Well that’s a strange way to start a story, isn’t it? I thought so too until it happened to me. I never thought that someone would hold vintage teacups hostage. Here’s how it goes.
Looking For Love in All The Wrong Places
When acquiring stock for our online store, I source china from a variety of different places and sellers. A lot of people assume that we comb garage sales every weekend in the summer but that would not only be extremely time consuming, it would also be fruitless. We like to handpick brands and patterns we think will spark joy with our customers. So, in addition to buying from auctions, estates sales, and private individuals, we also buy from other sellers.
I found a seller 2 1/2 hours away from me in a major city East of Ottawa. You might think that a long way to go for a teacup but for the right teacup, no amount of distance can deter me.
I ended up letting the seller know that I would likely buy several pieces and then have them ship them all together. It looked like the beginning of a great relationship. Unfortunately, there wasn’t the stock I had hoped for in the beginning. I ended up buying just one teacup and saucer and so I contacted the seller to get her to ship it to me.
Your Teacup is in The Mail, or is it?
And that’s where the story takes a weird turn. Remember, I had already paid for the teacup and the seller was holding it for me until I was ready to ship. My thought was that she was going to reply with a shipping quote. I was so wrong. Her reply was that she did not ship for purchases under $40. So basically, she was telling me that unless I spent more money with her, I couldn’t have what I had already purchased. I could have turned this into a fight by insisting that she mail my purchase but remember I was trying to build a relationship with a seller not have someone hold my vintage teacups hostage.
Say what? So you mean to tell me that I have paid for the teacup and I am paying for postage and you cannot walk yourself down to the local post office because I haven’t spent enough money with you? At no time was I informed of a minimum spend policy and so now my teacup is being held hostage. I realize that initially, I had agreed to purchase several teacups but what happens to customers who just want one? I guess they just have to walk away unless of course, it’s already too late.
In this situation I have three choices:
- Spend more to reach the “spending threshold”
- Drive 2 1/2 hours each way to break my teacup out of this insane hostage situation
- Give up the money I had already spent, throw my hands in the air and walk away empty-handed. (I know I could have requested a refund but my thoughts were that if they had a hidden minimum spend, their reimbursement policy was probably pretty shady too)
I took a few hours to mull it over. I did want the teacup for which I had already paid. I didn’t think a 5-hour drive fit well into my day so I purchased enough to put me over the “spend limit” so as to receive my initial purchase. Listen $40 isn’t the end of the world. Most people spend that on Starbucks in a week, it is a matter of principle. But I did end up spending a significant amount more than I planned on teacups that I didn’t need.
There Has to be Give And Take
Now I have heard of minimum spends but there is usually something in it for the buyer. You may have to spend a certain amount to benefit from free shipping. For example, spend $100 and receive free shipping on your order. That’s a mutually beneficial proposition for both parties. In my case, when I replied to the seller to say, “I guess I will purchase something else so that I can access my first purchase” she didn’t even flinch. She didn’t realize that she had put a long term buyer/seller relationship on the line. Will I purchase from this seller again? Not if she had the last teacup in the world on her site.
The Moral of The Story
It certainly was a lesson learned. This person didn’t have their policies clearly outlined and had a distorted view of gaining financially without investing anything into the buyer/seller relationship. Should I have asked about the policies? Probably. Operating my own business as an ethical seller, it never occurred to me that someone could enact such a ridiculous set of terms.
So what do you do? You make sure that you are dealing with a reputable seller who has their policies clearly outlined and a proven track record of offering quality products and stellar customer service. I invite you to come back next Monday when I outline more tips and tricks for flawless online purchases.
No Strings Attached
Now, if you’d love to have a teacup with absolutely no strings attached, then I suggest you enter our September teacup giveaway. We include shipping to the winner and we promise not to hold any vintage teacups hostage.
The contest begins on September 4th, 2019 and closed on September 26th, 2019Find the official contest rules here