June 10, 2011
Mac Carter, President/CEO
Better Business Bureau of Kansas
345 N. Riverview St., Suite 720
Wichita, KS 67203
I am writing to you and your office to file a written complaint against QP Distribution, a book warehousing business I have been dealing with since 2003. I thought it was a good working relationship until last year when problems began to appear. I am only writing this as a last resort. I have done what I reasonably can with limited success. They have chosen a “my way or the highway” approach.
My copies of the Certified Letters I sent them tells most of the story and the relevant facts but I will once again recount my complaints against them down below.
I have enclosed copies of my recent Certified Letters to QP Distribution which they have conveniently ignored. Fortunately, I did send secondary copies via First-class U.S. Mail. I have also enclosed copies of the only 2 prices sheets and updates I ever got from them. I have also attached samples of invoices and statements I received showing how they operate.
I noticed that QP Distribution over the years began to unilaterally change their pricing policies with little or no written notice. I have received only two written notices in 2004 and 2007. However, the only agreement I signed was from 2003 and the last complete price sheet I last received was from 2004. In 2009, I began to scrutinize my invoices and statements more closely.
In Spring 2010, I contacted Patty Wimmer with my concerns over their increased storage fees and how they determine storage pricing. I also questioned her about their so-called UPS shipping fees which seemed out of line from my own pricing experience with UPS. They are supposedly a higher-volume shipper serving many book publishers and authors throughout the U.S. whereas I am a small and occasional shipper. And yet their shipping charges seemed substantially higher than mine. I later learned that their UPS shipping fees is a “profit center” in addition to their storage fees and ever-increasing handling fees for “touching and moving” the books.
In an effort to reduce storage fees, I worked out an agreement with Patty to “dispose” of my excess inventory by a combination of shipping some excess inventory to me and the rest to simply “dump” into the dumpster. I was charged for the privilege of reducing my inventory with an inflated disposal fee. I believe it was $7.75 per title plus 12 cents per pound. I only agreed to it because I neglected to go back to my original price sheet which specifies that it is actually $7.75 per title and 5 cents per pound.
Additionally, this ordeal was complicated by the fact that because of her delays in following up, my account was penalized with the higher storage fee. I asked her why I should be penalized when it took her over 2 weeks to follow up. Even then, I had to remind her. By then, the new billing period hit and I was charged the higher fee. She said the owner, David Schaefer did not allow adjustments of accounts even though this was her error. I was upset with this explanation and threatened to report them to the BBB.
In any case, she eventually did make it right by allegedly doing without David Schaefer’s knowledge by reducing the following month’s fee. I considered the issue to be resolved at that time. I was not interested in getting into this further to contest any more charges as I felt going forward there would be few problems. Looking back, I was naïve and should have asked for a detailed pricing breakdown which they did NOT provide in the individual invoice or monthly statements.
Earlier this year, QP Distribution decided to charge me a “late fee” of $6.50. In past months because the monthly amount was relatively small ($25.00/month), I simply paid it every other month. Admittedly, I was careless and I didn’t pay them until it was 90 days behind. The crux of the issue that I brought up is that there is no written provision anywhere of any late fees in the agreement I signed or on any invoice or statement.
Further, Patty Wimmer made no efforts to either call or email me if collections was such a large issue despite the fact that I was in semi-regular contact with her and almost always paid my account in full when I did pay. I felt a simple phone call or an email is very reasonable. And to charge a late fee without any written or verbal notice is unconventional and inappropriate. Despite my efforts to apologize and stay current going forward, Patty claimed that the owner David Schaefer was in charge of such decisions.
Ultimately, she claimed that the late fee would stand. Initially, she blamed it on the owner, David Schaefer but ultimately she said she felt I should be charged the $6.50 late fee. I then decided that I was no longer going to be held at mercy to their arbitrary policy and fee changes. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I gave 30-days written notice as they had requested. I paid my account in full.
I gave advance instructions to send a portion of my remaining book inventory to me with over 2 weeks notice. I specifically asked her if there were any remaining issues. She said no. When it came time to ship the books, I was then informed I now had to make the final payment in advance before books could be shipped out to me despite the fact I had given her my Federal Express account where they wouldn’t even have to pay for shipping. Additionally, despite several emails asking for detail accounting of the so-called $451.00 disposal fee and other handling/shipping fees. She only partially explained them.
She said they would impose a “third-party” shipping fee since I chose to bypass their hugely marked up UPS Shipping fees. It was clear to me they were no longer trustworthy. Despite my best efforts to politely get ahead of potential problems, they kept introducing new obstacles by bringing up a new “policy” or a revised fee. They have deviated from our initial agreements and using the book inventory they hold as leverage.
I clearly realized they were using my own book inventory against me. I also realized they were using the long-distance from their warehouse against me. They knew I was unhappy and wanted to terminate the business relationship. And they were determined to use every means they could to extract extra payments from me to the point of ridiculousness. After 8 years of being on 30-day terms, on the final month, everything is flipped. They refuse to accurately assess their fees as it relates to the agreements I initially signed and they outright say they are going to hold the book inventory despite the fact my account was current.
I finally decided I would not be held hostage by my final book inventory request and simply cancelled that. I wrote them that they could dispose of the books any way they wanted. If they wanted to sell it off and receive monies, that was fine. But because I refuse to pay their arbitrary and inflated disposal fee, they now say my account is NOT closed and they have continued to bill my account.
- I have been a good customer for 8 years and I signed only one agreement and received two written updates. I did not agree to anything else and certainly not any new fees or policies they seem to dream up from time to time.
- I was proactive in trying to peacefully close down the account. But I have been met with the “my way or the highway” attitude. It was only after I became much more assertive and insistent that they even bothered acknowledging my complaints.
- I sent two costly Certified Mails to document my efforts to communicate my issues with them and that I made a concerted, reasonable effort resolve this matter. They chose to ignore both Certified Mails. I have received no written correspondence except from two short emails with a passing reference to two issues.
- Patty Wimmer claims to have no say in pricing or company policy. She apparently isn’t even responsible for her lack of ability to email or phone someone with problems. And apparently she isn’t responsible for her own slow turnaround for follow-up issues time either. And yet, there are supposedly only 3 employees. Her, Brian, and David Schaefer. I now find interacting with Patty Wimmer to be pointless as she is irresponsible, unempowered, and untrustworthy. She dismisses the 2003 agreement we signed, and continually points to owner, David Schaefer, as being the responsible party. And yet, she has never offered to have David speak with me.
- Although I threatened to escalate this to the BBB and publicize their actions on the Internet, I have not done so until now. They appear insistent in extorting me with my own book inventory. I have received two more invoices/statements claiming I owe the money when I was clear the relationship was terminated and the issues resolved on my end. Essentially, I have surmised they are going to continue to bill me until the fees are substantial enough to initiate legal action. At $25/month, it will be in 2012 where it becomes a meaningful amount to collect. However, I am not going to let them do this without reporting their actions and documenting my case against them.
- As evidenced by this letter, I am not ignoring this situation. In fact, I now have to escalate this matter to the BBB since they want to send me illegitimate invoices. I have tried to work with them, I have brought up the signed agreement, I have sent them written notice of the issues I have a problem with, and still they put their head in the sand.
- I have never seen any publishing-related business operate like they do. They run it in such a backwards manner making up rules as they go. For a business that has been around for so long, they don’t even have a basic functional website. They only have a placeholder website. http://www.qpdistribution.com. Unlike them, my websites are functional and I will be openly sharing my dispute with QP Distribution as a real-life case study of what kind of extortionistic tricks unethical book warehousing businesses use.
I understand the BBB has limited abilities to resolve this for me. But I am openly writing and reporting this now that QP Distribution and Patty Wimmer have forced my hand. It is quite unfortunate that after 8 years of doing business, it has to come to this. I informed Patty Wimmer that I was going to escalate the matter by reporting them to the BBB. She did not seem to care. Either she views the BBB as inconsequential or she did not believe I would escalate and publicize this matter.
In conclusion, what I would like the BBB to assist me with is to have them close my account as was instructed months ago. Any charges since termination need to be reversed or voided as they are invalid. Regarding the remaining inventory, they can either resell the inventory for cash for the disposal fee they claim I will owe or they can take it to the dumpster. This is a reasonable request since I was at a zero balance during which I told them their storage services was no longer welcome.
If QP Distribution chooses not to cooperate even with the BBB’s help, please record my letter and all the supporting documents as a formal written complaint against them. The BBB may also release said complaint documentation to any or all interested parties. The BBB may also release my contact information to anyone seeking a “reference” on QP Distribution. They can also expect that my complaint packet will be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission and the Kansas Attorney General’s office as a warning to others about QP Distribution’s extortionistic business practices.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Matthew Chan, Publisher
You can read the series of follow-up communications between myself, David Schaefer of QP Distribution, and the BBB is chronicled in the blog post: QP Distribution Responds to my Complaint to the BBB of Kansas Plains