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jerryking : escalation   3

Working Things Out With a Giant Customer - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 17, 2006 WSJ article by ANN ZIMMERMAN.

Romano Pontes, a longtime apparel supplier to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was told by Sam Walton "'If you believe in a point, scream it as loud as you can to whomever will listen to you,'". This spring, Mr. Pontes put Sam Walton's advice to the test and risked losing Wal-Mart, his biggest and most lucrative client, in the process. He and a Wal-Mart buyer had a disagreement over a shipment of apparel that wasn't selling.....Pontes says he decided to fight for what he thought was right. He thinks small-business owners who work with big corporations frequently are afraid to stick up for themselves, fearing they will ruin the relationship. He says that not giving in doesn't have to kill a business relationship. It can even strengthen it. "You have to speak your mind, but you have to say it nicely," says Mr. Pontes, 46 years old. "I never said, 'I want to sue you.' I just made my case.".....Mr. Pontes's company, Global Vision Inc., is one of 61,000 U.S. suppliers to Wal-Mart,....The company says it doesn't know how many supplier relationships end each year and how many new vendors they bring on board.....Each supplier has a different vendor agreement with Wal-Mart...Some contracts may specify that unsold products will be returned. It depends on the type of product and supplier.

Shouldn't vendors always have agreements like that in writing? "Not always,"

Not in Contract
Although Global Vision's contract with companies doesn't spell out the policy for merchandise that doesn't sell, Mr. Pontes says he had an unspoken agreement that "we would work things out."......To straighten out the situation, Mr. Pontes says, he started with two members of the buying team, who claimed Mr. Pontes had authorized the goods to be returned. Neither side would relent, so Mr. Pontes then made his case to a senior executive in the finance department in Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. This time, Mr. Pontes said that he would produce documentation that the merchandise wasn't defective and challenged the company to prove that it was.
A conference call was set up between Mr. Pontes and a general-merchandise manager. But two hours before the scheduled call, Mr. Pontes says he canceled and sent an email instead, claiming he had stopped shipments on Wal-Mart orders to locations around the world. He added that other buyers in Puerto Rico were interested in buying Wal-Mart's 1,296-piece order of T-shirts and board shorts by Quicksilver, a trendy teen brand.

Less than two hours later, Wal-Mart emailed back, saying it would pay for the original Ocean Pacific order and wanted it shipped back to Puerto Rico....Says Mr. Pontes: "You have to have courage and guts, elevate it as high as you can. If you leave it at the buyer's level, they'll bury you. I went four levels higher than whoever is in charge of our accounting."
apparel  disputes  enterprise_clients  escalation  Gulliver_strategies  large_companies  self-respect  small_business  start_ups  supply_chains  Wal-Mart 
march 2009 by jerryking

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