Of Big Texas and promises.

I was looking for a T-shirt supplier last month and came across Big Texas. Tall t-shirts in stock, based in Australia, how wonderful! One thing I like about ordering from local online businesses, shipping is much, much quicker.

I sent an enquiry, emphasized that it was pretty urgent and that I needed it pronto if it was possible. They replied as I had expected.

Thank you for your interest in our product. Unfortunately we do not offer express shipping of any kind, so we won’t be able to accommodate your request. We’re very sorry to disappoint you. If there is anything else that we can answer for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Well, at least I took a shot at it. The order was placed regardless, and it was time to twiddle my thumbs and hope for the best.

Here comes the very interesting sequence of events thereafter.

15 Feb:
Order placed, reminded customer service I had placed my order.

16 Feb:
Vey customer-servicey sounding email, I was a little pleased that day.

Thank you for your letting us know. Every order is processed as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality, and we will apply the same care to yours. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us.

19 Feb:
Responded to my enquiry the day before on whether the order had shipped yet.

Thank you for your e-mail enquiry. Your order will be shipping out tomorrow. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us.

20 Feb:
True to word, received email notification that the order had been shipped. This is where I have to quote from the website FAQ and T&Cs.

Delivery Policy
Standard Delivery – Approximate delivery within 5-7 working days from receipt of order to Australian metro addresses, 6-7 working days to country areas and 10 working days to rural areas. Large items may incur longer delivery times as these are road freight.

Products will be supplied by BigTexas.com.au – Trading as BigTexas™ alongside our sister company, BigTexas.com, Inc. In either case, products will be shipped to you only from within Australia.

26 Feb:
Printer apparently had not received anything yet, so I sent an enquiry about the order status.

27 Feb:
This was what I got in response.

We apologize for the confusion. We are aware of the issue with tracking ID numbers, and are currently working with DHL to resolve it. This unfortunately makes it impossible to pinpoint a package’s location and delivery date during transit. While we continue to investigate this issue we appreciate your patience and understanding.

International deliveries take approximately 7-12 business days. Your order is due to be delivered between February 27-March 6, give or take a couple of days. We hope this information is helpful, but please don’t hesitate to contact us with further questions or concerns.

What the eff is this shit about?

Firstly, international delivery when the terms and conditions already emphasized the products would be shipped within Australia.

Second, their FAQ stated 10 working days to rural areas, so what is this crap about a possible 12 days?! Ridiculous. I sent an angry reply and requested for assistance on this problem.

I tried to call their 1300 number as well, but no one picked up. No IVR, no voicemail, just a ringing phone. I got the funny feeling that their entire customer service was based in the States as well, because their replies would always come overnight.

28 Feb:
I might be really lousy at comprehension, but it wasn’t clear what “handled incorrectly” meant. And they were talking about a replacement order. So, what happened to the original one?

We apologize for all of the confusion. Your order was handled incorrectly on our end, so we are rushing a replacement as quickly as we possibly can. It will ship via DHL Express and we will send you a message with tracking information as soon as the number generates. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us.

Got more pissed, sent off another angry email and threatened to take the matter up with Consumer Affairs for false advertising.

1 Mar:
They promised shipping of the ASAP variety with DHL Express, so I left it at that. My printer promised to have it to me within the week if I could get the stock to him, so all I could do now was to hope DHL delivered.

Thank you for your continued communication your initial order was sent but due to the late time frame we would like to express a new order to you. We apologize for the delay of your order you are correct there is no excuse. It however does not fix the problem. Your order will ship for our US warehouse tomorrow. It will be sent DHL express. You will receive your order with in 2-3 days. We will email you tomorrow with the tracking so you can view your package on line and see that it will be delivered with the time frame. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us.

I requested for a discount/refund on the order, because they did not deliver on their promise.

2 Mar:
Tracking number came, and $20 refund was promised.

Thank you for your response. The tracking number on you order is XXX. Again we apologize for the inconvenience we will process adjustment of 20.00 of your order. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us.

5 Mar:
Watched the order fly its way from Boston, MA to my printer on the DHL tracking system. It’s really ironic because the t-shirts will end up back in Boston at the end.

And yep, still waiting for refund. Customer service says it’s been processed, but it hasn’t appeared on the statement yet.

Thank you for your reply. Your adjustment has already been processed to your account. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us. Again we apologize for the LARGE inconvenience this has caused you.

I wasn’t totally sure “adjustment” meant a refund to my credit card or if they meant adding credit to the BigTexas account, so I had to check. Good thing they replied pretty promptly this time.

Please forgive our unclear wording. Yes, the adjustment is the refunded amount returning to the credit card you used for the transaction. While we can confirm that we processed this, it can take up to 72 hours for the credit to post to your payment method. If we can assist you any further please do not hesitate to contact us.

Granted the customer service wasn’t piss-poor, but the inconsistency between the website’s promise of delivery and the actual logistical operations was just plain wrong. Or perhaps I was just flat out unlucky on being the one guy who slipped through the cracks?

Quote from their About Us page:

We’re making headway to ensuring a 3-5 day delivery time Australia wide or at the very least, to be competitive with domestic shipping times that we are familiar with here in Australia. Many of our shipments can and will be received within 1-2 days of ordering and this will be the largest growth area for our company. With 3 million+ registered Paypal users in Australia and more than 2-3 times that number making purchases on eBay Australia, we trust that our logistics model can deliver orders equally or better than expected.

It sure sounds like I was the guy who got shafted amongst all those other satisfied people. But honestly, managing customer expectations is very important in every business. At this point of time, it’s been approximately two weeks and a little bit more since I placed my order. Way, way off.

The best part was that I probably wouldn’t even have cared about where the hell the stock was if it’d arrived in time. The point was the order vanished, I had to chase things up and some vague answer about “an issue with DHL tracking numbers” wasn’t really helping. The gesture on shipping a replacement order was really good, but they still missed the delivery window by a mile.

All I have to say is, thumbs up for customer service, but they really need to get their act together on order tracking and being more pro-active on letting the customer know if something goes wrong.

Golden rule on business: Problems inevitably happen, but it’s always great customer service that saves the day. Let the customer know you have a problem, that you have it well in hand, and that you will let them know how things go without the customer asking.

I’ll likely buy again from Big Texas in the future, but it will be on products that are not urgently needed.

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