Today sees the the BA Christian Booksellers Group gathering at STL HQ in Carlisle for its AGM tomorow. The timing, regrettably, is such that I can’t be there, but I take this opportunity to wish all who do attend a very worthwhile meeting: I look forward to hearing what transpires. Who will make up our new committee? What will STL have to say for themselves?
Yesterday I tweeted Steve Mitchell (@SCRMitchell) — head honcho at Wesley Owen and a member of the STL blog team — to find what’s happening with their blog, which hasn’t been updated since the Message from Keith Danby was posted a few weeks ago. Steve tells me that we can expect some updates after today’s and tomorrow’s meetings and assures me that the issues being raised in the comments will be addressed: watch that space.
I was also up until midnight beating my head against the brick wall of STL’s incompetence, attempting to reconcile my invoices with their latest statement and their postings at batch.co.uk: the phrase “dog’s breakfast” barely begins to cover it. It took me approximately 20 minutes to whizz through all my other suppliers invoices; then almost 3 hours to work through STL’s, and I was still left with over £500 of unreconciled invoices and credit notes.
The problem is exacerbated by STL’s failure to make use of the batch claims system. For those who don’t use batch, allow me to explain: batch has a very straightforward way of dealing with invoicing errors. You call up the invoice onscreen, identify the problem item, select a reason for your claim (wrong item supplied, incorrect carriage charge, wrong discount etc) and hey, presto: that item is magically removed from your invoice total, allowing you to pay the remaining balance whilst your supplier deals with the claim.
STL, on the other hand, insist on doing their own thing, raising a separate credit note whenever they screw up and then reinvoicing. Sometimes the credit notes cross reference the original invoice; sometimes they don’t. As I said: dog’s breakfast.
This is not a criticism of those wonderful folk in STL’s customer services department who are continually working their socks off, who remain unfailingly polite as they attempt to pick up the pieces in the midst of the ongoing chaos. Janette Ivison and Michael Swan in particular deserve recognition for their good humoured and efficient responses whenever I raise a query: my thanks to both of them and to those working with them. The problem is that the queries I constantly find myself raising should not be necessary in the first place.
Today, I shall attempt to reconcile the rest of my STL invoices and credit notes. It may or may not work, but it will almost certainly take most of the day. I am close to despair and seriously considering boycotting STL as a supplier.
It’s become clear that I am not alone in feeling like this: STL, be aware.