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  1. #1
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    Not that I ever second guess myself , tonight I took down the "contact us" link on our sites main menu.

    We did this due to the overwhelming amount of emails we get that are simply so stupid it aint funny.

    I've had people ask for local phone numbers, wanting to know how much shipping will be, do we ship to a certain state or region of the country, asking what our phone number is so they make an order, wanting to know what the sales tax will be, wanting to return products, and others that are simply so crazy you wouldn't believe! I had one letter where the customer said she was boycotting one of my merchants and since I promoted them she was boycotting me too which "You would have loved my response". LOL

    I'm the kind of person that really wants to help my shoppers but I've come to the conclusion that the amount of time going through and responding to emails and the possibilities of getting customers from the requests I see is 1 out of 200 "maybe". Even then you get people responding with "how can you sell something you can't help me with on this question".

    I've admitted before I'm not the best customer support person "for idots" LOL and was getting to the point where I just rarely responded which isn't good so tonight I finally gave in and said the hell with it!.

    I'm sure my sister's will be disappointed because they really looked forward to "the doozie email summary" I regularly sent them outlining some of the hilarious and outragous requests I got from my shoppers.

    The contact us link is still in the about us page but at least they'll have to go to that page and "hopefully" read it before they attempt to contact us.

    I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on this subject and how many others have thrown in the towel (or never even attempted to try in the first place).

    ===============================
    PeePee merchants with PooPoo policies allow our earnings to be flushed down the crapper.

    Why give parasites unlimited cookie durations and credit for sales where they divert our users and overwrite our cookies. PP merchants directly support what many consider unfair trade practices and thievery!
    ===============================

  2. #2
    Assistant Regional Manager Rik's Avatar
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    Been thinking about doing the same thing for one of my sites which is half and half content and sales, but wouldn't think about it with other full sales sites.

    I get my fair share of "waste of time" messages (especially if it's from Asia) but I need a way for buyers to contact to me when they can't see a "buy" link because they are using an ad blocker.

    You know the ad blocking situation is bad when you start using e-mail templates for sending them a direct link and telling them why they couldn't buy the product sooner.

    Just my 3.14 cents.


    The above post may contain traces of nuts.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador John Kruger's Avatar
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    Instead of taking it down, I changed it to a graphic. Keeps the spammers away, and those that go through the hastle of typing in the address tend to ask decent questions.

    Of course I still get the, "can you ship to China", type questions.

    John

    Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

    www.teampb.com

  4. #4
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    Welcome to Biz. Sorry to disagree though. I can give you my doozy list also , but that is part of business. More so , it is part of helping. Most people are intimidated by the internet , distrustful , etc. They are use to B&M stores where they not only SEE a real live person , they can talk to them. Until the general population becomes comfortable - another generation , you will continue to get these kind of contacts. People need to interact.

    BTW - even in Brick & Mortar stores you get doozies. Example: When I had a store down here in the UNITED STATES Virgin Islands , at least once a day we were asked "What kind of money we accept" or "What currency were our prices in"( Hint: UNITED STATES virgin islands ) The best one we would get once a week or so. "When the ships are out at sea , where do they plug the extension cord in so that the lights stay on "

    Customer service is part of any successful business. Nordstroms proved that as they were one of the few department stores to avoid bankruptsy. The same will happen on the internet. The customer service oriented sites will have a better chance at success than those who avoid giving service.

    BTW - It is not only customers who ask doozy questions. We have only had our affiliate program up for 1 week now , but I can tell you some doozies from affiliates. How do you like it when AMs avoid contact ?


    " The Stupidest Question is the one NOT asked "

    Toledo Swords - Collectible Heirloom Armory
    http://www.toledoswords.com

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    I agree you need to have customer support, I would guess you may see a drop in sales.

    Our staff fields an average of 800 e-mails a day, to ease the work load we use a group of about 35 messages that are stored in a neat little program called clipcashe, you click one button and it will paste one of your selected messages in a repy, it is not like a autoresponder.
    You can also modify the message before sending. They have developed that group of message replies which answers 85-90% of the same questions.
    Our staff answers the daily e-mails in less than 90 minutes.

    Another little tool to use is mailwasher.net it can keep most of the crap spam away for good.

    Henry
    Affiliate Manager
    <font face=verdana size=1 >Migizzi Inc d/b/a</font> Pets-Warehouse.com

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>10%/90 days/Datafeed/Parasite free
    </font>
    Henry@Pets-Warehouse.com<font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>
    >< )))º> 631.789.5400 / Pets-Warehouse.com
    </font>

  6. #6
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    Poon,
    I have to agree with the other posts here. Have you considered some sort of FAQ that has all of the general questions covered..with a note that says to check there before e-mailing? I think in your case something like that would work for you.

    TH Media-Web Solutions For The Small Business
    Check Out The TH Media Affiliate Program

  7. #7
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    On BigDaddySmokes, we got an infurated email from a person who lit a cigarette and it sparked and (alledgedly) burned her face. For restitution for such she wanted free cigarettes from BDS or she would have to sue. Funny thing was, she didn't even buy them from BDS, she bought them in a local grocery store

    For BDS I set up an interactive FAQ, see https://bigdaddysmokes.com/faq/index.php where users can search and or ask a question, if they ask a good question we add it and the answer to the FAQ.

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli
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  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Wait till the idiots think they can bill you for a new couch or mattress when they fall asleep while smoking one of your brands. Attornies love frivolous law suits when they see common accidents, like spilling hot coffee, can sway a jury and they can get a settlement via a media trial.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  9. #9
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    We also field several hundred emails a week, most are technical questions regarding products, but TONS of them are the type you are getting. What I am recommending to our IT dept is to setup the contact page/information so they have to scroll down over the shipping information, Return Policies, Warranty Information, and other misc. info before they find our email addresses. Not sure it will work but the questions they are asking are on our website, they just don't seem to want to look.

    But...on a side note, every email that comes in is yet another opportunity to build a relationship with a customer. Our goal is to provide 100% customer Satisfaction, which means carrying the slower ones through our catalog or website, and answering ridiculous questions (that we laugh at at lunch breaks).

    Good luck.

    Ian Larsen
    Ian@CharleysGreenhouse.com
    Charley's Greenhouse & Garden Supply
    www.charleysgreenhouse.com
    Over 25 Years in the Greenhouse Business

  10. #10
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    If you are a merchant then a contact us button is necessary.

    I don't know the nature of happypoon's site but what if you are an affiliate ? I think you should leave customer service to the merchant. If you're an affiliate you need to get the surfer off your site as fast as possible.

    Regards,

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    I'm fast coming to the conclusion that I'll yank the contact details off all our affiliate sites.

    Affiliate margins are too low to invest in "customer service" and there certainly isn't usually any prospect of developing a repeat customer.

    My most common (like 99%) contact from collectible sites is "do you want to buy my xxxxx", most common contact on travel sites is "arriving at xxxx airport on xxxx please quote for make model color fragrance of air freshner car rental for xx days and xx hours", most common on shopping sites is a variant of "I have a pair of green xxxx ski boots size xx - do you have a replacement underpin spring grommet (left) for these?".

    I haven't even seen a correlation between helpfully answering any of these questions and subsequent purchases.

    ... and I've eventually conceded that no-one is going to email me a $million offer for a site from those links


    --------------
    Are you Crazy?

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager
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    Aww, CrazyGuy! I did email you a $million offer just last week, but it bounced back!

    Oh well.

    Carolyn Tang
    Affiliate Manager
    CollectiblesToday.com
    e: ctang@collectiblestoday.com
    p: (847) 581-8939
    f: (847)581-8922
    Yahoo IM: carolyn_collectiblestoday

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateBuddha's Avatar
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    I think it's best for us affiliates to leave replying customers to the merchants.

    a nice idea for a contact us link on an affiliate site would be - a 'contact the merchant' link which goes direct to the merchant's contact us page(via the affiliate's tracking link) and leaves the rest of the job to the merchant directly.

    ---
    "What we think, we become."
    -- Gautama The Buddha

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    I have had a great deal of success responding to customers questions, no matter how silly. Luckily I don't receive that many. I have had numerous requests for me to calculate an order with shipping to Nigeria. I gave them directions to the merchant's site and explained to contact the merchant directly. This resulted in three sales totaling over $1000 in commissions in the past two months.

    Ernie

    It may be that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

  15. #15
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    FYI: The site in question is a pure affiliate site.

    It has no shopping cart so it doesn't sell products directly. I do not stock products, cannot order new items that customers may want, nor do I have anything to do with the order processing / fulfillment of the order.

    I dont accept returns (even though I've been asked to), I can't change state tax amounts, I don't control what the shipping charges are or what states or countries a product is shipped to and I don't buy used merchandise.

    I don't have access to internal manufacturer details such as where a product was made, or in what year or know the website or phone number of the manufacturer. I'm not an expert on everything I sell. I don't have all the answers and don't profess to! I'm simply a gateway to merchants that is organized in a unique way to make shopping for my customers more convenient.

    All of things are clearly covered in our about us page and on our home page. Also every single product has an link for more information. With many of the questions, it's evident the user never even clicked on a single product link but instead is searching for someone to help them.

    Many questions are not related to specific products I carry but rather can you order me a ?, please send me a catalog, send me a price list, or a quote for, etc. Many others are I'm looking for "a phone number, a website an address, or a specific product that I didn't see product x on your page covering x products what is it's price.

    Like I said, I want to help our customers but 99% of the time it's just a waste of time.

    If I felt like I would gain loyal support from handling many of these types of request I'd surely go find the website or the phone number or find a website with someone else carries the product they're looking for (I've done it all) but my business is not one of "get your general internet and or product questions answered here". Unfortunately, thats the bulk of the type questions I recieve along of course with the spam and scam type messages.

    ===============================
    PeePee merchants with PooPoo policies allow our earnings to be flushed down the crapper.

    Why give parasites unlimited cookie durations and credit for sales where they divert our users and overwrite our cookies. PP merchants directly support what many consider unfair trade practices and thievery!
    ===============================

  16. #16
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    I like it having it. Everything goes through my contact form. I use it for link exchange requests, advertising inquiries, media inquiries (one day), for oprah to get in touch with me (soon ) You will always get those requests that make no sense, but sometimes i get questions and i like to help out because if you're nice and help them out, theres a good chance they will go back to your site. Plus i like having it for a good laugh now and then, some people are just

    [This message was edited by TrustNo1® on September 25, 2003 at 01:19 PM.]

  17. #17
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    What I usually do when I encounter something along these lines is to add a blurb to my contact page. I usually only use contact forms, rather than post my email address openly, so I can have some text immediatly preceding the submit button that says something to the effect of, "*Only questions/comments relating to the web site" or "*questions/comments related to products or services should be directed to _____"
    Sometimes people are stupid, or blind, and they don't abide by it, but it did curb a lot of that B.S. on the sites I had to resort to using it on...usually sites w/ forums, so I can direct people there...

    CarSites.us - Free promotion for your automotive-related sites!

    Die Parasites Die!!

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager
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    If your site is exclusive to one merchant- we've had good luck with people using forms that send to our customer care.

    Jessica Hutson
    Senior Manager of Affiliate Relations/Development
    Interactive Affiliate Network
    A parasite free contract since June 2001
    http://ian.com

  19. #19
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    Here is one I just recieved in verbatum with everything in the email. How would you respond .

    "do you have a fax # please"

    I wont provide specifics but we have a large number of uniques visit our sites every day. This is not a casual or occasional process. When I didn't have many sites / visitors, sure I bent over backwards and it was sometimes fun but now it's not an occassional request. For those that say you answer such requests "and enjoy it" would you if you had 40 or 50 such requests every day? Would you still take the time to respond or be willing to pay someone to answer these types of questions and handle customer support in a professional way?

    Thats my current choice... To drop it or to pay someone to handle it. I could go all out and put in live chat support and pay someone to staff it 24 hours a day but I don't believe that they will be able to satisfy most customers requests "due to the nature of the request I've seen" and I do not feel it would be profitable for me to do so. There is a merchant right here who is proposing what will likely be a 2% commission on $10 and less items you can get at a hardward store - you know who I'm talking about. I could send them a new customer and get a whoping 20 cents for my efforts. How many questions can I get and respond to for this merchant and it be worth my time?

    BTW I did have live chat on one of my sites at one point and was glad to drop it as well (it was even worse than the emails).

    My time is valuable and I'm stuck between fulfilling the role of customer support on what is mostly BS requests I cant or wont answer or, I can continue to develop web sites with productive tools and gain coverage for additional marketing exposure and earning opportunities.

    My time handling customer support is not nearly as valuable as my time when I'm using the tools I've developed to create additional earning opportunities - this is very clear!

    ===============================
    PeePee merchants with PooPoo policies allow our earnings to be flushed down the crapper.

    Why give parasites unlimited cookie durations and credit for sales where they divert our users and overwrite our cookies. PP merchants directly support what many consider unfair trade practices and thievery!
    ===============================

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I have live chat support on one of my sites, and even though it clearly states near the "Chat" button what live support can and cannot help with, you'd be surprised at the number of idiots that ask those very questions.

    When referred to the FAQ area, they act like they can't find it! People are lazy, and they don't want to do anything for themselves.

    Andy

    _______________
    <font color="red">Call the Exterminators! We've Got PARASITES!</font>

  21. #21
    Affiliate Manager
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    It does sound lie time to drop the contact us

    Jessica Hutson
    Senior Manager of Affiliate Relations/Development
    Interactive Affiliate Network
    A parasite free contract since June 2001
    http://ian.com

  22. #22
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    hmmm, i get loads of emails daily about various products and services (affiliate stuff) i wouldnt dream of dropping off that contact with my bread and butter! if it wasnt for them, where would i be?

    i shudder to think what my visitors would tell other people about me or my sites if i were rude to them or called them idiots and didnt respond to their emails. i dont see the point of having a site if you dont want to deal with people who are kind enough to spend money on it!

    maybe to make it stop you can just put a disclaimer at the bottom of every page saying that you arent the merchant??? maybe that will work?

    i know a lot of people would never consider shopping online at a site without contact info! i like to hear what people are looking for, that enables me to go out and find the product. i also like hearing what they dont like and what they do like about the sites and the products. i consider that to be something i need to know!

    (ya, it must be hard to believe im nice to ppl, but i LOVE my customers!)

    two years and counting.... nothing much has changed... commissions stolen daily... billions of impressions served...

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador
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    "Online. Some 35% of all e-mail inquiries to companies don't get a response within seven days, according to industry estimates. And about 25% never get a response at all, Forrester estimates."

    Taken from a LONG article about customer service.

    Big Daddy Smokes
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  24. #24
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    I used to have a contact us e-mail address listed on my site, but after the last couple of viruses, I've taken it down. I replaced it with a form and it works pretty well. No more spam or mass mailings. It's kind of fun to read the crazy requests. Never cared to the people who treaten lawsuits or being contacted by lawyers though.

  25. #25
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    I have a little 2 page site that describes in step by step detail how to buy a widget. That is ALL the site is about. It says on the home page these are the steps to buy a widget. Do this: 1, 2, 3.

    I probably get 3 emails a week asking me to tell them how to buy a widget.

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