There is an old adage that I love that says:
“Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Over the course of 2019, I have worked with over 268 clients on my website alone, not including my Etsy shop and my other various online shops. Out of the 268 clients that I have worked with, with another 20 already in my books, the only issue seems to be final shipping. For the record…… Shipping is NOT included in wedding invitation pricing. This is stated when the order is placed; it’s listed in the policies; it’s stated in several emails while constructing invitation proofs; and stated again after your final balance is paid via website link, invoiced out, or remitted directly to me should you choose to pay in another manner other than the invoice or website link. It is not unknown and certainly not something that can go unnoticed by any client.
The wedding invitation ordering process is quite simple:
1) place your deposit and submit your wording
2) you receive your proofs in 2-3 business days for approval or correction
3) once your proofs have been approved, your order goes into production in accordance with the specified timeline you are given for your order prior to your deposit submission
4) once your order is completed your order will be sent for shipping and is only shipped out once you have paid your shipping invoice
Shipping at one time was handled by sending all orders via USPS one rate boxes. This seemed to work well for most orders until maybe a couple of years ago when items would seemingly track to the distribution centers and then just stop tracking altogether. It is truly no fun to get a call from a bride or from anyone else looking for a package that has been swallowed up at a distribution center. They would call USPS as well, but USPS was only able to communicate to the customer what was on the screen and would take a certain amount of time before they would actually open an inquiry on the location. Insurance added to the shipment then takes weeks to recoup. At that point, you either refund the purchase or try to recreate it, both solutions of which leaves the designer in a bit of jam. I did not have time to spend my entire day tracking down orders (sometimes that had been shipped out weeks prior) with tracking indicating that it checked into distribution centers sometimes in other states or in some cases it read delivered when no one had received it.
After one too many instances of dead tracking issues, I decided to force the usage of guaranteed tracking with the usage of FedEx earlier this year. Luckily, I have access to a concierge service that has all of the shipping options available. If you would prefer UPS, they can use them as well. I can not include your shipping expenses into your order because the overall shipping weight and your address are needed to calculate the correct shipping fee, which I would not have until your order is assembled. Once your order is completed and boxed, it is taken to concierge with your order information where it is weighed and you are emailed your final shipping balance with three options: overnight shipping, two day shipping, or saver (which takes a bit longer to arrive at a reduced cost). You need to open the email, select your option and pay for your option for the label to be generated and your package to be shipped. You can not call and ask that it be charged to the card you used at ordering. There is no charge on delivery. There is no free shipping. You simply have to select your option and pay via the link. I promise it is not difficult. It is not rocket science. It is two clicks, entering your credit card information and then one final click. Most clients pay it immediately, the tracking number is generated and their boxes are received with no issues.
Since the invoice is digital, guess what? It can be seen when the invoice is viewed as well as the time date stamp on the invoice tracking. There have been some clients that have stated that they never received the invoice and when the digital history is pulled up, it’s clear that not only did they get it, they viewed it and in some cases have viewed it several times. So to say that you didn’t get it, can I just ship them out to you would be a hard no, especially when it is clear via digital tracking that you did receive it. It is not a secret to clients that shipping needs to be paid for before their order ships and it’s not at all deceitful to hold clients to the terms that they agreed to before placing their order. And a win for me is that in the less than 10 orders that I’ve had where there was an issue out of all of my order streams, I can always refund the order, but at least I still have the product and I can simply sample it out and recoup those costs back. The preference is always to get the order to the client, but for the problematic shipments, I would rather have it for resell than to have it lost in dead tracking and still have to refund as well – which means being out of money twice for the same order. Definitely not ideal.
Final note – while I plan to keep concierge shipping (because honestly when I look at the numbers, the number of clients that can appropriately follow the terms of their agreement and are quick to pay shipping, far surpasses the problematic clients), I do plan to implement a time limit restriction because it seems that a commonality in the most stressful orders is the tardiness of order placement. Serious question…. If you know you are getting married in September, why in the world would you wait until mid June to try and place your order? Or here is one, if you know your wedding is in April and you wait until February to order…..you should expect that things may be a bit stressful for you. About a month ago, I started turning down these orders because it truly isn’t worth the stress, at least not to me. Orders placed this late are typically more suited to and deserving of Zazzle or Michael’s than invitations that are made by hand with supplies coming from all of over the US. Shipping should be the quickest part of this process in terms of paying for it. But lets say you genuinely did not receive your invoice (which has legitimately happened once before), if the order was timely placed and even if there were some type of internet forces only directed to your email preventing only you from receiving your invoice, you would still have more than enough time for a new invoice to be generated and re-sent.
Let’s be clear, I prefer to do business efficiently and with efficient people, which is the reason that I have policies in place (posted several places) and follow them closely. Interestingly enough, more clients than not have been able to follow those simple policies. I’m definitely thankful for them. Typically I do my work quietly and without fanfare. I don’t send links for reviews because I am good with a simple email or client photo back after all has been received. I don’t live for likes and hearts, I simply expect clients to read the policies and follow them. You can’t spin what is written in several places the exact same way to suit your purposes. The shipping payment is part of your contract. It can’t be waived just on a whim. Too many have understood that rule for it to be bent for a handful of clients. Those that have followed the policies have had no issues. But for those that for some reason didn’t or couldn’t follow the polices, that is ok as well. I wish them all the best!
Just keep in mind, the story of the hunt has two sides. Make sure to hear from the lion, too.