We are honored to present The Retail Balls Award to JM's previous boss for creativity and wicked awesomeness in handling an absentee custy.
This one comes from 10 years ago or so, when I was working in the mom n' pop print shop. I LOVED that job. There were only five employees; four if you didn't count the owner who didn't do a lot but schmooze with customers and play solitaire on his computer, but he was still totally awesome. We were a very small printing & bulk mailing facility, we did a lot of newsletters for local clubs & organizations, some business cards, flyers, other small jobs. We supplemented our income by selling wedding/party invitations.
Note: A word of advice for all the retail slaves out there who may be coming up on a festive occasion... These places make a KILLING off of these things. The company pays once a year for a sample book from the vendor. The sample book has a suggested retail price listed in the sample book for each item. All the printing company has to do to order them is fill out an order form online, fill in the SKU # from the sample you pick, and click "send". And for all that work *eyeroll* we got paid a 50% markup... 50%!!!! It was 60% on non-invitation items (napkins, favors, cake servers, etc). You will pay MUCH less by picking out a nice set of cards and printing them yourselves.
Okay, advice over. Anyway, we always took a 50% deposit when ordering invitations so that we at least weren't out any money if someone ordered some invites and never came to pick them up. But if that happened, we would still try to get the rest of the money from the customer.
So one week, we had a ghetto-fabulous lady come in to get invitations. I sat down with her in the front lobby with 3 of our most popular sample books. She doesn't like anything we've got, so I haul out more sample books, and still more. Finally she decides on this hideous card with (I kid you not) clip art of Disney characters and Cinderella's castle (have I mentioned these are WEDDING invitations???). She's going to pay extra for the gold foil letters *ugh*. She orders a crap-ton of these things, plus everything that would have made my heart go pitter-patter had I been on commission (I wasn't)... Cake knife, party favors, bridesmaid gifts, groomsmen gifts, napkins, bubbles, balloons. She literally ordered one of almost everything we had available.
I took her deposit, wrote down her phone # to call her when they came in, and let her know that they'd be in in about a week and half. Now, keep in mind this was 10 years ago. It was a small company. We didn't take credit cards. She paid her deposit by check.... and it bounced!
I called and called and called and mailed a notice (handwritten by our "office manager" *heh*) to the address listed on her check. It came back as "recipient unknown". The date of her wedding was slowly creeping up. She wasn't returning any of my calls. The invitations and all the favors are PERSONALIZED... we can NOT return these! I mean, unless we find another She'quanda and Willis who are getting married, we're totally shit out of luck.
When suddenly... my boss (the owner) gets a brilliant idea. Here's the next message that I left on her answering machine (at my boss's direction): "Miss ______, This is _____ from _____ Printing Company. Your wedding invitations have arrived, and we need to receive the payment for the remainder of the order, plus cash reimbursement for the deposit that was returned by the bank, plus the insufficient funds fees that we had to pay to your bank. Please note that we must receive this payment by close of business on Friday or we will have to take further action. I don't think I need to remind you that we have the address, location and time of your wedding ceremony. Unless you have tendered the amount owed to us, IN CASH, by this Friday, you may have some additional guests who will be in blue uniforms. Thank you, have a GREAT day!"
She came in the next day, hubby-to-be and three snot-nosed toddlers in tow, to pay the money she owed us. Of course, the money was in the form of a money order, drawn from some guy's bank account (not the hubby-to-be). I can only imagine it was her baby daddy, and she claimed some back child support.