Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bending the Rules

When it comes to business, many people will do anything for a sale. 

Stay at home moms that want to be able to be at home with their children often will begin a home based business in today's world of party planners and online shopping. Most cloth diaper retailers are parents like myself. I chose to start a business because I'm passionate about my products and I love meeting new people and helping others choose a greener lifestyle. 

I have learned a lot in the past 6 months of owning Bum Luxury. First, it's not nearly as simple as one might think to have an online store. Second, I can't be everything to everyone. I have a lot of work to do to make my way to the top so I need to focus on what's important to me. Is it the cheapest price, best customer service, largest selection, etc.? To me, customer service is the most important. Like I've said in the past, I'm a cheapskate, but I would rather pay for great service than get a deal from someone who knows nothing about the product or could care less about me as a customer. 

Also, in the world of retail, there are MSRPs: Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. I have to sign a contract that says I will maintain MSRP and can only have sales at a maximum percentage off. Advertised sales must also be approved by the manufacturer. I can always mark the product up, but to keep the product at a fair market value, retailers are all on the same page. 

In the last six months, I've only come across three people that are obviously marking products below MSRP to gain a sale. Not too bad when you consider how many people sell cloth diapers. The first time, I nicely emailed the girl and let her know that she was breaking the manufacturer's contract. This was on Facebook and she decided to block me. That didn't go so well. So, with the advice of more seasoned retailers, the next time I saw this happening, I just contacted the manufacturer. I received an email back that the situation had been taken care of. The girl was warned-maybe it was an honest mistake. 

I have mentioned before that I'm a part of some great swapping groups for cloth diapers on Facebook. There's a girl in my favorite group that constantly marks products under MSRP and sells them openly at her prices to the over 1000 members. I do not share any products with her, so I am not familiar with her contracts. Apparently, other people were aware and reported her. Those manufacturers decided to cut her as a retailer-she broke her contract. 

WOW! The retaliation began. Everyone couldn't believe someone would report her to the companies for marking her products a few dollars lower than she was allowed. It didn't matter that she signed a contract, that she was potentially taking business from honest retailers that support their families with the business, or that she was sharing information about the wholesale pricing with non retailers. People actually said it's okay to 'bend' the rules.

Of course I spoke up. I explained why MSRPs are set and that as a retailer, she had to sign a contract, blah blah blah. I stated the facts and got booted. Kicked to the curb. I'm swimming with the fishes. 

My feelings were hurt at first, but I am so glad that I have the guts and courage to speak my mind when I know people are being dishonest. I would rather keep my values and know I did the right thing, than sit on the sidelines and watch the drama unfold and pretend these people are right. 

I believe everything happens for a reason and hopefully I will have more time to blog now that I won't be on my favorite swap group. Oh, and karma is a B. 

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