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Some Dealers Do Get Them

by Claude Voarino

       The recent deplorable attempt to slander A.E.C. has prompted me to write this brief article. First of all, I would like to make it clear that the great majority of customers we have dealt with in the past twenty years have been great, and we thank them all! Unfortunately, over the years we have had the misfortune to do business with certain despicable individuals, who have caused us grief and loss of money. (It is these individuals I am referring to as ďthemĒ in the title of this article.) Of course, some other dealers are very likely to have had similar unpleasant experiences at one time or another.  

       In order to counteract the lies and innuendos of those who have nothing better to do than slander A.E.C., I will analyse in some detail each of the various issues and facts which are pertinent to our long Takahashi Sole Dealership.


Delivery delays

      There are many reasons why we are proud of being Australiaís and New Zealandís Takahashi dealers as Takahashi has not only been producing professional-standard astronomical equipment for the past forty-four  years,  but it has very high ethics and doesnít take ages to manufacture and deliver its products. Also, Takahashiís after-sale customer service and assistance has become legendary. Furthermore, all queries sent to Takahashi, whether by us or our customers are answered immediately!  

       Takahashi is not a very large Company, but a very well organised and adequately staffed one! This means, that despite the fact they make most of their telescopes, mounts, tripods, and accessories by hand, their average delivery time is only about 2-3 weeks. Of course, occasionally (mainly due to material shortage or other production problems) a given delivery can be delayed by a couple of weeks or so! In fact, Takahashi often deliver our orders earlier than stated! In view of the fact that some other suppliersí delivery time can be up to many months or even years, our customers have nothing to complain about! Strange how some people remain silent when they have to wait ages in order to get their telescope set-ups from the US, for example, but jump up and down whenever  a delivery from Takahashi  is delayed by a couple of weeks!

In any case, we always warn customers in plenty of time when delivery is likely to be deferred by the delayed production of certain Takahashi items. For example, the slanderer, who recently claimed (after having waited about two years to do so)  that he had to wait more than eight weeks to receive his EM-400 mount, was warned there would be a longer than usual delivery time. In fact, he got this mount in less than seven weeks. Takahashi are without any doubt the best manufacturers we have ever dealt with; however, even they - as efficient and reliable as they may be  -  have not, as yet, managed to achieve perfection!


Has A.E.C. been doing its best to speed-up delivery?

       Here is a short descriptive summary of the measures we adopted since we became Takahashi agents: 

1.   Prompt placement of all customersí orders.

2.   Up-front payment of all orders.

3.   Shipments by Air Freight, not by Sea Freight.

4.   Prompt despatch of all received orders to our customers.     

      The above four steps are a clear indication that we do our best to ensure the fastest delivery possible! For example, in order to save money, we could have all large orders shipped by Sea Freight, instead of Air Freight; but this would mean a much longer delivery time. 

       Regarding the prompt placement of our customersí orders (to speed-up delivery), we have had some problems. For example, some people placed an order over the phone and then didnít send us  the required deposit  -  in other words, they cancelled their orders. This unethical behaviour prompted us to wait until we receive the deposit, before placing an order with Takahashi or other suppliers. However, this rule applies only to first-time customers.


Are we in the habit of waiting for multiple customersí orders before placing an order with Takahashi?

      This is what one of our slanderers has claimed we usually do. Of course this isnít normally the case. However, for example, if the delivery time of an optical assembly is two weeks, but the mount to go with it isnít going to be ready to leave the factory for another two weeks, we will have the two shipped to us together as soon as the said mount is completed. Other times, when customers order relatively heavy items, such as counterweights, we have them sent together as part of a larger order. This stands to reason, as a 5kg counterweight, for example, would cost too much in freight, if sent separately. The same applies to items, which cost only a few dollars. In any case, we always ask our customersí opinion first before making a decision.


Delivery delays caused by the Customs, couriers, and/or the Postal Service  

      Shipments from Takahashi (which are always sent to us by EMS, or Air Freight, depending on their sizes and weight) generally arrive in Australia within three to four days. Delivery delays are always occurring in the period between a shipmentís arrival in this country and when it is delivered to the customerís residence by a door-to-door courier, or collected at the local Post Office.  

      There was a time when all parcels from Japan and other countries were cleared by our nearest Customs office: namely, Adelaide. However, for the past five years or so, almost all parcels of a value of $1000 or more have had to go through the Melbourne Customs. By the time we receive a Customs Notification in the mail, do the clearance, and finally receive the parcel by normal airmail, at least eight to ten days have gone by! In other words, an express parcel, which takes about four days to arrive in Australia from Japan, can take two weeks or more to finally reach our customer! This despite the fact that we normally post parcels the same day we receive them. 

      While we have no reason to complain about the international shipping service in general, we have had our fair share of problems with the national couriers. That is, during our long time as dealers of astronomical, as well as second hand photographic equipment, various couriers have lost quite a few of our parcels; others were sent to the wrong address, and some of them were finally returned to us after many weeks and even months! We cannot understand why this could have happened, since we take great care that all our outgoing parcels are correctly addressed. Of course, no fair-minded person would blame us for that, but fairness (just like truth) isnít one of most peopleís salient trait.  

      Before the partial privatization of the Australian Postal Service, letters and parcels reached their destination quicker than they do now. Also, the number of parcels lost or delivered to the wrong address is higher now than, say, ten years ago. This is why we worry every time we forget to register a parcel or other item. In the last decade quite a few of our parcels have been lost in the mail; this despite the fact that we write both our address and the receiverís in large capital letters! Again, we are not to be blamed for this situation, but some people out there seem to think we are!


Communication between A.E.C. and its prospective and existing customers


      Because of some unclear reason, lately we have had problems with our e-mail. That is, although our e-mail replies appeared in the Sent Items folder, most of them didnít reach the customers. This situation lasted for nearly three weeks, during which only two customers contacted us by telephone to find out what was going on.  In fact, a few others preferred to join the chorus of slanderers in IceInSpace. One of them claimed he had not heard from us for seven weeks, this despite the fact that, before our e-mail problem (which started on 02/11), we sent him six e-mails. Also, two e-mails were also sent to him after this date, and it certainly isnít certainly our fault if he didnít get them!

       The bottom line is that we have never deliberately left a customerís e-mail unanswered.  The only e-mails we didnít answer are those we never received!  But, unfortunately, we didnít always receive a reply to our e-mails. In fact, there have been quite a few times when I personally spent up to one hour answering a very long message, sent it to the customer, but received no reply! In conclusion, it shouldnít be too hard for any normal person to pick up the phone and ring to find out the reason/s why he/she didnít get a prompt e-mail reply from us!

 Phone calls

      Personally, I like to talk on the phone to both our prospective and existent customers, as; in many cases it is a better, more personal, and faster way of communication than by normal letter, fax, or e-mail. (The trouble is that often I go on talking for too long!)  The truth is that we have never failed to return a customerís call, or make a call whenever the situation required it! In fact, we like those sensible customers who always put their phone number at the bottom of their e-mail messages. Also, in order to save our customers some money, we often suggest we could call them back!


Time wasters and 'shit-stirrers'

      I suppose other dealers do get them too. Here, by the objective pronoun ďthemĒ I mean time wasters and shit-stirrers. Yes, we too do get our fair share of these individuals. Of course, it isnít realistic for a dealer to expect to get a sale from every enquiring e-mail or phone call. But what annoys me, in particular, are those who not only have no intention of buying anything, but deliberately ring A.E.C. for the sole purpose of stirring me up. For example, some clown from Tasmania once rang us up to say (in a rather colourful way) that, quote:

ďThe apochromatic refractors made in ......... by ........ shit on the Takahashi ones!Ē

An argument ensued and I hung up on him, but not before using another colourful expression that is not fit to be repeated here!

 Misplaced trust

      There is a saying, which translated from the Italian, reads:  Do not lend money to your friend, as you may lose both!  We didnít lend money to our friends, but, on various occasions we were foolish enough to send telescopes, mounts, and/or accessories to customers before they finished paying for them! Personally, I have always been a very trusty person, and therefore an easy prey for unscrupulous and dishonest individuals! Some of these scumbags deliberately set-out to defraud A.E.C. by first befriending us until we sent them goods prior to receiving payment! Our misplaced trust cost us thousands of dollars! Of course, we did try to get our money back legally, but, unfortunately, the Law has been of little or no help to us! (There is no doubt that some of the ďfriendsĒ, who defrauded us, will sooner or later join the slandererís chorus!) Things are quite different in certain European countries, for example, where if you donít fully pay for an item - be it a telescope, television, or car - it will be confiscated from you. I admit that it is unwise and quite foolish for a dealer to send an item to a customer before he/she has paid for it. However, laws should be made to punish dishonest people, not the foolish ones!


A few final words

      As already stated above, the vast majority of our customers have been great, and we have only praise for them! But, unfortunately, during our long time as astronomical equipment dealers, we have also had the misfortune to do business with some individuals who can best be described as a dealerís nightmare! Here, I am not trying to imply that we are faultless. One thing is certain, however:  we have almost always got on very well with the better kind of customers, and have had problems only with the worst of them!  Some dealers do get them - and A.E.C. certainly gets its fair share!