August 16 2006

No clue what to even name this…

My second company is a licensing company meaning we icense the rights to produce merchandise based on various properties. Even though we are fairly new, we are already making in-roads with some well known national chains. One of these I shall call “Mall Retailer”.

Mall Retailer is a well known national chain, and getting your products in to those stores is a big task. After 6 months of phone calls, an odd situation popped up where they actually needed us, and not the other way around. What we learned after we were in was they had an amazing set of rules for dealing with them. We had to fold the t-shirts to their specs, tag them to their specs, boxes could not weigh over 40 lbs, boxes must be delivered on certain dates specified by them, they don’t pay shipping, they dictate price and so on. Inside their 69-page guide, there was also a list of fines they could charge you with for not following their instructions.

After we received their order, we contacted one shirt printer I had worked with previously, but they were going to be too much when you factored in shipping the shirts to me and then me having to turn around and shipping them back out. We talked with another shirt printer who has a long track record with Mall Retailer, knows all their procedures, and even has a section of their warehouse set aside to deal with Mall Retailer. They quoted us a great price, and we went with them. The first order went great, no problems. Flash forward a few months and Mall Retailer comes back with a bigger reorder. We go to Shirt Printer again, they say no problem, they process and ship it. Then we get to today….

I received an email from Mall Retailer that says:

This email is to inform you that we received a recent shipment from your organization that did not adhere to the policies of our vendor’s guide. Unfortunately, because of this deviation from our policies, a fine will be issued. It is not Mall Retailer’s intention to profit from fines. The fine has been issued to offset the costs incurred fixing the problem in our distribution centers.

Reason: No or Incorrect case markings (*code that could identify Mall Retailer*) – No labels on cases.
Amount: $300.00

Excuse me? We are working with a shirt company who deals with Mall Retailer daily and knows their rules inside out. So all of a sudden they don’t know how to put the label in the correct spot on the outside of the case? (there are rules about how many inches from the edge it should be) This is just insane to me.

My father spent years dealing with huge chains in his business as a travelling salesman and even he is amazed by the hoops I am having to jump through. No one in my family has ever seen anything like this and we have worked in numerous different industries. We are fighting the fine, but how does one even prove something like this?

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