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How to win customers and influence people

By makemylunch 16 October 2007 87

Regarding: ACT Wine Industry Network incorp. Brindabella Wine Tours, and in particular, their “executive director”, Michael J. Tabart

I am (was) on the mailing list for this company, ACT Wine / Brindabella Tours. About a month ago, they sent an email advising of a special offer, and I quote:  “Purchase any case of wine from us between now and Saturday 29th September (by 2.00pm) from our website (at our listed prices), tell us whether you are going for Geelong or Port Adelaide – and everyone who selects the winning team will get ANOTHER CASE OF THE PURCHASED WINE ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE!!! EVERYONE!”

There was no website link included in the email, but luckily I know how to google. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say in all my years of working with website design I have never come across a less user-friendly site.  The online order form told me the wine cost $26.95 per… something, which I assumed was per case because I’ve bought this particular wine before for around $15 a bottle. Yes, that would be a brilliant deal, but they’re a warehouse. The wine is supposed to be dirt-cheap. So I selected ‘quantity 1’, put in my credit card details and got a receipt telling me my order was accepted. However, there was nowhere to specify my choice of AFL team, so I emailed Michael Tabart again.

He wrote back telling me that my choice of wine was not in stock and therefore wasn’t eligible for the special offer. Well, he should have said that in the original email, right? But no – all he’d said was “purchase ANY case of wine” (see quote above). He also said the website displays the number of bottles or cases available. Which it doesn’t. I decided to go ahead with the order anyway and told him so.

Yet another email came back from Tabart telling me my order through the website had not come through after all, and could he please have my credit card details? I gave them to him reluctantly, a little concerned that I’d had to enter my credit card number on his website and my details had been lost. But I’d sent the email in a hurry and forgotten to put my address on it. Back came his reply reminding me to do so. All well and good; I wrote back yet again, joking that I didn’t know where my head was at. The next email I got was a notice telling me he’d posted my case of wine.

At no point during this back-and-forth did either of us think to confirm the price; my fault just as much as his. But this meant that I was rocked off my chair when I got my credit card statement and found that he’d charged me over $300. I was a little shocked, so I emailed him again asking for confirmation of the price and offering to give his website designer a few tips on user-friendly design.  Imagine my surprise to receive the following email in reply:  

All our wines are listed as per all standard liquor sites as a per bottle price. This is also specified on the Order Form (on our site – near the price it says ea – which means per bottle) although we did not receive one from you initially with a credit card no.- that’s why I emailed you requesting your confirmed order and credit card details. I have charged you the stated price per bottle of $26.95 and the $12.00 freight charge also as per advertised. I really am speechless if you thought that the wine was $26.95 a case (or $2.24 per bottle). I really don’t know what else to say except there appears to be quite a bit of confusion on your part – my back log of outward emails records me asking for your address, your credit card no. and again at some stage asking you to confirm your order. One of your return emails refers to your confusion and I think maybe a phone call from you may have made the whole process clearer. Our Terms and Conditions clearly specify minimum amounts that can be ordered and I clearly requested you to confirm that you wanted a case. Your order was specially ordered in as stated and was expedited to you asap.
 
I take notice of your comments re: the format of our website but I have to say that in 10 years of operating our business I have not had such a case of confusion on a customer’s part nor any complaints at all about our website . However, I will take your comments to our next meeting with our website designer and see if we can improve the site even further.
 
In the meantime I trust you enjoy your wine and I hope you will see fit to utilise our services in the future.

Kind regards
Michael

I couldn’t believe it. I went back to double check, and the terms and conditions says absolutely nothing about minimum ordering quantities – all that’s on that page is a copyright blurb. The order form doesn’t specify whether you’re ordering by bottle or by case – it only states that there is a delivery charge of $12. And how was I supposed to intuit that ‘ea’ meant ‘each bottle‘, not ‘each case ‘? Clearly, I am not a frequent visitor to these ‘standard liquor sites’ he mentions. Not to mention the fact that he’d suddenly turned so offensive. So here’s what I wrote back: 

Michael,

I have another tip for you. If you want to encourage repeat business, don’t imply your customers are stupid. Telling me you are speechless over my confusion was entirely unnecessary, particularly as my confusion was caused by your misleading and contradictory emails and website.

Yes, I pointed out that I was naive to assume the wine was $26.95 per case. However, I have purchased bottles of Wimbaliri Chardonnay for under $16 before so I don’t think it was THAT naive, considering you apparently operate a warehouse, which should mean the wine is a whole lot cheaper.

I will not see fit to utilise your services in the future as I have never had to deal with such a rigmarole when ordering online in my life. I also don’t appreciate being scolded like a little child, particularly when I have just laid out over $300 on your product. Incidentally, you never did answer my question about the total cost. Not that it matters now. I hope the taste of my wine is not soured by this whole experience.

Regards,
(me)

And this is what he wrote in reply:  

Thanks for all the tips. Now one for you – get some help and get a life! Please no more contact – we will remove you from our mailing list and won’t trouble you anymore.
 
For many years I ran a successful counselling/psych. practice and only left it because of troubled people continually stressing me out! I don’t need anymore cranks. Any further idiotic emails from you with your misconstrued perceptions will cause us to take legal advice. Kind regards
 
Michael J. Tabart
Executive Director
ACT Wine Industry Network incorp. Brindabella Wine
Tours
Ph: (02) 6231 6997 or (m) 0408 626 918  

 Wow, EXCELLENT customer service, right? Does this guy not realise that word of mouth recommendation is the best way to attract customers? Clearly not! So here is my recommendation to all of you: NEVER EVER EVER buy wine from this company or go on their wine tours.  

And as for you, Michael J Tabart, you really need to get a clue on how to deal with customers. Look how much potential business you just lost! Furthermore, the next time you want to threaten me with legal action, make sure of the following:

 1.       That you have a leg to stand on, legally speaking (in case you’re wondering, you don’t);

2.       That you have not already libelled the person you are threatening (I refer here to your insinuation that I am mentally ‘troubled’, a ‘crank’ and an ‘idiot’);

3.       That the repercussions for you won’t lose you any business.

 This has been a public service announcement. Thank you all for your time!  

What’s Your opinion?


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How to win customers and influence people
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Mr Evil 10:00 am 22 Oct 07

“Oh, right….it just happened to be ’someone else’s machine’ that wrote “MML you have a supporter here, ignore the idiot haters mate.”
Forget split personality – have a close at the text:…ignore the idiot haters…the implication being that unsympathetic posts were submitted by people who hate idiots, but not that MML was in fact not an idiot. That’s a degree of self-loathing that probably needs further probing.”

LOL!

Ingeegoodbee 7:17 am 20 Oct 07

Bugger, logged in on someone else’s machine.
Oh, right….it just happened to be ’someone else’s machine’ that wrote “MML you have a supporter here, ignore the idiot haters mate.”
Forget split personality – have a close at the text:…ignore the idiot haters…the implication being that unsympathetic posts were submitted by people who hate idiots, but not that MML was in fact not an idiot. That’s a degree of self-loathing that probably needs further probing.

el ......VNBerlinaV8 9:01 pm 19 Oct 07

And – did makemylunch get permission from Michael Tabart to publicly post those emails?

el ......VNBerlinaV8 8:41 pm 19 Oct 07

Yes. I think it’s fair to say that this was a fairly enjoyable whine.

Cameron 8:22 pm 19 Oct 07

Hah! Great spot.

el ......VNBerlinaV8 7:41 pm 19 Oct 07

Bugger, logged in on someone else’s machine.

Oh, right….it just happened to be ‘someone else’s machine’ that wrote “MML you have a suporter here, ignore the idiot haters mate.”

Hmmm….split personality disorder much?

Cameron 5:39 pm 19 Oct 07

All: Do yourself a favour and reread this thread from start to finish. It gets funnier every time you read it. 😀

Mr Evil:
All this because someone was too stupid to double check what they are buying?

God help us all!

Precisely.

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