When PushFire exhibited for the first time this past summer, we needed to order custom printed shirts, custom lighters and popup banners for the show.
You've already read about my [facepalm] experience with Customized Girl when it came to ordering my own “girlie” type shirts but for the polo shirts (for the guys) and the lighters, we used PromoDirect.
It takes a lot to truly impress me these days, especially when it comes to online merchants. But PromoDirect did not only just that – they did more than that.
Ordering Custom Polo Shirts
Honestly, I was beyond clueless about ordering promotional items. I tried to get direction from people I knew who brought great promo items to shows, but most used a “friend” or a smaller company with a less than intuitive website – so out of frustration, I bit the bullet and decided to simply find my own company, order the items I needed, cross my fingers and hope.
I decided to go with the Port Authority Pique Knit Sport Shirts. I had no idea what “pique knit” meant, but the picture looked good and I thought the shirts were reasonably priced. So I ordered 6 shirts (which was the minimum quantity) and sent in my artwork.
However, probably because I'd never done this before, unbeknownst to me, there was an issue with the artwork that I'd sent in. Rather than simply printing it since I'd verified 20 (exaggeration) times during the ordering process the artwork was correct, a customer service rep at PromoDirect (Jasmine) emailed me to let me know that they didn't think the artwork was correct and to please call them.
When I didn't call back by the next day, Jasmine called me. When she got my voicemail the next two days in a row and no return call (I was super busy and simply kept forgetting) she kept trying until she got a hold of me. I verified the artwork was indeed wrong and sent in a new file. When that file also didn't render properly (hey, I'm no designer) their staff fixed the (very slight) rendering issue on their end and didn't charge me for it. Sweet. My shirts would be on their way.
The shirts arrived and were great as far as the quality of both the shirts and the embroidering were concerned. A day or two later, a HAND WRITTEN thank you card showed up in PushFire's mail, from Jasmine at PromoDirect, and contained a message saying they were glad they got the logo issue worked out and had a coupon for a $100 dollar credit that I could apply to my next order over a certain amount. In this day and age, I found that damn impressive. I found it even more impressive the customer care lengths they had gone to on a simple $186.88 order (which was the cost of 6 shirts and a $25 setup fee – shipping of the items had been free via a promo they were doing on their site).
Ordering the Custom Lighters
When we decided at the last minute (15 days before the show was to start to be exact) to order custom lighters, I didn't bother to do any searching or price comparing – I went to PromoDirect trusting they could get it done in time – and right – and saw they had the custom Bic lighters, which is the brand I knew I wanted as someone who uses lighters often. ;-)
Concerned about the previous artwork issue (and that it may occur again), I contacted Jasmine via her direct line rather than fill out the online form. She took my order (for 750 lighters) right over the phone, still had the corrected artwork and my billing information on file and I literally had the lighters ordered and paid for in under ten minutes flat. I had the artwork approval within 24 hours. Lighters carry an extra shipping surcharge ($40 in total) due to the fact that they're flammable, so I asked that they be shipped directly to the Hilton in New York rather than shipped to us – which was no problem.
And then we hit a snag. Bic was going through a merger at the time and had very delayed shipments happening as a result. Jasmine called me to let me know that we may not be able to get the lighters in time. I must have sounded stressed about it, so she told me she'd contact some people and “see what she could do” to make it happen for us. A day later she called back. She could ensure the lighters would make it on time, but we'd have to upgrade the shipping speed to do so.
Due to the heavy expense of shipping flammable items, the rush delivery would cost over $250 more. That made the shipping on $1100 in lighters almost $300. It wasn't their fault (it was mine for ordering it with so little time to spare), but that was a hefty as hell shipping fee increase. So Jasmine went back and managed to get us another $50 off the fee – in addition to the $100 dollar coupon we'd already used. I'd told her to get it done. A few days before we left for the show, I got another hand written thank you card and another coupon.
The lighters made it to the Hilton on time and came out great.
Lost in Transit – Going Above and Beyond
We'd ordered 750 lighters for the show, but only ended up going through about half that amount. Assuming that bringing a box filled with 350 lighters on a plane might cause us an issue, we decided to ship them directly back to our office from the Hilton business center before we headed home. But they never arrived. I've never had UPS lose a package on me before, but it would figure that the one they lost would be filled with over $500 in promotional items. [headdesk]
So our office manager set out to find the packages. UPS had ZERO idea what had happened to them, so we needed to get the fee for how much it would cost to replace them. So we contacted Jasmine again and explained the ordeal. As Jasmine was working up the replacement cost for us, something interesting was uncovered. Because we shipped the lighters back in the same box we received them in, someone chose to ignore the shipping label to our office and shipped them to – yep – PromoDirect.com. They were sitting at their warehouse.
So Jasmine had them shipped to our office and followed up with the shipping receipt on their end for doing so, because UPS had promised to reimburse us for it. No one in the PushFire office will ever “be looking” for a lighter again, LOL.
I'm a Customer for Life
I don't know if PromoDirect has the cheapest base prices on their products, if they have the cheapest logo setup fees or if they have the fastest shipping times, etc (not saying they don't, just that I don't know if they do). But I do know that they have OUTSTANDING customer service that you don't find easily these days. Knowing that ordering through them means that extra care is taken to make sure my items are right, that my problems are fixed and that I have such a personable customer service representative to contact – to me – is worth more than potentially saving .20 per shirt or $10 on an artwork setup fee in the future.
PromoDirect.com coupon code
If you're interested in giving PromoDirect a try, you can (as of now) enter the following coupon codes at checkout, depending on which one is applicable to you: AP10 to get 10% of apparel orders, E25 to get $25 off any order of $250 or more or if you plan to place a large order, you can use E100 to get $100 off an order of $1000 or more.
What merchants reading this post can learn
Customer service is a BIG DEAL. No one expects everything to go smoothly 100% of the time. It's your reaction to the unavoidable snags that a customer remembers. And even when there ISN'T a snag – going the extra mile (hand written thank you cards), ensuring proper support is available (and not a unnavigable “options” line or outsourced support) and offering quality products and service – THAT is how you RETAIN customers and get them to become evangelists for your brand.
If anyone from PromoDirect happens to read this, you really should give Jasmine a raise – or at least some kickass cupcakes. ;-)