The past couple of weeks have really put my new-found ability to practise mindfulness in frustrating situations under the ultimate stress test.
For a start, there has been an ongoing issue with my car. One of those annoying intermittent faults that you cannot track down, so the only solution is to gradually replace the most likely culprits until you hit paydirt. It is costing a lot of time and money and, at the time of writing, it is a problem still not fixed. On the plus side, when the intermittent fault is behaving, the car drives beautifully.
So that is a background concern, laying a foundation of stress upon which everything else can get built upon.
All the other annoying events over the past couple of weeks have been caused by dominant companies that dick around the small guy, regardless of consequence to them. To add insult to injury, they never, ever apologise.
As I’ve mentioned, I started a new supplement company. Supplements come with a whole heap of rules and regulations I am attempting to get my head around. I have been caught out selling items with banned ingredients. After this happened a few times, I decided to tackle things head on and, before listing anything for sale, contacting both eBay and Amazon to see if there is a problem.
Ebay have been pretty good. They appreciate the fact that I get in touch and, apart from one time when they blocked my account due to listing violations (which I later successfully disproved), they’ve been OK.
Amazon, though, are a different matter. I messaged them several times prior to stocking CBD oil. This is a completely legal product that is derived from the hemp plant. It has no hallucigen element to it, hence you can walk into any high street health store or chemist and buy it.
So, when Amazon said that listing it was OK, I wasn’t that surprised. I put in an order for stock, listed it and, within a couple of days, they chucked it off citing “you cannot sell items containing canninaboids”. In case you don’t know, CBD actually is the abbreviation for canninaboids.
Of course, I pointed out the previous messages but to no avail. I had been given misinformation so, in short, tough shit. I then pointed out that Amazon actually sell CBD themselves. Funny enough, despite me constantly nudging them for a reason, they have not answered to this. After all, if they can sell it, surely I can?
Similarly, I contacted them prior to listing a fat burner. This was a previously banned brand due to it containing DMAA and Yohimbine. I showed Amazon the new ingredients (which are all 100% legal) and they said Yes.
It will probably come as no surprise to you that, since then, they have removed those fat burners, stating the “fact” that they contain Yohimbine. This is over a week ago and, despite us sending them photographs of the label, they have yet to lift the ban.
Incidentally, Amazon actually have a section in their catalogue FOR Yohimbine. I have asked them about this. Curiously, no response.
During all of this polaver, Amazon started to withhold payments due to us for items sold. We then discovered it was not us personally being targeted, but more a European-wide problem with their system. Hundreds of thousands of market place sellers across the continent were unable to withdraw monies owed. Monies which they need to buy stock, pay rent, pay staff.
This went on for several days. No explanation. If you contact Amazon in a situation like this – as it is not the first time it has happened – they deny everything. Problem? What problem? Must be your bank / computer / internet. No liability is ever forthcoming.
After Amazon chucked off the CBD oil, I decided to list it on SMELLYOURMUM.COM. I thought that it might appeal to the alternative market. I didn’t get much chance to find out as, within two hours, Shopify got in touch saying that they were going to withdraw their payment gateway as we broke their rules. It was an innocent mistake. After all, who ever reads the T&Cs when they sign up for stuff.
As it was more important for us to have their payment gateway than the ability to sell the CBD oil, I contacted them to say that I would remove the CBD. Tough luck; this was a one-strike-and-your-out situation. No warning. No opportunity to rectify a mistake. The way they dealt with the whole thing was, frankly, rude.
I set up a Facebook page for my supp company and posted up some links to the products. I decided to “boost” some of those posts (ie advertise) and was a bit surprised when, an hour or so later, all three adverts I tried to boost were not allowed and, to top it all, my account was restricted so I could no longer use their advertising tool. Seeing as we get a lot of sales to our T-Shirt site through that, this was A Bit Fucking Annoying.
Looking at the reason as to why the adverts were not accepted, imagine my surprise when the stated concern was “adverts containing nudity are not allowed”. None of my adverts contained nudity. In fact, none of my adverts contained human beings, clothed or otherwise. The adverts were of the bottles of supplements for sale and, in case you’re wondering, no, there was no pictures of humans on the labels either.
I pointed this out. Very quickly, the adverts were allowed and my restrictions lifted. They didn’t explain how the error occurred, despite me requesting a reason as to how such a fuck up could happen.
Finally, PayPal. For weeks now, when Vikki has logged onto the business account, there has been a red banner telling us that PayPal needed further information. “Click here to enter it”. You click on the link. “Thank you, we have received your information”. On the 18th November, we could suddenly no longer access the money in our PayPal, or use it to make purchases. Thankfully, we could receive money, but you will find out why that became pretty infuriating soon enough.
They needed further info. Proof of ID of me, Vikki and the business itself. All was provided within moments. They said 72 hours. OK, not exactly speedy but not the end of the world, either.
Seventy-two hours came and went. Vikki rang them – “Everything is OK and will be sorted in 24 hours”. That came and went. Vikki rang them, same response. Then an email came: “before we can reinstate your account, we need all of the information you have already fucking sent us”. OK, it didn’t quite say THAT, but it was the gist of the email.
Vikki called them and screamed at the poor CS person who answered. They were helpful, they could see we had already supplied everything and crossed whatever T’s and dotted whichever I’s were needed for it to go through. It would be another 48 hours though.
Of course, they came and went. More calls. More lies. Eventually, the account was reinstated at 3am a couple of days ago, some eight days since we supplied the information. During that time, payments were arriving into the account which mounted to quite a substantial sum that we had no access to. Really handy when you need to buy stock and, y’know, live!
In amongst all this, you can throw in various courier woes and less niggly but still annoying things. How the pair of us didn’t explode with annoyance and frustration is quite beyond me.
There is one thing that links all of these events: not one of those companies apologised. Not one held up their hand and said, “oops, we fucked up, sorry about that”. They just do what they do, at whatever pace they do it, with zero regard for how it might affect you, eventually resolve the issue then close the case.
Apart from being damn ignorant and rude, this adds insult to injury. An apology goes a long way. If they screwed up and said sorry, explained that a daft algorythm did something stupid, or they were so overwhelmed everything took longer than expected, we’d understand. SHIT HAPPENS. But it happens so often with these companies – and others. I am sure every single person reading this has been fucked around by big business; had their lives negatively impacted due to actions of big business; laid awake at night concerned about the outcome of any actions caused by big business. I am also sure that hardly anyone got an apology.
I think this is less to do with rudeness – although it is fucking rude – and more to do with accepting liability. The word “sorry” intimates blame. It acknowledges fault. And, in the litigious society in which we live, they could open themselves up to a multitude of class action law suits.
This does not make it right. Not all of their customers are greedy, most just want things to work properly most of the time. And on those rare occasions where things do not work as they should, most people will be pacified with just one word: SORRY.