This review will be of some interest to photographers. It's a follow-up to a blog I wrote a few weeks ago, http://blog.rspearsphotography.com/2013/01/goodbye-cds-and-dvds-hello-usb.html where I was excited that my photography business would be delivering images to clients on a USB flash drive with my new logo on it.
If you do a Google Search on "branded flash drive" you'll get a quick idea of how many companies provide these. I requested price quotes from about 5 of them, and of those five, three were pretty quick about giving me a really nice proposal, all using the artwork for my logo, with a digital mock-up of what they could do with my logo on their products.
I made my decision by violating one of my own rules... I picked the one with the lowest price. Hey, some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug. Today, I was the bug. The company that I chose was USB Memory Direct. Once I made my decision, I worked with my sales rep, and she gave me a final artwork approval email. The pictures showed my logo on the flash drives, and the packaging that I chose was a small rectangular tin, which would also have my logo on it. I approved the artwork, she sent the invoice, and I paid it.
I have a bridal show in two weeks, so I was anxious to show prospective brides my cool little USB drive that would have their wedding pictures on it. When the package arrived (about two weeks for production, which wasn't bad) I was very excited.
My excitement dimmed a little when I opened up the box, and unwrapped the first little tin. My logo wasn't on the tin box. Inside the tin box, was the flash drive that I ordered, and the logo artwork was fine on that. I opened another, and another, and all the tin boxes were blank.
For a moment, I wondered if I was losing my mind. I know I placed the order for the tin boxes to have the same logo. I checked the emails I'd exchanged with the sales rep Jessica, and sure enough, I found the pictures of the tin boxes with my logo that I approved.
Maybe my expectations are overly high at times. I contacted the USB Memory Direct by email, and a phone call to my rep's voicemail. I explained that my order had a problem. No artwork on the package boxes. I expected to receive a phone call or email saying "Oops... we'll correct that right away"
I received an email from my sales rep which reads, "I am sorry for inconvenience, was miscommunication on our side. Please note we did not change extra for printing, however we would like to offer you a discount and refund $15 back on your card."
Huh? 'We're sorry you didn't get what you ordered, Here's $15"? WTF? After thinking about it for some time, I get it. I'm a small business. My first order was only for 25 flash drives. If I had been a big corporation that had just ordered a thousand flash drives, and the order got messed up, would I have been treated differently? Sure.
I've spent most of my life in law enforcement. I'm not a business-savvy Donald Trump type. I believe, however, that you should treat your small customers the same way you treat your large customers. There are going to be mistakes,... but it's how you recover from a mistake that defines you, and your company.
There might be a few small business photographers out there, who are thinking about branded flash drives. I may not be a big customer, but I have a big mouth when it comes to writing reviews. Feel free to copy this article.
UPDATE March 2013: I had someone from USB Memory Direct contact me, and he said he felt bad that my order got messed up, and the rep did not make an effort to correct it. He shipped me another order of Flash Drives, and this time everything had the logo printed correctly. Well played, USB memory direct... well played. Companies will make mistakes. That is a given. Some recover well, and some do not. This was a good recovery.