ARGH! Frustration!

judyfaaberg's picture

Argh! My newsletter is going out late again!

As cemetery and funeral professionals, how do you deal with failure of vendors to deliver when you need them to?

As the executive director of the Washington Cemetery & Funeral Association, now entering my 20th year in that position,one of my duties is to publish 10xyear a newsletter for my members. I work hard to get them out on time. When I encounter a glitch I go nuts.

My current problem is the vendor from whom I lease my printer. I won't name names here as the situation is ongoing. The issue is the vendor is failing to live up to its contract, i.e. to provide me with the supplies and service I need to produce all my printed materials. This leaves me with two options: go buy the supplies and pay for the service, which our association's limited budget wasn't prepared for, or be late with my newsletter.

I finally found a seller of the supplies I need with at least a price we can short-term afford but it's still a real sock in the gut for our budget.

I feel it's very important that I get mailings out to my members on time. I lose sleep over it when I don't. I'm now waiting for the supplies I need to print my December newsletter and it's January 5. This makes me see red. Probably my members don't check their calendars every month and say, ah-HA, Judy's newsletter is late again. But I don't want to risk even one person's displeasure (or ah-HA).

It's different when it's a family you are trying to serve and the casket or grave-marker or whatever doesn't show up on time. How do you handle it? Internally and externally, I mean?

This probably should be a network topic, and probably it will be, but I just wanted to vent.

Thanks for listening! Commentary welcome.

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP



Julie A. Burn's picture

Hi Judy,

After working for a vendor (Wilbert Corporate) for the last 18 years, I am well aware of the importance of providing customers with reliable service.

You are probably aware that Wilbert is a Licensee network. Therefore, each Licensee is responsible for delivery of burial vaults in a given territory. And because of this, Wilbert Corporate is not made aware of most situations where for some reason the vault is not at the cemetery at the desired time. Each Licensee handles this situation on an individual basis. For the most part, Wilbert has had a good reputation of providing excellent service.

On the other hand, in my position as Manager of Cremation Services at Wilbert Corporate, I was ultimately responsible for the timely deliver of URNS shipped directly from Corporate. (The majority of the Wilbert Licensees do not stock all of the core urn line.) Timely delivery of products was a top priority at Wilbert, and we worked hard to make it happen. However, there were some cases where the urn did not get to the funeral establishment at the desired time. When these cases did occur, it was our top priority to address the manner. I worked with the respective Licensee to deliver the product ASAP; and in most cases, I called the funeral professional directly to
apologize for the situation. A follow-up letter was also sent to the funeral establishment. Lastly, in ALL cases, the funeral professional/family was given some type of compensation; i.e., no charge for the urn, no charge for shipping, etc.

Timely delivery is all part of service, and as you know, service is what is important. People will pay more for exceptional service! You can get urns from hundreds of different avenues, but will you get delivery reliability?

Maybe it's time to look for another vendor for your newsletter services???

Looking forward to meeting you.


You print that newsletter in house, on a machine physically in your office? What sort of printer is it?

judyfaaberg's picture

Yes, I have been using an Okidata C9600 for the last couple of years which is when we went full-color (prior to that it was a C9300, prior to that I shipped the file to a professional printer). The lease we had on the 9600 provided for 5000 color copies/month with rollovers of unused copies, and 7500 B & W per month (which I barely scratched). We paid a flat fee for the lease, and the vendor supplied all toner, drums, any other parts and service. We provided paper.

However the vendor, who shall remain nameless in this blog, has gone AWOL, leaving many people in the lurch.

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP

judyfaaberg's picture

Hi Julie, looking forward to meeting you too! Thank you for the customer-service primer!

I am in fact investigating a new vendor.

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP

That is really forward-thinking, to put out a 4/c newsletter in house. We do a lot of our own printing and binding on our b&w copier, quantities of complex documents rarely exceed a hundred. But everything 4 color goes to a place where everyone has ink on their hands.

judyfaaberg's picture

We were a B & W publication for our first 70+ years. Technology finally caught up with our dreams. As did cost. When I used to send out my B & W newsletter for printing and mailing, before I had a big printer that could handle the tabloid size, it was costing as much as if not slightly more than the monthly lease on the big printer. Of course we had to pay for the mailing and paper but the overall result was the difference between night and day - or, between black-and-white and COLOR! :)

If I were producing the quanities you are I'd be sending them out too! My newsletter, and it is a newsletter, not a magazine (that requires bleeds and trimming and all sorts of stuff - for those of you wondering what the aitch-ee-double-toothpicks I'm talking about, "bleed" means printing right up to the edge of the page - say 8 1/2 x 11 - using slightly oversized paper and cutting it down to size after printing). ("Bleed" is also what my ulcer does when my newsletter goes out late, see original post above.)

Can't wait to see what my new printer will be able to do!

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP

judyfaaberg's picture

If anyone is still following this saga - we finally resolved it. Banded together with some other jilted clients, got an attorney, and went after the bank that was carrying the paper on our printer leases.

Negotiations went on for months, during which time we spent a lot of money on supplies for the printer. Thank goodness it didn't go to hell and require service until just days before it was due to be picked up by the new leasing company we signed on with.

The bank agreed to let us buy out our remaining contract with them for dimes on the dollar, and KEEP the printer. I wanted that jinxed piece of crap GONE, so I traded it in on a Toshiba 3530, and got $500 for it too. Our new lease will cost roughly the same as our old lease, with the same supplies/service agreement, but the company we signed with has been in business HERE for over thirty years and has an excellent reputation.

I was amused (and disgusted) to learn, when interviewing potential printer vendors(including the one I signed with), that the man from whom we and hundreds if not THOUsands of others leased our Oki printers, that this was the THIRD time he had foisted this ponzie scheme upon an unsuspecting public. They all knew him, and even knew him under a different name during one of his schemes. They hadn't known he was back in business, and tried hard not to look amused when I told my sad story.

I just googled the culprit's web site and am extremely pleased to see his site is gone and domain name sold. Thus, I am no longer listed as one of his satisfied customers highly recommending his services. I was also disgusted to find a link that showed he had received $32,500 in SBA loans in 2004.

So far, my new printer works fine...

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP