Thanks for the suggestions.
This is an industry were the customers are not influenced or even view blogs. Most orders are still done the old fashion way - via fax. And it`s a very tight-knit community of people in a very small, but lucrative market.
I might try finding someone who could stand by me. PR doesn`t really work on the customers. The ones who have ordered are larger corporations that are not influenced by the `cliche-ishness` that this distributor has cultivated over the years.
I agree - revenge does not pay. For this distributor it appears to have, but I don`t want to go that route.
I`ll keep plugging away. Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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.
To answer your question you cannot use a celeb`s image on a t-shirt, without their permission. Cafepress people get away with it sometimes, but not always. There are numerous requests to have content removed. And for many stock photos you buy they explicitly state no cafe press. Cafepress cannot police everything and users sign agreements stating they won`t do that, but...
You`re best to come up with your own designs that are unique that don`t rely on clearance from people. I had a friend who had invented a backscratcher device and named it something similar to ezreach or something. Another company with a similar name, but nowhere near a similar product sued them for infringement. The lawyer, judge, everyone said they would have prevailed, but the cost to defend themselves was over $100K. They lost that much in development costs, and decided not to go thru and defend themselves.
So you have to be very careful. And if you do set up a business, set up an LLC.
Back in May I had an issue with a distributor who was supposed to sell, bill, collect and pay me for books I shipped to her customers. You guys helped me out a lot in understanding how bonkers the whole thing was.
Well, now she`s back and she wants me to pay her a commission on sales...and I feel like I`m in the twilight zone.
Here`s the short version...
These are gift books I publish, with artwork done by various artists this distributor also distributes for. (prints, notecards, etc.) When she signs up an artists, she intimates she has some control over their artwork but in fact doesn`t.
When helping pick out artwork for these books she frequently acted like their agent sending me the digital files me and telling me I could use it, even before I got confirmation from the artists. Most of the time she didn`t even cc the artist, but all agreed once I sent them a contract.
Anyway, I created, printed and delivered a fair number of books in Feb. to about 20 customers. During that time she arranged for a large specialty order of $30K worth of books. I set out to work on this order, creating the 7 different interiors that 8 different artists would put their artwork on the covers. I continued to work on new books and deliver the ones I had already published.
By May I hadn`t received a single dime even though many customers had received books - many partial orders. She could have invoiced these people, but didn`t.
She agreed and understood I could not float a lot of receivables and I made it very clear she must collect and pay me promptly otherwise I could not keep sending out books. I reiterated this numerous times. We had a written contract, but it didn`t spell out these specifics. It was just a generic, `we`ll distribute these for you` kind of contract.
I told her $15K was my limit, which she reached in March, yet kept on writing orders or even though I kept warning her I could not deliver if I wasn`t paid soon, since I also had to pre-pay for the $30K specialty book order.
By the time mid-May came around, I told her there was no way I could do this specialty order AND hold out about $25K in receivables without some payment. I asked and asked for an accurate accounting and got all sorts of spreadsheets that made no sense. I finally said, enough is enough. No payments. No accurate accounting. We`re done.
She then turned around and bad-mouthed me to the artists, many of whom asked to be let out of their contract and to have me stop printing books with their work on it. Because of the contract I had with the artists (I`ll never do that again!), I had to do that. That cost me about $500 per book, and about 7 books had to be cancelled.
Then she sent the special print job downpayment check she had agreed to send to me, back to the customer and badmouthed me to the customer. The customer canceled the order.
Half of the orders her salesperson wrote I couldn`t deliver because I had to cancel the books and I was unable to keep buying more books to send to customers because I had run out of cash. I delivered what I could which was about $20K not about $30K. The rest I just said the books weren`t available yet. It worked out because in the end the salesperson had oversold these books to customers. Had they received what they ordered, most would have not been able to turn the inventory around in this short tourist season.
Today she emails me demanding commissions be paid on ALL the sales (even though half were not filled). I told her she actually ended up costing me money and I`d be happy to work up a spreadsheet that shows that. I also told her if she pressed it I`d be happy to take it on legally since what she did was slander me to artists and clients.
What would you do?
And although I know there are two sides, AND I should have had a more comprehensive contract, am I wrong here? Should I pay her any commissions even if she cost me money?
Thanks again for insights.
My company creates custom `gifty` books for various travel-oriented industries. I`m a small one (sometimes two) person outfit.
My first year I did about $50,000 in sales with little effort. I know the books I do have wide U.S. appeal in various travel destinations.
What I want to do is travel the country in a motorhome and sell the books literally out of the back of the car. The books can be purchased by major retailers thru a wholesaler. In other words, I can blow into town and if I alert Barnes, for example a few weeks ahead they can order the books since they are in their system.
My thought is to get a motorhome rental company and the division of tourism in my state to sponsor the trip. - Kill two birds with one stone idea. I promote the RV rentals by giving `slide shows` of my travels. I promote the state I`m from by doing slide shows of living where I live. And I sell the books in the back of the room at the end. They`d match where I live and where I`m going. If I go to Arizona, I`ll have a book on Arizona available.
I want to have the motorhome company pay for the motorhome, of course. And the travel industry pay for the gas and expenses. I`d make money just selling the books.
I have the plan, but how do you approach a large company or organization and say hey, this is beneficial to you, it`ll cost you little, and you`ll gain a lot?
Has anyone else gotten a company to sponsor them? And if so, how`d you do it? And what`s the best approach? I don`t know people in either of the two places I`d go to ask for sponsorships.