Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Long is Too Long? A TAT Rant.

Turn around time is something that we all love to obsess over. It's easy to be impatient when you've indulged in something but then have to wait for it to arrive at your door. We all want instant gratification. Sometimes I like the fact that I have to wait a bit- I get excited when I purchase something I've lusted after, continue to be excited while waiting for it to arrive, and am even more excited when I finally get my paws on it. However, especially when ordering from a company for the first time, the turn around time can be daunting, frustrating, and leave you wondering, "was it really worth ordering? I hope the products are worth it if/when they arrive". I don't think I'm alone in this thinking, but please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Where is all this coming from? I won't divulge the company name at this time, as I am waiting for response on my most recent message to them, but I'll give you the story.
I purchased a Heartsy voucher for an indie makeup/bath and body shop around the beginning of September. I don't purchase many Heartsy vouchers, but some of them are hard to resist- especially if it's for a company that I already love or have been wanting to try. I try to avoid getting too deal-crazy, especially when it comes to small businesses. I understand the strain something like a Heartsy/Groupon/LivingSocial deal can put on a small, independent company. I've experienced it first hand in my workplace, and it left us all saying, "Never again." I get it. It's hard when, all of a sudden, you have a huge surge of new customers, many of them not particularly patient or understanding. I can't even count how many customers yelled at me over the deal my workplace ran, and we were doing all we could to try to keep up. I've been there.
So I always feel a little dirty for purchasing a Heartsy voucher, and promise myself to never turn into the crazy "WHERE'S MY STUFF!!!" kind of customer.
At the same time, my patience and understanding starts to face after about a month and a half.
Like I mentioned above, I purchased my voucher around the beginning of September. I waited until the beginning of October to place my order, since I know that the initial few weeks after a voucher is made available tend to be the craziest. I wanted to give the company a chance to deal with some of the avalanche of orders made the days immediately following the voucher appearing on Heartsy. At the time of my order, the shop stated that their TAT was "at least 14 days".

First lesson learned: You probably shouldn't purchase if a shop only has a minimum TAT, and not a stated maximum. Technically, I suppose they could take 6 months to ship my order and it would still be within the stated TAT.

Here we are, approximately a month and a half later. As I'm typing this, I just got a response to the message I sent them this morning, asking about the status of my order. In theory, my order will be shipped today. However, I've gotten a bit skeptical, as the previous two times I contacted the company, I was told that my order would be shipped "tomorrow". There have been numerous tomorrows. I'm a cynic sometimes.

I've been arguing with myself about posting this, because I want to be understanding. Most indie companies don't have a way to sanely do a Heartsy deal. I'd probably strongly discourage any indie companies from taking part in Heartsy. One company I used a Heartsy voucher with, Brazen Cosmetics, blew me away with their customer service. I actually placed my order during the pre-Halloween rush, and it shipped within a day. My hat's off to Brazen for that one.

The company I've been waiting on for more than a month and a half, clearly is in over their heads with the Heartsy deal, and for that I am sorry. At the same time, I can't be responsible for what may have been a bad business decision. By no means is the customer "always right", but the customer isn't at fault for taking part in a sale. This isn't only an issue seen by indie companies- anybody remember the NYX sale that turned into an enormous mess several months ago?
To this indie company's credit, they have responded to my inquiries promptly and with great understanding of my potential impatience. I imagine they're doing just about all they can, but at the same time, I'm getting impatient.

What's the longest you've waited for something from an indie company to ship? Do you think it was worth it?

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