Zip.ca President, Rick Anderson, Responds to Complaints

Rick Anderson, president of Zip.ca, just posted to the ongoing comment thread on Zip.ca.

I posted the last time Zip found my comments, back in October 2004. The original post (a link, mentioned because my friend Dave was trying the service) was from February.

Almost one year later, the current statistics are: 2355 page views on the original post, and 64 comments.

Rick, as I posted the last time I brought this up -- feel free to contact me if you want some tips on setting up a blog, forum, other avenue to let your customers interact with Zip directly. I've also posted your comment in it's entirety below, so hopefully your point of view gets some more publicity.

Note: I have still not tried Zip's service. I have comments on my website. I do moderate postings from anonymous users, but only to remove spam.

Well, this is certainly a different read from what we are used to. Zip.ca takes service, selection and value seriously - and we are generally rated number one in Canada in all three areas. But it is clear we have some work to do in one or more of the cases described in this thread. I encourage anyone with an outstanding Zip.ca issue to send the details directly to me, In the meantime, allow me to address some of the general points referred to in this thread. Our standard membership is 4-DVDs-at-a-time, for $24.95 monthly (not 3 DVDs as stated here). We also have 1, 2 and 6-DVD memberships, but 85% of our members choose the 4-DVD membership. Members basically determine how fast they turn around rentals - our most active 4-DVD members rent up to 18, 19, 20, or even more DVDs per month. Some rent just one or two. Zip.ca's average 4-DVD member receives 8.5 DVDs a month from us. That means that their rental costs average $2.93 per DVD. Home delivered, at our cost both ways. From an unbeatable selection, best in the country by far. Pretty near impossible to beat that deal. As stated in the thread, our first new member shipment usually does go by Xpresspost, to help people get started quickly. It usually has the new member's first 3 or 4 DVDs, of course that depends what they've selected and what we have on hand that moment. After that first shipment, everything is shipped back and forth individually, so that if you have one or two DVDs in the mail, you still have two or three at home ready for watching. Until last fall, we did offer telephone support as well as web-based support and e-mail support. Frankly, we did not always feel the accuracy of information conveyed in the less-formal environment of telephone support was up to par, so we suspended it until we can get tghat to the quality we think it needs to be. We'll be reinstating telephone support soon. In the meantime, most of our members' web-based support requests are resolved same day, and that's the best way to get customer service. Stolen goods are a fact of life in many retail businesses, including online and catalogue-based services which deliver goods by mail. Just as with shoplifting, they raise costs for all of us. Our success to date in preventing and fighting theft is pretty good: of more than 850,000 DVDs shipped to Zip.ca members over our first year, over 99% arrived without problem. Like other responsible vendors, we take reasonable precautions, and take written reports when discs are stolen, share those reports with postal and law enforcement authorities and investigate thoroughly. Where theft involving a particular locale is a recurring event, we really have little choice but to suspend service. If someone has a better idea how to handle this problem, we are all ears: we do not enjoy being victims, having our goods stolen, nor cancelling memberships. Thankfully, these are all rare occurences, but once is too often... In our experience, Canada Post provides very efficient service. We airship out to all the largest Canadian cities every single day, so that our members' shipments are mailed locally in seven places across Canada each and every day. This means that over 80% of Canadians are in our "local" mailing area, for which Canada Post's service standard is generally two days. Together with co-operating members, we survey shipping results on an ongoing basis, and Canada Post pretty reliably achieves these service standards. Sometimes they do even better, delivering our DVDs in just one day. It can take three, it is rarely more than that. The return is just as good - and our service even allows longer-term members to declare a return online, upon we'll send them a replacement within a day, even before we get their return. Try that at your local video outlet. Nobody's perfect, certainly not a start-up about to turn one. We don't pretend we know everything, but we try our best, and we do pretty well by most objective and independent assessments. More important, we are prepared to keep learning and improving, and among other things we count on member feedback for this. Look at our site and service - they're changing, innovating and improving constantly, often thanks to the many great ideas being advanced all the time by our creative and demanding members. We have a very simple rule for building our library: if it's missing, and legally and commercially available, and you want it, we'll add it to our library. Even if there's just one of you. That's how we've gotten to 26,000 DVD titles, 8 or 10 times the variety available at most video outlets, and twice or three times the selection of any other online service in Canada. Bottom line: we - and most independent reviewers - think we're doing pretty well in selection, service and value. But where we can do even better, we will. And we will always welcome your feedback and suggestions to do so. Thanks for your time. Rick Anderson President, Zip.ca [Email your problem to]rick@zip.ca, and I will see it attended to. (If you also copy our service manger, George Leclair, george@zip.ca, that'll save a step).