Customer Service Or Not My Problem?

I just got an interesting call from a guy that has me scratching my head. I’m posting the gist of it, but obviously will mention no names (so don’t ask).

On our website we have a popular recommended gear page that I probably haven’t changed in more than 12 years. The caller had followed one of those links to a merchant, and several months ago placed an order. Since then he hasn’t received his order, his credit card had been charged, and in the limited contact he’d had with the merchant, had been told that they were working on it and would get it to him as soon as possible. He was tired of waiting and felt like he got taken.

Then he asked me to contact the merchant on his behalf. I explained that I had no desire to get in the middle of something between him and a private business, and that I’m not an affiliate or vendor and have the links because I’ve been a customer in the past. He became agitated and tried to tell me I was obligated to do so because he had found them via a link on my site.

I felt bad for the guy, but I again stated my position that I wasn’t going to call and get in the middle of it. This made him more angry. He asked me to take down the link and I declined, not knowing the whole story. And we ended the conversation with him angry and telling me he had planned on attending a Jack Mountain course, but now would never do so.

I can understand his frustration, but I don’t see how it’s my responsibility.

Am I way off here? Does posting a link to a business obligate me to resolve other customer’s problems? I’d love to hear what people think.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bill Blake

    It’s not your problem. I was going to suggest that it may be wise to avoid recommending gear and then provding links to a vendor, however, after checking out the gear page I see that many of the links you provide are to non-mass produced items. That would be a tough decision to make. In that case, I would probably suggest posting a disclaimer.

  • Derek Faria

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family first of all Tim!

    Sounds like an unfortunate set of circumstances all the way around to me. I can certainly feel for the guy. The new age way of internet shopping is probably mostly to blame here though. Everyone wants what they want Now!

    As far as who’s fault or responsibility it is, I would say certainly not yours. Recommending a vendor or their gear doesn’t tie you to any obligation to a customer of “theirs”. I’m sure there is probably a bit more to the story here as well, and I’m guessing it is a certain piece of gear that is in question. At the end of the day the onus is on the customer to reach out to the vendor and settle any and all concerns. If there was a lead time on the particular product, did the customer know that? Was it advertised as such, and if so, did the customer do their due diligence in communicating with the vendor about it? Again, I think there is maybe more to the story here, but that is just a “SWAG” on my part.

    I had a similar situation buying cast ironware. I could have went right to the folks who make and sell it, but decided to go through another vendor to support them. There were no ads or disclaimers mentioning the items were back ordered when I placed my order. Almost two weeks later I received an email stating my items were back ordered. I needed these for a trip I had coming up, and time wasn’t on my side. Of course I was frustrated. What should I have done? Call the folks who make them and complain that someone else is selling their stuff and I hadn’t received it yet? Well, of course not. I called the vendor and voiced my concerns and situation. They worked with me and were apologetic. I received my cast iron in the nick of time, but I got it. It was my responsibility to work with the vendor as the customer. Though I got the items in time, I still wanted them when I ordered them. I shouldn’t have had to wait on items that weren’t even listed on the site as back ordered. But it is what it is.

    Sorry for the long-winded reply, but that’s my take on it.

  • Thanks Derek. I always appreciate your point of view.

  • Thanks Bill, a disclaimer is a great idea.
Private community & online learning platform.

JMB Blog & Media Hub
Home to our blog, videos, podcast and photos, going back to 2006.

JMBS Calendar
All of our upcoming events.

Typos, Etc.
Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.

Fediverse & Mastodon
Follow us and comment on Mastodon and the Fediverse. We’re at

Email List
Join our email list for a weekly recap of our posts.

Featured In:
Jack Mountain Bushcraft Media Appearances Image

Private Community & Online Learning Platform graphic
Western Colorado University
Academic Partner

WSU graphic

Maine Wilderness Guides Organization Quality Endorsement Award

Life Member – Maine Professional Guides Association
mpga graphic
Life Member – Maine Wilderness Guides Organization
mwgo graphic