1. latest updates/events
2. current issues
a. problems with credit card transactions at online store right now
b. problems with shipping right now
c. status of orders placed in the last month
d. plan for order backlog (orders placed before Jan 31)
e. orders placed after Jan 31
g. current email inbox status
h. phone appts for consultation clients
3. consultation/service/response queues
4. FAQ/TOS/Shipping and Handling Info/Reminders
I. LATEST EVENTS/UPDATES:
April 17: I have been out of the loop entirely for the last month. As you know if you read this blog or we’ve corresponded, things have been miserably chaotic since last fall due to an almost unbelieveable string of events combined with bad luck and bad timing that got kicked off when we had two deaths in the family last fall and I lost my assistant (a family member who had to leave to care for another family member). You can read a recent summary of that stuff at this post. Getting caught up proved extremely difficult when I got a string of chargebacks after I foolishly began accepting payments through a new payment processor (because credit card companies debit first and ask questions later, wiping out my business account balance in the blink of an eye on more than one occasion). Various hiccups made getting caught up an ongoing and slow process (training and losing several new assistants, getting stranded out of town due to a bad transmission, not having phone service for a few weeks). Last month, I lost my phone (I since have a new one), my car (I still don’t have a car), another family member (cancer), and, basically, my day job that I moved back to Alabama for in 2013 (I am still doing it right now – I teach at a local university, and I will continue to do so until the semester is over – but once the semester is over, so is my teaching career).
I was physically attacked at work, and I put in my resignation shortly after that. While that wasn’t the single cause of my decision to leave academia/teaching, it was the straw that broke this camel’s back, for sure. I have barely been online since the incident. I am fine, physically, but my emotional/psychic response was to essentially crawl under the bed and hide when I wasn’t dealing with crap I had to deal with right away, like police reports, formal statements, referrals and paperwork, etc. Compounded with my less-than-ideal psychic health,the email inbox and the queue of consultations and reports I owed has just felt beyond my abilities to manage. I’m not at all proud of the way I handled this last string of events – I didn’t handle them at all, really, I just fell down and broke – and I have repeated “I’m sorry” and “I’m trying to get caught up” for so long now that I cannot reasonably expect anybody to even listen to anything else I say. But my regret for what this has meant for y’all is real, and I’ve gotten up out from under the bed, dusted myself off a bit, and am now trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my business account and my inbox.
I will be posting more details shortly, since my decision to leave academia has some pretty momentous consequences in my life, and a couple of those are going to have consequences that affect the store and my customers/clients/readers, too, but first things first – getting the current messes cleaned up!
A. CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS: Right now, as of April 17 at 4 pm, there is some problem with credit card transactions at the store that I am working on resolving; I don’t know what the deal is yet. As near as I can tell, the shop is still taking Paypal payments with no problems.
B. SHIPPING DELAYS: My paypal account has a negative balance right now, as of April 17 at 4 pm; I don’t know what the deal is yet there either. There are quite a few packages sitting here that are ready to ship, but I can’t ship them until the paypal account situation is resolved. I am going to have to do something like a raffle, sale, etc. to get some cash into the account ASAP just so I can have the funds free to ship orders. The nasty Catch-22 is that when people freak out because they haven’t gotten their packages and file a dispute or chargeback, they often create the situation that prevents me from filling their order or shipping their package; I can’t order supplies I need to fill orders and I can’t print shipping labels when I’m having to drop everything to deal with a paypal dispute or chargeback (and of course the disputes/chargebacks always come from clients/customers who aren’t actually waiting any longer than usual for their stuff – they just didn’t read the shipping/handling info before ordering and they don’t understand my normal shipping/handling and notificaiton procedures).
There are a few paypal disputes sitting here; I don’t know what the deal is wtih them right now either. I have (yet another) new assistant here right now, as I type, and we are working on the email inbox and these various other situations (but she is brand new, so she is training as we go). I hope to have more info and to have solved some of these problems soon.
C. ORDERS PLACED IN THE LAST MONTH: I have a new/temporary assistant working with me as of right now to help me cross-reference everything that’s come through in the last month since I’ve been basically useless and offline. By the end of the weekend, we should have touched bases with everybody who placed an order in the last month if it looks like something went awry with the automated notification/response system and/or any personalized responses that were supposed to go out (a common “new assistant mistake” often results in followup responses going to the wrong email address due to a quirk in the way my shop’s host, paypal, and my email client all interact, so in some cases, my most recent assistant Maggie thought she was caught up on stuff when in reality the message never went to the client/customer). I take full responsibility – she did not sign up for the mess she got handed, and she had to steer the ship herself for a bit under conditions she never signed up for and without adequate training or (any!) supervision or followup. It is not her fault at all. (She got an offer for a full time job in the midst of all this and she took it – I can’t blame her – so I’m on assistant number 6 now since last August — but this one is leaving town next month, so her help is only temporary, alas.)
D. PLAN FOR ORDER BACKLOG (orders placed before Jan 31): We are still following the plan I outlined here in this post.
E. ORDERS PLACED AFTER JAN 31: If your order was placed after Jan 31, then I’m afraid you are still in the normal shipping/handling turnaround window, which — as I’ve been trying to warn folks about upfront in every possible way — has been a bit longer than usual since last fall for the reasons that I’ve been continually updating about. See the above on shipping delays that explains why these bins I’m standing next to that are full of prepared, packaged orders still don’t have shipping labels attached to them, and rest assured that as soon as this insane BS with my business account at the shop host has been ironed out, and/or I find somebody to lend me the money to purchase postage until I get this ironed out, I’ll get these packages out to y’all. (Here’s the deal: every single time somebody throws a fit and files a dispute, I have to drop everything else and deal with them and their dispute deadline, even though they’d know not to expect their order yet if they read the TOS/FAQ/order confirmation info, etc; and every time somebody files a chargeback, the credit card compnay debits my account *immediately* no matter what, can take up to 90 days to reach a decision about the transaction, and in several cases now never reversed the debit from my account even though I could prove the package had been delivered; when that happens, I can’t order supplies I need to fill other people’s orders and I can’t ship packages, never mind that I can’t buy dinner or pay my internet bill either). As the FAQ/TOS/Shipping and Handling info pages all explain, the minimum handling time on any order is 10 business days, and for items that get customization — esp. when we’re talking about altar work, something being made from scratch, etc. — it can be considerably longer than that. Lately, the biggest issue (before I was offline for a month) has been my dealing with the repercussions from my stupid, stupid decision to go with another payment processor, that opened me up to credit card chargebacks and has resulted in customers basically stealing hundreds of dollars from me for filing claims for stuff that they have in their possession.
F. REFUNDS: I know some folks who have been waiting on services or items for a while will want their money back instead. I intend to honor those requests in the cases where the order or service is eligible for refund, but it is mathematically impossible for me to honor them all in one sitting, so we are clearing out the inbox, putting queries and issues in chronological order, and cross-referencing stuff in cases where a package has shipped or a report has been typed but the customer hasn’t received it. I obviously can’t honor refund requests until I deal with the refund DEMANDS that others put in my filing disputes or chargebacks leaving me no choice in the matter, and I am very sorry that this has resulted in a situation that essentially punishes those who do read the directions and follow the rules. It really sucks. I am not taking you guys for granted, and it is not possible for anybody to say or do anyhing that could make me feel any worse about all of this than I already do. But we are working very hard to touch bases with *everybody* who has a query or concern (and that includes even those who have gotten bombastic/panicky/rude/insane about it — especially those who have known me for a long damned time now and should know I have never, EVER just forgotten about an order or email or EVER just put my feet up and decided to relax and play Sudoku or clip my toenails instead of tending to my obligations and to my customers and clients; these folks have essentially destroyed my goodwill and trust in them, and it seriously hurts my feelings when somebody I’ve corresponded with for 5 or 8 years resorts to hysterics and all-caps screeds filling up my inbox and making it that much harder for me to keep a new assistant and get her trained before she gets scared off thinking that all my customers are rude, abusive nuts). Ahem. So yes, everybody; we are burning the midnight oil to touch bases with y’all this weekend.
G. EMAIL INBOX: Those of you who have written individually will get at least some sort of response as soon as possible, if not answering/resolving your query, then at least letting you know it was received and that you will get a personal response as soon as possible. When Mia sat down this afternoon, though, there were 600 unread emails. She has been sorting, tagging/labeling, filing, printing, responding, researching etc. for several hours now, and we sitll have hours and hours to go before we are even at the stage where we can start handling individual queries/concerns. But you will hear *something* this weekend one way or another, God willing.
H. CONSULTATION CLIENTS – CHANCE FOR FREE UPGRADE TO PHONE SESSION: Those folks waiting in line for consultations/readings for longer than the average listed turnaround time will be offered an opportunity for a free upgrade to a phone consultation; I hope to have the schedule for those available by the end of the weekend. Go down to the section with the consultation queues listed, where I note the individual sessions/statuses, etc. for more info as it’s available and for the schedule as I get it ironed out.
In General: Remember that unless you are writing to answer a question in an in-progress consultation conversation, then when you send a new email message in a thread that has a currently unread or unanswered message, your message moves down the inbox queue and is reordered according to the date of latest message. So by all means send more info if it’s a burning issue, but if it is not a burning issue, just wait until I get back to you on the last thing for quickest response. My tagging/notification/flagging system ends up rewarding those who wait their turn — the patient rather than the persistent — and it is set up to notify me right away if you write on a case or issue that is pending because of info I’m waiting on from you. If you send a response in a different thread and do not follow the directions for contact about your case, your response will not turn up flagged as needing my immediate attention, and your message will go into the very large pool of random or new inquiries that I will respond to only after I have responded to the current things that need my immediate attention.
For God’s sake, please don’t try to contact me about an existing order or service by leaving a message here. Please just follow the directions in the order or service confirmation email you received – we *will* get to your message/service/order as soon as we can.
We are juggling a ridiculous amount of stuff lately and have not been getting much in the way of breaks lately, so we are relying on your patience borne of your previous experience with us and the decade of rep we’ve built of working with good will and in good faith, praying that that will count a little something against the immense frustration some of you may be feeling at the time it’s taken for me to get back to you wtih a personal response over these last 4-8+ weeks. The financial hits I’ve taken lately are nothing compared to my personal disappointment in my inability to give my customers and clients the response time and service they expected and the potential loss of faith in me that comes along with that. There is nothing anybody could say that could make me feel worse about any of this than I already do.
[I update this stuff at the main blog regularly, but I only update it in the one place, so please visit the parent post at Big Lucky Hoodoo to see the latest queue updates.]
I will be updating this over the next week as I get things set up.
The FAQ page is here.
The TOS page is here.
The summary of the above that has to do with Shipping and Handling specifically is here, and here are the highlights:
Handling Times: Bottom line: Handling times start at about 7-10 business days. For some items involving lengthy altar work, the time may extend beyond 45 days. ***These are estimates only and these estimates are NOT guarantees of when any given order will be completed; an order’s handling time will vary depending on a number of factors, including how many orders are ahead of it, the size of the order, and the level of customization required. But because all items involve custom-finishing, if not full scale custom creation, I *cannot* provide a ship date for an order before or during processing. Customers writing to ask when their order will ship will be sent an info letter advising them that this shipping/handling info was sent to their inbox in their order confirmation email, directing them to reread this page and the FAQ, and reminding them that they agreed to the site Terms of Service by checking out (terms includes indicating understanding of and agreement with the shipping/handling time and processing procedures).
We cannot give you any more information beyond the estimates posted here, and customers who do not read this info before checking out are still bound by the Terms of Service. I make, pray over, bless, pour, blend, sew, paint, and usually package nearly every single item in my shop myself, and personal attention takes time; this is what you are signing up for when you order from me (and why I post the handling times involved for custom-finished spiritual items all over my web real estate so customers have many chances to read about them before ordering and know what to expect). My returning customers value the handcrafted and personalized nature of their items and enjoy the payoff for their patience: fresh blends and fresh products, made the old fashioned way, by hand, by a rootworker blessing, consecrating, and praying over their items, using their names and petitions, just for them.
Unless your service/item has a delivery date that we agreed upon prior to your placing your order, then I cannot provide a shipment date until the order is ready to package, BUT as soon as the order is ready to package, we package it and generate a label, so you know *immediately.* The bottom line is that orders are packaged as soon as they are ready: my formulas are not pre-made and pulled off a shelf when you order, and I handle every in-house aspect of your order myself, personally, rather than some customer service staff member or part time employee. ***Thus, my posted estimated handling times (of 7-15 business days for most items) vary considerably depending on the item and should be understood as an estimate only.*** Not every altar is free at every moment, and most items need to be prepped before they are ready for the altar portion of the work anyway. And if you order more than one item that needs customization or altar work, it may not be possible for me to make them all simultaneously, so please ask before placing your order if you are in a hurry.
Shipping Process: Our shipping software will send an automated email to the address associated with your Paypal account immediately when your shipping label is generated. The email will contain a delivery confirmation number and tracking link. Please note that we ship and print labels in batches; a label may be paid for and printed several days in advance of the actual ship date, so your receiving a notification email does *not* necessarily mean your package will arrive 2-3 days later.
Orders in Transit: Please note that we ship and print labels in batches; a label may be paid for and printed days in advance of the actual ship date, so your receiving email notification does *not* guarantee your package will arrive 2-3 days later, and you should not worry if you get a notification email and do not see updated info at the USPS track/confirm link right away. Delivery confirmation is *not* the same as tracking and the online info is *not* real-time. The USPS does *not* scan priority mail packages at every hub, and the online system is not designed to track priority mail packages at every stage during their travels. Finally, a package status is often updated only after it has been delivered (we explain how this works in more detail in the FAQ). We do not have ANY further information about your package, or any way to locate your package, other than the USPS link which you get as well, so we can’t tell you anything more than that website is telling you. However, if your order has not arrived within 20 business days from the label ship date, which is highly unusual, then see the below paragraph on Package Tracing.
Package Tracing: If 20 business days have passed from your label ship date, we can put in a trace inquiry with the USPS, and we will let you know as soon as we hear back from them by replying in this message thread. A response takes several business days on average, but in over ten years of business, the package has ALWAYS arrived before the USPS could provide any useful additional info, 100% of the time for domestic packages. Please note that we ship and print labels in batches; a label may be paid for and printed several days in advance of the actual ship date; the label *print* date is not always the same as the label *ship* date. See your notification email and/or tracking link for specific details about your particular order’s shipment. As of 2013, no domestic package has been lost in over ten years of our doing business online (though they often do not show up by USPS estimate dates, as these are only average estimates).
Your use of this site constitutes your acceptance of our Terms of Service, including your understanding of our posted shipping, handling, and turnaround times; guidelines for contacting us about a current order or service; and instructions for how to request a trace on a shipped item.