Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Holds... again

I know, I know, you're all probably getting really sick of me talking about holds... but I tell you, some of these people are really trying my patience, and by the end of the year, we very well may have no holds without deposit, if this sort of thing continues.

Case in point.  Before the show last weekend (which I'll talk about in another post), I get an email from someone who's been talking with me about shipping them a chin, specifying which chin they'd like.  Naturally, it's the one chin that I was going to show, that I already had listed for sale.  Not a big deal, he was going to be for sale anyway, but kind of too bad, because I wanted to show him again.

Well anyway, we start talking about flights, and the person tells me, ok, this one flight is good.  So I mention to them, hey, I don't book flights until I at least have a deposit (but preferably have entire payment, so I don't have to chase anyone down for it, right before shipping, later), so I need them to pay for the chin and shipping.  No problem, she says the mom will call later that day.  This is Wednesday.

Thursday, I get a call from that geographic area, and I literally miss picking it up by a ring.  I call right back, no answer, so I leave a message.  I shoot a quick email to the girl and let her know that I did call the mom back and left a message.  She says the mom called back again but didn't get me, but will try again tomorrow.  My phone never rang or showed any missed calls.

Friday passes.

Saturday passes.  Well, hold up, late Saturday night I get an email about how the grandma went to the hospital so they've been busy.  Fine, I'm not a cold-hearted bitch, so while part of me wants to say, "and they couldn't take 5 minutes to call?" I understand.

Moving along.  Sunday night, I get a call from the mom, telling me about grandma, and how she needs to move money from the kid's account around, so the kid can pay for the chin with her own money.  Saying she will, for sure, have this done by Monday sometime, so if this has to delay shipping, that's fine.  As we already had flights figured out and all (which isn't just googling, mind you, I have to call up PetSafe and have a real-life-chat with one of their representatives, which usually is not quick), I asked her if she could put down a deposit, that way I could still book the flight (which was supposed to be for Wednesday mid-day).  Oh sure, she says, and she asks how much it'd be.  I told her $75, which actually is less than what I'd normally charge as a deposit, but I figured, you know, she'd get me that, I'd book the flight, and she'd pay the rest before Wednesday, when the daughter's money was moved over.  Right?  Well, she said she didn't have her wallet with her, so she would call me back in 10 minutes with her card info.

Needless to say, that didn't happen, so Monday afternoon, I called her and left a message, reminding her that I did need to at least get down a deposit for this chin, and I let her know that I did have other people asking about it (which I really do).  And really, from the day the girl specified that she wanted the chin, until that day, would have already been about 7 days, so it was time for a deposit, anyway, if she wanted the chin held any longer.  And I mean, don't get me wrong, I was perfectly nice in the message just asking her to please call me back so we could get this all settled and flight scheduled and whatnot.

It is now Tuesday evening, more than 30 hours after that phone call, and I have not heard back.  No email from the girl either.  Typical.

So, not only did I not show the chin (in case not clear -- so as to not stress him out before a flight), now these people are being flaky about wanting to get it... all while wasting over a week making me think they want the chin.  Could something be going wrong with Grandma and they be busy and/or at the hospital?  Sure!  But could they also have common courtesy and let me know?  Well of course not!  And without any explanation, even a simple, "hey, sorry, busy with Grandma, get back to you soon!" (which honestly, took me all of 5 seconds to type out), I won't hold the chin any longer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Read The Name of the Place You Are Calling

I don't even feel like this one should need to be said... if you are looking up a place to help you with something.  Whether it's a plumber or pest removal or home repair or anything... and you search, ok, "plumbing" in google... and you get results... please, please tell me, before you immediately click on the first phone number that pops up, you at least read the URL, or the name of the website that pops up, or the company, or something.

Some clearly don't,  In fact... a LOT clearly don't.

I get a LOT of calls asking if we got in someone's poodle / doberman / rottie / etc.  It's actually easier for me to just say, "sorry, no we didn't," than to explain, we are a chinchilla rescue, we don't take in dogs.  Because I swear, if I say that... next question becomes... "well... did anyone call about bringing in a poodle / doberman / rottie / etc."  I'm honestly starting to think that people don't care where they've gotten ahold of -- if their business-of-choice (usually, animal control) is not open or not helpful to them, they will call anyplace that even remotely deals with animals, to see if they can find help.  Which.... for a lost pet, that I can sort of understand...

... but then there's the people who just simply don't read.  I got a call today, it went to voicemail, and the message left basically states, "hey please call me back, my number is xxx-xxxx, I have squirrels in the attic."  Wait, what?  I even googled "squirrel northwest Indiana," just for shits and giggles, to see if my site or phone number somehow popped up.  I went through three pages of squirrel removal links, and mine isn't on there.  I realize, there's a zillion linked pages, but surely she didn't scroll to page 20 to find my number...  So.... how did she get my number for squirrel removal?  Not sure... but wherever my website / phone number / contact info is located, if this person had taken two seconds to click on the link and actually look at what she found... she would have realized... we don't do squirrel removal (or any critter removal, for that matter).

And in case you think these are isolated incidents... about half of the calls I get are for lost dogs, whether we adopt out dogs / cats, whether we can take in dogs / cats, someone being chased by a loose dog that they're sure is going to eat their kid, and then random stuff (like the squirrel removal).  This is all the time, and I can't help but think it's because people search for something, and even if my site / contact info does pop up in search results, they don't take two seconds to look at who they're calling, before they call.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Appointments

I know I've said this before, as I feel this is one of the things I go over and over and over about... but regardless of what I tell you about what day I will be available and whatnot... we STILL are open by appointment only.

I've had a lot of people lately, where they'll inquire about an animal, and so I'll ask, ok, did they want to make an appointment to come see the animal?  Yes, they do, so they ask what my availability is.  So I'll tell them, for example, I'm available all day Tuesday, Wednesday after 4, Thursday before 2 or after 6... and so on and so forth.

You can see where this is going, can't you?  So... they don't respond back, they just show up, Wednesday after 4, or Thursday before 2, or whatever.

Maybe I need to start wording this sort of thing differently, or something, because when I say, those are the available times (which is usually followed by, "what works best for you?"), I intend it to follow, something like... they respond with when works for them, I respond back confirming whether / not the time works for me, and we have an appointment set.  Not people just showing up.

I mean... do people really do this in other settings?  If they call the doctor's office, and the nurse responds that the doctor has Monday morning appointments open... do people just show up Monday morning?  I'm starting to think they do!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shipping and discounts

Had someone today ask about shipping, so I told them about the shipping cost.  They came back with:

😨😨 200 dollars for shipping. Can I get lower price for each chinchilla? I may buy 2 female chinchilla if the price is good enough to me

Excuse me?  They're already asking about buying a baby grey chinchilla -- mind you, the LEAST expensive baby chin that we have, and then want a discount on top of that.  Uh, let me think about that... wait... NO.

I told this person, adults are cheaper, if they're looking for cheaper chins.  What is it with people thinking that $135 is too much for a baby chin?  Last week, someone left with a chin, cage, a few months worth of needed supplies... for less than $250.  They drove 3 hours to get here, because they said, by them... the chin -- ALONE -- was $250.

And I mentioned (which I know I have a blog about), the price for shipping is something like 90-95% COST.  It's not like shipping is $20, and I pocket the rest, so much goes for the flight, and then I have to make part of the crate and then still pay Jim for the use of the crate, and get to the airport, and so on and so forth... it costs damn near close to what I charge...

Plus, mind you.... the person who wanted the discount... they have a male and want to get females to breed.  Classic backyard breeder, wants the cheapest chins ever, so they can have babies and get rich off of them.  I know, I know, you've heard me go on and on about this, time and time again, but it doesn't change -- the only way to really make money off of chins is to cut corners.  If you really buy good, pedigreed chins that have been shown, and have placed well, and you breed those, and show the offspring, and feed them quality pellets and hay, and clean the cages once a week, and so on and so forth, and devote your precious free time to doing all of this... you never make money.  If you do absolutely awesome at show, and everyone wants to buy your chins, you might, and I mean might, break even.  But not this person, this person wants cheap, young chins, OH, and note, they'll buy TWO if I get them a good enough price.  Sorry, this isn't a garage sale.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

So... as many of you know, I work for Jim and that takes me away from the house several days per week.  This week, for example... I left Sunday night to go to Jim's and came back on Tuesday late night.  Then, I was home Wednesday and Thursday, and left immediately after my dog class on Thursday to head to Texas with Jim.  It is currently about 6:30 pm on Sunday, and I just got home.

Now, I'm not mentioning this because I want you to feel sorry that I'm busy or what not, but I do want people to understand that I have more going on in my life than just sitting here and making houses, or toys, or whatever.  If I could devote 24/7 to that, sure, that'd be great, but there's also chins to care for, phone calls to return, and so on and so forth.

If I get a webstore order and I know I will be gone for a few days, I will often email and let that person know, hey, I'm leaving tomorrow and won't be back until a certain day, and I will even ask, is that ok with them, or would they rather have a refund, or...?  Because I want my customers to be happy and satisfied.

So I had one customer who ordered a custom item.  I hadn't even had a chance to cut the item, due to (not only) being gone for 5 days this week, but also because.... I have other orders ahead of that person's.  She had emailed me a bit after the order was submitted, asking about the status of it.  I responded, telling her what I said above, about how I'd be in Texas and how I could build it send it out right away when I got back (Monday, as in tomorrow), or if she'd rather have the refund, I could do that.  So the emailed ended, with me asking what she wanted to do.

I didn't hear back for a few days, so I re-sent that email.  Still nothing,  Fast forward to when I'm in Texas and I check my email to find out that I had a paypal dispute opened, for a non-received item.  In the dispute, it was mentioned that this person never heard back from me, and because of that, they opened the dispute.  I try to think positive, so in my response to her dispute, I posted about the same as what I said in the email... it wasn't that I wasn't getting back to her... heck, I could post screenshots of the email... but that I assumed she must not have been receiving them (sometimes me emails go to the junk folders for some people) because I hadn't heard back.  So I asked if she'd rather have the item or get the refund.  She wanted the refund, so I refunded the order.  That in itself is not a big deal. I acknowledge that we live in a world where everyone has Amazon Prime and can get their order in 2 days with free shipping -- and so many people think that applies to just about anything out there.  Not saying that this is necessarily what happened here, but I  understand that that's how some people are, and that's why I do my best to get my items sent out as quickly as possible.

One last thing -- when you do order from the webstore, please keep in mind that I do have other customers as well.  To be fair to all, I try to do the orders in the order in which they are received.  I may start on another order, if parts of the first order have to dry for 24 hours, or so, but if the orders are smaller and can all be put together in one sitting, then I go in order.  That way, no orders get priority over others (well, except food, I try to send out food ASAP) and no one feels like their order is being pushed to the back of the line.  That is all.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hours

I'm sure I've said it before... but in case a few of you all missed it... we don't have set hours.

We do everything by appointment, and are happy to work around your schedule, but don't have hours.

Had someone the other day, who asked if we were open on the one certain day.  I told her... I would likely be here, but she'd need to set an appointment.  I explained, reason being, we don't have hours because there's not that many "walk-ins."  People actually travel quite some distances to come here and adopt, and get supplies.  And honestly... half the people who could come here to purchase stuff... ship it. I guarantee you, probably 50% of packages I send out are to Indiana / Illinois, and a good amount of that 50% are going to addresses within an hour of here.  Which is fine, don't get me wrong, I'm happy to mail the stuff out.  However... if the people that close would rather ship... having hours would leave me sitting in the house, hours on end, waiting for people to show up.  Maybe people would, maybe people wouldn't... but honestly, I hate to restrict myself to sitting home for 8 hours a day.  Not necessarily because I go anywhere... because some weeks I don't go anywhere for days at a time... but because the second that I say, ok, I'm open on Tuesdays from 9-4... I will have a chin that needs to be rushed to the vet on Tuesday at 10, and with those hours... I shouldn't leave (and no, there's no one else here to take over)...and that's the sort of thing I worry about.  So.... the hours have never happened, with the exception of having vague hours on Black Friday.

I actually thought (stupidly, I suppose) that after I gave this person a short explanation, that she would understand and would set an appointment.  Nope, she just said she thought that since I had items for sale, that I would have set hours (even though I was out of the house, which she knew), and thanks anyway.

Which is fine, don't get me wrong.... but I can't please everyone.  It would never fail that if I had hours, and had a day off... that's the day everyone would want to come.  And days that I had hours, no one would be free those days.  Which is why I do appointments -- it's rare that I'm not here, and taking appointments, most days of the week, and I'm happy to work around your schedule.  But hours... probably not gonna happen anytime soon.  Sorry about that...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Location, location, location

So... a quick post on the importance of location.  More importantly... looking up the location of the place you are trying to purchase something from.

I got an email the other day, saying this person wanted a baby chin, and asked if I had any available.  I told them, yes, quite a few, and asked what they were looking for.  They responded that they were not particular about sex or color, but they wanted one 3 months to 1 year old, and wanted to see pictures.  He specified where he lived, but I did not recognize the city, as being from a specific area / state (at least, not around here).

So, I responded back with pictures and a small amount of info on 8 chinchillas that fit what this person said they were looking for.  I told him, I didn't know where the city was, but that we were in Hammond, IN, and I was letting him know in case he wanted to plan out the trip.

The response back:

People... is it THAT hard to look up location?  Let me answer that for you... no.  All of my ads that are on external sites (read: not my website) specifically state: this chinchilla is located in Hammond, IN 46324.  On my website, on the first page that opens, it says, right near the top:

Welcome to NWI Chinchillas!  We are a small hobby breeder of chinchillas located in Northwest Indiana -- specifically, Hammond, Indiana.  

Again...it's right freaking there.  I try to make it easy for you all!  I'm not sure if people don't read, or what, but I tell you, if that guy had taken 2 minutes to look up where I am... he could have saved himself multiple emails, and myself sending pics and info of 8 chins...

So... in case you missed it, and to further wrap up: we are located in Hammond, IN.  Hammond is a suburb of Chicago, and it takes us about 30 minutes to get downtown from the house.  If you are far, far, away, please consider where we are located, as compared to where you are located... and if the drive is too far... we understand.  It's all good!  But please, look it up ahead of time.  Thank you!  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Emails / Time Spent

Just wanted to mention something really quick, since this comes up, now and then.  I get a lot, and I mean, A LOT of emails.

Yesterday, for example, I sat down in the morning, and spent three hours answering emails (just from the day before).

Here's what sometimes happens.  Let's say you emailed me at in the morning.  In the afternoon, let's say I check my email, and your email is one of the first in my inbox.  I read it, reply, and move on.  I usually go through all my emails (though sometimes I'll leave one for later if I need to snap a pic or something) and reply, before I'll look at new emails coming in.  So, if I email you back, and you see it, and immediately email me back... it may still be hours, as I get through everyone else's email, before I see your reply to my earlier email.

That doesn't mean I'm not responding to you, or ignoring you.  If you're asking about coming that same day, I may very well check to see if I've received a response.  Like the other day, I had someone wanting to drop off a guinea pig, and they knew it had to be between the time they got off work and 6:30 pm, and and so I kept watching my email and phone for confirmation that they really were coming by.  But in general... if it's your average email.... I'll go through them in order, before I get back to yours.

Even as I sit here... I replied to a few emails... now as I look.. I have new emails -- an adoption form, a question about one of our chins, a request that two be paired together and I let this person know how they do... and so on.  I actually had someone ask me, last week, was there any faster method of communication I could use other than email?  Mind you, I replied within an hour or two to his initial email and subsequent emails.  But... apparently not quick enough.

I guess the point is, I don't want anyone to think that I don't care about you all -- my customers, my adopters, chin-people, the small animal / small exotic community in general -- but sometimes I wish you could all be in my shoes for a day.  See what work really goes into all of this.  See how much time the emails really take, and how long feeding / watering takes, and making / mailing out orders, and so on.  I think some people would be surprised.  And it's not that I'm ignoring you, but there's only one me.  So, your patience is very much appreciated.  Thank you.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Boredom & Enrichment, part 2

Speaking of variety... we like to add enrichment to the chin's lives, when possible.

Many of our smaller cages have hay cube holders, which are basically a metal square tube that hay cubes can be put in the top, and slide down, sort of like a hopper feeder... but for hay cubes.  When we have volunteers, one of their never-ending tasks is to refill the hay cube holders.  The chins can't actually pull the cubes out of these holders, but can chew on them, while in the holder.  This reduces waste and reduces the chins peeing on the hay cubes and them getting thrown out with the dirty bedding (though, the cages without these holders do get hay cubes thrown in, regardless).

We also give toilet paper tubes.  My parents (thanks Mom and Dad!) save me their toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes, and these go to the chins.  The paper towel rolls get cut into three pieces, so even more use out of those.  For the chins under a year, we further cut them down the long side, to ensure no chins get stuck.  I usually save up the toilet paper tubes until I have enough to give every chin one, and then when volunteers come, they get to dole them out.  There is nothing cuter than the sound of 150 little mouths crunching and chewing on the toilet paper tubes.

Speaking of, if you ever wanted to help out / donate, but can't afford to... save toilet paper tubes for us.  If you bring them to us, it's free to help, and even if you ship them... you can flatten them down and mail them flat, and it won't cost you much at all.

Occasionally, if we really have a lot of help and are really caught up (ha! not lately... but once in like 10 blue moons), we'll do what we call "hay rolls."  A hay roll is a toilet paper tube stuffed with hay, so that the hay sticks out both ends.  So, again, we'll make up enough of these to give one to each chin and they get to eat, plus play, so double enrichment.  Double yay.

I've also seen people crumple up printer paper... like so...


...real simple for those kids that want to make chin toys...and give that to the chins.  It's light enough that they can carry it around, play with it, and chew it, and it won't hurt them.

Of course, they can also have playtime, or time where they interact with their people.

I've even heard of some people mixing in herbs with their chin's hay, to make what would be called a foraging mix.  The chins basically dig through the hay for the herbs.  Actually, we've even done this before with the toilet paper tubes... we've stuffed hay and herbs inside, and closed the ends (just folded them in).  The idea being, the chin can smell the hay and herbs, and the more they play and tug on the cardboard roll, the more they're going to get out, which will encourage them to keep going at it.

The point is, all of this adds some variety to a chin's life.  Their life is made up of eating, pooing (that's a big part, come on), sleeping, chewing, and taking dust baths... so we like to add a little bit of variety to the mix.  This stuff may seem minor, but it can be the little things that keep our furry family members amused and happy.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Boredom & Enrichment, part 1

We often have people comment on how nice our cages look with the wooden shelves and hammocks and other accessories.  Partially, of course, that's to make the chins (or whatever animal is in it) feel at home.  If they're here for quite some time, we don't want them to stress out, and we want them to feel as close to as if they were in someone's home, being cared for well.  But it's also for their mental stimulation and to reduce boredom.

Our larger cages have wheels.  Some have chin spins, others have flying saucers.  If there's room for a house, there's probably a house in the cage.  If there's only room for a hammock, then there's a hammock in the cage.  

One thing that's in every cage is a chew toy... at least one, usually multiple, bordering on overkill.  I'm personally always amazed when someone gets a large cage like a ferret nation or critter nation cage (which, for those that don't know, are 3' wide, 2' deep, and about 5' high) and put ONE chew toy in the entire cage.  I guess, to me, it's boring.  But more importantly, it's not stimulating.  

Part of the fun in decorating the large cages, in my opinion, is getting to put in different play things.  Different textures.  Take this cage for example:



This was a pic from years ago, but most of those items are still in there, and it looks pretty much the same, albeit a bit more chewed now.  There's the wood from the shelves, which is solid, and one texture.  There's the dowels which make up the bridge, which move when the chin runs on it.  There's the double hammock which is soft and fluffy.  There's a wood perch in the back right corner, which is another texture.  There's the fleece tube which surrounds the chins and makes them feel safe.  There's the hollowed-out-log in the top left, which is yet another texture and another hiding spot (for smaller chins).  Now, there's also a flying saucer in the spot where the house is, so the metal from that is yet another texture.  There's the fleece liner and fleece bed for the chins, also soft, but firmer soft, as they are against the metal pan.  For chew toys... there's plain wood, there's loofah, I even spot some antler on some of those chew toys.  Variety.

The reason this is important is because it's a form of enrichment.  Especially for some chins that we get in, that have been kept in a glass aquarium their entire lives, it's neat to see them check out a hammock.  They're surprised when it moves, and aren't sure what to make of it.  Same with that bridge... it's solid... but it moves... they're not sure what to do... but they figure it out.

For practical purposes, these different textures also help develop callouses on their feet, which are necessary for life.  You don't want the entire cage too soft, or these won't develop.  

Same goes for the chew toys, we don't want them to be bored.  So, instead of them being all wood, we add in ones with pumice, or sometimes even loofah or other chin-safe munchies that we may have.  Since we have our wood shop, pine wood is often the go-to toy part for us, but we'll add on other fun stuff from time to time, as it's useful for the chins to have different textures to munch on.  Some like the softer wood, some prefer the harder.  Some won't touch pumice, some love the loofah.  Others just like the plain wood.  We like to provide a variety, so they can pick and choose, and not be stuck to one toy, which they may or may not like.

If you look back at the picture, you can actually spot 6 chew toys (or at least I can, but I know where they are).  There's also quite a few, so the chin doesn't have to be in the same area of the cage all the time to chew.  What if you put the chew toy in the front corner, but the chin doesn't like that corner?  Some chins are more shy than others, so we scatter them around the cage, for variety.  

Of course, they do chew on the shelves, bridges, and what not... that's why those items are wood as well... but the chew toys can add more variety.

Continued tomorrow... 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Supplies

Hi all.  Just wanted to do a real quick post today.

I had someone send me a message the other day, asking if they could come by for pellets and hay.  I told them, sure.  They got here, got a few pounds of each.  I can't remember now, exactly what it was they had said, when asking if they could come over, but I asked why they had thought maybe they couldn't come for supplies....  they said, they thought that to get supplies from me, they had to have adopted one of my animals.

Nope.

Anyone can come get supplies.  Most people who order online, I've never met.

Don't get me wrong, a good amount of the online orders that are flat rate Mazuri / Tradition are people who got chins and now don't want to make the drive back for food, so they ship it.  But... plenty of those people are ones that I don't know and have never met.  The grand majority of my orders for supplies, like houses or toys or whatever, I've never met.  Even the people who repeat order, I've never met most of them.

So the point is, anyone can order supplies online, and anyone can come by and purchase supplies.  We do everything by appointment, so you'll have to set an appointment (or call / text and ask if you can come at a certain time), but open to anyone.  :D

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kids Calling

I have nothing against kids.  I really don't.

But... my one pet peeve is when kids call.  Little kids.

I understand, some parents want their kids to be independent and to do things for themselves... but I find about nothing more testing of my patience than when a 5 year old calls me and I'm trying to explain chinchilla adoption to them, and they parrot everything to the parent, who is undoubtedly sitting next to them on the phone.  So then, mommy says "tell her this" and the kid parrots it back to me, and then my response gets parroted back to mom.  Same with appointment times.  Back and forth and back and forth and then it turns into chinese telephone (remember that game?), because sometimes what I said is not what gets parroted, and sometimes what mom says is not what the kid says back to me.  So there's room for misunderstanding, even.

I know I cannot be the only person who finds this to be aggravating.

If you bring your kids to the adoption, I'm perfectly happy to show them how to hold the animals, to answer their questions, and to listen to the stories they tell me about their 26 goldfish and 6 cats.  More than happy.

But please, do not have them call me on the phone and try to ask how adoptions work or set up an appointment, while you listen on the side and tell them what to say and how to respond.  If you wouldn't do that when scheduling a doctor's appointment, please don't do it here.  There's plenty of opportunities in life to teach your kid how to talk to someone on their phone (their friends or relatives comes to mind), but my patience just isn't up for it.... (not like I'm going to hang up on them, but I may ask that they put mommy on the phone).  I'd like more hours in the day, but until that's magically granted to me... I'd much rather talk to you (the parent).  Thank you.