L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Wed, 21 Jun 2000 19:24:03 -0500


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I have never ordered from tokyopop, but I have been ordering from HLJ
pretty much since they opened for business, so here are my thoughts
on what I think has happened to HLJ over the years.

I think a lot of it comes down to a difference in long term and short
business models. When HLJ started they were very eager to get new
customers, so put a lot of work into customer satisfaction issues,
however now that they have a large customer base, with a
correspondingly large volume of sales, providing the same level of
service would require hiring a staff so large that the obviously fell
it would cut into their profit margin more than the loss of a few
dissatisfied customers will.

I constantly see people complaining about how poor HLJ's service is
compared to mainstream retailers like Amazon, and all I can say is
that the focus of these two businesses are quite different. While
Amazon takes every measure they can to convince people that
e-commerce is superior to traditional retail, and therefore tries to
provide every customer service they feel will increase the value of
their service, HLJ, on the other hand, takes a very 'well what are
your other alternatives?' approach. HLJ has a virtual lock on
Japanese kits at Japanese retail, with only one real competitor
(R10), and as such their goal is to provide a minimum of customer
service, in the guise of keeping the price down.

Now I know there are many who will argue that HLJ has decent customer
service, but to them I can only offer an example of the difference
between HLJ and R10.

Back when it was just hitting the market, I ordered a B-Club
Nightengale from both HLJ and R10. With no action other than placing
the order, the R10 shipment got to me 3 days after the order was
placed. At HLJ, I ordered, had to wait a full day for the order to
show up in their order status system, then had to check the order in
the status system, then upon seeing that the Nightengale was in
stock, had to tell them to ship. It then took two days for the system
to update and tell me that they were preparing to ship (I will point
out that I had already received the R10 order by now). After a couple
days of starring at the preparing to ship screen, I finally got a
ship notice, informing me that the Nightengale was backordered! I
then proceeded to wait for a month while the Nightengale sat on
backorder, before finally canceling the order.

Now if this were an isolated instance it would have been merely
aggravating, but the fact is that ever since HLJ went to their new
order status system, you have to hover over their site watching over
your own order, and then letting them know when to ship, and even
then I have yet to receive an order from HLJ's new system in less
than two weeks. No other e-commerce site I know of makes you
responsible for keeping track of their inventory in order to receive
you shipment in a timely fashion! Every other site I have ever
purchased from will immediately ship what they have on hand, and
HOLD, any backordered products for later shipment.

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Edward Ju <gundam@loop.com>
To: <gundam@aeug.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2000 5:03 PM
Subject: Bad e-tailers (was RE: [gundam] Action Ace is so smart)

> What I want to know is how did these once excellent e-tailers
> become so awful in terms of customer service...

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