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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Vendor and Order Problems and Solutions | Dealing With Difficult Vendors and Order Problems ]

Spelling Out Alternatives

As I mentioned in the section on tone and attitude, you should approach any conflict with your mind clear about what you expect the company to do. In a disagreement, often the company won't know what will satisfy you; if even you don't know, you'll not get very far in your discussions.

In some cases, however, the company may not be willing or able to grant you what you ideally want in order to satisfy you. At that point you will have to make a decision. If you really feel that what you are asking for is appropriate, and it's the only thing that will satisfy you, continue to fight for it. You may be in for a long and aggravating time though. If possible, consider other alternatives that might lead to a satisfactory resolution of the problem. If you are creative, you may come up with a possible solution that the company would never think to offer. Even if it isn't perfect, it may well be superior to spending days or weeks in conflict, especially if time is of the essence.

Express the alternatives in terms of what their options are; this puts the burden of action squarely on their shoulders. Specify what you will accept, and what actions you will take if they do not do as you desire. Take care not to make this sound like a threat, because most people react poorly to threats. Instead, provide a list of choices and make the company realize that what you do will be a function of what they do.

As an example, suppose you have placed an order for an item on Monday that was supposed to be in stock at a vendor. You need it for a project the following Monday, and want it in your hands no later than Friday. You had the item sent standard ground delivery since that should take only two days. However, on Wednesday you find out that the item never was sent on time, and isn't expected in until Thursday.

You could call up the company and demand that they "do something or else I am going to file a complaint against you". Instead, the following would be more effective. Call up the company and tell them that you were told this item was in stock, and that you need it no later than Friday. Since they have put your project in jeopardy through their inaccuracy, you expect them to correct the matter in one of these ways:

  • They can wait until Thursday to send out the item you ordered, but you expect a free upgrade to next-day delivery so you get it on Friday; or
  • They can send out by ground on Wednesday an equivalent but slightly more expensive item that you have identified; or
  • They can try to find the item at another vendor and have it sent to you at their expense (sometimes vendors have partnering relationships, or a chain of stores will allow inventory sharing between branches); or
  • They can suggest another alternative that you might not have considered, that gets you the product you need on time. For example, it might be cheaper for them to send the item on Thursday with second-day delivery on Saturday, and perhaps that would be acceptable to you.

And then tell them that if they are not willing to do any of the above, you will have no choice but to cancel the order, and since they have not been cooperative, to refuse to use them or recommend them to others in the future. In doing this, you have certainly done your part to reasonably focus on the solution; the rest is up to the vendor.

Next: Avoiding Avoidance

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