In Part I of Fix Fixture Trip Ups, we spoke about how the e-commerce order process works, in general. Here are some tips on finding the replacement parts you need, when your fixture’s shade has been accidentally broken, or when those special bulbs that came with the fixture have blown out – and they’re not ‘normal’ bulbs. Things occasionally happen to fixtures despite the fact that they might hang high on the wall or way over your head. Maybe that ladder you carted down the staircase just clipped the foyer chandelier, or the kid’s smurf ball knocked the glass shade off the wall fixture. Accident’s happen. In some cases, you can order a replacement part for the item. Having a little bit of education on how to order the parts, goes a long way in terms of reducing the stress of searching the internet endlessly to replace something that’s been broken.
Here’s when you’ll likely find success in replacing your item:
- If your fixture is less than three years old.
- If you know the fixture’s brand name and sku#.
- If you know the actual part sku# as well.
- If you contact the exact same store that sold it to you.
- If the replacement item is a shade, diffuser, post or back plate.
Here’s when it might be more difficult:
- If the fixture is older than five years.
- If the fixture is a fan motor or motor part.
- If the fixture is a crystal piece, hinge piece, finial or remote control.
- If you got it at a flea market and were hoping to find a part to make it a complete fixture.
REPLACEMENT TRIP UP #1 – MIX-MATCHING DIFFERENT BRANDS FOR PARTS:
Attempting to mix and match manufacturer brands to fix one singular product is a no-no!
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We know how it goes. You need a piece or part that’s broken off and you can’t remember the brand of the fixture you own. (Because you weren’t organized and didn’t ‘white envelope‘ the invoice details initially when you first received the product!) So you go online looking for a part that ‘looks like’ what you think you need and you order it from some random e-commerce store. Then when it arrives you find out it won’t fit your fixture at all. You’re stuck having to either keep it or pay shipping back, and worse, possibly pay re-stock fees. Even worse than that – you didn’t pay attention to online store policy which told you that accessories or parts are non-refundable.
TIP #1– STICK WITH THE SAME MANUFACTURER and SAME E-STORE:
For every fixture you purchase, dedicate a white envelope to holding all fixture purchase invoices and packing slips in it and then file it in your office or store it in a kitchen drawer. Any time you need a fixture replacement part, not only can you call up exactly where you purchased the item from, you can call that store and tell them exactly what you bought. Their phone number will be listed on the invoice. They can then help you to get exactly the part that you need, because from your invoice, you will be able to provide them the exact sku# number of the product you own. Because you are calling the same e-store you purchased the original fixture from – you will have an ongoing account that both you and the store can refer to, for any future purchases.
It just makes common sense to keep all online purchases for the same product together. Don’t forget to write the bulb socket type and bulb type on the envelope as well. If you’re used to shopping Amazon via your cell phone – simply make an email e-file for every store you purchased from! E-Z!
REPLACEMENT TRIP UP #2 – SEARCHING THE NET WILLY NILLY & IN A HURRY:
It’s a Sisyphean task. We’ve all done it. In a panic to fix a problem, we rush to get something done as quickly as possible, by any means possible, so that we can fix the danged thing and be done with it! But THAT approach never works and ordering a wrong part, simply adds even MORE stress to the situation when it arrives, and you find the ‘part’ doesn’t fit the ‘whole’. Patience brings clarity and oftentimes you can get what you need done quicker by working the problem slowly and smartly.
Let’s say you remember your broken fixture’s brand name, but don’t know the sku#; so you go onto every e-store you can find trying to see if their customer reps can figure out what part it is that you need. That’s a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Customer reps are, in reality, dealing with hundreds of calls a day and thousands of online products that they themselves never even see. Most items these days ship direct from the manufacturers. So for most e-commerce stores, there’s no physical warehouse to go to ‘look and see’ what might be on the shelf. If you know the brand name – call the Brand Name by phone and ASK. All brand names have a phone number and customer service dept. ASK what the part number is and if it is in stock. THEN you can go to any e-store and search by the part’s sku#.
Most e-stores are not in the business of selling pieces and parts. Why? Because $5.00 – $8.00 parts are completely unprofitable, period. And since most fixtures come from overseas now-a-days, most fixtures come over whole. Overseas shipping can take 30 days from port to port, not including customs inspections and unloading and transport to manufacturer warehouse time, etc. Whether landscape lighting, a pendant or chandelier….every product and sell-able part has a model or sku# associated with it.
Though most customer reps might attempt to get you a part that you need, that means that they have to contact the manufacturer themselves, to get a part’s sku#, based on a fixture photo or vague description you have given them. It’s nearly almost impossible to do it that way – and it takes a lot of back and forth between the e-store, you and the manufacturer to figure out what you need – all because you didn’t put your invoices in that little white envelope to begin with…or were too lazy to simply call the manufacturer yourself in the first place. Are we beginning to see how a lack of understanding of e-commerce protocol can complicate things across the board?
Sometimes, using common sense really does work.
Tip #2 – STAY CALM, APPROACH PART CHALLENGE IN LOGICAL SEQUENCE:
Find the original fixture’s sku# and brand name. Call the manufacturer customer service dept. and ask if they sell the part you need. Ask what the part’s sku number is. Ask if it is in stock. Ask them to guide you to an authorized e-store who sells it. And when you’re done finally purchasing your part, place all the information into that little white envelope for future reference! You might make it easier on yourself the next time you need a part or a bulb!