An apology from Sonner Toys
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An apology from Sonner Toys

Hey all! 

I thought it best to explain to you and apologise for some of the issues you have been experiencing over the last couple of months when ordering from us. I believe that it is important as a business, and as a human to hold hands up when mistakes are made, and that's what I'm doing here. We messed up! 

During the pandemic we grew exponentially, exploding on the scene and in conversations we never even dreamt to be part of. Originally we were just a small store in Portsmouth, with a very small team, anything we had sold on our online store was a nice little bonus. I would say we typically dealt with less than 10 orders per week, to now receiving hundreds of orders everyday from around the globe! 

As great as all that is for a small business, it presents an untameable beast in regards to workloads; Customer Service, Warehouse Logistics, Online Maintenance & a huge increase in overheads/stock purchases. We have gone from a team of 5 to a team of 18 individuals in just over a year, but that isn't enough. 

As the global pandemic raged on we overlooked the storm brewing on the horizon. Delays. Delays have caused myself and the rest of the crew many sleepless nights, thrown in the deep end by manufacturers who won't liaise and advise, leaving us, and many other indie stores frozen like a deer in the headlights.  Now although that is out of our hands, how we handle the situation isn't, and we haven't handled it well. 

Customer Service

Very quickly we went from receiving 30 emails a day to over a hundred, with a team of 2 doing all they can to keep up the front-line. A change is needed. Customer service was always my main objective when starting this business, and it's frustrating to know we let that slip. 

To combat this issue and get ourselves back up there with some of the best online business in the industry, we will be hiring a significant number of staff to expand our Customer Service Team, plus we will also be training existing staff members to jump in when we experience large volumes of correspondence. These staff members, in addition to our existing team, will be monitoring and replying to all emails and social media enquiries. The goal and statistics show that by the end of February, the wait time for a response will never be more than 1 working day! We are also in the background testing a live chat feature that we hope to launch around the same time as the above.

Refunds

Cancellations are an area that isn't spoken about enough. Cancellations can be damaging to a smaller business as it can seriously affect cash flow. We will ask people to only cancel orders with ourselves and other independent businesses if it is absolutely necessary, we know so well how frustrating delays can be, but please bear in mind that 99% of the time completely out of our hands.

We have however, admittedly, been horrendous with our systems for processing refunds. After Christmas we saw a large amount of customers cancelling items, which we should have expected knowing how tough of a month January can be. This meant refunds had to be managed in a way so as to not disrupt the overturn of sales too drastically. I have however, recognised the need to set aside a budget and have allowed our team to get through all cancellations right away. If you're currently waiting, please be patient, it will be resolved for you in the next week.

We have implemented a new system to manage cancellations and to allow refunds to be processed same day, just as it used to be.  

Stock Issues

When we first started this venture we were never in the running to work directly with manufacturers, whenever we applied we were turned down instantly. This meant we had no choice but to order from distribution companies. As great as some of these companies are, the stock we ordered was always way after the rest of the market had had their allocations. This had also lead to negative press and a tonne of cancellations, despite having already ordered and paid for the items. 

Now we are ordering directly from manufacturers for the majority of products we stock, meaning we receive products at the exact same time as all other retailers. The only exception to this is Special Edition Funko Pops which are ordered from a variety of suppliers from around the world, as they are not regularly found here in the United Kingdom. This allows us to keep up with the flow of the industry in a way we never have been able to previously. 

Payment Methods, Deposits & Klarna

Previously we had only ever taken payment up front for orders, however we understand this isn't to everyones taste. We now offer deposit options for most new pre-orders, allowing customers more freedom in their choice for purchasing. 

Klarna has proven to be a real challenge. For a reason no one at Klarna is able to explain, orders have been cancelled on their systems without our knowledge or notification. Meaning we have been sending out a large number of orders, without ever receiving the money for them, losing us thousands of pounds. Whilst we understand that Klarna is a great option for customers to order the items they want now and pay for it later, we would ask customers to please only use this payment option for orders containing in stock items only, otherwise we will have to cancel your order. We have been sending out emails to customers that this has affected.

Final Word

I would like to personally apologise for the company not being up to scratch as of late. We have been aware of these issues and have been working incredibly hard on the aforementioned permanent fixes. With the measures mentioned above in place, customers should see a huge improvement to our service, returning to the top quality service we were originally known for.

I have also been made aware of some spiteful comments on some groups and communities, suggesting that we are going out of business. This is complete slander and could not be further from the truth. We are a well established company and have been trading for 7 years this year, with huge plans and goals for 2022. 

You may notice that we have updated our stores opening hours, this is so we can perform important maintenance and redecorate during the quiet period after Christmas. Whilst this is going on we are also in the process of moving to a much larger warehouse facility and offices, to allow us to further deliver a more streamlined experience. 

Behind the scenes we have an incredibly passionate and highly motivated team, which I am very, very proud of. All preparations are now in place to take us all onto the next level! Thank you all for being so patient and supportive, here's to the future! 

Harry Strevens
Managing Director

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