So, in case I started talking about something else yesterday and never did finish what I set out to say – IT HAPPENS – one reason that I take such a long vacation this time of year is that I’m exhausted. Another is that the bookend of my dad’s birthday and Tim’s birthday is a nice two-and-a-half week arc, only I don’t like to do some weird Thursday through Tuesday next thing… so I make it a solid three weeks. I also have tended to start it coinciding with the last day the USPS guarantees delivery of regular mail, as I’ve found that a lot of people don’t want to pay for rush shipping when you tell them how much it is (I’m not Amazon.com, I can’t afford to rush shipments to people for free — the last three people who wanted rush packages were all at the $35 level and that’s as much out of my league to give away as it seems to be out of their league to pay). So it has just all seemed to work out to those three weeks. The last Friday of guaranteed USPS shipping to the first Monday after Tim’s birthday.
This year? That plan didn’t pan out so well. I’m not complaining about the sales, mind you, it was a Good Month for HaldeCraft. (Why do the self-employed feel guilty when complaining about work? Everyone else in the world gets free reign to complain about their boss/co-workers/work load, but somehow it’s not OK if you’re self-employed….?) I just think that maybe I didn’t say, either correctly, or loud enough, or in the right places, when my last day for custom orders was and when my last day of guaranteed shipping was. I got a request on Saturday (a week ago today) about some custom work that started off small – and I was even willing to try to fit it in, out of pity – but the more I talked to the person the more complicated the work got, and when it got to the point where they seemed to want to argue with me about it, I was DONE. Stick a fork in me. Even last night I got a message about how, if it’s mailed Monday, can I still get it there by Christmas.
Clearly next year I need to change the way I state things. Right now my “hey read this” is three paragraphs long, about four sentences each paragraph (one each for ceramics, soap, and yarn). I state the object. I state the last day I can take orders. I state the last day I can mail it for Hanukkah. I state the last day I can mail it for Christmas. I tell them the first thing, I tell them the second thing, I tell them the third thing.
I think, next year, I need to (as I was saying to a friend last week) tell them what I’m going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what I told them. I’ve always tried to be flexible but maybe I’m giving so much flexibility that people are all tl;dr (Too Long; Didn’t Read) and perhaps I need to be more succinct. I’ve been spacing yarn, soap, and ceramic orders out because they take different lengths of time; perhaps I need to just have one date by which I’m not guaranteeing orders before Christmas, no matter what they are. And write that in all caps at the top of every page I can. Then under that, one paragraph stating that all orders need to be in by such-and-such a date, and last day for guaranteed shipping is such-and-such. Then under that, some sort of bullet-point saying the same things I’ve already said.
You know, I wonder if part of this is Etsy’s doing, albeit not consciously. The customers that seem to miss my statements the most are from Etsy, who also at this time of year is putting out daily emails featuring shops that are still willing to take custom orders, willing to send you an invoice to bump up shipping to overnight, willing to do What It Takes to make YOUR Christmas happen on time. Maybe because I’ve been slipping off Etsy, I’m no longer … I don’t know, no longer aware, no longer part of it, no longer in the loop…? The shipping mess is one of the reasons I’ve moved off Etsy (I just bumped my shop stock back up for the holidays) – it drives me insane that they charge by item, and the seller is somehow supposed to guess which items people might buy together, to charge accordingly. But to get back to my point! I had to play the “as it says on my front page” card the other day, and the customer said that they hadn’t seen that; they’d been shopping on their phone with the Etsy app and never even saw my front page with my posted policies. That, and every other person I’ve had to say a similar thing to, makes me think that my front page isn’t as important to Etsy as it is to me, and makes me wonder if I need to put my policy on *every product page* which not only sounds tedious but I can pretty much bet that people won’t read it.
Well, all of this is something to mull over for the next eight months, until around August or September when I need to start posting my holiday policies again. For now, VACATION! I seriously need to clean my office.