UPDATE (May 5th, 2013):
I just wanted to let everyone know that I just got a call from The Source Comics and Games and the issue has been resolved. I won't go into details, but I'm satisfied with the way that the matter was ultimately handled and I accepted their invitation to appear at the store for Free Comic Book Day.
Many thanks to The Source for another great Free Comic Book Day event!
This week I've experienced the best and the worst with regard to customer service from two businesses that I've been a customer of for years.
We'll start with the worst...
In lieu of a lengthy explanation, I'll simply post the two e-mails that I sent to someone at The Source Comics and Games in Roseville, Minnesota. I'm not going to use his real name, I'll just call him "Comic Book Guy". I've been a customer of The Source for as long as it has existed, dating back to 1993. After this week, I will no longer be buying my comics there.
Here are the two e-mails I sent, which will explain what happened without any further commentary:
Comic Book Guy,
Hello. My name is Otis Frampton. I am a local comic book artist & writer (otisframpton.com) and I am writing to tell you about my experience attempting to get table space for this year's Free Comic Book Day at The Source.
I appeared at the store's Free Comic Book Day event last year. A few months before the event in 2012 I asked about table space and was told that all one has to do was ask for space, give their contact information and they would be put on the list. I did so and when I came into the store a couple of weeks before the event, I double checked with someone in charge to see if I was confirmed for the event, since I never heard back via a confirmation e-mail of phone call. I was told I indeed had a table and showed up for the event. It was a great day, I sold a lot of books and prints and had a great time, so I had every intention of returning for the 2013 event.
A few months ago I repeated the process I followed in 2012 to get table space at this year's event. I gave my info to someone at The Source during one of my regular visits and checked back to see if I was confirmed. I tried checking three different times in the last two months to see if I was confirmed, but I was repeatedly told that the person I needed to talk to was not there in the store. Since I had not heard back from anyone last year, I assumed that this was par for the course and that I was going to be appearing at FCBD, but I wanted to be sure. So today I called the store and was told that the person I needed to talk to was at lunch and would call back. Three hours later I had not been called back, so I called again and was told that the person I needed to talk to was still not around, but that I did not have a table at the FCBD event.
I have to say I'm very disappointed. I am a decades long customer of your store and I appeared at the event last year. I have told many people, including my large online social network how great The Source's FCBD event is and that I would be there once again to celebrate it.
the run around when checking on table space and then being told that I
was denied table space without being informed after having appeared
there last year has left me greatly disappointed in a store that I have
been loyal to and vocally
supportive of for years.
I received a voice mail later that night responding to my e-mail. The tone of the message was surprisingly sarcastic and dismissive, despite ending with an offer to have a table at the Free Comic Book Day event if I was still interested. Here is my written response to the phone call:
Comic Book Guy,
Thanks for getting back to me.
I'm going to have to decline your offer of a table. At this point, I'd rather not attend the Free Comic Book Day event at The Source.
Before your phone call, I had every intention of not only remaining a customer of your store, but attempting to get a table there for next year's FCBD event. I was disappointed with how things played out, but that wasn't going to stop me from going to The Source to buy comics. But the rudeness of your phone call has left me even more disappointed in the store I've frequented for so long.
I never called your staff "evil", I never said I was "maltreated" and I feel that the mocking tone you displayed in response to my e-mail is inappropriate for dealing with anyone, be it a comic book professional or a customer.
If you feel that I was acting like a "baby", that's your opinion. But I wrote to you simply to let you know what had transpired with regard to my experience dealing with your staff and the event in question. If I had been contacted before this week and told that I would not be getting table space, I would have been disappointed, but I would have understood completely. The tables are first come, first served and no one is entitled to space. But I was not contacted (despite giving The Source my e-mail address, physical address and phone number when placing my name for consideration for a table), I was given the run around with regard to confirming my status and then I was treated rudely by someone I've never met by way of a sarcastic phone message.
worst part of all of this is not that I will no longer be appearing at
The Source for FCBD, it's that I no longer feel any connection to the
store itself. I'm sure that the loss of one customer means little to The
Source in the long run. But to me, the loss of my favorite comic book
shop in the Twin Cities area is a great one.
I'll miss going to The Source to buy comics.
Now for the positive experience in customer service...
I've used CatPrint.com for buying prints of my artwork for four or five years now. I then sell those prints to customers and fans at comic conventions and on my online store. They've always delivered a great product, shipped material quickly and the prices are great. I've recommended them to everyone who asks me where I get my prints made and I've never had any problems with an order.
Until this week.
My latest shipment of prints, delivered on Monday, had a bad batch of one of my prints. The image was misaligned, printing to the edge as opposed to being framed by a white margin, and the prints therefore could not be sold by me. This was a re-order of the print in question, so the file they were using for printing had been used before. It was my best selling print and I was disappointed that I would not be able to sell them at the upcoming Free Comic Book Day event at The Source (yes, the irony, I know). I wrote to CatPrint's customer service letting them know about the defective product and asked them what steps I could take to rectify the problem. Based on their stated policy, I fully expected to have to return the defective prints before I would receive new prints. Instead, I received an e-mail stating that my order would immediately be replaced free of charge and that they would be sent out expedited so that I would receive them by the end of the week. Then, when they were still having trouble with the image file not printing correctly, they called me and asked for a different file so they could ship the prints to me in time for Free Comic Book Day. The CatPrint representative who was handling my issue, Carol, could not have been more polite or professional. She really seemed to care about resolving the issue. I even got a friendly tweet from the CatPrint Twitter account saying they liked my artwork. Classy, polite and enthusiastic about their customers and the work that their customers use their services to distribute... how refreshing.
Thank you Carol and CatPrint for making my experience a great one. I'll continue to use your services and tell my artist friends how good they are.
I wish I could say the same to Comic Book Guy and The Source Comics and Games. I'll no longer shop there or recommend the store to people who ask me where I buy comics locally.
What's the point of all of this?
Customer service matters.
Thanks for reading.