Every now and then, someone does something that makes you wonder "WHAT were they thinking?"
Lately I've encountered several folks in the yarn selling industry doing it (some I experienced personally, some I learned about from the person to whom it happened.)
Sometimes the person eventually comes through and does something that tries to counter-balance the icky feeling. I wonder if it realy works.
As you likely know, I am co-moderator of a continuing lace KAL blog called Seasons of Lace. Over there, we knit lace, and blog about it, and show off pretty pictures for each other. We also have raffles and contests. And we have sponsors, who give the blog's members discounts on yarn or patterns or what-have you. At the end of every season, there is this frenzy of prize awarding -- and that always takes way too long. In fact, it can take weeks. (Yeah, weeks -- partly because there are so darned many raffles for me to figure out, and partly because we only announce two prizes per day. We do that on purpose so that the prize donors get more advertising bang for their prize buck).
Every now and then, one of the vendors who sponsors our KAL with a prize does something that seems, to me at least, to be against his/her/its best interests. For example there was a prize donor who had offered a lace pattern from her online store. In fact, her offer was for ANY lace pattern in her store. But when the person who won the prize contacted her, she replied to the winner saying that , something had changed since the prize was originally donated, and that the winner could now only choose from a small sub-set of patterns (none of which were lace).
Now, I would have understood if she'd emailed me when that situation had changed, and she discovered that she could no longer offer up any pattern from ALL lace patterns, but instead had to offer only those patterns that were exclusive to her. She could have asked me then to change the terms of the offer on the ad that ran for the whole season on our prize page. But she didn't.
I might even have understood had she contacted me upon receiving the prize winners request, and asked for help in figuring out how to get around whatever restrictions the designers she carries had put on her ability to give away patterns as prizes. But she didn't.
She simply told the prize winner that the terms had changed, and thus the prize winner couldn't, in fact, have the prize that had been advertised on the blog's prize page for the previous four months, and which she'd been told she won.
As a prize winner, that would have left a very bad taste in my mouth. Luckily, our prize winner is a sweet, kind woman, who emailed me in confusion. Her main goal was to alert me to the fact that there might be a problem in the future, so that the Season of Lace blog/project wouldn't look bad!.
I contacted the prize donor, and she had me forward to her the email in which she'd offered her prize, so that she could verify that she had offered what I was saying she'd offered. Upon receiving her own email, she recanted part way, but then told the prize winner that if a pattern hadn't been available on her site before the date upon which the season ended, the prize winner couldn't have that pattern. That meant that all of the patterns by one designer were off limits. Of course, the pattern that our prize winner originally chose was one of THAT designer's patterns. The prize winner shared this news with me (the shop owner hadn't yet), and expressed her frustration at being asked to go through all of the patterns on the site to try again, and admitted that she felt as though the donor was looking for loopholes to avoid awarding the prize.
(Again, the prize donor didn't start by telling me that she under the terms of her arrangement with New Designer she couldn't award of New Designer's patterns. I'd have suggested that she provide a list (preferably with links) to all of the lace patterns or designers that DO qualify, so that the poor winner wouldn't hav to go through the whole pattern collection again, only to be told that her next choice doesn't qualify either).
About this time, I start thinking to myself "What is that woman thinking??"
She got free advertising on the Seasons of Lace blog for four months: First she got an announecment at the beginning of the season, letting everyone know that she'd donated a prize, and that she was offering a special discount. That announcement included a banner and links to her site. Then, she got a static ad on both the Prize Closet page (where we show all the prizes that will be awarded, with links to the donor's sites), and on the Sponsor page (similar deal), both of which have banners and links. And then she got a rotating ad in the sidebar. All of these ran for three months. And the Prize page ad was up for a much longer. And finally, there was another announcement, complete with banners and links, when the priae was awarded.
To put things in perspective here, let's contemplate just how much a pattern costs. I know that the most expensive pattern I've ever offered for sale was $12.00 retail. Most of them are closer to $6.00 retail. All that advertizing has to be worth at least the price of a pattern, even if she had to just buy the preferred pattern herself and send it on. And if she had to do it personally, she could have told me, and the prize winner, that we should consider the prize from her, not the shop, so that she could avoid any contract conflict. You know what she'd get from that? Huge positive word of mouth advertising. Again, more than worth the price of admission.
She chose not to do that.
So, my co-moderator and I offered to have her send a pattern to us (one of the ones that qualifies that, as it turns out, is in my co-moderator's queue), and in exchange we'd acquire pattern our prize winner wanted and get it to her. True, she'd not have gotten quite as good word of mouth advertising out of that, but her flexibility would have gotten some. She declined that option, because then the prize itself wouldn't be coming from her shop.
So, our shop-owner deftly avoided a fun blog entry announcing the prize that our prize winner has chosen and thanking the shop for donating. She also side-stepped an opportunty to get an even better blog entry in which the prize winner gets to give extra kudos for the shopowner's graciousness and inginuity in solving an unforseen problem. What did she accomplish by doing that?
A sour taste in a prize winner's mouth. When the prize winner blogs, it won't be about the prize donor's generosity. It'll likely be about the hoops the Seasons of Lace moderators jumped through to make sure she could have the prize she won.
She's also lost a little bit of my faith in her. And that means that her site is no longer on the top of my list of places to go to look for the patterns I know she carries.
All that to save $5.00. Okay, if you go by the retail cost of the pattern, maybe even $7.50.
What was she thinking??
In the end.... it turns out that she not only honored the prize winner's wishes, she sent a bonus pattern for her trouble. That renewed my faith somewhat....but wouldn't it have been easier .... ???
Of course, she's not nearly as bad as the woman at a booth at a moderately recent fiber event who sat there, one booth away from a woman with a service dog, chatting with a non-paying customer, loudly bad-mouthing service dogs and several specific dog breeds while ignoring a customer who wanted to pay for some yarn.
What was she thinking???
And, she's still supporting us, which also helps.