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Hi guys... I'm working with an angry customer and could use your thoughts!

A guy brought in a boat cover for us to screenprint a one-color logo on in two locations. It was a used cover, and was in okay shape. The first thing we did wrong was print the wrong color of ink on the design... he wanted black, we printed white.

Our next mistake was that we tried to "fix" it by cutting out the logo using vinyl (suitable for nylon material) and heat pressing over the top of the screenprinting. Yes, we got in a hurry and actually believed heat pressing a boat cover was a good idea (bad day).

The design looks good, but there are now marks from the heat press on the boat cover where we put heat to the waterproofing layer and it looks okay but not professional.

Long story, but the customer is unhappy and wants us to buy him a new cover. What would you do?? I refunded the $65 we charged him, and now he wants $300 to go buy the cover. I accept our fault in this, but can't justify giving him that. I am willing to give him $100. Thanks for your thoughts!
 

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Hi guys... I'm working with an angry customer and could use your thoughts!

A guy brought in a boat cover for us to screenprint a one-color logo on in two locations. It was a used cover, and was in okay shape. The first thing we did wrong was print the wrong color of ink on the design... he wanted black, we printed white.

Our next mistake was that we tried to "fix" it by cutting out the logo using vinyl (suitable for nylon material) and heat pressing over the top of the screenprinting. Yes, we got in a hurry and actually believed heat pressing a boat cover was a good idea (bad day).

The design looks good, but there are now marks from the heat press on the boat cover where we put heat to the waterproofing layer and it looks okay but not professional.

Long story, but the customer is unhappy and wants us to buy him a new cover. What would you do?? I refunded the $65 we charged him, and now he wants $300 to go buy the cover. I accept our fault in this, but can't justify giving him that. I am willing to give him $100. Thanks for your thoughts!

This is always a tough one to weigh out.

First, what does your written policy say about customer supplied items? If you do not have a policy in writing then technically you are responsible for the replacement if you damaged the cover, and it sounds like you did.

You could just tell him to f - off and hope he does not take you to small claims court. And then just live with the negativity he is going to spread about your business.

You could look around as see what you can find a replacement cover for. Maybe you can find one cheaper, maybe not.

If you know you were at fault all the way and you do not have a written policy about customer supplied items then you really should replace the cover for him and chalk this up as a lesson learned.
 

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your in a tough spot huh ? i would not have done a used one unless we agreed that it might get messed up. that doesn't help you now. i would look at it this way, if he is your best customer and gives you a ton of work i would replace it. if he just walked off the street i would not because he will not return to you anyway so you have already lost this customer. move on. are you sure the heat press marks won't go away once it gets wet or the sun is on it ?
 

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I'd buy him a new cover AND a basket of goodies with a sincere apology. If you do that he may ask you to do the new cover and you will recoup a little back. $300 , to me, isn't worth the bad publicity you will endure since it was admittedly your fault. Own up to it and treat the customer how you would want to be treated and buy him a new cover. Expensive lesson learned but turn him into a good advertisement. Give him a few discount fliers or something in the basket to earn his business back. If you treat him well, hopefully he will be gracious enough to give good feedback to his boater friends etc. If you have already upset him, chances are slim that he will. But do the right thing and replace his boat cover.
 

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I have no idea, but my first thought was wow what a great deal... he brings in a few years old boat cover and ends up with a new cover. How about paying 1/2 the new boat cover and you screen print it for free? That gets him over 2/3 the cost of a new cover and it would be done the way he wanted it. If I had to reimburse him for 100% of a new cover then I definitely would tell him that I wasn't doing any printing or ink on it. Oh, and be sure to figure out the boat model and size and take the old one and try to sell it. To me, that's only fair. I hate doing expensive stuff. I would do everything possible to see that he doesn't end up using the old one and keeping the new one for later.
 

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I'd buy him a new cover AND a basket of goodies with a sincere apology. If you do that he may ask you to do the new cover and you will recoup a little back. $300 , to me, isn't worth the bad publicity you will endure since it was admittedly your fault. Own up to it and treat the customer how you would want to be treated and buy him a new cover. Expensive lesson learned but turn him into a good advertisement. Give him a few discount fliers or something in the basket to earn his business back. If you treat him well, hopefully he will be gracious enough to give good feedback to his boater friends etc. If you have already upset him, chances are slim that he will. But do the right thing and replace his boat cover.
I agree with @GN's post 1000% percent!

Instead of trying to figure out the least you can do to make this go away, I'd use this as a learning experience and figure out the MOST you can do to turn this situation around.

You admitted you made some mistakes (taking the order on a used cover in "okay" shape, printing the wrong color, covering up your mistake, leaving behind marks, etc)

It doesn't sound like the guy is trying to take advantage.

Instead of spending $500 on a yellow page ad, spend that earning some great word of mouth by wowing this customer, who by all accounts should be seriously angry with your business, and making them a fan of your work and customer service ethic.

Customers know that no company is perfect and that mistakes will be made. We're all human. What customers TRULY care about is how a company (re)acts when a problem comes up. Do they tackle the problem head on, listen, and make it right or do they try to sweep it under the rug, avoid the issue, and put the blame back on the customer?

Read number 3 here: Seven steps to remarkable customer service - Joel on Software
When customers have a problem and you fix it, they’re actually going to be even more satisfied than if they never had a problem in the first place.
 

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Every shop is a little different. For us , If this was an existing repeat customer, in good standing, we would make him happy and make up any loss on orders down the road. If it was a one time walk-in we probably would have turned them away and not taken the order.
In your situation, without knowing more details, I would say offer to pay half the the cost of a new one or buy a used one on ebay and reprint it at no cost.
I would also recommend putting up signs and/or having customers sign something that says you will not be responsible for customer supplied goods that get damaged.
Disclaimer: they don't let me do "customer service" I view customers as a necessary evil :)
 

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Personally, I would replace the cover. I would always tell the customer what happened in advance before altering anyone's product. I would have tried to print over top of it, if possible, but at this point, replacing the cover is the right thing to do. This person could do damage to future sales, and isn't worth the hassle of not replacing.

I would buy another cover and print the design in agreement with the original pricing. Since you've already returned his money, printing the cover at no cost would go even further, it just depends on how much of a loss you want to take.
 

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Hi
I would say put yourself in the customers shoes, if he was genuine and wanted something printed on his cover - and you have damaged it - then fix it - with a shiny new one !!!
if you think he set you up for a fall (and it doesn't sound like he did)then leave it ,
I agree - put your hands up for this mistake (albeit an expensive one) cos if you do this properly - you should get paid back tenfold,
good luck x
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great input from everyone... thank you. Sometimes we get to close to the situation and it's great to get outside perspectives.

The boat cover isn't ruined, you can just see a few marks, and that's why the resolution gets cloudy. But I agree, the best answer is to happily offer him a new cover. I plan to let him decide... I'll pay for a new one and I'll keep the old one, or I'll split the cost of a new one with him, and he keeps the old one.
 

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You cut (which likely will eventually lead to leaks) and burned the guys boat cover. You are responsible and definitely should do the right thing and replace it without hesitation.

Even putting aside that is is the right thing to do for a moment. The reality is if he takes you to small claims court he most likely would win. Save yourself the poor goodwill, the additional aggravation and replace it and apologize.

I learned a long time ago mistakes in business are like taking off a band-aid. The slower you are at dealing with it, the more it hurts. Deal with your mistakes promptly and directly and it is much less painful.
 

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I'd follow GN's advice. A great way to turn a situation around and get referral business for years to come. I'd also ask him if you can keep the ruined cover to use as a training reference, show how this type of item can turn out or get damaged, that type of thing.
 

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I agree with the majority here. You said it yourself. You screwed up. It happens. You take your lumps and keep on Keepin on. Tell him you will replace the cover one hundred percent. Plus I would tell him you would not replace it unless he let's you do the prints on the new one correctly and completely take care it like a professional. You need to let the customers know that they can trust you with their work. The worst thing you can do is not own up to your own mistakes. If it was such a disaster, never do boat covers again. $300 is one job. I'm sure most of us here have made mistakes that cost more than that.
 

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Hi guys... I'm working with an angry customer and could use your thoughts!

A guy brought in a boat cover for us to screenprint a one-color logo on in two locations. It was a used cover, and was in okay shape. The first thing we did wrong was print the wrong color of ink on the design... he wanted black, we printed white.

Our next mistake was that we tried to "fix" it by cutting out the logo using vinyl (suitable for nylon material) and heat pressing over the top of the screenprinting. Yes, we got in a hurry and actually believed heat pressing a boat cover was a good idea (bad day).

The design looks good, but there are now marks from the heat press on the boat cover where we put heat to the waterproofing layer and it looks okay but not professional.

Long story, but the customer is unhappy and wants us to buy him a new cover. What would you do?? I refunded the $65 we charged him, and now he wants $300 to go buy the cover. I accept our fault in this, but can't justify giving him that. I am willing to give him $100. Thanks for your thoughts!

NEVER take customer supplied items. I have a large sign on my door that says just that. not worth it even if you did not mess it up. Sorry you have to learn the hard way. Good luck in whatever you decide
 

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If you take some of the advice given here you will be making yet another "mistake". You have no right to offer the customer anything but a brand new cover. It does not matter that the customer brought you a used one to print on, "You" screwed it up. I guarantee you that the customer has already begun to trash your name with someone he knows whether it be family, friends or co-workers.

How you printed white instead of black to begin with is completely unacceptable and clearly shows that you did not have a sure understanding of the order or perhaps a written signed agreement. Trying to cover up a mistake with another mistake created a third mistake with burn marks on it and offering the customer anything but a "Brand New" printed cover will create yet another mistake. You also have "no" right in wanting to keep the old cover as it does not belong to you.

Stop making mistakes and go buy that cover, print the correct logo on it and save what grace you have left with this customer because that is exactly what you would expect if you were that customer.
 

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I think Rodney started this in the absolute right direction. Buy a cover and send goodies. Sell the old cover on ebay.

We never never never do anything we have not tried beforehand. Expensive? Yes. Priceless for learning and presenting a pro face to the world. I spect your paperwork order system may need some refinement as the white instead of black is kind of puzzling.

We also have a release for any customer supplied items. Doesn't mean we won't replace it if we mess up, just means they lose in court.
 
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