I recently made an order for custom marketing materials, including some ink pens.  I made my vendor selection from the web based primarily on the visibility and their web presence.  They are a commodity to me — I was unable to (quickly) make a local connection and went with convenient and cheap.

Upon a phone inquiry about the few questions I had — including a confirmation that I could get blue ink pens — everything was answered satisfactorily and I made the order.  Because it is a custom order with my corporate logo, I was given very rigid directions about submitting artwork and the procedure.  When the proof didn’t come at the time I was told to expect them, I inquired and was given the proof (1 day late).  The artwork looked good and I approved the order, having the items in my hand in less than 10 days (which was better than promised).  The pens look great.


The pens had black ink instead of the blue I had specifically requested. I sent email. Left a voice mail. Left another voice mail. Left another email. Finally got a response that my voice mail hadn’t been received (?) and my email was in spam (like that’s my fault — I replied to an earlier email from their account.) I was told they’d look into it and sure enough today got the response they did.

I have had the order pulled and I have reviewed the order notes and I do not see a specific color for the ink has been requested. The default ink color for the pens is black.

This is the person I made the original order with.  Their verification system apparently doesn’t spit out ink color, and all I have is my word versus his that I ordered blue. 

I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted done.  I was not planning to ask for a refund (it was a rather large order) but wanted to at least be seen as an important customer.  I try hard not to read emotion into email — I can conclude that they think I did not order blue ink pens or do not care.  At this point, I have no reason to ever do business with this company again.  They’ve lost the lifetime value of my business to be seen as “right”.

Find out what is important to your customers.  Ask them what they want.

P.S., blue ink is very important to me — I’ve always used it and will throw a black ink pen away.  Blue contrasts with printed pages and makes notes easy to read.

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