Drop.com (formerly Massdrop) sells boutique products curated by community members. On their community boards, a user created a post titled “Why my opinion on this site has changed,” which cited a post on reddit by a user named Nikita who was critical of Massdrop’s customer service.
In short, Nikita made a purchase which Massdrop later canceled citing security concerns, undoubtedly with a robotic, disconnected, and insufficiently personal tone of written communication.
My background in ecommerce allowed me to recognize the situation as a common obstacle for online sellers, particularly for transactions across borders, and seize an opportunity to inform the community and set some minds at ease.
My goal here was to educate without alienating. Now more than ever, writers need to be able to communicate with their audience using a voice that is similar to that which the audience uses internally – something authentic, authoritative, and trustworthy. Something familiar.
Original user post
I have only had ONE negative experience with Massdrop so far, and that was with the Yanbo’s closet miscounted inventory fiasco. I understand it was an honest mistake, I was grateful to even get a chance at anything during that event. I did get over it. I’m still ordering stuff from here (exclusives only, nothing else is worth it anymore IMO), but whenever I think about it, it’s the cookie-cutter customer service response that really upset me back at that time.
What happened to the OP of this reddit post is WAY worse, and I can’t even imagine how I would feel reading that bullshit response after that happened to me. I understand the security issue, but they really couldn’t contact them beforehand? Or do anything to ensure he could still PAY for the item that he won’t have another chance at for WHO KNOWS how long?
To me, this makes it seem like Massdrop truly doesn’t care about their customers. Nothing is more disrespectful to me. They get more flak than they deserve for things that actually aren’t their fault, but their customer service needs some serious work.
My response to user
@eizdeb – your disdain for poor customer service is undoubtedly shared by everyone, but you’ve misidentified Nikita’s experience as such. You’re not wrong, you’re not stupid, and your perspective and thoughts certainly matter, but there are some dots you don’t see, and they need connecting so Massdrop can get slammed where they truly deserve it. I’ll take the time to share my insight on this and do my best to explain; I only ask that you and others take the time to read and learn about the dots you can’t see, and keep in mind that there’s no argument to be had on the following information; it’s just the way things are:
I’m the IT Director for a large parts distributor here in the US. We primarily sell to retailers and dealers who re-sell our product, but also to manufacturers and OEM’s that use our product in their product, and also – though to a much smaller degree – to individual end users. We ship our products to 6 continents, and sometimes – especially in the case of individual buyers – we have no clue who we’re doing business with, and fraud is a priority concern. People love to buy our products, but people also love to acquire our products without buying them.
To facilitate the actual purchase of our products, we rely on third party transaction and fraud screening services to identify questionable transactions ; these are companies like Signifyd, IDology, and Kount, just to name a few. They typically do this screening automatically – like in less than 1 second, at the time of the transaction – with algorithms that are fed by data from countless sources. I can’t tell you what the criteria is because that’s the secret sauce for these fraud screening service providers – they’re all tight-lipped about their procedures. Anyway, the output can take a number of different forms but a security or fraud “score” or “rating” is most common in identifying suspect transactions.
Sometimes these transactions are automatically declined at either the gateway or screener level and the buyer is none the wiser. The transaction simply fails and the buyer thinks, “well, fuck you then. I’ll buy from someone else,” and they move on.
But sometimes those transactions pass through so as to allow humans to review them. After all, no one wants to turn down legitimate buyers. But no matter how advanced the algorithm or how attentive the human reviewing the transactions is, mistakes do get made. False positives are just a cost of doing business under the ecommerce umbrella, but it’s a cost that all companies gladly pay; occasionally turning away legitimate buyers and pissing people off is preferable to getting cleaned out by a network of people using stolen payment information.
I know exactly how these things work because it’s my job to make sure that they work here at my company.
Everything I’ve detailed explains Nikita’s unfortunate experience, and with all that said, take a moment to re-evaluate what happened from a fresh perspective:
Massdrop doesn’t dislike Nikita. Canceling his order wasn’t personal. I’m sure Massdrop would be thrilled to pocket Nikita’s money, mail off whatever shit he ordered, and prance on over to the bank to watch their funds grow.
And when Nikita messaged support, Kyle handled it like a pro. Yeah, all that “I’d be thrilled to assist you!” text that’s auto-populated by their CRM software is super-lame; it gets under my skin when my personally important matters are addressed through robot-like discourse. We can all agree on that annoyance, but that’s not bad service. There’s Kyle, following the rules, and having to break the bad news to Nikita that Massdrop won’t take his money. I’m sure he sat there with his head in his hands, peeking through his fingers, uncomfortable reading Nikita’s perfectly logical argument, thinking, “man, I wish we could just take this guy’s order instead of pissing him off…”
Hell, not only did Massdrop miss out on an order, but they gave up $20 as well – plus Kyle stayed professional (albeit a little too robot-sounding for my tastes) and kept his cool. Yet all of that gets misinterpreted as bad customer service.
There’s one final thing to understand about situations like this one, and I can best explain it from my own perspective:
When I flag or decline a transaction, I want that shit off my desk with finality. I’m the one with the education and experience, I’m the expert, the decision is mine to make, it’s final when I make it, and that’s that. The last thing I want is for that transaction to make its way back to me in the form of a customer email or phone call, complete with
1) “I demand an explanation for this!” and…
2) “Do you really think I’d call you if I were a scammer? lul” and…
3) “Fuck you! I’m gonna put this whole conversation on Reddit!” and…
4) “They should call you guys PoopFactory instead of FunFactory!”
And you know what? – those are all very difficult things to address when someone is pissed off, especially if I’m the one who has pissed them off! XD Because…
1) No. I’m not going to write, speak, or otherwise communicate the details of this post to everyone who comes asking. Become an informed buyer and make an effort to understand a bit more about the process you’re participating in. And…
2) Yes, actually, that’s what fraudsters do when their transactions get canceled – they dispute them. And with improperly trained staff, or support reps who decide to let it slide just this once, or “C’mon Adam, this guy is obviously legit…” – that’s how people get scammed. And…
3) Go ahead. Hopefully someone like me will come along and explain what you’re not considering, and everyone will learn something new that day. And…
4) Please… Grow up. Really. Plus, I’ve heard that one, like, sooo many times before.
Again, there’s no argument to be had on any of this. It’s one of those cases in which opinions don’t really matter, because this is just the way things are. Companies have to screen transactions, which means they have to make mistakes, which means they have to miss sales opportunities, which means they have to piss people off.
But – should we label all of that Bad Customer Service?
Now on that topic, we can have opinions and disagreements, discuss alternatives, and propose solutions. Maybe Massdrop should try a different fraud screening provider. Maybe Massdrop should double or triple screen transactions. Maybe Kyle should have offered Nikita an additional $30 and a back rub.
Or – maybe Nikita should stop trying to buy shit online with a prepaid debit card. Maybe Nikita should correct the typo in his billing address so the AVS checks return a good response code. Maybe Nikita should learn to expect geolocation tests to throw red flags because he’s ordering from the aircraft carrier he’s stationed on.
Probably none of that applies in this case, but I have seen all of that.
I’ve only bought a few things on Massdrop and my experiences have all been positive. Maybe Massdrop does, in fact, have the worst customer service in the entire inner solar system. I don’t know and I don’t really care. But I do care about the importance of calling a spade a spade, making people aware of their mistakes so they can learn from them, and giving credit where it’s due.
Maybe there are thousands of examples of Massdrop’s bad customer service that all of you can share, that all of you are within your right to be pissed about. This is simply not one of them. May I respectfully suggest that you cite a different customer’s experience if you really want to drive the argument for poor service?
Or – maybe just give Massdrop another chance.
My post was well received by both the community and Massdrop staff. I was surprised to receive a Thank You card signed by the entire Massdrop team in the mail a couple weeks later. Sure, there are detractors who disagree with me, but I view the post as a whole as successful.
Even after two years I regularly get automated A community member endorsed your comment on… emails from Drop. I’d like to think I made everyone just a little bit smarter when it comes to ecommerce transactions and customer service.