Welcome to the third edition of the Standing Together blog series. Last week we talked about standing together as a courteous community. As I reiterated last week, I realize I may end up stepping on a few toes. I will be as tactful as possible, and genuinely do not mean to offend. That being said; there are things I believe need to be said and discussed as a community. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what creating a corporate free community means, and the mindset behind how we view those who offer vape supplies.
Investopedia defines ‘Corporation’ as “A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners.” To me this implies a business that operates separately from the people who created it. It is common to look at a website and relate it to a corporation or entity, and all thoughts of the product being received are wrapped up in that perception. While this is a very real perception, when it comes to ordering from places owned by big tobacco, vape shops are different. Corporations are an entity the community utilizes; people are the community. At this point, you’re probably asking yourself why I’m giving you a vocabulary lesson. It all comes back to that common theme of community and our mentality. Mt Baker Vapor and the majority of e-juice retailers, are not corporations or entities. We are a group of people who work together to provide a product or service. So, why does that matter?
The reality is our reaction to products and services change based on our perception of where they come from. If you’re unhappy with something you buy from a major online retailer, what would your reaction be when expressing your displeasure? Would you have that same reaction when expressing your displeasure with a neighborhood mom and pop shop you frequent regularly? Your response to the online retailer is most likely to post on social media about your displeasure, so the world knows how you feel. Sometimes you reach out to the company directly, sometimes you don’t. Yet with the same issue from the mom and pop shop, your response is more commonly to walk in and have a conversation with the person in charge of the store, and ask that they correct the problem. This reaction also commonly results in posts to social media about how your issue was handled and how great the company is to work with. The reasons for the drastically different reactions revolve around perception. The perception is that corporations and unknown online entities don’t care about you, but the person you look at in the eye does care about you as a customer. Whether this perception is based on experience, hearing about the experience of others, or other sources, it affects how we respond to the stores we frequent.
So far I’ve been tiptoeing around and speaking in generalities, so let me give you an example. Recently there was a large discussion on a social media forum regarding yours truly, and the displeasure customers have had with their experiences. The result was a very extensive and public list of all the reasons why we, as a company, provided poor service and products to our customers. While chatting with the individuals who had posted their displeasure in this public site, we found that 98 percent of those who were unhappy had never contacted our customer service team to let us know about their negative experience. I can assure you that each person was contacted individually, and their issues addressed as best we could. Yet I was disturbed that there was so much negative emotion without any opportunity to correct the issues when they happened. When I stepped back and tried to determine why there would be so much displeasure without contact, I concluded that perception had to be a major factor. We are primarily an online provider, and as such, are perceived as an entity. The truth is quite the opposite. We are a team of people who are passionate about vaping and care about the vaping community. I do not bring up this example to point fingers or lay blame in any way. I found it ironic that this happened right before this blog was scheduled to posted. In fact, many will probably see this as being done in defense to the online outcry; when in reality this was the scheduled topic of this series over a month ago. So, why am I sharing this?
Perception and reactions need to change if we’re going to be able to stand together as a community. People make mistakes and problems happen. I’m not saying you can’t get upset, or that you shouldn’t share your experience with the world. What I am saying is that it’s important to realize that there are people behind the .com of vape shops. I know we at Mt Baker Vapor want the opportunity to address concerns, and are genuinely passionate about taking care of our community. As a company, of course we want you to buy from us, but as the people who are passionate about vaping, we you to find the hardware and e-juice that works to keep you off cigarettes. If you’re dissatisfied with a company and their responses to your concerns, find a different one. As a vape consumer, we need to remember that in the e-cigarette industry, we are working with people, not corporations. Understand that those people are supplying the vaping needs of others, which is everyone’s goal. One company isn’t going to work for everyone, and that’s ok. If you found an e-juice supplier that takes care of you, that’s wonderful! The important thing is that we’re vaping, not smoking.
As a community, we are fighting battles on all fronts. We’ve all seen the rash of bans and the proposed regulations on everything from taxing, to banning flavors and online sales of e-juice. There are very real legislation and regulation battles to come that could have a major impact on the availability of vaping products. The only way for us to have an impact on these coming changes, and keep vaping accessible, is for us to stand together as a community. We can’t do that if we’re fighting amongst ourselves. Our vaping community is made of people, and I am proud to be one of them. Let’s take a step back, and remember that when it comes to vape shops online and B&M’s providing our vaping supplies, we are working with people, not corporations. Standing together as a community, we can make a positive difference.
Come back next week when we take a look at avoiding witch hunts and what really matters when it comes to vaping. Until then, let us know your thoughts. Stand together vapers and vape on!
Written By: Michelle Harnden