The stuff of bad customer relations from Anchor Auctions

One of my goals this year is to downsize my “stuff”. I’ve really been cognizant of the Pareto Principle that 20% of your stuff you use 80% of the time. So I decided to unload stuff through an auction. All of my collections of spoons (antique silver and collectible souvenir), bells, antique vases, cups, shaving cream pots, a collection of Santa statues, 80 Agatha Christie hard bound leather books, Elvis memorabilia, jewelry- a lot of stuff. Some furniture went too-since you don’t need more furniture when you empty out the stuff. I asked for references, checked them out. All the “how to’s” seemed to be the same on the websites, so when a couple of friends recommended Anchor Auctions house because they purchase from them nearly weekly, I went with the friends’ recommendation.

Not really crazy about their customer service. At first, I thought they were terrific–pick a day, they show up, load up everything for you, then they take it to their site, inventory it, then put it up for auction, then send you a check when it sells. Sounded perfect. I kept trying to get a handle on how they sell it and what they sell items for and when I’d be compensated, less their 30%. Wasn’t really clear, but I really wanted to get rid of the stuff.

They arrived for my items May 18th. I wasn’t able to be there-my own fault and lesson one-so I had a designee. The receipt for all my collectibles and furniture was for “bells and everything else”! Really? No one called me to tell me when the lot was going up for sale (apparently that Saturday). No one called me when the items sold. No one called me to tell me when to expect a check. A month later I call them. Figured it would take a while to inventory all that little stuff. June 18th. The gal answering the phone says, your stuff sold. Expect a check July 5th. Great! Can you tell me if all my items are gone or just some? No, she can’t. She can see a list of some stuff, but because the original receipt said “bells and everything else”, doesn’t tell her what I need to know. But I’m content to get the check, stuff is gone.

July 10. No check. I call, speak to a different person. Apparently I need a “reissue”. No idea what that means; the employee answering the phone can’t really explain but will have the owner call me cause she’s the one who can. Ok. No call. No check. I call again end of July. Get the first person I spoke with back in June. “I’m on the owner’s list”. Still no call, still no check. Now it’s August. I call again. Apparently I’m due a check for $362 and change. For all that stuff. Hmmm. Is  it inventoried? Can I get a copy of what all sold and what it sold for? Yes, fax you in 15 minutes. Hoping the fax is at my office when I get there because I left after 30 minutes when I didn’t have the fax. She tells me she remembers me and that I went on the list of call backs, not sure why the owner didn’t call me back.

Clearly the owner’s have a process, you can hear the employees go through it–but the owner’s aren’t delegating authority to solve problems. Their process seems more about the owners convenience than customers. They aren’t thorough in the customer service to handle a small problem or just provide courtesy to call a customer back. They aren’t building relations by having clear expectations outlined and ready for virgin auctioners like me in their receipts, or on their website or in keeping auctions updated. Now I’m going to turn in to a real problem. You know-demand a fedex check with next day delivery or consequences will be word of mouth they don’t want. And that’s just getting started. Never piss off a public relations expert, because we know how to give you bad PR. You can start looking for Yelp reviews and other ways that unwary customers will find out about Anchor Auctions.

Is there culpability on my part? Sure. I get the lessons on what I should have asked before and put in writing before. But you know what? If they’d have had good customer relations, such as simplifying their process, answering questions, providing an auctioner’s bill of rights or some steps in how the process workl, they could have avoided all my frustrations. Simply managing their time to call me back, would have been easier. Sending the check when they said they would. But now…

Really what they need is a good customer relations plan. Just might be offering my services. We’ll see if they take me up on it.

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