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Northern Bummer

So I made my first order from Northern Brewer in my young brewing career and it was NOT a pleasant experience. This is my hobby and so the anticipation has been “brewing” since I ordered my Megapot, dark star burner, and the ingredients for this weekends brew day. I got the tracking numbers for the two shipments. One shipment came yesterday! YAY! My Darkstar burner! My appetite was whetted! The expected delivery for the second shipment was today. I was excited all day at work. I got home and there was the box! And then I said to myself “Something is amiss at the Circle K”, because the box clearly was not large enough to contain a Megapot and all those ingredients.

So I opened the box and it was just ingredients. So I thought, well maybe the pot is shipping separately. I looked at the packing list and it said the pot was supposed to be in there. So I thought, OK so I will have to track down the pot but with all these ingredients I can still brew this weekend. Then I realized that I was also missing a package of malt extract and the can of malt syrup which were also on the packing list. Not only on the list, but each of the missing items had a red mark next to them just like all the items that were in the box. So it’s like somebody actually marked stuff off as though it were in the box when it was not . So my brew day is off.

I called NB and the rep was very nice but could not explain how this happened. He said he would get the remaining items shipped out tomorrow. I asked when I can expect them and he said that it would be the standard 4 day shipping. To be fair he said he would send me a $20 gift card, but that does not get me brewing this Saturday. What did I expect? Well when this kind of mistake happens I expect customer service to say “Yes, this is an unacceptable error and we will overnight this to you”. That’s what the customer service in the company I work for would do.

So my first NB order experience… not a good one. My first NB customer service experience… not a satisfactory one. I would take the overnighted items over a gift card any day.

I feel for you. I’d be pissed to

I agree it should have been offered but did you ask? I’ve had nothing but good experience with NB customer service. I bet if you’d asked he would have overnighted it.

When I asked when I can expect it he made it clear that it would be 4 day and that he can’t change that. He knew I was asking that it should be faster service.

Ah you didn’t say the magic words. " overnight or cancel" you will be surprised with the results.

Sorry to hear about your experience. I am still really new to home brewing but I had an issue with the bottle capper during my first bottling. I was able to complete it though. I still called them and informed them, they sent me a new one as well as a bottle of StarSan, fermenting drops and a pint glass. It was sent regular shipping, but they replaced what I needed and went above and beyond IMO. Hopefully you will be pleased when your items arrive.

The best shipping departments have accuracy/fulfilment ratings in the high 90% range. I’m not always NB’s biggest fan, but given the increased shipping cost to overnight something as big as a megapot, I’d be surprised if they volunteered without directly asking. If you’re really upset, write them an upset note and they’ll probably give you another $20.

This is not about the money to me. I made an order. I had an expectation. If they said “Hey we will give you the stuff for free next week, or you can have it Friday if we overnight it” I would choose to have it Friday. I would rather have had the overnight shipping than the $20 gift card. And I don’t think it should require threats of cancellation to get it. A good company satisfies its customers and when they make a blatant error that inconveniences a customer and does not meet the reasonable expectations of the customer, the company should go FAR out of their way to satisfy the customer. I am not expecting anything extraordinary here. I ordered stuff. The company did not properly fill the order. The company should go out of their way to rectify the situation and they should do so at the not so unreasonable expense of overnight shipping to do so. It should not be something that I should have to beg for. Customer service should do all that is possible to satisfy customers. Hey, I have a brewing supplies shop 15 minutes from my house and another that is 30 minutes from my house. I chose NB because I can shop from my house in my underwear. But if I cant trust that the stuff I order will arrive when expected I will start taking the ride on my Saturday morning to get what I need.

I definitely feel your pain, but do you really know what overnight shipping costs these days? I’d bet that shipment of stuff you need would probably cost them at least $50 if they sent it overnight, and probably even more. And even if they did ship it right away on Friday, there’s no guarantee that it would get to you early enough on Saturday for you to get your brewing done. So not to be a tool for NB, but…I’m just saying, things like this happen to the best of us. It’s not at all typical of their packing and shipping efficiency, trust me. But, if you want to try some other company next time- and I wouldn’t blame you if you do- by all means do so, and see what kind of luck you have elsewhere.

It seems that some are missing the point here. Good luck somewhere else. IT happens to the best of companies. Did you ask for overnighting? It costs a lot so I can understand why they wont do that. Write a complaint letter and they may give you another $20 card. There seems to be a lot of acceptance for poor performance. I have a personal policy by which I live. I do my best all the time. I am not perfect and I know that. When I do not live up to what I commit to I take personal responsibility and do all that I can to rectify the error I made even if it comes at a cost to me. A company will not always be perfect, but when a company makes an error it should do all that is possible to rectify the error even if t comes at a cost to the company. A good example it Amazon. Recently my wife ordered a product from them. The wrong item was shipped. They immediately told her that they would overnight the proper item and would provide her with a return authorization and return shipping label. She was a happy customer and for that reason she continues to do business with them. As a matter of fact she will emphatically state that one of the reasons she continues to do business with them is that they respond so quickly and properly when a mistake is made.

Wow, you’ve been a heck of lot luckier with Amazon than I have. I’ve experienced long shipping times numerous times with them, and all they ever do for me is pass the buck to someone else.

Let’s play a little game I like to call “reality check.”

  1. Add a 10 gal. Megapot to your cart.
  2. Go to the check-out page.
  3. Select the state “New York”
  4. Select enter the zip code 11729
  5. Click the Get a Quote button.
  6. Observe the next day shipping rates.

$92.34 is the least expensive rate. If you’re being impartial about this situation, is it reasonable to ask NB to pick that up? I don’t think it is.

Sure it’s very frustrating when you’re excited to get a package and it doesn’t show up. I’ve been there. NB took ownership of the mistake, acted quickly to resolve it and threw in a little something extra to say, “I’m sorry. I hope you’ll forgive me and please give me another try.”

Also, comparing NB to Amazon in this discussion is like comparing apples to cruise ships. Consider the leverage Amazon has in negotiating shipping rates. Consider the impact that an occasional overnight to a dissatisfied customer has on their bottom line. I suspect Amazon’s order fulfillment error rate is lower than NB’s due to advanced logistics and automation–so they probably don’t have these situations as often on a percentage basis.

Now when NB starts talking about delivering orders same day using drones, I might change my view. 8)

Look at the upside, the sun will still rise tomorrow! And really in the end, a jacked up order that you will still receive (albeit delayed) is not the end of the world. I myself ordered a bunch of stuff that I also wanted for a certain brew day, but since one kit is “in process” that wont happen. Perhaps it is time to step into the big girl panties and appreciate the bigger issues in life, after all it is just a hobby :cheers:

Next time put your pants on and shop at your local shop. Shop local people to people.

Perhaps you all are right. I will store this in my long term memory and use the lessons I have learned in this thread for my future.

  1. I guess I need to pull up my big girl panties and realize that this is “just a hobby” and that there are things in life that actually matter. So I should expect, and accept that NB should not worry about satisfying it’s customers because after all, the stuff being ordered is really not important.

  2. I need to do reality checks. When I order something and the company from whom I order it does not fulfill their end of the bargain, I should just accept that they will not take all necessary actions to rectify their error in such case as it costs them. After all, I am just “one customer” and I should be prepared to wait longer so as to not impact the ability of the company to make money.

  3. People in general are becoming very accepting of the fact that companies are becoming less and less concerned with the individual customer. It seems that as we move away from face to face relations it has become more accepting to treat customers as “just an order number”.

  4. I should just adopt the saying “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

I realized a moment ago that in each of the points above I have used the word “just”. And it made me laugh because when I was in college I had a math professor who came into class the first day and wrote on the board in big letters “JUST is the most dangerous word in the English language”. He spent a class period showing how when you apply the word “just” to a situation you minimize the importance of it. So I will minimize the importance of this and say "I will just accept what NB has communicated to me and I will get in line with all others who have decided that we as individual people in a world of 6 billion are rather insignificant, and ordering meaningless supplies to support just a hobby.

It’s a matter of expectations really. You can take whatever attitude you want. Your attitude isn’t anymore right or wrong than anyone else’s. I personally would say “oh well, that sucks.” and reschedule my brew day. Would I be mad? Probably. But I would get over it quickly. I however would not expect NB to spend more money than they are making to correct the problem. It appears that’s where our expectations differ. In my experience, some customers cost more to keep happy than it’s worth, and to lose that customer is actually a net gain.

Nicely said Matt

[quote=“in_the_basement”]Perhaps you all are right. I will store this in my long term memory and use the lessons I have learned in this thread for my future.

  1. I guess I need to pull up my big girl panties and realize that this is “just a hobby” and that there are things in life that actually matter. So I should expect, and accept that NB should not worry about satisfying it’s customers because after all, the stuff being ordered is really not important.

  2. I need to do reality checks. When I order something and the company from whom I order it does not fulfill their end of the bargain, I should just accept that they will not take all necessary actions to rectify their error in such case as it costs them. After all, I am just “one customer” and I should be prepared to wait longer so as to not impact the ability of the company to make money.

  3. People in general are becoming very accepting of the fact that companies are becoming less and less concerned with the individual customer. It seems that as we move away from face to face relations it has become more accepting to treat customers as “just an order number”.

  4. I should just adopt the saying “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

I realized a moment ago that in each of the points above I have used the word “just”. And it made me laugh because when I was in college I had a math professor who came into class the first day and wrote on the board in big letters “JUST is the most dangerous word in the English language”. He spent a class period showing how when you apply the word “just” to a situation you minimize the importance of it. So I will minimize the importance of this and say "I will just accept what NB has communicated to me and I will get in line with all others who have decided that we as individual people in a world of 6 billion are rather insignificant, and ordering meaningless supplies to support just a hobby.[/quote]
Gee, you had me going for me a minute there. Just one quick question: do you have any kids yet? I ask this question because I can’t wondering just how much free time you have on your hands to dwell on this issue. For me, if I even have ONE day that isn’t going to be spent on either my job or my child (whom I look forward to seeing- don’t get me wrong), it’s like a fu%$@ng miracle, and I’m happy to do whatever I have time to do, as long as it’s something I WANT to do, not something I need to do. And while the whole brewing thing is something I’m definitely passionate about, I came to the conclusion long ago that putting yourself emotionally in a place where you’re about to have an aneurism if one thing goes wrong that screws up your plans for the day, is just asking for trouble, and that trouble can affect your relationships with other people, too.
Look, like I said before, you’re absolutely free to try some other company the next time you want to order some brewing supplies, but in the meantime, it doesn’t help to keep carrying on and on about this, does it? So instead of blaming other people for having a different point of view on this subject, why not try coming up with a different game plan instead? If I were you, I wouldn’t wait around for those supplies to arrive when you know you have a homebrew supply shop not too far away. If you can afford to, just go to that shop, get what you need there, put aside those other supplies that are arriving by mail when they get there, brew your beer, and make the decision to use some other company the next time you want to order some supplies online. Simple as that. Just a little advice.

Matt, this is far deeper than my brew day. I am not angry. Never was. I was disappointed and I am well over the fact that I am going to have to move my brew day. that is not even close to the issue here. You mention expectations and the cost of keeping a customer.

Expectations: Are you saying that my expectation should be such that receiving my full order is not reasonable? Or are you saying that my expectation that when a company makes a blatant error that they should go out of their way to do right by the customer?

Making money: I am a customer. I am a rather easy customer. I order product. If the company sends me what I order I am satisfied. If I get poor quality product I take responsibility for that because that indicates I did not research properly and make the right purchasing decision. So while there are customers who may be more trouble than they are worth, that possibility must be set aside in a case where the fault is squarely and undeniably on the company. Additionally this was my first order ever. You would think that a company would want to make sure that the first experience a customer has with them is good. You would think that when a person registers for an account with a company and makes their first order there would be a flag that goes up to say “Make sure this one gets priority and is done correctly”.

So are my expectations unreasonable? The company asks me for my money. I give it to them. The company expects that 100% of the time my payment will be valid. If it is not they have a big problem with me. I ask the company for product in return for my money. When a company does not send all the product that says that the company has a problem. Not only should they go out of their way to satisfy the customer, but they should also be making a serious effort to find out how that error happened. Errors don’t happen once. If it happens once it is likely that it has happened before and certain that it will happen again. If on a first order ever the company errors in such a way as to negatively impact a customer and they even consider that the customer is more trouble than they are worth (particularly over less than $100), then that is very poor business. If the customer base for that company is willing to accept that behavior then that says something VERY disturbing about the state of consumers. There was a time where the mantra was that the customer is king.

In my opinion, yes they are. But again, that’s just my opinion. Your opinion is they aren’t going out of their way to correct the error. To you, overnight shipping is enough to correct the error. To someone else it might be “deliver it to my house right now in your car.” To me, 3-4 days shipping and a $20 gift card is enough to make up for it. You make it sound like the only way to fix the problem for every scenario is “overnight shipping.” There’s no magic formula to make every customer happy. If that wasn’t enough to make you happy you should have spoken up and I don’t doubt they would have done more to make you happy.

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