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13 April 2010 @ 02:51 pm
Correspondence with SmugMug  

Thank you for being so proactive. I had intended to write you a nasty letter with the full story, my suggestions for improvement, and a request for an apology and refund of the expedited shipping costs (since your delays rendered the "expedite" irrelevant), but you have already surpassed my request. Still, here's the story; I'm hoping you can use it as guidance to improve the experience for other customers.

Over Easter weekend, I was told that my grandmother isn't doing well and would love to see the wedding photos (not just online). I ordered some prints for her that evening, and paid for second business day delivery. I figured that, on top of your "one or two business days" for processing, this should get the pictures to her by the end of the week. With luck, I could visit her over the weekend to share the pictures with her. Perhaps you were unusually swamped after Easter?

The morning of Saturday, the 10th, I received the email claiming "your order has shipped". There was no explanation or apology for the unusual delay, when I had already made it clear with my shipping
preferences that rapid delivery was a priority for me. Still, I wasn't too worried, since the Fed-Ex tracking implied that the delivery would occur on Monday - only one week after the order.

Yesterday was a bad day. My grandmother was unresponsive, and my mother and I began the multi-hour drive to meet up with her and the rest of the family in Vancouver. An hour outside of town, we received the news that she had already passed on.

Remembering that the delivery was expected Monday, I told family that the pictures should be there that afternoon, and might provide a few minutes' distraction from making memorial arrangements and drafting the obituary. After the FedEx estimate of "by 3 PM" passed and no package arrived, I checked the tracking on the website - to find that the package had just been picked up in Georgia (on the 12th). FedEx updated their estimate. The "Your Order Has Shipped" message LIED by
two and a half days.

According to FedEx and my relatives in Vancouver, the pictures still haven't arrived. More than a full week after the order.

These are things that really should change:

* Make clear promises, and deliver on them. The "expected processing times" should be substantially more obvious on the order pipeline of your website.

* When you can't meet your promises, communicate early and clearly. A message last Wednesday or Thursday apologizing for delaying the pictures would have helped immensely. I don't need to know the
underlying reason; I understand that may be internal company information. I just want to know when to expect the order and see that you know (and care) that you haven't been able to meet the
expectations you set.

* Don't lie to your customers. "Your order has shipped" is a HORRIBLE misrepresentation of "Shipment information sent to FedEx". Changing this notification to something along the lines of "Your order is about to ship" or "Your order will be shipping soon" is a simple fix to make
this message more honest.

As I said before, I appreciate how proactive you have been in trying to resolve this matter. I was upset at family issues and publicly lashing out over a petty grievance, but I do honestly think that there are customer-interaction issues here that you should want to improve.

Sean Blakey
Yes, I'm a spoiled Amazon customer

On Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 8:16 AM, Andy Williams <help@smugmug.com> wrote:
> Hello Sean,
> I saw your tweet: http://twitter.com/pythonista/status/12104219383 and I'm very sorry that the prints you ordered didn't arrive in time for you to show them to your Grandmother. Normally, orders will spend a day or two in the lab, and then ship out. You placed your order on April 5th late in the evening (618pm), and it should have shipped by the 8th, which would have placed it in your hands with the 2 business day delivery, today. Of course, there's the chance it could have been done in 1 day at the lab, not two, and shipped on the 7th for arrival on the 9th (Friday). We regret that you didn't get the photos in time - and have fully voided the charge on this order (you'll see a credit back to your card in a couple of business days). I was looking for correspondence from you in our system and couldn't find any - did you write us with a different email address perhaps?
> Again, I'm very sorry we and the lab didn't get you these prints in time. We'd like to try and make this up to you, in some small way - perhaps we can print (rush!) some photos that you might like to use for any services you will be having. Just let me know, by replying to this email.
> - Andy Williams
> Chief Operating Officer
> SmugMug
Turning the Schmaltz up to 11pullthestars on April 13th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Hm. I wonder if their "your order has shipped" messages are similiar to BPAL's, in that it's done strictly to move the order out of their credit card system so that it doesn't automatically get cancelled after a few days. But if that's the case, then that needs to be communicated to the customer so that they're not expecting it.

I hope that this helps them fix their customers' experience, since I'm betting you're not the only person who has had issues.
Nina Forsythninaf on April 13th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
Wow. It's amazing he email you proactively though.

Very sorry about your grandmother.

Also a very spoiled Amazon customer.
Sepulchravesepulchrave on April 14th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)

I'm so sorry about your grandmother Sean.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on April 14th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I think it actually worked pretty well for her: enough time to make her peace, but fast enough that it wasn't months (or years) of suffering. My mother's having the most trouble with it; I'm glad I was able to be there for her on the car-trip down to Vancouver.

Latest correspondence from Andy Williams:
Hi Sean, thanks for the nice note, and the great suggestions and feedback, which I'll be reviewing with my team this week.

All the best,