April 19, 2008 5:50 PM EDT
I own a small publishing company. Last year I signed up with a distributor (I posted about this distributor) who failed to pay on time, made promises to customers I didn`t agree to, then when I pulled the agreement, she went and badmouthed me to the people involved in the books, some of whom dropped out of the various book projects. From there she and her sales rep also contacted wholesale customers and badmouthed me to many of them causing lost sales.
I tried to just stay above it all and ignore her and go about business.
Yet each quarter she invoices me for sales that she failed to collect on, requested I cancel, and that she caused to be lost. I`ve ignored those too, until I emailed her telling she wasn`t owed a thing because she failed to perform her part of the contract, and because her actions cost me lost business (about $30,000 worth).
This year I`m approaching the same customers for this tourist season and have gotten maybe four or five out of about 60 customers request reorders. I know many of the businesses have sold out of these books and have a feeling she`s done her best to continue to ruin business.
My question is two-fold - a) what would you do about the slow sales - it`s not dependent upon the economy as this is a tourist business that is projected to be up this year. also there is a finite number of stores in the state, so although I haven`t sold to all of them, the customers I did sell to last year were a large portion of the stores in the state. and b) would you investigate a lawsuit for libel/slander against this distributor. I can clearly show she set out to negatively effect business as a retalitory method. (her husband did the same thing in his job and actually was convicted for stealing funds and trying to pin it on someone else, so the apple doesn`t fall far from the tree.)
I do sell to other wholesalers, but that amount of business is about 10% of total revenue of last year.
I`m somewhat perplexed as to what to do and why last year`s customers aren`t reordering. any help would be appreciated.