Abc distributing is a mail-order catalog company that is available to businesses only. You can place your order by mailing in the paper form from the catalog, going to their website if you’re in a hurry, or calling it in if you have nothing better to do. Keep in mind, there is another company selling the exact same stuff with the exact same format for non-business customers, but more on that later.
I used to love getting abc’s catalog in the mail. Chock full of everything from clothes, toys, and furniture to food gifts, pet treats, and kitchenware, this company has it all. The catalogs have large pictures of every item and their prices are amazing. Everything was great, right up until I actually started ordering from them.
The first time I placed an order, it was in the first week of November for Christmas that year. I had gone through the latest catalog a dozen times and dog-earred all the pages containing my gift selections, which covered just about everyone I had to buy for that year. I made a cup of tea, sat down at my desk, and went to the site to get my order underway.
The website was easy enough to use, with your standard “Add to Cart” and “Continue Shopping” options. In addition to the current catalog I had in my hand, the last four catalogs they had offered were also available for ordering, along with separate sections for new items and sale items. I stuck pretty close to my original list, but added a few things from these other products. My total order for about 30 items came out to almost $400, not including shipping, which wasn’t listed on the final receipt.
About two weeks later, I received an e-mail stating that they were shipping some of the items from my order. And by some, I mean six. A box arrived on my doorstep the day before Thanksgiving, three weeks after I originally placed my order. The items were packed very well, in an appropriately-sized box with plenty of Styrofoam peanuts. After checking each item out, I grabbed the receipt from the bottom of the box. The total for the order was $60, even though there was only $40 of stuff that was by no means heavy. A tiny bit of sales tax, and the rest was all shipping costs. And this was standard delivery! No rush or priority or special anything. I started to wonder if the peanuts were laced with gold or something.
Now, they had stated that items ship as soon as they become available, so this partial shipment didn’t bother me. After Thanksgiving, my order started to trickle in, at a rate of about one to three items per week. Each shipment came in another perfect box with the golden peanuts and a receipt that included shipping costs that rivaled my son’s private school tuition. Shipments trickled in all through December, right up until Christmas.
By December 23rd, I still only had half of my total order in my possession. I decided it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get some back up gifts, lest I be caught without a present under the tree for Grandma. So on Christmas Eve day, I ended up doing the one thing I tried to prevent by ordering online 8 weeks in advance – shopping. Shopping on Christmas Eve was something I had avoided at all costs my entire life, and something I hope I never, ever have to live through again.
January arrived, bringing snow and cold and more weekly shipments from this awful company. Yes, items were still trickling in in January. And in February. And in March. I kid you not, the trickling didn’t end until April, when I received an e-mail stating that the remaining products ordered were completely sold out, and they were very sorry. Sorry is not the word I would use as a descriptive at this point, but what can you do?
As a business serving a business, this is no way to do business. By now, it should be painstakingly obvious as to why I will never shop with this company again. I have, however, converted to being a Lakeside Collection customer, since they offer the same products for the same prices with a virtually identical website and catalog. The only difference is that Lakeside ships most of my order together, and if they foresee any shortage or delay, they alert me right away. As far as I can tell, they are two sides of the same company, but for some reason they insist on treating their business customers like trash while they treat their regular customers like royalty. I don’t know why, and I don’t care, as long as I never have to wait six months just to pay for million dollar peanuts again.