TL:DR Customer wants material to be delivered yesterday, but I make a mistake that means it doesn’t get delivered on time, then everyone else screws me over so it gets delivered even later.
I work in the Railing Estimation Department at a Pacific Northwest skylight, sunroom, and railing manufacturer, and I very rarely take calls. On October 5, I took a call from a California company wanting 5 unpainted (painted is standard) 20′ bars of our rectangular top rail, and some end caps to mount the rail to a wall. No problem – or so I thought. The guy asked if we had them in stock, and since I have personally seen them sitting on the rack, I answered in the affirmative. I gave him a quote for the product plus shipping and crating.
Next day, CA customer calls back wanting to order, and asks when he can get them. I tell him two weeks before we can ship them, and he replies with a very indignant “I thought you had them in stock!” I explain that, yes, they are in stock, but we still have to pull them off the shelf, inspect for any major damage, and box them for shipping. And that’s after all the other customers wanting their railing before the 6-month rainy/cold season begins.
“How can we get them sooner?” he asks.
“You can pay an expedite fee, and that will guarantee that it will ship on Monday October 16th.”
“Fine, do that.”
So I add the fee on top of his crating and shipping charges, and take it to the money handler in the downstairs office. I’m fairly new to the estimation department, and thus I was unaware that CA customers have to have tax added to their orders, so I have to tell an already indignant customer they have to pay even more for the product. He begrudgingly accepts the charges, and I process the order, printing out a white copy of the order to go on the floor for the production team, a yellow copy for our records, and a pink copy for the financial department.
On Monday, October 16th, just before I’m about to leave for the day, I get a call from them, wondering where their product is. I look it up, call the production manager, who’s already off the clock and doesn’t recognize the order. I go downstairs and hunt down the yellow copy in the file cabinet and pink the pink copy in the rolling file cart, but can’t for the life of me find the white. Several trips up and down the stairs, and I find the white sitting on the file cabinet, having never made it to the floor.
Ohshit.jpg. Big mistake that was my fault. I call the customer back to brown-nose a bit and ask if he still wants the product. I tell him I will refund the expedite fee, because he obviously didn’t receive his order in the expedite time frame. He is understandably upset, but agrees to this arrangement. So I go to get the pink to edit it, having laid it down somewhere, and now I can’t find it.
More trips up and down the stairs, and several instances of going through the file cart folders with the letter of the customer name, and the folders before and after it, and still no dice. I end up printing another copy of all three colors (carbonless carbon paper). Finally, I find it in the very back of the file cart. Some jackass picked it up where I laid it down and put it in the back of the cart, not even bothering to file it by the customer’s name. Finally, I’m able to edit the pink and give it back to the money handler to enter into the system. When she gives me a receipt for the removal of the expedite fee, I scan it in and email it to the customer, promising to deliver it the next day.
The next morning, I give the updated white copy to the production manager. I spend my mornings helping in production because they’re fairly busy, then I go up to the office after morning break for the rest of the day. I tell the manager that this is urgent, and he says, “I’ll take care of it.” Meanwhile, he had me building display models, which we usually only do when we’re not that busy, so I figure he will have one of the full-time production workers box it up. An hour or so before break, I ask him when he’s going to do it, and once again, he says “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it.” I’m definitely still worried, because I promised that it would ship this afternoon.
A few minutes before break, the manager calls me over, because he realized that there weren’t just end caps on the order, but there were 5 20-ft bars of material. I tell him that’s why I was so worried about it, and he asks me to come back after break to pull the order. I had already suspected that I’d have to do it myself, so after break I bust my ass to box those parts, and they’re ready to go just before lunch. I give the shipping information to the front desk lady, and she prints out shipping labels.
A half hour after lunch, she comes up to the office wondering where the boxes are, because she’s new, and not used to shipping boxes that aren’t in the shipping area. I show her the carts that Railing uses to hold completed orders because there’s no room for the 20ft material in the shipping area. She has labels printed for BrownCarrier, and she asks if that’s ok. I tell her they have semi trucks that will pick up the long stuff.
I haven’t done much with orders shipped by carrier, so I tell my office manager what I said, and he informs me that BrownCarrier picks up max 8-ft lengths, and we’ll have to use PurpleOrangeCarrier, but to confirm with the shipping manager. After confirming, I go down to tell her as much, only to find out my manager has already done so. She cancels the BrownCarrier order and prints out PurpleOrangeCarrier labels. I think everything is hunky-dory.
Next morning, I find out that the order hasn’t shipped yet. Turns out that we missed PurpleOrangeCarrier’s pick up cutoff of 1:30pm, so they will ship a day late. Thankfully, I am in the right place at the right time, and I’m able to personally help load the boxes onto the truck so I can tell the customer their order has finally shipped.