Ingram/Spring Arbor Effectively Terminates Accounts of Hundreds of Smaller Stores
I missed it by $448 net. Less than 10%. A target I didn’t even know I was supposed to aiming for.
Last night I found out the hard way that my store was one of the ones that didn’t buy $5,000 from Ingram last year. $4,552 was close, but no cigar.
The company has removed all accounts falling below this annual purchase rate to a 30% max. short discount on book product. But they’ve done it such a way that stores are unlikely to take the steps to remedy the situation; effectively terminating those accounts, albeit perhaps over a long, drawn-out period of time.
First here’s the letter that went out, that I certainly did not receive:
As with any business, Ingram must closely monitor our expenses and make adjustments when needed so we can continue to provide the speed, accuracy, and support that you’ve come to expect. Sometimes, as our costs decrease, we have been able to pass that savings on to our customers. For example, we were recently able to lower our fuel surcharge to $1.75 per shipment due to a drop in the cost of diesel fuel.
However, to cover increased freight and operating costs, we’ve found it necessary to explore and evaluate our discount structure. Effective Monday, June 15, 2015, all accounts that fell below $5,000 in sales in 2014 will have a new discount structure of 30% on all regular discount items. Please note, this discount applies only to regular discount titles, regardless of quantities purchased or order method. All other items such as video, short, audio, etc., will continue to be discounted as they have been. Also, Ingram does review each customer’s account sales annually and offers volume discounts based on net annual purchases.
We truly value your continued business and appreciate your understanding in this matter. Please contact your Ingram sales representative or call Customer Care at 800-937-8200 or 615-793-5000, ext. 27652 if you have questions about this new discount structure.
Ingram Content Group
So here’s the situation we find ourselves in:
1. There was no warning. The letter went out on June 8th to take effect on June 15th. This shows the low view they have of their customers.
2. There was no way to remedy the situation. The period the numbers were based on was January 1, 2014 to December 31st, 2014. For nearly six months we had failed to meet a target we didn’t know existed.
3. Offering to buy the difference to pull this year’s balance up is futile because that product would all ship at a short discount.
4. The situation is confirmed as irrevocable; there is no room for appeal, even for those of us who missed by less than 10%.
Reading the letter, we have to wonder if the company is simply squeezed because of their deals with companies like Chapters. Doing that volume of fulfillment on small orders where customers are getting free freight means someone is taking a big hit. I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to guess a similar deal exists with Amazon.
As I wrote my sales rep last night — a sales rep I didn’t even know existed until last night — it really hurts to get dumped:
We’ve been a customer of yours for a long, long time. We go back to the days of inputting orders on Telxon units and placing the big plastic suction cup over the phone. We go back to the days when Spring Arbor acquired Gospelrama and got into music and video for the first time. If we had known that we were $448 short, we would have simply bought that amount in December. Times were tough. We were watching inventory carefully. Now, six months later, it comes back to haunt us.
If anyone at Ingram sees this, they will deny that they are actually terminating any accounts. Tonight I placed an iPage order for five items for which I had taken deposits or prepayments. Some of these were non-book items which went through at 35%; one was a short 20% discount item anyway.
For the Christian stores, Send the Light simply offers a better option, with their willingness to include giftware and church supply items, and their vast homeschool catalogue. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of small publishers that Send the Light doesn’t deal with presently; plus their listings on even major publishers like Tyndale are selective, not exhaustive.
There are going to be orders we are simply going to have to start turning down. I can’t make up the Ingram difference for this year when I can buy the items 10% cheaper from Send the Light. And even if something came along where I needed a good volume of a shorter discount item, any return to regular customer status might not apply until June 15 of 2016.
Our account with Ingram is terminal, but I’m going to keep it on life support until they decide I’m not even worth that.
For people wanting to open stores in small markets — and I know some of you are checking out this blog on a regular basis — don’t consider Ingram/Spring Arbor as an option.
For those of you who are self-published authors — who also are regular readers here — find a way to get your book positioned with Send the Light or Anchor Distributors.