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Old 10-17-2002
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What is REALLY up at Sailnet?

Strede:

As best I can make out, we are probably experiencing some mix of the following problems:
1. They relocated recently and that''s bound to produce interim disruption, tho'' this doesn''t explain any problems experienced some months back.
2. The owner explains that one of his CSR''s is seriously ill and, allowing her to recover and resume employment, means the CS Dept. is short-handed in the meantime.
3. Before selling off their manufacturing facility and business interests, and leaving St. Pete, it is my understanding they were having cash flow problems which moved some vendors/distributors to withhold shipment of product (which you expect Sailnet to have on their shelves) until payment was received. (I was told this by one Sailnet dept. manager, one former employee still in the local marine trades biz here, and one local marine vendor. I could not ascertain any reason why they would all be saying that unless they believed it to be true). Their cash flow problems may still be ongoing, which would explain why I can''t get a line order filled after four weeks as the season winds down, but doesn''t address a lack of follow-up to calls made to customer service.
4. To manage call volume, their ACD switch is apparently programmed, intentionally or by default, to disconnect calls after you wait in the que a short time. This is a way to manage long distance charges and also insure the staff answering these calls don''t have an endless line of customers who are angry at being on hold many minutes...but it does reflect an absence of adequate staffing when it happens routinely, which has been my experience. Of course, terminated calls just place a late-in-the-day heavy volume of return calls onto the overworked CSR''s, which may explain incomplete replies (that''s been my experiencet, too) or no reply at all.
5. They seem to suffer from some inventory management issues (software? no one doing routine stock validation? communication issue between the warehouse and order takers? I''m not sure...) as I''ve been told they have what I''m ordering, only to subsequently find it needs to be backordered.

I plan boat gear purchases ahead of time due to budget constraints and the sequencing of the projects on my boat. I comparison shop relentlessly and try to be a loyal customer to my wallet first, marine retail vendors second, altho'' I don''t overlook the value one can sometimes receive when paying a larger price for more technical competence along with the gear. I would think most of you are just like me. I continue to consider placing orders with Sailnet and usually find them very competitive for standard, off the shelf items. But I''m doing it carefully (no big ticket items for now) and only a few items at a time, because I don''t want to be stuck holding a charge on my VISA account and a news item about Sailnet solvency.

I don''t think this makes me ''anti'' Sailnet but instead a cautious consumer. My buying practices with Sailnet will loosen up as their performance changes. For now, and regretable tho'' it might be, a business that appears to be inadequately staffed and stocked, given the country''s economy, looks like a business at risk to me.

Jack
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