Sunday, June 09, 2013

Business Review: Impact Publications

A couple of months ago, to help me in my role as Employment Consultant, I ordered a book from Impact  Publications. Impact Publications specialises in Career and Life style related books, and the book I ordered was aimed at case managers (like myself) on how to develop good case management skills to work with and assist clients overcome their barriers to employment.

My order arrived in an acceptable but not outstanding timeframe, and it had been packaged up well. The book lived up to the blurb and description on the website, so I was happy that I got what I paid for.

The company had six other books that I wouldn't mind owning, but because I had to take so much unpaid leave in order to care for my mother earlier this year resulting in my struggling to get by on such little income (it was my decision, I'm not complaining - my mum's wellness was more priority than me going to work) I didn't go back and reconsider or order my next purchase from Impact Publications until last Tuesday as I've only just got over that difficult financial hurdle to afford to buy a non-essential item.

After all the success I've been having with my Jobsearch Centre, and all the positive changes I've implemented that clients and staff have reacted well to, I remembered that this business had other books that I had been interested in, and, wanting to start breaking down my client barriers further - now that I'm on a roll - I Googled "Overcoming Barriers to Employment" and there sixth on the list of results was Impact Publications, the company I was looking for.  I ignored the other choices and went straight to this company website because I already trusted this company and the quality of its publication, so was prepared to gamble that any future publication purchased would be met with the same positive experience.

But I was wrong.

I placed an order for overcoming barriers to employment, and paid for the order.  I expected to receive an email the next day confirming the order had been received and or the item has been shipped.  Instead, I got an email requesting I pay more money.

The company only wanted an additional $5.95, and at first I was going to email and say 'fine' and allow them to charge me the additional fee.  But I was getting ready for work, and wasn't able to reply immediately.  I wanted to beat the traffic in getting to work so I would get a decent spot in the all day car park near work - which if I even so much as arrive five minutes later results in my having to park a lot further away and or be lucky to get a spot at all some days - so I delayed sending my response until I was safely parked near work, because I had half an hour before I needed to clock on.

But on the drive to work it occurred to me that I shouldn't have to pay additional money to receive those goods.  The website quoted the price for the item and the shipping, and I had accepted that cost, and made my payment.  The reason provided by the company for wanting to charge me an additional fee is that the postal service had put up their prices and they had not updated their website yet.  So this company's policy was to solicit additional payment from the customers rather than bear the cost of their mistake their own selves.

That to me is an unfair, unethical business practice. 

We make a mistake but you have to pay for it?  No. 

Purchasing products is a contractual agreement between the supplier and the purchaser, and once agreed upon is not subject to change. 

I shopped with this business and accepted the price quoted in good faith. It is not my responsibility, once the deal has been agreed upon, to bow to additional charges - no matter who is at fault.  Actually, if the business wanted to provide good customer relationships to encourage repeat sales, then it should have just shipped my goods, and rectified their website billing immediately so the business doesn't lose out on its profits with future customers. But I'm not sure Impact Publications understands how to build good customer relationships now.

The price of the book being purchased (in American dollars) was $17.95.  The company was already charging $18.00 for international shipping - which is very steep, and at least twice the cost that other retailers I have recently purchased from charge to ship from America to Australia (Amazon, a Sunrider retailer and a medical supplier have each charged me less than $10.00 in shipping for heavier items and express delivery) - and is already more expensive than the item being purchased.  Could they not use another postal service?  Those other companies I order through use different (and cheaper) postal carriers, why can't Impact Publications source fairer costed options?

In Australia, consumers are protected by laws to prevent undisclosed costs being tacked on after price has been agreed upon.  Businesses that tack on additional costs, if it goes to arbitration, are dismissed as not being payable because it breaches the laws and regulations of business trading, and such businesses that try to put one over the customers like this are deemed 'dodgy'. I don't know if America has similar consumer protection laws or not but I am left with the feeling that Impact Publications have acted dodgily towards me.

I wrote back to Impact Publications, and expressed that I disagree with their unethical practice, and requested they cancel my order and issued full refund on principle.

I received two emails after I wrote back to them: the first, received about eight hours later, advising me that the items had been shipped, and another emailed twelve hours after the first advising that refund had been made.

I've checked my bank account, I haven't seen the refund come through yet, and I don't think the item was shipped despite receiving the email advising this - I will update in 6 - 8 weeks if the item is received (very expensive postage for such a long delivery period compared with the cheaper and faster two week delivery of those other companies), and will update when the refund shows up on my bank statement.

In the meantime, if you wish to purchase any products from this company, please be aware that the company may email you with additional charges after you have made your purchase.

Impact Publications have ruined the customer relationship for me - all for the post sale greed of $5.95.

But we are both losers here. The purchases I was going to make over the next few paydays would have totalled close to $200 in sales with that company.  I no longer trust the company enough to purchase books from them any more - but those books are not available to be purchased elsewhere on the Net - so I miss out.  But I'd rather reward with my business a company that will maintain good relationships with me, and I am confident that I can find a comparable product with another supplier.

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