Supply Shortages and Limited Reachability due to the Corona Pandemic
In the past, we have already openly and transparently explained the effects of the corona pandemic on social media and on this page. The reactions to our explanations have been predominately positive. However, as the situation has worsened over the past few weeks and we do not expect any improvement in the coming weeks, I would like to answer the most urgent questions of our customers.
Supply and Delivery
The demand for protective equipment is still increasing rapidly. We are procuring large volumes of goods and are generally able to supply products like face masks, gloves, protective glasses, etc. By “generally”, we mean that we can permanently deliver at least some models (it is possible that not all versions or colours are available). While it may happen that the goods are not available for a few days, we have ensured that large quantities of products are supplied continuously.
The current situation is more complicated where disinfectants are concerned. We have a large supply backlog. While we are continuously supplying disinfectants, the incoming orders significantly exceed the incoming goods we are receiving from manufacturers. As a result, we are currently unable to make any statements on the expected delivery. This is due to the fact that the federal government often buys up almost the whole production volume with reference to the Infection Protection Act and we are only given the remaining goods. Even the manufacturers, who are making a great effort to increase production capacities and supply us with all the goods they have available, cannot make any statements. We did consider removing all products relating to protective equipment and disinfectants from the shop like our competitors, but we deliberately decided against it. It would have been an easy way to avoid unhappy customers, but it would not have helped any medical professional. Rather, we have chosen to do everything we can to supply and to openly communicate the current situation. In fact, we are nearly the only supplier left to deal with the current situation and deliver the critical product groups.
Basically, every product marked as “ready for shipping” is in stock and can be delivered immediately. This information is transmitted from our enterprise resource planning to the shop in short intervals. In some rare cases, there may be overlaps due to multiple orders of the same product coming in before the stocks could be updated automatically.
The products that are not concerned by increased demands caused by the corona pandemic will be delivered within the usual delivery periods. We are working in shifts in the logistics department and have hired numerous new employees and are therefore able to cope with the extremely increased demand.
Of course we will be refunding the money from cancelled orders, returns, etc!
The problem is the sheer number of refunds. There are multiple reasons for this. Often, we are unable to deliver products even after multiple attempts as many practices and surgeries, mainly in Austria, Spain and Italy are closed. In these cases, we cancel the orders and refund the money. In addition we are receiving many orders from private customers despite the fact that we have clearly stated that our products are only intended for doctors, authorities and organisations. The private customers often choose to pay in advance, with credit card or via PayPal. As a result, we have to cancel these time-consuming orders and refund the money. Furthermore, there is a small number of customers who cancel their orders for different reasons and need to be refunded as well.
This situation results in approx. 10,000 current refunds that have to be processed manually. While this is a small number compared to the quantity of orders, it causes enormous problems. We were simply not prepared for such a situation, since we only needed to process very few refunds per week before the outbreak. With greatly increased capacities, overtime and extra work, we are currently processing approx. 300 refunds a day. However, even though we are doing our best to increase the number, the 10,000 open cases still pose a tremendous problem. Therefore, all I can do at the moment is ask for your understanding and patience, while promising that we are going to refund every cancelled order.
Moreover, I want to appeal to the private customers to refrain from placing orders. We will not process your orders and you are blocking the resources we need to supply medical professionals.
Availability of our Customer Service
After the explosive increase in orders caused by the pandemic, we transferred numerous employees from every department, including customer service, to our logistics department to be able to process as many orders as possible. As we have hired many new employees for the logistics department, we were now able to transfer those employees back to their old positions. As a result, they are back to handle enquiries, orders, complaints etc. Despite the fact that we have staffed up and are hiring more, we are hardly able to handle the number of inquiries via telephone, e-mail or fax. Despite the increased number, incoming orders are still processed as normal to be delivered without delays, thanks to an automated system.
Individual customer enquiries, on the other hand, are posing an enormous challenge. Despite our increased number of staff and shift work, we are struggling with the thousands of e-mails and calls we receive per hour. After having been forced to stop taking phone calls on our customer service hotline, we are now finally reachable again. Nevertheless, one member of the customer service staff would have to process approx. 250 calls and the same number of e-mails per hour. This is simply not possible, which is why many calls are sent to the queue and e-mails are answered with delays. Unfortunately, private customers are blocking our limited capacities as they make up more than half of our incoming calls. The same goes for incoming e-mails. The reason for this is completely understandable and we do understand why private customers need protective equipment, but we only supply specialist groups and we cannot and are not allowed to supply private customers. As a result, we ask the private customers to please refrain from contacting our customer service. We need our resources for customers from medical fields. As stated above, we are currently hiring many new employees. Still, to manage the increased demand, we would need 15 times more staff members, which is not possible to achieve within just a few weeks.
I am explaining the current situation in an open and transparent manner because I want to ask for your understanding. We undoubtedly make mistakes and we surely underestimated the situation, but we are also putting up with a lot of attacks and aggressions due to the fact that we are trying to supply all medical fields instead of simply removing some product groups from our assortment like many of our competitors. I do understand the annoyance about the poor availability and the long delivery times, but please refrain from sending the same e-mails every hour and from threatening to file complaints and lawsuits, etc. These actions are not helping us in supplying more disinfectants but they are blocking our resources in processing the orders.
Praxisdienst is an owner-run company founded in 1953. My employees and I are aware of the difficult situation, you, our customers, are facing. When I assure you that we are doing everything we can to provide you with the equipment needed to do your jobs, this is not an empty promise.
Attention! We are currently looking to hire people for our accounting and customer service department at our location in Wecker/Luxembourg. More information can be found under job offers.