Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mail Order Etiquette

This was inspired in part by Cyn's most recent blog post, Rant-- Directory Assistance, as well as personal experience with the mail order business. Though I'm sure 411 operators deal with far more verbal abuse than an order taker, we do get our share of rude individuals and idiots. As Cyn says in her post, be nice to me and I'll be twice as nice to you.

1. Write your order down before you call. Include part number, color and/or size if applicable, and complete description as printed in the catalog or on the website. We are not mind readers, and when you call something by a different name we A) may not know what you are talking about, or B) think you are refering to a different item than the one you want.

2. Get your credit card out before you call and have it in front of you. This will save us both time and frustration.

3. Get rid of distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, video games or anything else that may be heard in the background. Lock barking dogs outside or in a different room, keep children quiet and do not carry on a conversation with a third party. Not only will this make it easier for us to hear each other, it will make the order process go much faster.

4. Do not ask me to hold while you take another call. Phone etiquette dictates that it is extremely rude to put the person you called on hold in order to talk to someone else, not to mention that it is a waste of my time. Let the call go to voice mail and answer it when our call is concluded.

5. Speak slowly and clearly. When you mumble or talk at twice the speed of light it is quite difficult to understand what you are saying. Also speak loud enough to be heard, but not so loud you shatter an ear drum. When relaying name and address wait for the operator to prompt you for information so that she does not have to repeat questions and you do not have to repeat your answers. The operator has a form she must fill out and a certain order in which it must be done. Be patient and let the order taker lead you along.

6. We will do our best to accomodate you, but please understand that we are not God and there are some things that are out of our control, such as transportation issues (such as union strikes) and the weather. Remember, just because it's sunny where you are doesn't mean there isn't a blizzard, hurricane, tornado or flooding where we are. If UPS, FedEx or the post office grounds their vehicles due to bad weather, there is nothing we can do about it. Driver safety is more important than your package. Neither can we procur an item we do not have out of a magician's hat. Sometimes we do not receive materials from suppliers when promised, or the supplier is running far behind. Trust me, we do not like it anymore than you do, and give backordered items top priority when they come in.

7. Understand that errors do occur, and stuff does get damaged during shipping. If you receive the wrong item or faulty merchandise, we will be happy to send the correct item or make an exchange, but you do not need to be rude about it or bitch us out.

8. Plan ahead. Don't wait until the night before you're leaving on vacation to order a new swimsuit, camping gear or fishing tackle. You know when your vacation is. You also know when Christmas comes, and when hunting and fishing season opens in your area. We try to ship orders as soon as possible, but we are limited by shipper/post office schedules, as well as by what we have in stock. Whenever possible, place your order at least two weeks before you need it to allow adequate shipping time. Not only does it reduce stress, it saves you money as you will not have to pay extra for next day air or priority mail.

9. When ordering from outside the country, please remember that it takes at least 1-2 weeks via airmail. We have no control over this; neither can we do anything about a package hung up in customs. We fill the form out and address the package to the best of our ability, but sometimes a package may be flagged by customs for the most bizarre reasons. Case in point: orders shipping overseas by a stamping supply company were delayed because ink colors bore the names of food, such as "certainly celery" and "pumpkin pie." I am not making this up.

10. We are not responsible for delays in shipping caused by you not knowing how to properly spell your own name, the name of your street, or your city. We are not responsible for you not knowing your house and/or apartment number. If you leave off a number in your address, it will be delivered to the wrong address. If you tell us you live in "Middleton" and you are actually in "Middletown" -- you are at fault when the shipper cannot find you, not us.

11. Last but most important, be polite and refrain from cussing. Please and thank you go a long way, as does patience and a courteous tone.


Jana said...

Heather~I can happily say that I already abide by your first three rules. hehehehe I try and make sure I've got all my crap together before I make calls for mail orders or other phone related ordering. I hate being caught without everything I need at hand because it makes me flustered and then I sound like a blithering idiot.

And I don't have call waiting cuz if you really want to talk to me that badly you'll call back until you get me. If it's an emergency, family knows to call my cell phone. Not like I'm in love with the phone anyway.

Probably the only thing on here that I do have trouble with is the mumbling part. I think I have weird hearing or something because I always get accused of talking low but to me is sounds like I'm shouting. *gg*

The rest of it is mostly just common sense and common courtesy stuff which I USUALLY have. Can't say always cuz yeah. I'm a ditz a lot of the time. ;-)

Heather said...

I don't have call waiting cuz if you really want to talk to me that badly you'll call back until you get me.

My sentiments exactly! Either call back, or call earlier in the evening when you KNOW I won't be online. I tell people often enough that I usually don't log on at night until after 8pm that they should all know by now, but we all know how well some folks pay attention.

Nina said...

Methinks there should be one more item on that list.

Pay attention!! If you listen to what the order taker is asking you or telling you there will be less misunderstandings and you won't look like a blithering idiot as Jana so eloquently put it.

Ok, so I'm very very late commenting on this, but it was so good I just had to


Heather said...

Yes, paying attention is an excellent idea. Save the multi-tasking for when you are off the phone. You'll save both your time and that of the order taker - who, contrary to popular belief, does NOT have all day to talk to you alone.

Thanks for chekcing out my older articles, Nina!