Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Responsibility

You know, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. And while it's never a pleasant experience, if I've made a mistake, I try to own up to them.

So I'm somewhat puzzled by the last couple of days, where three of my business partners have experienced the same mysterious "You got screwed... but it's nobody's fault" problem. Apparently, there are all kinds of problems out there being caused by mysterious gremlins. Thus, there's no need to apologize for them or in any way make restitution. This is a miracle! Perhaps I need to apply this in my own life more. If I get in a car accident, I won't give my insurance information, I'll just speed away with a friendly wave. "Wasn't my fault, the gremlins did it!"

The minor one is that my payroll company's automated entry system (which has always been a touch squirrelly) didn't work over the weekend, and since they don't have 24-hour customer support, I had to wait until Monday morning to call in payroll. Since I don't think this delayed my payroll, this is a relatively minor issue... it was just the start of the problems that would plague this week.

Diamond Comics (you know, the guys with the monopoly on delivering all comics to everyone in North America?) has what some might call a minor problem with their shipping. That is, on occasion (and by on occasion, I mean every single week), they mis-ship something. Some books don't arrive, some extras do arrive, some are damaged. Most weeks, it's minor. Some weeks, you get something like what happened to me this week, where my entire order of Countdown to Final Crisis #7 was instead Batman Strikes. Which I don't sell a single copy of. In these cases, you can call your rep, as long as you get to them early enough, like before 11 AM, and they are supposed to get a direct ship order sent out so that you have your replacement copies in on Friday. Is that the same as having it on Wednesday? No. But it's a damn sight better than not having them at all.

So I call my rep, who tells me he'll get it taken care of. He's told me this three previous times with this kind of thing, with an issue of Green Arrow: Year One and a couple others that I can't remember. What I do remember is that in only one case did we actually get the books on Friday. On the others, it was Monday or later. So I am skeptical. But there's not much I can do but put my faith in him.

Whoops. Come Friday, no Countdown. I call, I am told "I put the order in, I don't know what happened." No offer to look into it, no "Sorry we screwed up not once but twice," just "Hey, wasn't my fault." Just me saying "So it should be here on Monday?" to which I am told "Yes, it should be." This does not fill me with confidence.

Monday arrives... see where this is going yet? No Countdown. I call again, and ask for a tracking number and an ETA. To his credit, it only takes 45 minutes for me to get a call back with a tracking number, and I am told it will arrive on Tuesday. As of now, I'm still waiting. I also tell him that I would like an explanation for what happened. Because I know this kind of thing will happen again.

Also on Monday, I discover that my other distributor, Baker & Taylor, has mysteriously canceled my large book order for the week. I discover this because I had happened to email my rep on a different matter, and she noticed it. No warning was sent out, if I hadn't lucked into it, I wouldn't have found out until after Friday, when I was wondering where on Earth my Baker & Taylor order was.

So I call in to Customer Service. They're baffled. It was canceled by financial services, they don't have any further information. I call financial services, leave messages on three different voice mails, but since they are on Mountain Time and it was late afternoon when I discovered this, they've gone home for the day.

The next day, they call work (and I'm at home) and I've left instructions to give them my cellphone number. They don't call my cellphone number. I call in to work, get the number for financial services, call them. I am told that they didn't cancel it, and I need to speak with customer service. This is not what you'd call a satisfactory answer, so I explain that customer service told me the exact same thing about financial services. I even tell them that I called my credit card company the day before, and they showed no charge from Baker & Taylor, no attempted charge and certainly nothing that would cause the card to decline. Nobody can figure out why the order was canceled. It's those damned gremlins again! So the gremlins are to blame for me not having books that I needed on Wednesday until Friday at the earliest.

No apologies are offered, and my inquiries about getting expedited shipping in exchange for the screw-up are ignored. As far as they're concerned, there's no need to make up for anything... they didn't do anything wrong! It was just those damned gremlins.

This is comics retail, folks. People on the Internet telling you that your job is obsolete and worthless, your business partners screwing up and not taking any blame, a constant battle with various little fires that need putting out.

And honestly, despite all the problems, I'd still rather be doing this than 99% of the other jobs out there.

But I would love to strangle those gremlins.

1 comment:

Marc Bryant said...

Sounds like there's a comic story in there :-)

Marc Bryant