Friday, September 15, 2006

Distribution Disaster

When we were in Baltimore we got to "go shopping" in Alliance's Baltimore warehouse (Alliance is Diamond Comics Distribution's game distribution arm). We found some cool games--some we have sold out of and needed to restock, some that we wanted to get when we were there, and some that just looked cute, plus two from Mayfair Games that were a special early release. We made our selections and went on to purchase them. The sale was on Sunday morning, by the way. We paid with a check and had them ship the stuff. When we were working on our bookeeping on Wednesday we were surprized to see that Alliance had already processed our check for the purchase.

We thought we picked out some good stuff and have been excitedly waiting for it. On Thursday UPS arrives with our Alliance boxes, but there's a problem. They have us down for COD. Well, we already paid for the darn stuff, and we tell the UPS guy just that. But he says it shows that we have to pay him the invoice total or he can't leave the stuff. Now we're frustraded!! UPS says he'll just mark it as "no money" and take it back.

Craig calls our Alliance rep, who kind of gives us the "I've got bigger fish to fry right now" treatment. You see, we don't order a ton of games, and most of our games come from a different distributor, so Alliance doesn't get much money from us. This once-a-year warehouse shopping spree at the retailer summit is probably our biggest single purchase from them in the year. The rep says that we could have just paid for the stuff AGAIN and then gotten a credit on our account - but that didn't make much sense since we'd have that credit sitting for quite some time before we used it all. So, we are supposed to refuse the UPS shippment outright when the guy comes back with it again today wanting money. Then they'll send us the same stuff out of the Ft. Wayne Indiana warehouse, so we should have it by next Monday. Except that the Mayfair games early releases aren't in Indiana, so we won't get those for a while. He said we could just wait for the boxes to get all the way back to the Baltimore warehouse, and then they'd resend them AGAIN - so we'd finally have them 10 days after the original delivery (2 weeks after the original purchase date). We were disapointed because we just wanted to put out these cool games - Alliance already took our money, and we'd like to have the ability to sell the product and get some of our investment back.


Anonymous said...

I don't think your Alliance Rep treated you badly because you aren't a big account. My store spends a _lot_ of money at Alliance, and even more at Diamond, and they don't treat us very well either. I think the staff at Alliance is stretched thin, and probably not well paid. Out rep seems like a nice guy but sometimes he seems to have the old cranial-rectal inversion problem. I was this close to asking for a new rep, and then the substitute who covered our account when our regular rep was sick, and messed it up even more, convinced me our current rep was about the best I could expect.

Times are hard in the industry, and Alliance knows that as long as their poor service, and poor fill rate, are just a little better than their competitors that we won't switch. Diamond knows we can't switch.

Lisa said...

You are right in that the industry has taken a hit, but I don't think that should necessarily mean reps don't have to care anymore. The story above ends with us NOT getting one of the pre-release games (Shear Panic) that we'd paid for because our rep didn't follow up to see if our returned shipment was received. So, they sold our stuff out from under us. Everything was filled except Shear Panic, which happened to be a game we'd had a pre-order for that we can't now fill.

Thankfully we've gotten our old sales rep back from ACD and are going to do more ordering from her. She's top notch!