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DirectDial: A story Of A Difficult Experience [Updated]

Direct-Dial-LogoRecently, I tweeted about a nightmare-ish experience while ordering from DirectDial. Given that I was short on details with my tweet, I wanted to take the time to expand on what happened.

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Not only was I contacted by DirectDial afterwards – I was asked by Andrew Pailant on Twitter :

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I wanted to let you know what happened, how it played out and what I think Directdial needs to do to improve on what seemed to be a number of failures and breakdowns in communication.

So, first off – I want to mention a few things. Calwell Inc. order lots of hardware. We have relationships with most of the major hardware companies in the local area. We’re no stranger here to the process of writing about suppliers. While ordering hardware can be a tricky proposition (at the best of times), care always has to be taken to get the correct configuration and make sure it all works correctly. More than anything else, people make mistakes. I make mistakes. It’s understandable.

I decided to take a computer purchase to DirectDial based on them assisting me while out of town. What was important was that they’d have a box shipped to my client while I was away. I contact the sales rep making sure that they had the correct stock levels and all was good for the final purchase, which I made.

When I returned, I found no computer had shipped and I hadn’t been notified of any issues. I emailed DirectDial and the rep’s response was (email address removed):

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Needless to say, this was a big problem because of all the assurances I had made and the plans I lined up. Given what was required, I worked with Dan to get a comparable device (that was in stock) shipped to me immediately. Crisis apparently under control.

One day after the above computer arrived, a second one had arrived from DirectDial. Confused, I looked into this. It appeared as though the first order was actually placed, billed and sent out late  (without Dan’s knowledge?). I went back to DirectDial and had the extra computer shipped back promptly, unopened.

As I write this, I still have not seen the credit for the extra computer shipped. For 13 days, Directdial has now held on to a large sum of money – they appear to be having difficulty returning the money to our credit card.

All the way around this was a difficult experience.

Here are some observations about the various failures:

1. Most important,  this seemed to be the process that DirectDial uses internally to track products. If Dan were to say he has one in stock – he should be sure that he does.

2. Dan did not notify me of any slow downs or issues while I was away – was there some breakdown or was that his own error? When I did return – one of his eMail’s mentions that he had no stock. Given that it appeared as though the shipping process started, stock was depleted and he wasn’t able to tell this.

3. Shipping for an in-stock product is generally 1-2 days for Directdial – having this stretch to more than a week was another unknown issue, one Dan appeared not to be on top of

4. No one in DirectDial was able to catch or correct the double-shipping before the products left the dock

5. The credit process is horribly slow, and with apparent errors there, confidence in DirectDial is again shaken

What can DirectDial do? 

1. First and foremost – communication. Stay on top of things and communicate to the client and adjust strategy based on possible errors. Given that all you do is ship hardware – you guys should be the best at doing this.

2. Inventory, Inventory, Inventory. Make it your mission to know what the heck you have and what you can ship. Pay attention to the double shipping errors. Streamline your systems for the love of Pete!

December 29th  Update – After a total of 18 days, the credit from Directdial appeared on my statement.