Friday, November 12, 2010

Quill #105 - Me Getting Angry (w/updates #1 & #2)

Thank you so much for the order you placed with us through Amazon for the 3 Sport Pet Kitty Pirate Ship Cat Activity PlayToy. My name is Jonathan Katz and I am the Customer Service Manager for Firefly Buys. I just noticed the feedback you left for us on Amazon indicating "Read the fine print about shipping. These items cost twice the price indicated, due to the "shipping fees." I feel I was deceived and will not purchase from this company again.", and an overall seller rating of 1 out of 5.

Let me start by saying that we are so sorry to hear you were not fully satisfied with your experience with us. I wanted to reach out to you personally to let you know that customer service is our #1 priority, and to see what we can do to improve your opinion of our company.

In these particularly challenging times, we as a small business try our very best to provide great products/prices/service to our customers while paying a living wage to our workers. We have found one of the ways we are able to compete against the “big guys” out there is by maintaining one of the highest feedback ratings on Amazon. We are a small, family-run business that strives for complete customer satisfaction and we really would appreciate the opportunity to make this right for you and ensure your full satisfaction.

Please let me know if there is anything we can do to make this right. While we unfortunately cannot “turn back the clock” we look forward to the opportunity to resolve this situation for you to be sure that you walk away with a more positive view of our company. Once we are able solve this situation for you, we certainly hope you might consider removing your feedback by following the instructions below:

1) Cut and paste the following link "" into the internet search line.
2) Sign in using your user id and password
3) Find the order from us Firefly Buys (under the Seller Name) and click on the order number
4) About ½ the way down the page you will see Your seller feedback about this order
5) Under this heading you will see Remove on the right side of the page
6) Click on the remove link
7) Select the appropriate reason and then click on Remove feedback at the bottom left side of the page

Again I apologize for the situation and I look forward to hearing back from you so that we can get this resolved as quickly as possible.

Best Regards,
Jonathan Katz
Customer Service Manager, Firefly Buys

------------- End message -------------

For Your Information: To help arbitrate disputes and preserve trust and safety, we retain all messages buyers and sellers send through for two years. This includes your response to the message above. uses filtering technology to protect buyers and sellers from possible fraud. Messages that fail this filtering will not be transmitted.
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My Response:

Apparently you'd like me to change my rating of your company out of pity because you are a family company. I get this impression because you provide VERY detailed information on how to do so, but not one idea for how to fix the original problem. But, you know what, MY family suffers from such deceptive practices, so no. I won't change this rating out of pity because you're trying to make a buck for your family. In my opinion, you STOLE from mine.

I'm not the only person who has trouble reading fine print. Your shipping costs were abusive, hard to find and hard to read. If you want to make this right, to me, that's what I'd want to see changed - more obvious and clearly stated shipping costs, so that I'm the LAST person to be deceived like that. Or, make the price appropriate to the item, and then shipping more appropriate.

I received the three I purchased in the same beat-up old box. You saved on shipping them together like that, which means you profited even more. I am not impressed. You very nearly got them all returned. I feel like my message is doing a public service by warning other purchasers. You're not even bothering to offer to BUY my integrity; you want me to give it up for free.

So, yes, you can consider this a failed attempt at remediation.

Robin Payton


Apologies to my blog readers who have been pre-informed about holiday gifts.


His response:

Thank you so much for getting back to me, and I apologize if my previous email did not convey the right message. We have found that sometimes our customers assume we are a big nameless company that doesn't care about its customers, so we try to let people know that we are "people" too and we really do care about providing a good experience for our customers. All I was trying to do was convey that, as well as offer to resolve the situation in the manner that was best for you.

In terms of the specific issue, I have done some investigation and determined that the cause of the high shipping charge was due to Amazon having an incorrect item weight listed in their system (they have it listed at 8 pounds, when in reality it weighs about 3 pounds each). This is one of the downsides of the "marketplace" where many sellers are able to submit information to Amazon; sometimes it isn't accurate, which can lead to situations like this. We apologize for the incorrect shipping charge, and I want to assure you that we did not do this intentionally to overcharge you. If we did things like this as an intentional practice we would not be in business for long. One of our biggest strengths is our 99% positive rating, which would be impossible to achieve if we were intentionally misleading customers as a business practice.

I just issued you a $16 refund to remedy the overcharge. You should see this post back to your original payment method within the next 2-3 days (that is typically how long it takes for Amazon to process the refunds through their system).

I have done this without the promise of anything in return since it is simply the right thing to do given the situation. Of course I sincerely hope our actions have improved your opinion of company and our commitment to our customers, and perhaps once this is resolved to your satisfaction you will no longer feel the need to warn others. We try to get things right the first time, and apologize for not doing so in this case, but we do whatever we can to make things right for our customers when situations do arise. I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that everyone here would be thrilled if you removed the feedback once you are satisfied with our handling of the situation, but of course that is completely up to you!

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do (aside from the refund which I've already initiated) and I would be happy to help!

Best regards,
Firefly Buys


And mine:

I apologize for the tone of my previous message. You, as an employee
of your company, do not deserve my ire. You're doing your job and
doing it well. However, my issue with this transaction really wasn't
about the money.

It may be a moot point. I looked on Amazon and can't even find
Firefly Buys's playtoy available. You may have already sold out. I
looked at all the feedback for Firefly Buys and it's rarely negative
at all. As diligent as you are, I doubt every positive response was
due to mediation.

However, I've looked at other sellers of the same product. They're
using the same tactics. My husband looked into the Amazon policy.
It's $4.49 per shipment plus fifty-cents per pound. Using that
calculation, 8 lbs per item comes to $16.49 for three items bundled
together, which is how Amazon would figure the shipment would be made.
I was charged more than $23 for shipping, which means the seller TOLD
them to do it a different way. Ergo, I'm still not sure I believe
your company has good intentions.

You probably don't have the power to change how your company does
business. You have the power to give me a shipping refund. I
appreciate that you did what you could. But, what about the other
people who were overcharged? What about the tiny and faded shipping
fees on Amazon - not every company does this, so it must be a
company-by-company choice on whether to hide the fine print or not.

It's also not your fault that I'm angry with the world right now for a
lot of lies and deceptions, so that this one gets the brunt. It's not
fair to Firefly Buys that I feel like making an example of them simply
because, in this one little way, I can feel like I'm trying to improve
the world rather than letting things continue to worsen.

You've done your best. Thank you. I'm going to think about it.



Honestly, I would have expected things to end there, but he sent me another letter:

Thank you for your understanding. I am actually one of the owners of Firefly Buys so I absolutely can get things corrected if they are wrong.

After some additional investigation I think I figured out the full story of what happened. You are correct about the per shipment and per pound formula. In this case due to the weight being wrong, if we let Amazon use the formula, it would come out to $10.19 for shipping on an order of 1 (our rates our $4.99/shipment plus $.65 per pound, as each seller sets their own). Because the weight is wrong this is actually works out to a lot higher than our actual shipping cost, so we manually did an override on the formula to make the shipping $7.99 for this item. The downside of this (as you have brought to our attention) is that it seems for orders of more than 1, Amazon just takes the $7.99 and multiplies it by the quantity since we manually overrode the formula (this is why you were charged the $23.97 or $7.99 times 3). So, we actually did this to benefit most customers since 90% of the orders we get are just for one item, and so most customers would thus benefit from paying $7.99 for shipping instead of $10.19. We don't have any way around this side effect, and we are truly sorry that you were overcharged. I will look into whether there is something we can do, and I apologize for the long explanation, but I just wanted to convey that our intent was to actually charge less in shipping by overriding the formula, but as I said this appears to have a negative side effect on the multiple item orders. I know this sounds like a long and convoluted explanation, but I promise you it is absolutely the truth and was done with the best of intentions. As you can see this is not a trick or meant to be misleading. I would be more than happy to discuss this further via email or on the phone if you still have any questions or concerns about our policies, or our integrity.

The bottom line is that with the options Amazon gives us for determining the shipping charges, it is literally impossible for us to ensure that every order is charged the exact right amount of shipping. We really do try hard to make our shipping charges get as close as possible to being accurate every time (thus the override to lower our shipping charges on this item for a single unit order), but unfortunately we are limited by the flexibility that Amazon allows for. We place a very high value on being forthright, honest and fair with our customers, and a vast majority of the time our shipping charges come out correctly. When situations are brought to our attention we are quick to correct them and make things right for our customers, and I hope you would agree that we have done that in this case by refunding your charges as was appropriate in this case.

Everyone here has worked very hard to build a company that we are proud to be a part of, and I for one would not choose to be associated with (let alone an owner of) a company that was ripping people off. We try to make decisions that will benefit the most number of customers (i.e. manually lowering shipping on single orders of items where the weight is wrong), and all I can do is offer my sincere apology that you were adversely affected by this well intentioned decision. I hope that my explanation has communicated this to you in an effective (yet admittedly long winded) manner.

While every feedback matters to us (which is why I reached out in the first place!), and we would be thrilled if you felt removing yours is warranted, in all honesty we have one of the very highest feedback ratings on Amazon even counting yours. So the real reason I have spent the time to explain everything in such detail is that beyond the rating, what matters most to me is making sure you walk away with a good impression of our company. I would feel terrible about going to work everyday, to a company that I own, if the I had any sense that accusations about our integrity and business practices were true. I know the truth about who we are and what we do, and I hope that you now have a better understanding of that as well.

As I said before please let me know if there is anything else I can do, or if anything I have said is unclear.

Best regards,
Firefly Buys


And, probably lastly:

You've been more than patient with me. I understand your explanation now and agree that working with Amazon can be difficult. One of the issues with this very order was that the pre-purchase summary I was given didn't include shipping fees. I kept expecting to receive a summary that did, prior to purchase, but the only summary I was given that included shipping was the one sent to email after purchase. That situation was unique to my experience with Amazon, to the point that I considered reporting it to the company.

I will remove my comment about Firefly Buys. You have been pleasant enough that I no longer harbor any ill will toward your company. Thank you for taking the time to explain everything and deal with me, especially when I was being difficult.


1 comment:

  1. The company must be run by the "missing link" member of the family.