From my mail:
I have a dilemma concerning how to deal with a sales rep and I am facing a situation which has been bothering my conscience for many days now:
My company has changed sales reps recently because we have not been happy at all with the level of service and of the quality of the sales rep’s work. The rep did a very poor job and has caused a few (but major) highly negative issues for us. Since we’ve changed reps, I won’t have to deal with this rep for much longer but I still put great value on my reputation and also care about doing things in all fairness.
One store called me recently after receiving their Fall 2007 order, saying that what they received was not what they ordered. The customer said they had modified their order, canceling about 2/3 of their order about one week after making the original order, over the phone with the sales rep. The sales rep never sent me the modified information on this order, even though I sent them a sales report at the end of the selling season (before my production cut-off date – we produce according to orders) for them to verify that I was not missing any orders, modifications or cancellations. The sales rep acknowledged this error came from them (although they did not have much of a choice).
Another point that annoys me is that I had to get the rep to do their job. I actually had to tell the rep that they should call the client to try to see if the customer would be willing to keep some of the styles they had canceled instead of returning the 2/3 of the canceled order. In the end, the client kept 2/3 of the order and only sent back about 1/3. Of course I will not be paying the commissions on the goods the client will be sending back. I already had two large canceled orders at the very last minute (late August and early September) from clients of this sales rep so I’m already stuck with too much merchandise that probably won’t sell during the Fall as reorders. So for me, this is just more merchandise that I will be stuck with.
My dilemma is, should I deduct the wholesale cost of what it cost me to produce the canceled order the rep didn’t tell me about from the Fall 2007 commissions of this Sales Rep or should I assume these losses even though the mistake was clearly made by the Sales Rep? I have been wrestling with my conscience for many days now and have been unable to find much information over the internet or from people I know. Your, your collaborators or readers point of view would be quite welcomed.
First my gut reaction, don’t. The adage “if in doubt, don’t” holds true (wish I could always remember that). I think you know this too. On one hand, you feel the pinch of injustice to say nothing of the costs, you’re entitled to feel you’ve been wronged. The situation you’re pondering is whether you have the right to make things whole, as you should have been had the rep been doing his/her job.But is that all you feel? I think we often want the egregious party to recognize they’ve caused us ill in addition to making us whole. Assuming it were forthcoming, would a genuine apology suffice? Think about that. You strike me as a fair, disciplined person, not unkind or vengeful -and not that we should let people walk over us either .
As a practical matter, you have two choices. One, you can discuss the matter with the potential of a possible solution to your liking because you do have some cause due to negligence and dereliction of duty although I can’t say how much.
Second, you can deduct the direct costs of the unnecessary excess production from the owed commissions and most likely, the rep isn’t going to fight it in any substantive way because it doesn’t amount to enough money to fight over in court [dollar figures were discussed privately]. The problem is, people talk and as we all know, the grapevine is our lifeblood. Do you want this rep to have the opportunity to have any kind of a gripe against you that’d be blabbed around? I mean, he/she most likely already has a gripe since you’ve let them go but at least there’s no specific monies due. It is doubtful a complaining rep is going to tell your side of the matter in private discussion. The rep is only going to say you didn’t pay them commissions that were contractually owed and legally, this would be true.
Let’s assume you do deduct the costs from the rep’s payment. Further, let’s assume you end up selling the excess goods, most likely at discount down the road. In that scenario, I think you are the sort of person who’d feel guilty if you didn’t refund the rep the appropriate percentage of the difference. In such case, I’d ask whether you want the hassle of further dealings with this person. Painful though it may be, maybe it’s just better to cut all ties.
Have you had a similar experience? What say all of you?