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vendor abuse

Have You Heard of Vendor Abuse?

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Vendor abuse isn’t a joke, it is a real thing. While I like to position most of my writing with a swing towards the positive, I feel this is an important issue.

Let me start by providing a little background about a situation I recently witnessed.


I was at a local printing and office supply superstore. Unfortunately, I was behind the counter, working on my order from the day before. That is another story, which I will address in a minute.

While I was behind the counter a gentleman approached the store personnel expressing the urgency of some documents he needed printed and bound. My back was towards him but I overheard the exchange. He expressed that he needed these documents and that they were court ordered.

The store personnel were very courteous and respectful. I was listening. I had my customer service antenna tuned in. They expressed that they were operating under an extreme overload and couldn’t promise his work to be completed within three hours which was his request.

After some back and forth discussion he handed over materials for copying and the understanding was that they couldn’t promise binding but they could provide the duplication. They moved his order to the front of the line (ignoring an already existing backlog) and he walked away.

Work In Progress

They started his copy order and their high speed machines were happily spitting out lots of paper. About five minutes later, he returned to the counter and asked for his original copies back. Once again, although my back was turned my customer service ears were on.

The personnel somewhat surprised said that his order was running and as I looked over my shoulder that person pointed to a now three to four inch high stack of paper, it was the output from his order. Long story short, he demanded his originals, and left the store. He never paid a dime.

Apparently, during his five minute absence he walked out of the store and telephoned a competing business. They must have offered to meet his deadline.

I’m not an attorney, but guess what? He is an attorney. The court ordered documents he needed were connected with his professional work. Now, although I’m not an attorney I would like to suggest that there was a contract. The moment he agreed to the printing and handed over the documents he was on the hook for the order.

Vendor Abuse

I’m a person who believes in doing the right thing. I believe in living up to what I promised. No, the customer isn’t always right. Yes, this is an inappropriate way to treat a vendor. I call it vendor abuse and his behavior, multiplied, is exactly why you and I have to pay more.

Perhaps needless to say, the store had to throw away in my estimate 750 to 1000 sheets of paper. It was not their fault. They were actually going out of their way to help.

Behind the Counter

What was I doing behind the counter? My order from the day before which had some very specific instructions connected with the binding was not assembled correctly. I could have stomped up and down or I could have pitched a fit. I also could have walked out and called a competitor.

Instead, I was behind the counter helping to make an unintentional mistake better. Starting over, especially with another vendor would have cost me much more. This store has good people. They are hard working and are part of the community. They shouldn’t be abused or intentionally misused.

I wonder how Mr. Attorney treated the next vendor, and what about the clients he represents.

Hash tag – shaking my head. Hash tag – vendor abuse!


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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