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Home✈️Aircraft🚁HelicopterAerial Photography and Video › suggestions for customer service issue
01-10-2006 01:54 PM  13 years ago
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DANNO

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St. Petersburg, Florida

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suggestions for customer service issue
hey guys.

Well, so much talk about new mounts and stuff, i think ill change things up and post an issue that recently came up on the business side of things over here....

as i posted several months ago, we got a contract to photograph a resort. they also wanted prints...600 of them. i found a printer with a lithographic press to do the job. the total cost of the prints was over $3000 for me.

the prints were shipped by the printer directly to the customer by placing on a palate and shipping on a frieght truck. (prints were 5 feet long)

somewhere inbetween the printer and the customer, many of the prints were damaged according to the customer. some of it was due to the customer using lift jacks on the palates not realizing that the printes were not in a box (they were wrapped in paper), and the lift caused dents in the prints several prints into the stack.


so, now the customer is refusing to pay the balance. the printer only has a few extras and i guess the setup for lithographic prints is very time consuming.

so whats to be done here? i was not involved with the shipping of the prints, but it looks like i might have to take the hit because they were packed incorrectly and possibly shipped incorrectly.....the printer says that he isnt responsible after the prints leave his business, but he is the one who had them shipped. i dont even know what shipper he used....


any advice?

thanks!
Dan
www.skypiximaging.com
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01-10-2006 02:16 PM  13 years ago
electro212

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Lancaster Pa

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sounds like the printer need to make a claim with the shipper.

you paid the printer to ship the pics and he should have insured them for damage and if the shipper damaged them he needs to make it right.
and for the ones the customer damaged thats not your problem other than now he is not going to pay you and i'll bet tony has a few good ideas on that
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01-10-2006 02:23 PM  13 years ago
DANNO

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St. Petersburg, Florida

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yea, your right, but it appears that most of the prints were damaged by the customer lifting them with palate jacks, not realizing that the prints were not in a protective box of anykind. the customer is saying they were packed poorly. the printer is saying that its not his responsibility once they leave his business....

i havent actually paid the printer or gotten paid by the customer yet.
www.skypiximaging.com
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01-10-2006 02:33 PM  13 years ago
GMcNair

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Birmingham AL

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Do you have a contract of some type with the printer? Most of this answer will lie within that contract.
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01-10-2006 03:05 PM  13 years ago
DANNO

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St. Petersburg, Florida

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well, there was a contract but it doesnt say anything about damaged prints in shippingwww.skypiximaging.com
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01-10-2006 03:40 PM  13 years ago
2_Subway

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Daleville/Ft. Rucker, Alabama

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...
Any idea how many were damaged out of 600? Is the balance left to pay high? Is the client still in the "willing to get this worked out" mode? I only ask because maybe you can come to an agreement on a smaller balance to pay depending on the damage done to prints.
I hope everything works out so that you can do business again in the future.

Henry
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01-10-2006 04:39 PM  13 years ago
Dakine

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OC, Commifornia

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What is the balance $$?

Did you pay the printer on terms or up front?

Who's in favor leveraging? (Seems like only the customer in this case).

Who coordinated shipping or delivery?

I just wrote a contract for our corporate office with a bottling company. In summary, we own the inventory, however, the bottles will be stored at the vendor's warehouse. The agreement states however, the vendor is liable for damaged bottles even in transit until, we take possession of finished goods. Obviously with these terms, I'm sure the insured price to protect the vendor 'is' built-in to our final cost price. This is referred as (Vendor's) shrink (cost).

Regardless who's right or wrong, I hope you can negotiate something to minimize your loss.
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01-10-2006 04:45 PM  13 years ago
electro212

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Lancaster Pa

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spoken as a true lawyer

one would think the customer would use care in moving their goods but who knows.

and then tell you they are not going to pay you for their own stupid acts is totally wack

but it is the world we live in and thats part of why insurance in this biz is so hard to find..

hey tony can you help me sue nancy grace for being lame on the air??
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01-10-2006 04:51 PM  13 years ago
DANNO

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St. Petersburg, Florida

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thanks for the input guys

i have not yet paid the printer. the customer did pay a 50% deposit on the job, so the customer owns me just about as much as i owe the printer right now. the printer arranged the shipping.
the customer is about an hour away so i havent had a chance to inspect the prints yet.

from what i can tell the major damage was actually caused by the customer, however, they claim that they caused the damage because the packaging was poor.
www.skypiximaging.com
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01-10-2006 04:55 PM  13 years ago
R Hudson

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Denver, CO

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Darn it Tony!

I was just typing a big long response to this that sounded very nice and I was going to ask you to respond to this, as it is an area that you are somewhat familiar with, then you go ahead and beat me to the punch!!!

Anyway, Danno, I hope you get this resolved and still have a good business relationship with both parties in the end.

NOBODY seems to be grown-up enough these days to actually say "I screwed-up. It's my fault. I'll take care of it."

I fear those days are long past.
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01-10-2006 05:58 PM  13 years ago
daveye

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North Carolina

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Danno, I remember talking to you about this printing job as I could have handled it for you, not that that is a good or bad thing but… Whenever I send off a job that is finished off my wide format printers I always ask for the payment in full before the job is shipped. If the customer doesn’t pay they simply don’t get their prints. It’s a hard line that I take however after being held accountable for something like your situation can make it very difficult. It seems that no matter how iron clad a contract is people still break them for whatever reason. I hope there was enough of a deposit in the job to at least cover your costs.
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01-10-2006 06:04 PM  13 years ago
Dakine

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OC, Commifornia

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R Hudson,

The legalese B.S. ain't as fun as helicopters

Danno,

Rather than splitting hairs and getting into the pointing the finger game, we all know one party is going to blame the other, period. All you want to do is get paid.

Setting aside all the legal stuff, unless you don't mind going there, this will test your business negotiation skills. I have a crystal ball and it says: The customer ain't gonna pay for the damaged prints, and the printer ain't gonna pay for the said prints. This crystal ball hasn't failed me yet.

With this in mind, you've got to think of your options. Sue the client for the balance. Sue the shipping company for damaged goods. There's a conflict here. You can't sue the client for the balance while suing the shipping company at the same time. Why? The issue is, "who's fault is it?" Are you saying the customer is at fault or the shipping company? It's one or the other. If not the other, then you don't have a cause of action (for the other).

Alright alright, enough of this technical b.s.!

The bottom line: Other than stating it on this forum, never express your opinion to any of the parties your thoughts. That is, don't tell them who you think is right or wrong. The key is, 'the art of negotiation'. I'm not going to explain to you how I would negotiate because I would have to charge you. It would cost you a Bergen Intrepid Turbine Only you understand your customer and perhaps the shipper so you are in the best position to make that judgment. One thought is, perhaps negotiate the 'printer's cost' to settle the balance. That is, if the balance is $10,000 to the printer, and the printer's actual cost is $6,000, negotiate and see whether this amount would satisfy as settlement in full. And to take it further, perhaps settle on 'Material' cost. That is, what it costs to the printer on 'materials' only....paper, ink, etc..

These are some ideas to negotiate to minimize your losses. No one is going to come out ahead, well, unless you're the only one going to take the full hit.
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01-11-2006 03:32 AM  13 years ago
Flingwing Pilot

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Centerville, Georgia USA

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Who are the parties to the contract?
Danno,
Please excuse me if I sound critical. I am not. However, I may see the contractual issues differently. It appears that there was an agreement(contract) between you and the customer. There was also an agreement(contract) between you and the printer. There was, apparently, no agreement(contract) between the customer and the printer. The damage occurred between two parties with no contractual relationship. This damage would not have occurred between these two parties if you had not asked the printer to drop ship to the customer.

I assume, that you did not go to the printer's to make a final inspection of the product prior to shipment and delivery to your customer. (Remember, you are the printer's customer. Your customer is your customer.)

If I had this problem, I would rebid the order with another printer, inspect the order and have it delivered to my customer with an apology for the delayed delivery and ask to receive the rest of my bill. I would try to learn if the shipper had insurance against which to register a claim since packaging was substandard, I would negotiate with the first printer for some shared responsibility and a reduction in his bill since he has a chance to keep my future business if we restructure our relationship without playing the blame game. My goal would be to avoid any loss or even take a small loss, if necessary, to maintain relationships with my customer and the printer should I choose. I also do not want rancor between my customer and the printer. Remember, the only winners in a reasonable law suit are the lawyers.
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01-11-2006 03:56 AM  13 years ago
Dakine

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OC, Commifornia

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Remember, the only winners in a reasonable law suit are the lawyers.
You've got it half right: Even 'unreasonable' law suits are winners

Further suggestion: Don't make business decisions with emotions. Emotions end up with law suits. Try to resolve the issue as a reasonable business person and most importantly from a customer service standpoint before you start regurgitating 'the contract' as some will suggest.

Flingwing,

It's very simple, there are too other parties, he's got to negotiate with both. Let the lawyers handle the elements of a contract in court. For now, focus on 'the customer'.
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01-11-2006 04:08 AM  13 years ago
fitenfyr

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Port Orchard, Washington

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Kind of too late in this case, but something to think about in the future.

When my dad does ad specialty orders through their business he always builds in a 10% or so "shrinkage" to the order.
All of these items are a 3 way transaction and he handles them much the same way you did on this one.
This allows the items to be damaged in shipment without any loss in what the customer needs for the actual project.

Where he ran into a VERY similar problem years ago was in some coffee cups drop shipped to a reunion. They were time critical and shipped to arrive within days of the event.
The shipper broke several cases of them and there was not enough shrinkage built into the order.

Like has been mentioned here calm heads worked through the problem and the client came back for following years.

Lessons learned on both sides.
Keep your cool and talk to the client/shipper/printer.
It will all work out in the end.
Jason Stiffey
Fly Fast....Live Slow...
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01-11-2006 04:15 AM  13 years ago
DANNO

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St. Petersburg, Florida

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yes, your right flingwing. im just the middle man so to speak between the printer and the customer. neither has anything to do with the other.

ive got no plans on actually getting lawyers involved. the more i find out, the more i think the printer did what was agreed....he made prints and had them delivered to the customer....the customer mistakenly mishandled the prints and damaged them....its really not the printers responcibility once the prints are dropped off safely at the customers property.

i think its going to be between me and the customer. id be willing to not charge them for any damaged prints, just to keep them happy....only thing is they need the number of prints they ordered, so ill have to get a smaller number of prints to replace the damaged ones...and the smaller number means more per print.....

anyway, thanks everyone for the advice, i appreciate it...
www.skypiximaging.com
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01-11-2006 04:29 AM  13 years ago
Flingwing Pilot

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Centerville, Georgia USA

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Lawsuits
Dakine,

I have been misunderstood. I have only been in one lawsuit in my life --- a divorce. It was unavoidable. What I do not want to see is two other emotional parties (Printer and Customer?) get into litigation which draws me in and saps my energies and attention, both of which I have too little to give any away. Tonight this was brought home in a situation where I avoided a time consuming disagreement a few months ago and I ran into a customer I thought I had lost. He mentioned that he had a consignment that he did not remember paying for (He brought it up in a public place.). I merely said that he was right and he asked me to send a bill for immediate payment. Before this, I had written the bill and the customer off; now, I have regained both.
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01-11-2006 05:03 AM  13 years ago
Dakine

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OC, Commifornia

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Flingwing Pilot,

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Sorry for the divorce. But then again, congrats!

DANNO,

You're on the right track and good luck!
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02-16-2006 01:45 PM  13 years ago
DANNO

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St. Petersburg, Florida

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update
ok, its been awhile since i posted on this subject...refer to the original for the details....

after visiting the customer and inspecting the prints, i learned that about 10% or so of the prints had minor damage. i also learned that the shipper delievered the prints strapped to a palate to the customers sidewalk. the customer came out with palate jacks, but couldnt fit the whole palate in the door, so they cut the straps holding the prints that were wrapped in shrinkwrap, and lifted the 2 stacks of prints directly with the palate jack, while the driver of the delivery truck was still there....

anyway, since the prints were no longer strapped to the palate, the stack of over 600 poster size prints fell over when the customer attempted to lift with the palate jack.

i think this is where most of the damage occurred.

after sending a few sample prints back to the printer, he informed me that after checking the print log, he had realized that he had included an extra 100 prints in the shipment and that should cover the damaged prints.....

i thought, great, this solves everything. so i paid the printer the 3 grand and informed the customer that they had extra prints delieverd and that i would appreciate it if they payed the balance due asap as i was in debt to the printer for the job and our original contract called for the customer to pay upon delivery.

about 3 or 4 days later i get an email saying they havent had time to go through all the prints and will be doing so soon and thanks for my pateince.

i replied back that they have had the prints for 4 weeks and that should be enough time to go through them and to please pay the balance due, reminding them that the balance was due at delivery.

that was 2 weeks ago and havent heard anything since.

what are my options here now? can i legally take back the prints? not that this would solve anything. can i mention that they are illelly useing copywrited material and to please pay the balance due? collection agency?


the fact is, they owe nearly 3 grand on this job and its been 6 weeks past due.

any advice is appreciated.
thanks
Dan
www.skypiximaging.com
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02-16-2006 01:51 PM  13 years ago
ESWLFSE

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Liberty Hill, TX

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File a small claim against them. You've given them a reasonable amount of time to pay and you have no other choice now.
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