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Customer gave me incorrect ship to address

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Happy New Year wonderful ceramics community! 

Earlier this past December I had my first open studio and sold a few things, which I was quite pleased to have sold anything! I also made a bunch of tea mugs for gifts which went out as client gifts for a company.  To add to my excitement of starting to make a little money, I received an inquiry  from Instagram for a tea mug set as a gift and luckily I had one more set left. I rush packed it and sent it out Fedex 3 day which cost around $15 for delivery (customer paid for this). I asked the customer to text me the ship to address thinking that it would be safer to have him text it rather than me possibly writing it down incorrectly. I thought I was doing everything right until I saw the delivery confirmation email saying it was sent to a different address. I texted the customer back and he realized he had sent me the incorrect house number. The package made it but now Fed ex is charging me for the delivery correction of $30 instead of $15. 

My instinct is to just eat it but am irked that my $20 tea mugs each are now $12.50 each.  I feel like this is a good lesson learned and the irony to be great. Even better, the customer offered to give me his fedex account but I declined thinking it would be easier, better customer service, and faster to pay for it up front. Just curious on your thoughts and what you would do? Would you let the customer know?

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I have been in this business long enough to see all this kind of stuff

You have two choices really, eat the cost or I will suggest splitting it with them as it was 100%n their mistake

I have usually just eaten the cost as I did with a change of address UPS package that actually was stuck until I changed the address to the same address it started with-I got double billed and ate it. Just the cost of doing business.

But since they gave you the address wrong -suggest a split and you both win or loose but its fair.

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I always eat the cost on shipping.  I try to put myself in a customer's shoes and what I would think is noteworthy.  Dealing with shipping woes is one of the things I think is noteworthy.  I once ordered some gaskets that were only about 8 dollars shipped, and FedEx actually delivered them to the wrong home despite the correct address.  I called the company to see if they could get FedEx to do anything, which of course they couldn't.  Next day I had gaskets in my hand, they had sent them out overnight.  I didn't even ask for that!  Not my fault at all to begin with, but it wasn't their fault either.  I continued to buy rubber gaskets and grommets from them until I closed my business.  Never even considered shopping around after that.

So do you want to make an impression? Or is a sale is a sale is a sale.  Word of mouth is the best, most genuine and cheapest form of advertising there is, take it or leave it!

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If I have the math right, the customer already paid the first $15, and it was an additional $15 for an overall total of $30 to correct the shipping, yes?

Honestly, in the name of customer service, I'd just eat the $15 and chalk it up to a learning experience. I know it sucks, but they offered you the use of their fedex account (which would have had the correct shipping information in addition to whatever bulk rates your customer may have due to their own use) and you declined.  

Letting the customer know about the overages would really depend on your impression of how you think they'd respond, and how you'd like them to deal with the situation.  If you decide for whatever reason  you want the customer to cover some or all freight charges, I would word your message very carefully, giving them the facts of the situation and asking them how they'd like to proceed.  If you go in there demanding full payment, I can't think of a way to make that conversation not be super awkward. It's going to go poorly, and again, is being yelled at via email worth $15? Probably not. On the other hand, you going above and beyond to fix their shipping error in a virtuoso move of customer service awesomeness will earn you a lot of goodwill, and if they even remotely liked their first purchase, a good chance of more purchases. With the right address this time.

The way you have the initial question worded, it also sounds like you shipped the product before you had payment for the shipping. I personally would not head to the post office before you have payment in full. It's really easy to get burned on that. Please learn from my painful experience on that one.

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When snafus like this happen (and it won’t be the last time), I ask myself two questions.

1. Did the customer make an honest mistake, or did they try to take advantage of me? In this case, it was clearly an honest mistake, as the customer did not gain at all from the misdelivery.

2. If I eat this cost, will it open me up to eating the cost on a regular basis? In this case, no.

So eat the cost, and write it off as part of doing business. 

Also, even though the customer offered their Fedex account number, you were right to send the package through your own account. The shipper has more responsibilities than the recipient. If anything more serious had happened to the package (and just wait, these things will happen), then it’s up to you to deal with it, not the customer. 

My advice going forward is to setup a better way to take addresses and payments for future online sales. An Instagram message seems way too casual. And like Callie, I am wondering how you took the payment? For example, a Paypal payment includes a step where the customer provides their shipping address, and if the customer has a PayPal account, the address will be pre-verified for you.

Edited by GEP

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