Monday, October 31, 2011

Watch Out! Distribution Madness!!!

You know those moments when you completely scratch your head and just don't get it. Life is loaded with absurdities. Rather than get angry (although I still do get irritated at some of it), I thought I would share the most absurd business relationship I ever got into and JUST extricated my company out of it. Our now former distributor Atlas/Bookmasters (thank goodness we're done with them) did all kinds of things that one could call absurd, ridiculous and incompetent. Let me start with the list for your enjoyment.

Perils of Printing -- We initially worked with them on a print job. It went awry immediately. When we tried to remedy all of the mistakes and over-charges and hidden fees, the president (not the staff) told us we were incompetent. First, you never tell a client they are incompetent (horrible customer service) ... oh wait what's my second point again? Oh yeah, you NEVER tell a client they're incompetent. AND they had the nerve to try and win our business on other print jobs!!! Really? You called us incompetent, but hey! You still want our print business. Hmm... I don't think so. We'll stick with our reputable printer -- thank you!

Frightening Accounting -- On the distribution side, each month we were given reports. Each month our intrepid operations manager had to cull through line items to unearth all of the overcharges and inaccurate charges. EVERY month!  If we had blindly just paid our bill, we would have paid hundreds of dollars over and over again for inaccurate charges. Thank goodness my operations manager is COMPETENT!

What happened to making money? The distributor was supposed to sell our products. Do you know we NEVER made a thin dime in almost two years? Did we pay them thousands of dollars? Yes! Is this the most ridiculous upside down relationship you have ever heard of? They had a fee for everything! Touch that darned books and you were charged. It was a racket. You couldn't make money no matter how many books you sold. Oh, and call them for customer service and you were charged for the call!!! Even if it was to clear up all of their mistakes -- ka-ching!

The real cherry on the sundae. Then came the topper! Apparently it's completely acceptable to sell a book to the likes of Barnes and Noble, maybe or maybe not get paid (in the system only), for $10 and then (and you're going to yowl at this), Barnes can return it and charge $16! So let's see ... maybe we'll get paid that $10 per book but Barnes can actually make money by returning it for $16. And no one is in the system to protect us (the publisher). Don't worry though! We got the bill for the extra $6! That we didn't get paid the original $10 for anyway! Now I get it! I'm not only paying to have book distributed, but oh yeah, I'm PAYING extra!!!

If you are considering doing business with this company, I recommend you hesitate and do your homework! 3L Publishing is now with the reputable Bakers and Taylor!

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