A simple order.

At a time when America truly needs new projects like ours, I am witnessing first-hand how suppliers are ill-prepared to fulfill orders in a timely fashion, unwilling or unable to negotiate pricing, and less likely to admit mistakes.

It began with a pipe and fittings order that was made on a thursday and scheduled for delivery the following monday morning.  I had spent a few days making cost and availability comparisons and had settled on a larger vendor with higher pricing because they had everything in stock. We had agreed on the basic pricing and I was expecting my piping to arrive monday morning.

It was in the afternoon I made the call to see how far away my order might be when I learned that the truck would not be arriving til very late in the afternoon if at all. I was slightly annoyed but not inordinately so because we didn’t need the piping until the next day.

The truck eventually arrived at 5:30 p.m., which during this phase of the build-out is about an hour after closing time. Still I was happy to see the truck pull up, and after giving the driver a little ribbing I arranged for the load to be taken off the truck.

The unloading went smoothly and the driver handed me the manifest. It was at this time that I noticed that while all the piping had arrived, more than two-thirds of the fittings had not. You don’t have to be a plumber to recognize that 300 feet of piping with no fittings is just about as useless as no piping at all.

I call the vendor and am able to speak to an apologetic gentleman who assures me that the problem will be handled in the morning.  We agree that we will speak around 6 a.m. to see where we are.

At 6 a.m. the next morning I call only to find out that there is some confusion about the whole thing, but a driver should be coming out with my parts before noon. The driver arrives, before noon, with the fittings.  The company, after some not-so-gentle ribbing from me, agrees to leave the additional fittings that were delivered the evening prior to make peace.

I go on about my day, handling delivery of a centrifuge, meeting with some folks about oil, and making a very small dent in the tremendous pile of paperwork scattered on top of my desk and throughout the office. I have another meeting in the late afternoon with the team, and as we are going through the fittings we discover that the 16 1.5 inch straight through ball valves we ordered actually are only 1.5 inch at the connectors and 3/4 inch in internal diameter.

I jump on the phone again, speak to the same gentlemen, who commits to calling me in the morning to get everything cleared up.

Comes the morning (the same day I write this post). I had decided the night prior to try being a softer gentler Todd, with less yelling and anger. The nice gentleman refers me to my nice account rep, who tells me the difference in ppricing is approximately $8 per valve, and that I’ll need to pay it.

The bank account is sufficiently low that I make arrangements….OK…I go to the bank to cover what I calculate as the difference to make sure there are not any unpleasant overdraft issues. Valves should be in tomorrow before noon, and all is finally right with the world.

Except it isn’t. I check the bank account a few hour later only to discover to my surprise a charge for an amount in excess of $800. A charge I did not and would not have approved given the state of the account.

I call sales rep to ask him what exactly is going on. I get frustrated after a little while, tell him that all I want to do now is stop the bleeding, and ask him to cancel the order and return the money. He says he can’t; someone else is in charge of that. He commits to getting ahold of that person and “seeing what they can do.”

I’m almost done.

I proceed to call my account rep every hour or so. He insists that the someone else in charge is the credit manager, that he has spoken to her, and that she will be calling me.

Finally I receive a call a little after 3. She tells me alot of things, but the bottom line is that the deadline for the bank to recognize credit transactions had passed and consequently I may not see the credit until the next day. Of course this means I may be getting charged an overdraft fee for a mistake they made.

And I still don’t have the valves.

And all I tried to do was purchase some pipe and fittings from a company. It was supposed to be a win-win for everyone involved.

Make it a better place…


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