The worst service, the weakest excuses if not outright lies, and amongst the poorest service encounters I have experienced in almost 10 years as a loyal customer of King Louis Flowers. I am so utterly appalled and disappointed, I hope the company realizes that their “small clients” are JUST as DESERVING of proper service (not special service, just PROPER service) as the humongous mall and hotel clients WHO PROBABLY GOT YOUR CONTACT DETAILS FROM THIS BLOG OR DIRECTLY FROM MARKETMAN IN THE PAST!
I first wrote about King Louis some 10 years ago, in this post, one of the EARLIEST on this blog, and a post that eventually brought them a lot of media attention (notice if you google them, marketmanila posts are amongst the earliest, and several newspaper and magazine articles come several months or years later). One of their managers at the time, a Mr. Gener, even had his details posted on the comments section of that first post so that numerous readers searching for King Louis’ contact details would have access. I know from some buyers that that post resulted in several dozen (if not more) referrals that resulted in many sales for the firm. I fielded emails from at least 6-8 major malls and put them in contact with King Louis in those early years, and they would eventually become multi-million peso clients of the firm. I fielded email requests from purchasing departments of 5 and 4-star hotels and casinos, as well as other places that very likely went on to purchase thousands of pots of poinsettias from King Louis. Around the time of that initial post, they only grew a few thousand pots of Christmas flowers, and since then, business has grown by leaps and bounds and today, I would guess that they ship an estimated 150-200,000+ pots of poinsettias a season at say PHP30-40+ million pesos in wholesale revenue. I also wrote posts on snapdragons from King Louis in April 2005, mentioned their little stall at the newly opened Market!Market! Mall in October 2005, featured poinsettias at Rockwell and mentioned their source and Francis Gener’s contact details, here in December 2005, I wrote about them again in April 2006, again in November 2007, again in April 2008, again in November 2008, then May 2009, calla lilies in August 2010, again in December 2012, and finally in December 2013. So let’s just say I have featured them a lot, probably more than any other single flower supplier, and have purchased a lot of their stuff over the years myself, and (I just checked) had all those posts read by a combined 110-120,000 people over the last ten years. And I NEVER ONCE ASKED FOR A DISCOUNT, A FREEBIE, SPECIAL TREATMENT or any compensation in return. I did however, have an order in one year that they mysteriously “lost” and only after I spoke to Mr. Gener directly did my order “miraculously re-appear”. In the past few years, our annual order for poinsettias has been under the name “Marketmanila” precisely so they don’t mysteriously lose it, since they were aware that the blog brought them significant inquiries and ultimately, serious revenues. So that’s the background, and here is the recent experience.
Sometime in Mid-November 2014, my Chief of Stuff (COS) called King Louis Flowers & Plants to reserve 20 pots of “Pot C” Poinsettias for pick up in early December. The type of pot refers to the lushness or size of the plant and blooms. Pot C’s are nice and big, with lots of blooms. We were assured that our order was in and that it could be met. A few days before pick-up date, COS called King Louis to confirm the order, and while he was on hold, overheard someone in the background say that they couldn’t deliver Pot C poinsettias to any other clients because Axxxa Malls had just “bought all of the Pot C’s in stock” and so basically, be damned to anyone who had a confirmed order for Pot C’s. The person from King Louis then got back on the phone and informed COS that they would only be able to deliver Pot B’s instead, a less lush quality level, despite taking and confirming the order for Pot C’s several weeks prior. COS tried to call Mr. Gener, the previous Manager, to see if he might be able to fix the problem, but he did not reply, and we are not sure he still works there or if his numbers have changed. We decided to go to the pick-up point on the designated date in December, an hour earlier than they told us, to get our poinsettias. Upon arrival, the huge trucks from Baguio and beyond had already been unloaded (they drive in in the wee hours of the night) and we asked for our order. They took out some 5 boxes of poinsettias marked “Marketmanila” and when they opened them and presented them as nice “Pot B’s” I looked at the men opening the boxes and said, “try again” to which they said, “that’s what you ordered”.
Basically, I blew my top. Not only were the pots not Pot B’s, they were the shittiest quality Pot A’s I have ever seen. Basically discards in the refined world of poinsettia grading. Totally unacceptable. I told the folks from King Louis that I had a confirmed order from three weeks earlier, I had a confirmation from their office two days before for a downgrade to Pot B’s since they supposedly sold all their Pot C’s to Axxxa Malls, and I wasn’t budging until they found me some acceptable pots of poinsettias. If there is one thing that pisses me off, it’s people who don’t meet their obligations when those obligations are contracted and confirmed, whether verbally or in written form. They just shrugged and said there were no Pot B’s left, THIS WHILE box after box of said poinsettias were being picked up by other folks. So the other thing that pisses me off is when people tell bold-faced lies to my face like “that’s a Pot B” when it isn’t, or “there are no more Pot B’s left”, when clearly there are hundreds in the vicinity!!!. After asking them to call their senior managers at 630am on a Saturday (these guys were just sorting and delivering boxes, they had nothing to do with taking the orders nor packing the boxes) and my raising a stink, they finally pulled several boxes out of the sea of boxes and told me I could have those pot B’s instead. Of course they were Pot B’s destined for another customer, whose name was on the top of the box. I told them I didn’t want to deprive another customer of their order. But they said they hadn’t been picked up, and would just figure it out. So I went home with 30 pots of Pot B’s and four low quality poinsettia trees. And as I perused my receipt in the car after leaving, I noticed they had under billed me by PHP2,000 (adding a 2,400 + 6,000 was apparently too much to handle), so I had COS turn around and go back and give the lady manning the desk the PHP2,000 lest she have to repay that to the company for an adding error. I had asked staff at this pick up point to have their Manager(s) call me during the week to explain the reasons for the screw-up but of course no one has bothered to do that for the past week, hence this post. Perhaps they didn’t even let managers know about the incident, or managers chose to keep quiet and hope it wouldn’t result in anything more.
Here are my questions for Mr. Efren Chatto, presumably still the Managing Partner (and Mr. Gener, if he still works there) of the firm and to both of whom I will send a copy of this post.
1. Why do your staff accept phone reservations for potted poinsettias of a certain size and to be delivered on a certain date, if you don’t intend or often cannot meet those commitments?
2. I realize supplies are a bit fluid, since you use contract growers and weather and other conditions do affect output, but certainly you can estimate what is really available for certain, and only take and confirm orders for those pots, and telling others the “overflow” is available on a first-come, first serve basis? Seriously, of the 150-200,000+ pots of poinsettias you sell a year, you can’t deliver on a simple 20 pot order placed 3-4 weeks in advance?
3. Why do you take small but loyal customers and treat them like crap? This is the second time in the past five years that this has happened to me, but in the first case, Mr. Gener was present to correct the mistake immediately and I let that slide. Basically you downgraded my order for no reason other than you are more intent on meeting and fulfilling a huge client’s requirements (as if their last minute order is so much bigger than usual and you HAVE TO TAKE ALL OTHER ORDERS TO HELP FILL IT) and worse, despite confirming delivery of Pot B’s, staff tried to sneak unacceptably anemic Pot A’s into the boxes instead, hoping I or my staff wouldn’t notice? Are your staff unable to simply call clients when there is a change to their order, with an honest credible explanation why? Is it so difficult to let us know when you cannot deliver what is promised?
4. Why do your staff have to lie and tell me there are no Pot B’s to be had, when under my strenuous objections they mysteriously appear anyway just seconds later? Why do I have to raise my voice in order to get what I had very calmly and clearly ordered and confirmed weeks before?
5. Why is delivery so chaotic with dozens of people waiting around like vultures for all of the extras or orders that are NOT picked up by clients who failed to arrive? So you don’t know if what you get is really what you ordered or if someone has managed to worm their way earlier in the morning to previously ordered items?
6. Finally, why did staff at the pick-up point not communicate with a Manager who could have contacted me to discuss the problems that occurred that morning. Why can’t they identify an irate customer with a legitimate complaint and why did management not respond and act accordingly? Is it so difficult to call my contact number that appeared on my order form? Does your firm even care?
I may not spend millions at King Louis on an annual basis, nary a fraction of that. But I have been a long-time and loyal customer that has brought you not only my direct business, but probably MILLIONS and MILLIONS of pesos of revenue as a result of posts and resulting referrals over the years. I have NEVER ASKED FOR SPECIAL TREATMENT NOR HAVE I EXPECTED IT.
But I do EXPECT that if I PLACE an ORDER with your company, and it is CONFIRMED, and confirmed a SECOND TIME (two days before delivery), that you will DELIVER what I ordered, WHEN I ordered it for the the agreed amount. I do not expect to have to argue my way to my downgraded order.
It is my fervent hope that someone else gives you a run for your money, providing the much needed competition that will spur suppliers to treat customers (small and big) properly, and not just the largest of the malls and hotels that spend millions with you. Customer SERVICE should apply to all of your customers, not just the ones that line your pockets with more profits.
I have waited over a week for your Manager(s) to call, and I would like to hear your side of the story before I proceed to delete every single reference to King Louis Farms on this blog over the years. At this point, if anyone asks me for a referral, I will simply say that I have recently experienced the worst service, and subsequently the poorest (non-existent) recovery efforts of any flower supplier I have ever dealt with locally. Just google your company name now, and see what comes up. Yup, this blog is probably how many of your clients, including hundreds of flower shops and resellers, FOUND YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE. Your Facebook page is only two years old (and its last post is OVER A YEAR OLD!) and prior to that, marketmanila’s posts were the TOP RESULT (it’s only the second now) of a Google or Yahoo search for King Louis Flowers for eight years straight. Marketmanila’s photos of your products also feature very prominently on the top line of photos when you google “King Louis poinsettias” or “Poinsettia wholesalers Manila” or similar queries. And incredulously, you can’t deliver 20 pots of lush poinsettias as ordered?!? Duh and double duh…
In case you were wondering, the “fishpan” award is the most notorious and unflattering you can receive on this website. It is NOT a good thing. I await your reply.