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catalog sales (long)

updated thu 26 mar 98


Berry Silverman on wed 25 mar 98

Not long ago there were inquiries on the list about how to sell through
catalogs. To the curious, thought you might be interested in the vendor
packet I received today from a catalog company.

After the preamble about their desire to form an ethical, fair
partnership with their vendors for the benefit of all parties, there
followed 60 pages of requirements covering product quality, labeling,
packing, delivery, ad nauseum. Not only must shipping cartons be of a
certain size, but they must be able to withstand a drop test from 30
inches, with 2 pages of instructions on how to drop the carton (6 times
altogether for the test); labeled on the outside with 10 separate items
of information, printed in type no smaller than 12 point, but 20 point
is preferred (no handwriting allowed); every carton to contain the
identical number of pieces, with the last carton only to contain an odd
number, which carton must be labeled in a fluorescent label only --
etc., etc. This is only a sample -- remember, it was _60_ pages!

There were four pages of chargebacks, including charges for defective
merchandise (of course), all the way down to warehouse charges if
product is received early, charges if any product does not bear
preprinted tickets, charges for any carton label which does not bear all
10 pcs.of info -- again etc., etc. Although they claim chargebacks are
not meant to penalize but only to recoup their costs in handling, they
do double, then triple chargebacks for each add'l infraction. Do their
costs double, then triple?

These companies do have a lot of clout, and the numbers that flash
before us seem quite tempting -- how nice to bill a year's worth of
dollars with one sale. But at what price? Since I don't build all that
special handling into my price structure (and the risk of financial
slaps on the wrist), it seems to me I should be charging them more,
rather than trying to figure out if I can give them a discount. I
think I'll just be a little guy -- well, little gal -- for a while.

Berry in Tucson
(Is this what is meant about staying out of the kitchen if you can't
stand the heat? Makes the kilns seem coo-o-o-o-l)