You know, I have been called an IAW "shill" and "IAW's lackey" because I have given IAW the benefit of the doubt ever since I started this blog. Some have accused me of censoring people on the Star Trek Prop, Costume and Auction Forum whenever someone said something bad about IAW (a lie). In fact I even started a section of the Forum for people to air their issues. IAW is like any business and customer service has been a major issue since the first auctions. I have given them time to get things together, but things have gotten worse, not better.
Now don't get me wrong. I like Tiara, Dom, Colin and the rest a lot. They are GREAT people. But they have serious issues to address and the issues are being ignored.
At the Star Trek Las Vegas convention, many of us got to meet IAW and spend time with Dom, Colin and the rest of their crew. Heck, I even sold about $ 20,000 worth of costumes to Forum members over the phone who couldn't be at the show. At that convention, Dominic (husband of IAW owner Tiara Nappi, and the guy in charge of the auctions) assured us things would get better and customer service issues would be resolved. Sadly, that hasn't been the case.
The internal problems with IAW are obvious to most. As much as I like Dominic, the operation there is in major trouble. And so you all know I have some experience here, I founded Marketworks, which handled some of the biggest customers on eBay, including Disney, IBM, Dell, Home Depot, etc. I know this business inside and out.
Rather than just rant, let's review the problems. And as I always say to my employees, if you come to me with a problem, come with a solution, so I have.
1) Lack of communication - No one can get a return phone call out of IAW. Now Colin is great, and returns every inquiry I have sent him. If you have emailed him and he hasn't gotten back to you,
it simply means he hasn't got an answer for you yet. But Colin is only one guy and while he won't say anything, it is pretty obvious he is not able to change things himself. Dominic is too busy to pick up the phone and he rarely answers emails.
SOLUTION - Hire a Director of Customer Support. Simple. Dom you are buried, get help.
2) Lack of effective Customer Support - No one has a "go to" person for problems. Dom is handling everything and doesn't have enough hours in the day. Plus he admits he is bad at getting in touch with people. Heck, I have been trying to get a hold of him for two weeks, and I have spent over $ 100,000 with IAW!!!! How the heck is anyone else supposed to get problems resolved when one of their best customers gets ignored?
SOLUTION - Same as # 1. We need ONE person who can GET STUFF DONE.
3) Lack of cooperation between departments - Colin has helped solve problems I have had, then he can't get anyone to ship out my stuff. I pay for stuff, but whoever executes the order won't take it to shipping. Problems are known, and no one does anything. Basically there is no one cutting across departments.
SOLUTION - Give Director of Customer Support cross functional authority to get things done.
4) Items being shipped that are not paid for or shipped to wrong person - Yesterday I got a package that wasn't mine. The winner of the item was actually a zero feedback bidder! I know of 4 people who have gotten something they won but didn't pay for. That isn't good for IAW, as they are losing money. I have now received three items that weren't mine. And that is just me!!!!
David supposedly comes in once a week to manage payments. What is the process by which stuff then gets shipped? I have no clue but it is BROKEN.
SOLUTION - Process analysis by a third party, which will probably recommend a single person responsible for printing out packing list from Paypal, collecting items in a bin and then dropping off at shipping.
5) Zero Feddback bidders and Shill bidding - This is looking like shill bidding more and more, and IAW has got to make it clear the problem is not them and understand that the credibility of their auctions is being undermined. People are refusing to pay when bid up as such and I think they are right.
SOLUTION - Follow eBay procedures to resolve this, require a Paypal account, or require prior-registration. When someone objects, work with them, rather than giving lame excuses.
OK, IAW needs to change now. By my estimate, they have well over 200 outstanding issues with their current customers, and that will NEVER get taken care of if major changes aren't made and a Director of Customer Support isn't hired. My advice to Dom and Tiara, is to remember what the great John Wooden always says: "Feedback is the single most important element of learning". Take the feedback and take action, because NO ONE is happy right now.