Monday, April 24, 2006

Grumpy again on a Monday

You think maybe there's a pattern here?

I got a phone call about 10 days ago from one of the innumerable sales people selling a wide variety of Christian program stuff. My diocesan office sends them to me (as is proper) and they try and tell me why I should invest the program dollars I don't have in their books/videos/discs/materials/whatevers. I know these are folks trying to:
A. Help folks by providing needed materials, and
B. Trying to make a living.

So as long as they're polite about it I'll listen to their spiel. So why am I grumpy?

A couple years ago a company who will remain unnamed here asked me if I'd be willing to preview a program. Since I'm often asked for recommendations I often say yes. They sent me the stuff, I looked at it, it was OK but a little too pricey to keep on my shelf so I prepared to send it back. In the box was a note basically informing me that I needed to send along a "donation" to cover their shipping (not my return shipping but their initial shipping) expenses. 'Scuse me, ain't that called the price of being in business? That irritated me so I sent them a note saying that I thought that was a pretty shoddy practice and thank you no.

Since then I'd begged off when they called (which is about once a year). This year I talked with the guy who was repping them and he went through the whole spiel and then said, up front, that if I'd like I could help them control expenses by making a small donation to help with shipping, If I Wanted to. Okay, now we're being upfront and maybe I even had a little bit to do with that. Fine, send me the preview.

So it arrives today. And I did indeed preview some of the DVDs. Not bad but a bit "Stepford Christian" looking for my taste. (You know what I mean, those perfect smiling Barbi and Ken look alike Christians. I've never actually met someone like that and the ones I see on TV or whatever always make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Just come off creepy to me. I know, I need to see someone about this)

So as I'm preparing to ship it back (they even pick up the return shipping now) I take a look at the invoice (still too expensive for the shelf but not unreasonable for a congregation) I see this line (quoted exactly)

" should be returned along with $4.00 to cover our initial handling cost as was discussed with you over the phone"

Say what?!?!?!?!?!?!

So in a black marker I underlined the offending line and wrote: NO Clearly stated it was my option! This amounts to a bait and switch. It's unworthy of a Christian company" and included a note asking to be removed from their mailing and call list.

You may (even reasonably) think that I'm overreacting. I spent a long time in the marketing business and I know that being upfront and honest with your clients is the ONLY way to keep them coming back. I also have ZERO respect from folks whose basic business model doesn't seem to actually be business minded. Somehow they want to be a business without actually having to be responsible for making the business work. Most especially I have no time for people who apparently want to play games, especially people who claim to be Christians. That's not how people of faith are supposed to deal with one another.

In a world in which I have limited time and limited budgets I don't want to waste my time with game players.

Heck I'll even go so far as to recommend how to do their job better. Don't mail out the whole shooting match. Make up a single CD/DVD with a reasonable portion of one of the programs on it. Add electronic files for some of the print materials so that I can get a real feel for the materials. Then send that out to the folks who are interested. Instead of $2.55 for the box of the whole program, plus the hassle of dealing with returns, the individual discs will be much cheaper, will allow folks like me to keep the program on our shelves.

And won't continue to tick me off.

Maybe next Monday will be better.



Gman said...

That's why Mondays are my days off ...

lfspansyliz said...

High horse-not!!!! You are more kind than i.

After some very bad experiences with similar christian companies, i say no. i do not listen to the sale pitch even. I tell them up front agter they introduce themselves and tell me this will take a minute of my time (or some nicer sales pitch ask if this is a good time to talk with me) and i of course politely say now, we are not interested at this time. (Some salers will ask when is your budget year and can i all back then. i say, absolutely not.) When the person has been kind, at least, i might offer my best and certianly part of my decision making aspects...if i want what you are offering i will look for it via the internet and do not need sale calls from random companies with the agenda of their company not considering what is best for my ministry. Hopefully all those wonderful elements you want to tell me i hope are registered/listed on search engines.

My bad experiencess: i had something sent when i had said no. i did say yes once and it took over 6 months to stop sending a bill (with my suspicion being that they know how churches person gets materials and the other gets bills). Last but not least even when i am not the one who spoke to them i get this upon return this last summer when i was away for several weeks for youth work. Someone sent a package of youth "materials" to preview actually addressed to one of our volunteer older,but generally competent, receptionist. i am sure he wanted to help me. On this last one i called the company within the first day back and said, if you want this material back they will send a prepaid ups sticker otherwise it was going to go in the trash. Of course i got a few words about how i had agreed and that was not right. i told them that is untrue as i can document i was out of town and had been for weeks. They said well they spoke to someone. i of course told them how wrong their hardcore sales of 'ship under "preview" status' is a game and beneath honorable people. They have no need for preview and input. It was we send it, you screw up and we bill you since the package was not returned in timely matter. i was also told that the person they spoke with had agreed and i said wait one minute. This was a volunteer that answers the phone only and did not under what it was he gave his name for and how this sales pitch works. They said well, he will have to pay for it. i said wrong, i am not going to go downstairs and tell this man that he has to pay you x (several hundreds of dollars) for this box. (i had not nor would i even open up this large box.)

So Dayouth Guy, you are much kinder. If i had a list of irritations this would be in the top five, could you tell?
LFS, Pansyliz

UthPastorTodd said...

I'm sorry to hear about yout unfortunite incident with curriculum compainies. I feel your pain and so, now I generally have a rule that I just don't mess with those silicitations. My secretary does a pretty good job of screening those calls so I don't have to waste my time on them. Best of luck with the nagging sales man.

Uthpastor Todd