Let me give you a little insight. We are fast approaching trade show season in our industry. It's going to be a rough end of August through mid-October. Along with the everyday happening at work I have to plan tradeshows, make the price list for next year, put together the binder that includes the price list and product information, oh, and don't forget we are redoing a lot of packaging and launching new products. Yeah, I'm not going to be swamped AT ALL! But hey, that isn't the point of this post. The point is that we are in the midst of planning shows and we decided that we will be giving out t-shirts at some of these shows. The t-shirt will have our company name, the website, and the icons for twitter, facebook, and youtube.com (we've just recently gone into social media and launched a new website).
I called a company in Texas that does a large part of our printing of flyers, pamphlets etc. to see if they know anyone that prints t-shirts. While I was waiting for the referral to come via email I called the company that we use here in Montreal often for a quote. At the same time my boss asked me to ask our sales reps if they had a printing person that could get a good price. Let's be honest, the economy is pretty much crappy right now and we are all looking for the best price possible. I got the first bid in from the Montreal company and while I hit the forward button to show my boss I knew we wouldn't be using them. They were extremely over priced. Seriously. The referral from my friend in Texas came through and we discussed t-shirt brand, feel, print ideas etc. while I was waiting on his quote a quote came in from one of my sales reps contacts. I informed this guy that I was waiting for a quote from another company. He said he understood.
I felt overwhelmed but I knew one thing for sure. The Montreal company was out. The referral from Texas sent me mock ups via email but no pricing. He told me that he would stay in line with what we paid last year (I was off work for a year so I have no clue what it is). I told the company that my sales rep referred me to that although they have great prices and great mock ups I am still waiting on one more bid. He told me that he completely understood. A few minutes later I got another email from him asking for more details and he said "I'm confident that I'll be the price best and I'd like to be proactive while you wait for your final quote. Can I have the following information...."
My boss made the decision last night. He wanted to go with the company that my sales rep brought to us. He managed to get us higher quality shirts at a better price and he was located closer to come of our trade shows so the shipping price would be cheaper too. I called the guy this morning and finalized some details and gave him the green light. BUT before I could do that I got a call from the Montreal company asking if we made a decision. Unfortunately I couldn't bring myself to let her down. What I told her instead was that we were waiting for another quote. She said, "Wow, that hurt." I don't understand why that could hurt? Are we supposed to blindly just accept your pricing without looking at another company? Are we supposed to assume that you are the best priced company? I'm really sorry but over the 4 years I've worked at this company I've quickly realized that instead of being the cheapest it really is one of the highest priced companies when doing printed materials. I think it might have hurt because my boss didn't just say "Okay" instead we decided to shop around.
I then had to call the company that was referred to me by a friend. I started off all nice and friendly and brought myself to say, "I'm really sorry but we have decided to go with another company" and then the guy went off on me. He asked what the pricing difference was and if we were willing to kill a business relationship over a couple hundred dollars and how he didn't feel his company was given a fair chance. I told him that "You were higher priced on lower quality shirts, therefore I'd assume that you are going to be higher priced on the higher quality shirts too" and he kept on going in. I mentioned that the other companies price quote included 24 Adidas polo shirts as well and then he says "Yeah Adidas is just throwing free shirts at everyone these days. He must have a rejected load" Wow. Excuse me!? Can't you just shut your face and accept that we decided to go with another company? Then he said the thing that irked me the most, "I don't understand how an executive would choose to go with a completely new company when we have worked together and proved that we price well, work on short deadlines, and always deliver on time." I basically, very politely told him, "I'm sorry but last year we did take a chance on you and it worked out for us, we are hoping that this year the same thing happens."
I completely understand that a company can be disappointed when they were expecting to land a $6000 job but I did inform them that I was waiting on other bids. I told all the companies that we were waiting on other bids (except the Montreal company who came in right around $10,000). I was honest and remained professional. I don't see how the owner of a company can just bitch and moan to me about us not choosing them. I would even understand him making a comment like, "I'm really sorry/disappointed that this didn't work out, I was looking forward to working with you." I can understand him telling a business partner how he's disappointed or how he was banking on getting the job. I just don't find it was very professional of him to complain directly to a company that MIGHT have used him again in the future. I can promise you one thing though, as long as I am at the company we will NOT work with that particular company again.
So, would you ever complain directly to a customer or potential customer?