Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Something to Discuss

Good Morning,

I'm still plugging along, another 2 hours and 7 more inlays, I'm probably about 40% completed at this point with all of the inlays.

I had an interesting conversation just now with Suricat.  She brought up an issue which hadn't occurred to me, but before I discuss this conundrum, let me provide some background.

While not specifically addressed in our shop policies, we've always maintained a policy regarding sticks that get lost in the mail.  I would guess that we have had less than 1% of packages that have gone missing over the years, so yes, it occurs, but fortunately not often.  In fact, we had one go missing last November, we instituted our policy and incredibly it showed back up on our doorstep 3 days ago.  Very unusual, it's the 1st time a lost stick ever found it's way back home.  Up until 3 days ago, lost sticks remain lost.

So our policy is, and always has been, if a stick goes missing, we ask the customer to wait 90 days before we do anything.  We understand that it's a long wait time, but with less than 1% actually lost, the stick will in all likelihood arrive at some point.  Can we insure them, yes, but it makes zero economic sense.  Insurance rates vary, but in some instances it can cost up to about half the cost of the stick (on less expensive sticks) and I know I'm not paying it and I suspect you don't want to pay it either.  Since a lost stick is no more our fault than it is yours, we in essence ask to co-insure the replacement stick with the customer, it's the most fair solution we can think of.  I recreate the stick or another of similar value, and we sell it to the customer at a 50% discount, plus we pay for shipping.  This way, while economically tragic that it was lost for all parties, we both share in the loss, not just you or not just us.

So here comes the conundrum.  Our plan on the 5,000th stick was that whomever has the winning bid, this one time we are going to insure it, because I am not under any circumstances making this stick again.  We are also going to have it shipped in the most expeditious fashion, overnight and insured if possible, and we're picking up the tab for all shipping related expenses.  We want this stick out of our hands and into yours as quickly as possible.

I think the plan looks good on paper, but Suricat reminded me of the international fees and taxes for our friends on the other side of the pond, based upon value, something I haven't thought about for years.  While the very last thing that I want to do is to scare off any of our international customers, it needs to be addressed.  I don't even begin to understand all of the different fee and tax structures across Europe, but I do understand that it's a real deal.  I'm sorry, but I don't have a good solution, it's a public auction, and at that point we will have only sold 1 item in the last 5 years on EBAY, so it's not a terribly deep paper trail if any inspector types get curious.

Like I said, I have no good solution, and I am truly disheartened on this point for our international customers, because it puts you at a clear disadvantage, but I think the law is pretty clear on this one.

Hopefully my next post will be more uplifting.

Have a great day!


And the good news just keeps on pouring in.  Erin just got home from UPS and provided some shipping cost information, again on the international side of things.  Priority and insured to Munich for example is in the $300 neighborhood and I'm sorry to report that we're not quite that generous.  Let's leave it at this, should an international customer win the bid, in spite of all the hurdles, we'll figure out a shipping plan that makes sense for all of us. 

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