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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Chanel No5 on November 09, 2016, 11:17:08 AM

Title: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: Chanel No5 on November 09, 2016, 11:17:08 AM
I took a pair of suede riding chaps into a leather makers to have them cut down from full size to half size covering only the lower legs. The leather maker had never done this before but was willing to reuse the material and took measurements toward a fitting. Three weeks after leaving the order, I called them to ask when was the fitting to take place. We settled on this Tuesday at 11 a.m. On Monday afternoon, the leather maker called to cancel the time and asked me to come on Wednesday or Thursday. I said no, my calendar is full. We agree on the Tuesday. He called back and cancelled the date saying his son had the day off from school and he was staying home with the child. He complained about not having a day off for weeks and no, he would not be available.

I had a problem calling him back as the telephone number given, did not have a service to answer. I didn't even get a voice mail box, only, the number didn't take calls. I had to find a shop number to call.

I was surprised at his assumption I could change plans based on his needs rather than the customer availability. I decided to cancel the order and said he could keep the materials. I did understand the cost was $35 per hour but it was suggested it would not take long or be a difficult task. He has sent me a bill via e-mail for $149 today, due today. He claims there was four hours work done. He claims to be shipping the materials back to me. I have nothing, no order, no clue what happens next.

What do I do with this?
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: Blatant on November 10, 2016, 05:20:38 AM
Should his time be free?
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: ooeei on November 10, 2016, 06:23:56 AM
Obviously not the best customer service, but I'd say wait to reschedule or pay him and get them in the mail.  If you're really pissed about it, review him on yelp or something. 

I get that he made an appointment for Tuesday, but he called you ahead of time to try to reschedule to spend time with his child.  This isn't Walmart or Dell, it's a small one man operation in your town.  If it was me I'd cut him a little slack, and be glad he cares that much about his kid.  He's a member of your community, treat him as such. 

It kind of sounds to me like you're looking for a reason to be pissed off and really want to stick it to him for.... uh... making you wait an extra day or two for some custom leather work so he can spend time with his child.  Is that really where you want to direct your energy?

I've found that with small businesses and local vendors, if you cut them a little slack, they'll often return the favor down the line.  That's one of the great things about small businesses, the personal interaction that's unhampered by corporate policy and SOP requirements.  If you'd responded to this in a positive way, maybe he would've cut you a deal in the future, or done a rush job for something else that he normally wouldn't do when you really need it.
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: Gin1984 on November 10, 2016, 08:50:37 AM
I guess I am the odd ball, the fact that he was unwilling to meet the demands of your agreement, after agreeing to them makes me unwilling to accommodate him.  He choose to throw away a paying customer and therefore is going to have to the hit. You told him not to return the items so I would not be paying for that.  I might be willing to maybe pay an hour but his behavior inclines me to say, you did not complete the job, sue me if you want a cent.

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Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: Slee_stack on November 10, 2016, 09:58:07 AM
Yeah, I'm siding with the OP on this one too.

What if the SB owner actually didn't take the day off for his kid.  What if it was to just to kick back and relax?  Is it now OK to be mad about being treated poorly as a customer?  How the heck is that any different?  Its a BUSINESS.

Whose responsibility is the child's anyway?  The customer's!?

Its really weird that folks truly believe that mentioning a 'child' means that cutting corners, shirking responsibility, whatever, suddenly should be no big deal to other people.  Where did this entitlement mentality come from anyway?

The SB owner could have been much better about this.  If he needed that day off last minute, he should have made some concession to the customer UPFRONT.  HIS kid.  HIS responsibility. HIS cost.  But instead, he felt entitled that his needs come first and foremost.  Good luck using that as your business model.

Guess what, it just cost him four hours of his labor.  Maybe he'll learn something from it.
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: erutio on November 10, 2016, 11:18:03 AM
Wait, just to clarify, he billed 4 hours of labor, but you dont have anything back?  Was anything actually done, halfway or not?
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: Chanel No5 on November 14, 2016, 06:39:01 AM
Thanks for additional replies. I sent the owner an e-mail late last week about receiving an invoice and exactly what are the shop hours? They couldn't honor the Tuesday fitting as decided to close shop, well the hours posted on the e-mail are 10 - 7 Tuesday - Saturday. Here is a reply received from the owner: I shipped the materials back to you yesterday.

Hours posted below are in fact our hours of operation.
We do have two other girls that work for us.  they are here when we are not.
Someone is always here during our hours of operation. 
We do a lot of shows, and have two kids so we are not always physically here meaning cara and I.  but thats why we have two other employees.


He never offered the other shop people to do the fitting, just said, no you cannot come we are taking day off. I felt a bit cornered with the child care reasoning as it is his personal situation. I felt like he made an emotional choice where it's not my concern.

The chaps did arrive Friday afternoon. The work has started. The basic components of the half chap are ready to assemble. I got two zippers as well. So, everything has been returned. There was no bill in the box. I am not used to this style of business. In fact, I am not sure what to call this transaction.

Here is my original message on cancellation:

I will cancel the order for half chaps made of material brought into XXX three weeks ago.

Please reuse the material. I do not plan to return to the shop. If you didn't have time to take the order, perhaps that might have been said up front. I tried to give a local shop business and reuse leather fabric. I will walk into a shop this afternoon and walk out with ready made. I have been patient, but it's time to move on.

Good day,

I have no clue what to do next. As someone else said, work has been done, that is owed. But, there was no bill of sale, no formal agreement, everything is so casual. I am the one that filled in the contact information on the receipt. I wonder if I should contact Better Business informally as I don't have a complaint, I just want to move on.
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: obstinate on November 14, 2016, 11:27:07 PM
Personally I would say that he observed the tendencies of an obstinate and demanding customer and decided it wasn't worth his trouble to bring the transaction to a close. I'd probably do the same in his shoes.
Title: Re: Problem with Small Business Owner
Post by: Telecaster on November 15, 2016, 12:01:03 AM
I'm with the shop owner.   If I'm reading this correctly, he canceled one appointment, and tried to reschedule.  Really?  That's your problem?  This happens all the time in every industry. 

It doesn't sound like this was mission critical, that is, you didn't have to have the chaps by a certain date.  If you weren't free on Wed. or Thursday, how about the following Tuesday?  Or the Tuesday after that?   I'm not seeing any damage on your end.  Yet you are are going to kill the whole deal over one attempt to reschedule an appointment?  Doesn't sound like you were very invested in the project in the first place.  The shop hours have zero to do with anything.

And the owner put shop time into this project base on your authorization.  Those are real costs that came out of his pocket.  Believe it or not verbal contracts are legally binding, if difficult to prove.   If push really came to shove, he as a far better case against you, than you do against him.

So you didn't get want you wanted in the time you wanted it, but you managed to screw over the shop owner in the process.  I would count that as a victory (I guess) and walk away.