: None of my business, but...
...Did everyone catch this cautionary story from Ralph about Key20 and Universalis? I bet some of you missed it.
Moral of that story: when you use a fulfillment firm and they hold stock on consignment, only give them enough inventory for 1Q sales at a time and don't send them any more until the checks are caught up. I had sent them about a years worth of inventory so he could just keep selling them even when he wasn't ever planning on paying me for it.
I have an opinion of my own to add: if you're having some kind of trouble with your fulfillment firm, even if it seems just flukey and dumb, an internal matter, maybe say something about it in public anyway. If it's part of a pattern, you'll want to know.
1. On 2010-10-25, Alan wrote:
Exactly! Some companies rely on customers keeping quiet about mistakes. The handful of public complaints can frequently be turned into praise for good customer service with an apology, assurance that it was a rare fluke, and a local correction. Meanwhile that the "rare fluke" is actually endemic. Publicizing names is the best solution. If the problems really are rare, the occasional negative public statement won't be a big deal.
We were very fortunate with Wizard's Attic, because they did fulfilment for Profantasy Software, which meant we owed them money, and no matter how much we asked, did not get round to invoicing us. So in the end, after all the hassle, it worked out about even.
I think whether you go public should depend on your overall level of trust of the fulfilment firm, the level of risk you are willing to take, and whether they are taking money for sales, or just shipping for you.
Usually, where a firm screws up, you'll hear them talk about it publicly. Any firm which does not hit its payment dates without an immediate explanation would be a massive red flag.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard this sad story. I know of a 5000 copy disappearance from a publisher who couldn't have known better, and a "we're out of stock" running lie perpetrated on another.
If you need to, draw a little relationship map with you, your customers, and any middlemen in between. You'll see pretty quickly where interests don't line up.