Choosing Your Product Purchaser

Oct. 27, 2008
Untitled Document


I needed an electrified exit device for a project. The whole assembly was comprised of a clear anodized exit device with a REX switch and electrically actuated outside trim, which was a tubular lever in 26D. I called my two favorite distributors, but neither had the outside trim. I then called a third distributor. I got a sharp sales rep and he was on the ball enough to be able to interpret the part numbers I was asking for. The order came in, but one of the items was not included. The distributor said the order showed that it had already been shipped, but it was coming from another warehouse and delivery time was longer. I opened a factory sealed box containing the 26D tubular lever trim, and instead it was bronze in another lever style. The customer had specific knowledge of the trim and style of the hardware I was going to install. Additionally, the lever, which was in 303, did not match the exit bar that was in clear anodized aluminum. I got on the phone again. After getting nowhere with the customer service rep, I finally called back the salesman I had originally placed the order with. He, of course, had no knowledge of the situation, other than being able to see that an RMA had been issued that day. About 15 minutes later he called and said he had taken care of everything. What do you think?


Welcome to the jungle. Today distributors' day-to-day operations are centralized, as cost consolidation is implemented. Where you once could call a factory and get customer service from someone who actually designed a product, you now get a computerized voicemail message and no one to speak to. You are never ready for it. I called a factory recently and was told that no longer are items being shipped from stock. The order had to be placed by fax, and instead of getting the item shipped, an “available date” was offered. You feel like you are being forced to stand in line. Stocking distributors can be the source of items on a rush basis. All you have to do is locate a distributor with inventory. Trying to get a live person on the phone or getting a phone call returned can also be a real challenge sometimes. Dealers wouldn't dare treat their own customers this way. Consequently, you have to modify your buying habits and select channel partners whose business practices best match your own. In order for you to best service your accounts and remain competitive, you need partners that can keep the work flowing when you are on the job. In the sequence of events you relate, it seems that except for a few assumptions and a brief period of frustration on your part, you handled the situation effectively. Your distributor rose to the occasion, once you spoke to the right people in the organization, the top guy. You have to be careful when you pick your partners.