From the outset, there appears to be concerns raised across some Facebook groups and online forums regarding the delivery of ordered items and response to queries raised directly with us.
First of all, we want to assure the public at large that there is no risk that any goods that you have ordered will not be delivered. We have had no circumstances where we have been unable to deliver any goods except those of which are outside of our control, in those exceptionally rare circumstances, full refunds have been provided and we don’t foresee circumstances where this will change.
We understand that a large number of our customers (past, present and potential) have likely been burned in the past by some local online websites. We have no intention of allowing TBI to go down the same path.
A little bit more about us
TBI is a family run business with only two staff, Kylie and Stuart. We are not a large organisation and as such we are responsible for all aspects of operating the business from packaging, inventory management, email queries, etc. We both also work full time outside of TBI.
We established TBI as a business for the predominant purpose of bringing collectables to the community at the most affordable price we can offer. Stuart is very passionate about his collection and we are both enthusiastic about the business. The last thing we want to see are customers who are upset with the service that we are providing.
Recent online comments
We have noticed recently that there has been a number of comments that have been made via online platforms or by direct email to us that are either misleading in their content or just plain upsetting and bullying. We have been the target of direct threats and smears that we would not wish upon anyone.
There has also been an exceptionally high number of emails that we have received, particularly from only a limited number of people. As an example, we sometimes receive up to 20 emails a day from some individuals alone making the same requests for information over and over. In almost all instances, the answers to these queries can be found via our help desk on the website or by checking the item listing pages for updated ETAs.
This is not meant to be an excuse for why it is taking a long time for people to receive a response. However, it is meant to highlight the reason why we cannot promptly respond to emails. We have acknowledged previously (see the news section of the website or our Facebook page) that we have had issues with responding to communications promptly however we are taking steps to remedy this as we will discuss below.
However, on 6 November 2019 there was a decision made by two Facebook groups to issue a “warning” about TBI. This came as a surprise to us and we were not contacted by the Admins of either group prior to this “warning” being issued. This has resulted in a number of abusive emails, a huge increase in email queries from customers, a large demand for refunds and a potential loss of customers. This was very disappointing.
We understand that previous local online retailers’ actions have caused a large distrust among the public about local online retailers. In this regard, it is unfortunate that we feel this “warning” was made. To clarify a few of the matters raised:
- We have acknowledged criticisms that have been made against us and where appropriate, have taken steps to try and reduce any future concerns.
- We have not breached any customer’s privacy and take our obligations under the Privacy Act very seriously.
- The volume of the multiple enquiries appears to be misunderstood. We are not talking about a customer following up a couple times on a query over the course of time; we are talking about customers who send upwards of 20 emails a day, repetitively.
- The feedback thread on OTCA (at 405 posts at the time of writing this), whilst detailing issues some members of that forum have raised, also includes a significant number of positive feedback comments.
We intend on discussing these matters with these Facebook groups to ensure that there are no misunderstandings.
What we are doing to address concerns
The main cause of concern that we are hearing is a lack of communication. Whilst a lot of the queries can be addressed through our help desk or by looking at item pages for updated ETAs, we acknowledge that there are some queries we are not addressing in a timely manner. We have taken the following steps recently to try and address these concerns:
- The introduction of Zendesk and the implemented help desk, which gives users the tools to find answers such as where to find updated ETA's on Pre-Orders.
- The removal of the TBI Crate and “4 for free” shipping options; the lack of autonomy with this service created a backlog of inquiries, despite our best efforts to show in detail how to use the service.
- The creation of monthly public updates distributed through our Facebook page and group, published in the News and Updates section of the help desk with links made available also on Twitter. This will be further improved to include a mass email send out to those that have opted-in to receive marketing emails from us.
- Scaling back quantities of goods that we sell.
- Being more selective in what we offer.
- We are also looking into ways of adopting a Deposit Pre-Order system, which will hopefully help reduce any concerns about your money being tied up for extensive periods of time.
The removal of the TBI Crate is very disappointing for us and we suggest that those who have not viewed our news section on the website should do so to understand the reasons why this has happened. This action alone should significantly reduce the number of email queries we receive.
Furthermore, we have been actively seeking a retail location here in Bundaberg, especially after the success and support the locals have shown us when we attend markets and conventions. We hope that once established it will further reassure and reiterate the legitimacy of our long-term goals with TBI.
The majority of you know that we do not have the capacity to send correspondence to each individual who has a delayed item. This is why we constantly update our website with changed ETAs as well as providing stock and pre-order updates in our news section on the website. If there is an item’s ETA that has not been updated and has passed the estimated delivery date, we welcome any queries regarding such items. We are likely waiting on updates from our suppliers regarding delivery times.
As we source the vast majority of our goods from overseas, we have no control over the expected delivery dates of the goods we order. This is why we only ever state an “Estimated Arrival”. We try to be as accurate as possible and acknowledge that it must be frustrating when there are multiple changes made to estimated delivery dates.
We know we are not perfect and we can’t please everyone. Some queries may slip through the cracks and we miss them completely. It happens and for that we are truly sorry.
On a positive note, we have received a lot of supportive emails and messages over the last few days and we would like to thank all of you who continue to support TBI. Your faith in us is not misplaced. It is not always easy to ask for patience as we try and address communication concerns, but keep in mind we are dedicated to ensuring these issues are not ongoing.
-Kylie and Stuart Flynn