I have online shops at two venues - Etsy (where I sell my puppets and crafts) and ArtFire (where I sell my art). The ArtFire shop is two months old and I didn't have a single sale on it so far. For those of you who are not familiar with how it goes - on Etsy you pay a listing fee (0.2$) for each item plus a 3.5% commission on each sale, and on ArtFire you pay a 7$ monthly fee which includes everything. This means on the 2 months I am a member there, I paid 14$ for what I would have paid 2$ for (listing fees for 10 items) on Etsy.
So, this afternoon I this on my Twitter "I think it's time to drop out of ArtFire. Zero sales and 14$ fees?! This is unacceptable to me".
A while later, I get a message from someone, assumingly on the ArtFire team, saying "did you read the so and so sellers guide?". I was busy with work, so I didn't reply at the time. Then, a while later, I see emails from ArtFire saying my subscription was canceled due to lack of funds on my Paypal or per my request. So I ask myself "can it be that ArtFire person did something without telling me?? Nahhhhh" and go back to work.
Then I get emails from Paypal saying the same. So I reply to the ArtFire service asking "did you do something to my account based on what I said on Twitter?" feeling mighty paranoid and stupid.
Yes they tell me. The ArtFire president, Mr. John Jacobs saw your Twitt and decided to give your two months free of charge on ArtFire and we canceled your Paypal subscription so you are not charged to pay for these months by mistake.
At this point I almost exploded.
Now. What can we say on this, which is positive (and I hear there has been a debate on this on the hours I was offline between work and getting home):
- Mr. Jacobs is undoubtedly a nice gentleman with excellent intentions.
- This was done with good intentions.
- My subscription was not really canceled, the payment was.
- I got two months free of charge.
People say I should be happy with this, and that this is outstanding customer service.
For those of you who don't know (probably 98% of my 26 or so readers) I have been in the technical support and customer service industry since 1994. I managed several international support centers in my time and worked with plenty of fortune 500 American customers as well as your everyday end users. This is, by far, something I would never have done. And this is why:
- The savior complex - during the years, I attended and gave several outstanding service classes, during which I warned about this complex. It comes with all the best intentions - you think you know what should be done to make your customer happy, and so you do it. Without asking. You just go ahead and do it. That is paternalistic, antagonizing, and outrageous - to assume you know better than your customer what is in their best interest. You never do anything directly affecting your customer without asking for permission first.
- Paypal does not know what is going on behind the scenes, Paypal is a robot. It told me I have no funds, and I almost got a heart attack at first.
- Twitter is a blog. A silly tiny blog, but a blog non the less. For a company I am a customer of, to take action on my account, based on a thought I expressed on Twitter?! That is unacceptable. My Twitter is mine, at least I thought so. Yes, this is the Internet, where privacy is an old joke, and writing on such a venue, obviously I take into account I have no control on who reads it. But if I write my Chevrolet sucks and I can't stand it anymore, does it give General Motors the right to get into my garage, take my stupid old Cavalier and replace it with a shiny new Aveo?? I think not. Because it is MY car and MY garage, and I decide when the car goes and with which company's car it will be replaced.
Whether I want to leave ArtFire, or stay (and why) is my business. Had Mr. Jacobs, or one of his employees, contacted me and said "we read what you wrote by chance, and we would like to discuss the reasons with you and maybe make you an offer.." then I might have said "okay, I don't feel comfortable with how they use Twitter, but I know it is a popular business tool, and this is a nice offer". But going behind my back and making decisions for me? I am sorry. That is totally unacceptable in my book.
What will I do next? I don't know yet, but it definitely not something people should care about too much, I am one person and I have my own views and standards. What is important to think about, and what bothers me most, is the way information we put on the Internet is used by commercial and other forces, and how and if we want to share our minds in this format. Cause today it is the nice people of ArtFire, but tomorrow - who knows.
Update (25.2.09) - I will probably be closing my shop, due to what I have learned about ArtFire's operation. I am not 100% sure yet, so I deactivated my items for the meanwhile till I am sure I want to close shop.Update (26.2.09) - Disabled comments for this post, cause I got tired of repeating myself to people who obviously don't read (or comprehend) what I am saying.
For the last time - Thank you to all the nice ArtFire people who took the time to comment here. I deleted my ArtFire comments on Twitter, as an act of courtesy.
This issue is getting old, and the last few comments I got are too silly. If you don't like it, you probably won't like the fact I am Jewish either, or don't eat dairy, or use Pantene and any other issue on which we don't see eye to eye. So go byte a kite.
(which reminds me I have a really nice bagel waiting on my desk).