I had an interesting interaction with one of my vendors last week. Or rather, a lack of interaction. I had ordered promotional materials to have at the upcoming convention, and I had done this about two weeks ago to be sure they would arrive on time. Friday, they showed up on my doorstep. While I was away. UPS dropped them, with a bit of plastic wrapped loosely around the box, and by the time I found them, the box was rather damp. I’m not talking here about UPS incompetence, that is to be expected and sadly, there isn’t much I can do about it as they aren’t my choice, but the choice of some vendors I use (I choose other options when allowed, I know too well how bad the service you get from brown is).
No, what I’m talking about is the state of the postcards. I had uploaded a design, proofed it online… and what I received in my now slightly-damp box is completely unusable. They printed the file rotated ninety degrees.
Now, as soon as I opened the box and saw what they had done, I sent a email to the link provided in their email for order problems. Flash forward 24 hours, and there is no response. I send an email to the contact address in their website, sorted by the kind of problem it was, and again, nothing, now that it has been four days. Not even a confirmation they had received my emails complaining about the state of my order. Needless to say, I will never again use GotPrint.com, and I urge any of you who patronize them to look for another vendor. It’s not a lot of money I’ve lost here, > $50, but the fact that this leaves me without my custom promotional materials for an event with no time to order from another vendor, now that’s a problem. Prior to this I’d used them for years and liked their quality. But I’m done with this company. I will not put up with having my emails disappear into a black hole.
And speaking of black holes, I was annoyed to discover that Tor Books, on which I blogged at length last week, has apparently decided that the customers who are contacting them to complain about the way Irene Gallo treated them are not real. I wish I were joking. I am being told that they have decided the response is disproportionate, and therefore all the emails they are getting are from ‘bots. Whether this is all of Tor (which I doubt) or a small cadre (likely the same ones who have been so vocally critical in the past of their ‘wrongfans’) doesn’t really matter. This is completely unacceptable. I am angry and abandoning a vendor who has messed up a small (relatively) order. How do you think that I and others are reacting when complaints of being called racist, misogynist, homophobic, our work being ‘bad to reprehensible’ and worst of all to those of us who know history, lumped with neo-Nazis? Those complaints are being ignored, maybe deleted, and I will not put up with it, for one.
I strongly urge my readers to join me in making our voices heard. I am not calling for a boycott, or firings, I simply want to have a conversation and have my concerns acknowledged. I do not want to be brushed aside and ignored as though I were a meaningless part of this. I’ve bought few Tor books in the last few years because I haven’t cared for most of the authors they support. But I have bought some, and furthermore, am one of those libeled as having ‘bad to reprehensible’ work.
I am also a businesswoman, and this unprofessional behavior is inexcusable. Allowing their employees to post things like the screencap below, which appeared on a Monday afternoon, meaning it was almost certainly made during work time, on a work computer… that is beyond the pale, as many people have found in the past. Unless, evidently, you work for Tor or MacMillan. If then, apparently you can call your customers names with impunity.
Writing an email is a relatively simple step to take in expressing your thoughts and concerns. If you want to do this, here are a few suggestions, and email addresses for people at Tor who need to see your correspondence.
The emails should probably be short, straightforward, polite, and respectful, and emphasize the following points.
• Real person and not a bot.
• Do not approve of the behavior of the senior people at Tor Books. (Be specific if you can, with quotes and links as possible. Please do not just pass on ‘what you heard’ without verifying it for yourself.)
• Request a confirmation that your email has been read and received.
Pete , who teaches business at a major university, gave me some excellent suggestions that I am passing on to my readers. These apply not only to the Tor thing, but to any business that is failing in their professionalism. We are not using his full name for the precise reason that Irene Gallo ought to have known before she libeled her customers, authors, and others: you don’t say things in public that can reflect on your employer. Even if all Pete is risking is a few rabid attackweasels following him home from my blog, this is called discretion, and it is paramount in the business world when saying things – anything! – in public.
Here are a few suggestions/reminders/hints I’ve gleaned from dealing with numerous execs over the years.
1) Letters seem to carry disproportionate weight (relative to emails). This is probably for a number of reasons: first, because letters are harder, so they take more committment. Second, many execs are from the letter-writing generation. and finally, they realize that older folks are the dead-tree users and they never want to mess with an older group (we’re nastier, more determined, have more money, and are much less easily dissuaded).
2) Keep it civil and professional – people foaming at the mouth are more easily dismissed as whackos. Remember the mission – it’s not to vent, but to effect change. Work in things like “professionalism”, “respect”, etc…
3) Make it concrete (i.e. “I spend $45 per month on sci-fi, and you ain’t getting any more”)
4) If you’ve been a long-time Tor customer mention that fact. Businesses care greatly about retaining an existing customer. If you’re not already a customer, they think “oh well, that’s one I won’t be getting”. But losing an existing one hurts.
5) If you have access to a website or a lot of Facebook friends, work that in (but be professional) – it gets the “force multiplier” effect across.
Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Or, Same address, but directed to a different person: contacts at MacMillan, Tor’s parent company.
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
President, MacMillan USA: John Sargent ( currently on vacation untill 7 July)
Tom Doherty, TOR
Chief of Fiction Publicity for MacMillan
GENERAL COUNSEL US: PAUL SLEVEN
+1 646 307 5202
VP – DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES: HELAINE OHL
+1 646 307 5148
US LEGAL COUNSEL: RHONDA BROWN
+1 646 307 5193
Holtzbrinck Group ( MacMillan Owners)
Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH
Dr. Stephan Holtzbrinck, CEO