Never say Never Again!

A friend of mine told me, and everyone else on Twitter, that his mother had been for a meal today at a restaurant she has used for forty years.

They must have been doing something right for her to keep going back time and time again.

Today she declared “Never again!” after just one dreadful meal.

Forty years of good service thrown away with one bad experience.

As a business owner that’s a frightening thought.

As a consumer I understand it.

How do I reconcile those two points of view?

I’m not sure I can if I’m honest.

The old saying “You’re only as good as your last…” is true.

We try to remember that every time we deal with a customer and especially any time a problem occurs.

Our independently collected Google Checkout customer feedback is 4.9 out of 5 – so we know we are getting most things right and it suggests most of you are happy with our service.

But we’re only human and there isn’t a human that’s ever been born who doesn’t make mistakes.

Our biggest problem, without a doubt, is with external couriers. We rely on couriers to deliver our parcels and, although most of the time our couriers do deliver the parcels on time and in one piece, sometimes they lose them, smash them or send them to the wrong part of the country causing delays.

There’s not a great deal we can do about that except be the “squeaky wheel that gets the oil” which we always try to be.

Any courier company who has worked with us knows we don’t put up with any nonsense. Sometimes I see the email complaints Christine has sent to them and I’m glad I’m not on the receiving end.

But if they make a mistake, they had better be prepared to fix it quickly. That’s what we do when we make mistakes and we expect any company working with us to do the same.

I know we have also had some customers – although thankfully not many – who have said “Never again!”

When this happens we feel genuinely saddened that someone has felt so let down they can’t face using us again.

Normally it’s because of a problem the couriers have created, but even so the buck has to stop with us.

We can’t promise we will always get everything right, but we can promise we will do our best to get things right and we absolutely do care about making things right.

I can almost guarantee you there is a restaurant owner in Cardiff tonight who is upset that he’s lost a long-standing customer. If there isn’t, then he’s not paying attention to his customers or his business and he deserves to lose both.

We don’t want to be that type of business. If you have a problem with us, please let us know as early as possible so we get the chance to fix it before it becomes too big an issue.

Speaking with my consumer’s hat on I know how frustrating it is when a company makes a mistake – I’ve been dealing with one this week – but I also know it makes a difference whether the person I’m complaining to cares about my problem and wants to fix it.

We honestly do.

There’s another old saying – “If you like what we do, tell your friends, if you don’t, please tell us” – and, humorous undertones aside, it’s also true.

It’s great when you tell your friends what we do right, but it’s just as important that you tell us where we are going wrong.

The sooner we can fix the things that go wrong, the more likely you are to tell your friends about the things that we do right.

And the less likely you are to say “Never again!”

Easter and Royal Wedding opening times

If you need a delivery for Easter then please place your order today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday) at the latest for delivery by Thursday April 21.

We are closed on Good Friday so any orders placed by midday on Thursday will be shipped on Thursday but there will be no Friday deliveries. Our couriers will try to deliver on Easter Saturday 23 April where possible but there are likely to be delays due to holiday traffic and staff shortages so we cannot promise. Goods not delivered by Saturday 23 will not then be delivered until Tuesday 26 April.

Our Manchester shop will be open on Easter Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday. We are hoping our customers will take advantage of the Easter break and make a trip to Manchester to see the sights and visit us at our shop to taste our wide range of wines and beers.

We will be taking online orders throughout the Easter holidays and any orders placed after 2pm on Thursday will be shipped on Tuesday April 26 for delivery on Wednesday April 27.

Royal Wedding Day

We will be closed for the Royal Wedding on Friday 29 April. There will be no deliveries on this day so, if you need your order in time for the Royal Wedding you must place your order by Wednesday 27 April for delivery by Thursday 28 April. So, if you’re planning to raise a glass to William and Kate, stock up now on celebration bubbly!

Full list of dates

Wednesday 20 April – shipping for delivery by Thursday 21 April

Thursday 21 April – shipping for delivery Saturday 23 April

Good Friday 22 April – no shipping and no deliveries

Easter Saturday 23 April – shop open – no shipping

Easter Sunday 24 April – no shipping and no deliveries

Bank Holiday Monday 25 April – shop open – no shipping and no deliveries

Royal Wedding Day

Tuesday 26 April – shipping for delivery Wednesday 27 April

Wednesday 27 April – shipping for delivery Thursday 28

Thursday 28 April – shipping for delivery Tuesday 3 May

Friday 29 April -no shipping no deliveries

Saturday 30 April – no shipping

Sunday 1 May – no shipping and no deliveries

May Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday Monday 2 May – no shipping and no deliveries

Tuesday 3 May – shipping for delivery Wednesday 4 May

Order online now for fast delivery

Please order online today at www.alcoholfree.co.uk

 

XA returns with a great new design

XA - A perfect match for the warm weather

I’ve always been a big fan of XA. We first stocked it in 2009 but it was imported from the US and the import costs involved meant the price we had to charge put a lot of people off.

They are now imported in bulk into Europe (and soon to be manufactured directly in Europe) and the cost has come down substantially.

There’s also a great new can design and we’re stocking the Inspired by Rum Cola, and Inspired by Bourbon Cola varieties.

You can find XA on our web site here.

Blog back from the dead…

When we launched the new web site a couple of weeks ago we temporarily took this blog down.

When we first started the blog a couple of years ago I found it fun to write new posts but last year we had so much on (such as the purchase of LoNo) that I just didn’t find the time or energy to write many new posts at all.

It wasn’t that there wasn’t much to say – quite the opposite, 2010 was our biggest and busiest year yet – but I just didn’t find the time to write about it and that made me sad and a little embarrassed too if I’m honest.

When we moved to the new web site design a couple of weeks ago, I had to change the blog design to match the new web site.

I found there had been a long-standing problem with the integration of our shop and the blog which meant if you had a basket of items, then you viewed our blog, when you went back to the shop your basket was empty!

Clearly this wasn’t good for us or for the customer. That no one had complained suggests that either few people read the blog with items in their basket or, having suffered the problem, they just left the site thinking it was broken and we lost – and annoyed – potential customers. Hopefully more the former than the latter.

Rather than let the problem slow down the re-launch of the new web site, we decided to remove the blog – especially given the recent lack of updates.

Having had a couple of weeks since to think about it we’ve decided to put the blog back (minus the shopping basket problem!) and start writing new posts more often.

At the moment the blog doesn’t integrate fully with the web site and looks a bit different – although really that’s not actually that big a deal. We will look at doing that in the future.

Clearly though what we and you need is a working blog and a working shop. That they both look exactly the same isn’t important.

Explanation over. Apology made. Now I’m really looking forward to getting back to writing for the blog and hope you’ll join me! And if I am quiet for a while, please feel free to send me an email at john@alcoholfree.co.uk and complain!

And if you have any suggestions for articles too, get in touch. Thanks!

New web site design live

We’re happy to announce a new make-over of the web site.

It only seems like yesterday when we launched the last one – in fact it was only 18 months ago – but, whilst we did like the last site design, we think the new design will work better for more customers.

Some of our older customers struggled with the layout and size of the last site. The new design is clearer and larger.

We’ve also tidied up some of the pages to make it easier for everyone to use. Early indications are that it is working well.

As always, with new changes there are always risks of something going wrong and in fact we have found and fixed one new “bug” already since the re-launch which caused some customers to have problems checking out (Thanks for pointing it out Mr G!).

If you do find any problems with the site – or you have any comments at all, good or bad – please do get in touch and let me know.

Thanks, as always, for your feedback and custom.