By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Motivation to be a better person

Wick's World


The moment I opened the emails for one of my businesses, I could smell the rancorous hatred boiling over on the stove of animosity.

“Karen, I just received seven emails from a customer who bought a book from me yesterday!” I said to my wife. “This has to be a record and I’m sure it is not going to be a good one.”

Marjorie is not the customer’s real name, but after reading the seven emails she had sent to me in the last 24 hours, my first impression of her led me to use this alias. The nasty emails, which got worse with each opening, reminded me of a psychopathic I once wrote about — the infamous Marjorie Caldwell. I later learned my Marjorie was not a psychopath. She was simply a disgruntled customer who was getting more ticked off at me with each tick of the clock.

The simple version of the customer’s complaint is this. When I opened the first of 24 emails it took to eventually solve this problem, the customer stated she had ordered a book from me and inadvertently gave me an incorrect shipping address. Could I now change this to the address she intended in the first place? The simple complaint should have a simple solution, right?

There was no simple solution for what the customer wanted me to do. In the first place, the company that supplies my book orders and oversees the tracking and payments for Wick Fisher Books has a very strict policy regarding shipping. The seller must use the address supplied by the buyer and in no instance are they allowed to change the original shipping address. It was unnecessary to explain this to the customer because her simple solution was no longer available. I had already shipped the book. Her order came in just as I was preparing to walk out the door for an overnight trip.

If I didn’t ship her order that Thursday, with Friday being Veterans Day, the next business day the post office was open was the following Monday. Her book would have been delayed by four days. When advertising my books I include the comment, “Ships promptly from Minnesota.”

I went the extra mile for a customer who turned ugly on me as I tried to explain the order of the postal universe. My explanation that I left town immediately after shipping her book elicited this response, “Not helpful at all.”

I was not surprised by this response. Her previous emails had already made the point that it was I who was to blame for this entire mess. By now, her teapot was already steaming away at full throttle and getting worse.

Her response, “Not helpful at all,” was followed by this gem, “I have been emailing for two days about changing this shipping address and you don’t respond. This sucks. I’m leaving poor feedback on your site and refusing the package. I will order it from someone else.”

My choices were now very limited. A "poor" response on a website is to be rectified at all costs, especially when the seller is a relatively small business. Rather than blame the customer for the incorrect address and my needing to follow company requirements, I used my policy: “The customer is not always right, but they are still the customer.”

I hoped my reply with the reason I was out of town and the story of a lost son would get me off the hook.

“Dear Marjorie, I had to leave town because of a memorial service with my friends whom had lost their son. I am sorry I missed your emails. Let’s do this. You keep the book and I will give you a full refund.”

For the little money it has cost me, I’ve had tremendously good luck with this policy. The huge grief a parent goes through when losing a child is comparable to what my friend calls “a car bomb to the heart.” Judging by her final email, it appears as though Marjorie’s heart got hit by a little shrapnel from the car bomb.

“Dear Wick, my ignorance of this tragedy and other people’s pain only serves to motivate me to act and be a better Marjorie today. Thank you for being a kind, generous and gracious teacher. I got way more than just a book from you. Life in all its many combinations and permutations gives us so much more than we seek, if we only look with open and willing eyes and hearts.”

All this in only 24 emails ... no postage necessary.


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