Don’t Make Promises That You Can’t Keep

Sometimes it’s the little things that reinforce or tear apart a relationship with a vendor.  “Hollow commitments left unfulfilled” ranks very high on our list of reasons for dissolving our relationship with a supplier.

Just this week, one particular vendor most likely ended our relationship with them via a self-inflicted wound (or more accurately, a series of self-inflicted wounds).  An important component part that has always been readily available suddenly became scarce due to changes in its production.  Our vendor promised a ship date and then missed it silently, without ever letting us know that our shipment hadn’t gone out as promised.  Meanwhile, our own inventory was shrinking at an alarming rate.  A few days later, when the shipment never arrived at our dock, we inquired about its status.  That’s when we found out the product hadn’t shipped yet.  The supplier said that they would call us back with a new ship date, but that call never came.  We had to call them again the next day, and they told us they still weren’t sure when the parts could ship.  After many complaints from us, someone higher up in the organization called back to say they would ship us a partial that day, with overnight freight at their expense.  They expected to receive the parts by 10:30am and promised to deliver them to us by noon.  They also apologized for all the trouble.  We were all relieved, and it seemed like an amenable resolution to a difficult problem.

If the story ended there, things would have been OK.  Not great, but at least the relationship most likely would have survived.  I’m sure many of you that have read this story (and heard it before from your own vendors) can predict what happened the next day…


The parts didn’t show up as promised.  We had to call the vendor again – they didn’t call us.  They assured us the shipment was with on the way as promised.  A quick search for the tracking number showed that a shipment was indeed en route, but was nowhere near our area and most likely would not be delivered at all that day, let alone by noon as promised.  It turns out that the service level chosen for the shipment didn’t assure delivery the next business day.  That’s a small but important detail.  After all of the problems with this order and their inability to deliver, they managed to break their promise once again.

Over-promising and under-delivering are prime reasons that vendors become ex-vendors.

How many times has a vendor made you a promise that they could not keep?  It seems to happen more often that any of us would like, no matter how much we all try to hold vendors accountable.

To quote a terrible song from the 1980’s:

You made me promises, promises
You knew you’d never keep
Promises, promises
Why do I believe?

You can see the music video in all its dreadful 80’s glory here.

At EXAIR, we believe that a commitment to a customer is of paramount importance.

They are not given, nor taken, lightly.  Ever.

Claims are easy.  Proof is hard.

Bryan Peters

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