does help that I have income that I can use to make up the loss, but that may not be in the case in the future. What I do maintain though is that I think that $34 will find its way back to me and my pocket and my business. I’m not talking about Karma so much as putting forth an energy that tells my customers, “hey you, there, customer, I think you’re worth my time, my money, my product, and this moment”. You, reader, and I have no idea in what ways this will come back, but if it is as simple as a happy card receiver then I win and if it is a returning customer and a new customer and their friends, then I win again.
$34 dollars is a cheap shirt, or a few lattes. I think I can do without both for a bit.