Why I’m a sucky gift giver right now

Birthday spoiler alert warning for Elwood, Heather and Michael.

I pride myself in being able to pick out gifts for people. I call it a, uhm, gift, if you will.

Which is why it was so sucky for me in December when I could not, for the life of me, think of what to get Michael for his birthday. And I knew Elwood and Heather’s birthdays were coming up and I really wanted to do something special for all three of them.

A few days before Elwood’s birthday, it finally hit me – a gift that would be perfect for all three of them! A book of a collection of their blog posts, with custom covers designed by yours truly. Elwood’s gift would be late, as I would need time to design the cover and have it printed, order a copy for myself to make sure it looked okay, and then send him one. But I figured it’d be worth it. And of course, Michael’s would be 3 months late already …

So, I started with Elwood’s book first, knowing that his birthday was closest. His blog is titled “Untitled” so I wanted to give the cover a blank-slate appearance.  I went with a white background and a light gray clean, simple font on the front. I wanted it to be so light it would almost disappear, which is always a bit risky – what it looks like on the computer might not be exactly what it looks like in print, and I wanted it to be readable.

Ordered a copy of it, and in the meantime I started work on Michael’s book. Got a cover partially mapped out, and the interior done, and then I received Elwood’ book in the mail. The cover turned out exactly as I’d wanted it to:

And I was excited to order him a copy of his present, except when I turned inside, I saw this:

Interior

I’m sure Landry Ann Flice has a really great story to tell; however, that is not Elwood’s story. I was bummed; Elwood’s present was already late. But I wasn’t terribly worried. He knew it was coming late already, and this setback shouldn’t take more than a few days to correct. I contacted the publisher, Lulu, immediately. I’ve been using them for years and have had printing issues like this at times in the past, and they’d always been great about fixing their mistakes (aside from one or two annoying incidents). They sent an automated response back, asking me to provide pictures to them. I took and sent the pictures you see above. And I waited. And waited. And waited.

A few days later, I emailed them for an update. I heard nothing in return. I emailed them again the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. Nothing.

Now my patience is really being tested at this point. I haven’t finished Michael or Heather’s books, wanting to make sure Lulu fixed Elwood’s book first. By this point, Heather’s birthday has come and gone and her present is now late.

I hated to take it public, but after 6 days of no response, I finally sent them a message via Twitter and Facebook.

The Twitter message was as follows:

The Facebook message was as follows:

Oh, don’t see anything? That’s because they deleted my post to their fan page. It basically said the same thing the Twitter post did, except I went into more detail about how it was my cover and someone else’s interior.

Five hours after posting the Twitter inquiry, I got a response:

Lulu tweet 2

Now, there’s the customer service I expect from this company. Why did it take me going public to get a response from them? I sent them this message back:

Lulu tweet 3

I went to bed satisfied that I would have an emailed response waiting for me in the morning.

Except, I didn’t. Waited around most of the afternoon, then finally sent another message via Twitter:

Lulu tweet 4

And … nada. Nothing. No response.

Went to check their Facebook page and that’s when I found out my post had been deleted. So I posted a status update, using their name so that they can delete it from their page if they want, but they can’t delete it from mine. Here’s what it says:

(The answer, Bethany, is no I haven’t, but I will definitely check them out now!)

Aaaaaand …  Day 8 (yesterday). I checked Lulu’s page in the morning and saw someone else complaining about how they’ve gone six weeks without having a message responded to. I commented on their post that I was having a similar issue. They also commented that the Lulu fan page must be a place for people to complain about Lulu. I would give you a screen shot of those posts but when I checked it again an hour later, they’d been deleted. Doesn’t Lulu know this is bad form?

My second complaint still remained on their page, though. And then around mid-day I got a response on Facebook. This very helpful response told me how I could email them, as if I hadn’t already done so (and stated that I’ve done so.) Here’s that exchange:

Additionally, their live chat has not been every time I’ve tried it in the past few days … I have used it in the past but for some reason this past week it wasn’t working.

Then, finally! Score! Got this email yesterday.

And then a few minutes later, this one:

I appreciate the 15% off, but that certainly doesn’t take away the fact that I had to wait 8 days before I even got a replacement book ordered. That is not acceptable customer service. I still have to wait a few days for them to print it, then ship it. And I’m certainly not ordering another copy for Elwood until I see that this one is correct.

The last thing I wanted to do was take this matter public. I have used Lulu many times for clients, friends and myself. And although I’ve had printing issues in the past, for the most part they’ve made it right. Their print on demand system is amazing for small publishers, and their setup is really easy to use. However, I need the product to be right. And if it’s not right, I need it to be fixed ASAP.

So, my dear friends, this is why you do not have birthday presents from me yet. If Lulu doesn’t fix it on this go-round, I will be using another of my printers to get this done right. I preferred to use them because it would be easy for you to order more copies if you wanted them for your friends or family members. But it’s not worth it if the book belongs to Landry Ann Flice, and not you.

Update:

Heard from the Lulu representative that I’d spoken with via Facebook. Her messages are as follows:

Because of her request, I have blurred her name and photo from the screen shots. I did not include yesterday’s follow-up response in my original post because I heard from the representative via email around the same time, and I thought that was the best possible follow up to showcase – that they were responding after 8 days of nonresponse.

In the interest of disclosure and in hopes to not make Lulu think I am unfairly representing them, I’ll also include the followup exchange I received via Twitter (again, I didn’t include in this post because I thought Jeremy’s response the best possible update)

My complaint is not and never has been with the folks running the Twitter and Facebook pages (well, except for the deleted Facebook comment). My complaint was always with the lack of response from the customer service department. There’s no reason emails should go unanswered and that this ever needed to be public. So thank you to the Facebook and Twitter page owners, who helped this “escalate” to customer service.

7 creative and well informed people commented on “ Why I’m a sucky gift giver right now ”

  1. Scott says:

    Mello: My birthday is in October. I request that you get started NOW on my present so that it arrives correctly and one time. Alternatively, beer will work! :)

  2. Kevin says:

    I remember the issues with “The River” book that you did several years ago. They did make it right in the end, but it took some time. Your level of work far exceeds their ability to produce it!

    I think the lack of responsiveness is bad, but the Facebook post deletion is much worse. You should create a fan page called “I hate Lulu.com’s customer service!”

  3. urbanvox says:

    I had a similar hikcup with cafepress… it sucks big time…
    did you get the book right in the end then???

    xxx
    .-= urbanvox´s last blog ..Shameless Self Promotion =-.

  4. Heather says:

    Note that your birthday present from me is also… uh… not with you. Life happens and we get behind. It’s all good. Plus, no apology needed DEFINITELY on grounds that it’s totally not your fault!
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..I Could Never Love A Baywatch Fan =-.

  5. Heather says:

    P.S. Because I read this before I had any coffee, I missed the opening line about the post containing spoilers. Incidentally, that’s one of the best gift ideas I’ve ever heard of, and I feel so special for being included!
    …still not gonna tell you what yours is. It’ll just be an additional surprise whenever you actually get it ;P
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..I Could Never Love A Baywatch Fan =-.

  6. Elwood says:

    I didn’t think you could top last year’s present.

    I’m speechless, honored, and tearing up. That’s the coolest thing ever.

    I’ll wait as long as I have to.

    Thank you. :)
    .-= Elwood´s last blog ..For all the advances in medicine, there is still no cure for the common birthday. =-.

  7. I had a similar problem with Bank of America just this week. Seem like you can’t get great customer service anymore. So sad! Glad yours was taken care of in spite.

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