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VIEXILE 10-17-2002 06:48 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
Haven''t been up-to-date with the message boards lately, however, I shipped my standing rigging to SC for warranty work (4" too long by Florida shop) at my expense about a month ago. Follow ups with Paul were fine until I''ve recently started trying to get through to ANYONE at sailnet. I hate answering machines, particularly when I''m feeling nervous about where my rigging might be. I''m not trying to be negative, here, but there''s quite a bit of my money hanging in limbo somewhere. Check your messages. Return my calls. Thank you. KW, St. Thomas and SW Harbor, Maine.

Stede 10-17-2002 07:24 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
I''ve been a customer at Sailnet for about two years now. Until recently, I''ve been very pleased with the products and services offered. On a couple of the last orders I''ve placed,there has been some problems.Trying to reach anyone at Sailnet is very frustrating.I''ve let messages, that aren''t returned. E-mails are replied to with "canned" messages that have no bearing on resolving the problem.The whole process is really changing my desire to order anything else from Sailnet. If anyone at Sailnet reads this, please respond and let me know how to contact a human being at your company so I can get the problem with my order resolved.

WHOOSH 10-17-2002 08:50 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?

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.


VIEXILE 10-17-2002 02:43 PM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
I left two messages today and finally got through to Paul Freund in rigging. He was apologetic and said the phone system has been squirrely for a week or so and they''re all still settling in. Mike also returned one of the messages. I appreciate it, but I''m going to call daily until my rigging reappears in SW Harbor, Maine. I''ve enjoyed the whole Sailnet thing, convenience and prices and truly hope everything levels off.

JohnDrake 10-18-2002 05:42 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
I have been doing pretty well by email. I emailed regarding my backordered halyard and got a reply from Deanna within a day. She said she would look into it, she did and emailed me back again.

WHOOSH 10-18-2002 07:41 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
FWIW there''s also been a lengthy thread on the CW BB from Sailnet customers who have experienced the same problems described here, and for far longer than one week.


email_test 10-23-2002 08:16 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
Sorry to see so much speculation... things are tought but getting better by the day. They''re not however, so dire or even as planned as some believe.

The short version is that we''re a small company, as cash-constrained as any other in the current economy. For those of you who haven''t noticed, it''s tough out there ;-) Add the reality of being in an business where every purchase is discretionary and you have to be extremely careful. In our case, we tried to manage our inventory with the idea of moving everything at the end of August and the curse of a very slow summer. We were probably too cautious. We''re working to correct that... but part of the solution is realizing that we can''t be everything to everybody and trying to eliminate those lines/products that don''t move well or are redundant. You''ll see some serious sales as we make those changes.

That said, we''re managing our way thru what is a huge transition for the company. In the past two months we''ve closed a warehouse, moved 5 tractor trailer loads of inventory and fixtures, opened a new warehouse, moved all our people to a new building (co-located with the warehouse), moved the call center and customer service twice and sold off the mfg business. Tomorrow we''ll be down for about an hour 4:30p to 5:30p while we move the last bit, the servers. We certainly didn''t plan for all the fallout but it is what it is and we''re managing our way through it.

Much has been said about an ACD and booting people off the phone and all that. It simply isn''t true. We''re just not that sophisticated. Our phone switch is a plain vanilla ATT Merlin and we rely on a vendor to maintain it. Some of the phone problems can be traced to trying to maintain two locations on equipment not designed for the task. Hopefully that will all end by the end of this week as everyone comes under one roof and the "patches" go away.

As for customer service, it has been a challenge due to these changes. They have been overwhelmed. We''ve also taken a hard look at what our customers expect and how to best meet those expectations. We believe that we can offer three things people want: 1) low prices, 2) free freight and 3) No sales tax. The quid pro quo is that we can''t offer Ritz Carlton Service when we''re charging Hampton Inn prices. Take a look at Amazon, you won''t find a phone number anywhere on their site.

We aren''t going that far, but we are striving to offer reasonable service that is balanced with our pricing. Paying for a customer to call every day, or speed dial an 800# just doesn''t make sense. There''s no margin in that business. So, to be fair to all our customers as well as ourselves we''ve taken the steps of changing the customer service interface. We''re going to ensure that each customer gets their issue addressed in the order they contacted us. We''ve also implemented a call management db so each issue is logged and tracked. Calls will be routed to a voice mail box and our goal is to provide an answer within one business day. Our preferred method of contact will be email as it''s faster and more cost-effective. We also have CSRs on email who work later hours so the response time is often shorter. We''ve redesigned the Customer Service web interface so it''s more efficient and hopefully easier for the customers.

We''re making all these changes because we plan to be around for a very long time. The business has to make sense and that means being rational about the price/service equation. We believe our customers will understand and support that transition as it unfolds.

FWIW, my email is If you''ve got a question then feel free to email me and get the direct answer.

bfiegener 10-23-2002 12:44 PM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
sounds all well and good Sam but your CSR''s wouldnt be so busy if you just had product to ship. Like me, Im sure most of the calls are from customers looking for their order. Its true that your prices are by far the best, especially when I compare them to West Marine or BoatUS, but how long are we supposed to wait to justify the savings?

JohnDrake 10-23-2002 12:47 PM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
I am happy to report that after a couple emails with Deanna, my problem is solved.

I ordered a sale item, a pre-spliced halyard. Apparently it was out of stock and backordered right after I ordered it (it did say it was in stock at the time of my order). The problem was that SailNet changed this item to one using higher quality line and a nicer Wichard shackle.

Well...rather than track down the original product I ordered and ship that to me when they get it, SailNet is going to send me the new item they have in stock for the price I ordered at the time of the sale.

That, to me, is a quality business.

Thanks Sam and Deanna.


email_test 10-24-2002 08:17 AM

What is REALLY up at Sailnet?
In an ideal world you wouldn''t wait at all. We''re working as hard as we can to fill the back-orders as quickly as possible. No question most of that is our fault -- as I said, we were too conservative in ordering as we wound things down in FL before the move. In fairness all around, I''d also say that there can be delays in getting some product. Most vendors in this industry are small companies who don''t maintain large inventories -- they prefer to keep things lean as well and we can''t fault them for that. So, if we delay an order then the impact is magnified by the lead times.

It seems reasonable to expect that you will see a slow and steady improvement over the next month now that we''re settled in. We also anticipate even more improvements after 1 Jan when we implement a modern Inventory Mgt System.

The CSR''s are handling a lot. However, some of that is based on unreasonable expectations. We have documented cases where some customers place an order and start calling for status the next day. Our job is to set a reasonable expectation and then live up to it. It''s the customer''s decision on whether that expectation is satisfactory. We hope we''re steadily moving towards the right balance of expectation and customer satisfaction that pleases the majority.

-- Sam

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