This is the story of a relationship with a trusted vendor, gone terribly wrong.
We are ending our relationship with Simple Global (located in Delaware), our fulfillment partner and urge other Makers who are considering fulfillment vendors to steer clear of this company - www.simpleglobal.com
The story actually begins about a year and a half back with our original USA manufacturing contractor. Krallcast (located in California) had been casting the steel heads for the Trucker’s Friend (and HRT) and then sharpening the blades, assembling the handle and fulfilling customer orders. Over the previous two years the quality of work had gotten progressively worse and we suffered delays of up to 6 months in production of the tools. Meanwhile, Krallcast continued to dramatically raise their prices. Unfortunately, our experience with Krallcast is par for the course in dealing with many USA manufacturers.
But the event precipitating the current state of woe was the decision by Krallcast that they’d no longer sharpen the tools, nor would they assemble or fulfill and ship orders. This led to a mad scramble - finding someone domestically willing to sharpen the heads was much tougher than you’d think and most USA companies wouldn’t even return my calls to discuss.
Around this time, Simple Global had been courting me for business and was promoting their all-in-one services. They made me a proposal to do the sharpening, assembly and (of course) fulfillment. The cost would be much higher than I had been paying, (including the expense of shipping the cast heads from California to Delaware) but they seemed competent and so I decided to work with them.
Months of delay ensued as we sorted this out, but a start was made and things looked promising - until I started receiving invoices for unjustified charges from Simple Global. These were explained away and ‘credited’, but these unexplained charges continued to accumulate even while the quality of the sharpening and assembly proved to be less than hoped for. I will say that Simple Global extended me generous credit to keep my business so I let things play out.
Fast forward to this past August when NIFTY Home Products offered to take over the manufacturing and marketing of the Trucker’s Friend, Handy Rescue Tool and the Lil Trucker. NIFTY is a terrific company. After reviewing my experience with Simple Global, they decided to handle the finishing and fulfillment of the products themselves which meant that I needed to immediately transfer to them all of the assembled products as well as the spare handles and other parts.
That’s when the true colors of Simple Global revealed themselves. Their CEO Darius Banasik insisted on payment of $39,584.48 to bring my account current and cover all outstanding obligations. These charges were substantially inflated, but ultimately I paid the money.
When I handed over the check, Darius indicated that he’d like to continue to fulfill orders for my winter products – the IceDozer and Snowmover and extended to me a credit of $5,000 if I’d leave that inventory at Simple Global. I agreed – which turned out to be a very costly mistake.
In the weeks that followed, Simple Global filled one order on my behalf – for 120 IceDozers. The costs to me (including minor assembly) should not have exceeded $300 which would have left me with a still ample credit towards future work.
Then the real trouble began. Darius wrote to inform me that he had discovered $8,000 in charges from months’ previous which they had somehow neglected to invoice. And that despite having accepted full payment of $39,000 unfortunately I now owed them another $3,000 (after wiping out my credit), payable immediately if I wanted any more fulfillment of my winter products. Other charges also mysteriously appeared.
Around this time, NIFTY reported that many if not most of the Trucker’s Friends which they received had been assembled incorrectly or sharpened inadequately by Simple Global. I was also informed that Simple Global had shipped 2,790 thousand fewer handles than they had certified in their reported inventory. I now owed NIFTY more than $11,000 for the shortfall in valuable parts that they had paid me for.
So I wrote to Simple Global and informed them that I wanted them to immediately ship out my remaining winter products to a new fulfillment company. Weeks of delay later they came back and reported that everything was ready to go, including 514 IceDozers, 125 SnowMovers, 2,170 brush clips (that convert the IceDozer into the more popular IceDozer Plus) and thousands of the indispensable product tags and backer cards. The charge to release the products would be $11,000 (for probably a day’s work) on top of all the other accumulated charges.
After a shocked response, this amount was confirmed to me by the Simple Global senior business manager, Eric Caruthers.
The next day I rushed to Simple Global (few hours round-trip from Philadelphia) hoping to meet with Darius to clear this all up. Instead, the only person I was allowed to meet with was their CFO, David Neuschwander. After hours of back and forth, during which David pointed out that $11,000 is coincidentally probably about the retail value of the inventory they were holding hostage he agreed that he’d investigate and come up with a better number. That was all he’d commit to.
So I drove back, but upon return I wrote to David insisting on a speedy resolution.
My email came back undeliverable. Turns out that Darius fired David (as he had of course been planning unbeknownst to me) as soon as our meeting ended. So all for nothing and as rude a message as Darius could possibly send.
A week passed and a new financial officer entered the picture, Maureen LaBeau. She offered to release my products for merely $2,700 paid in advance, plus hundreds of dollars in marked up shipping costs. She informed me that any attempt to meet with Darius or Eric would be refused, so not to visit.
And so I’m at an impasse, now on Sunday November 27th. The winter season is slipping away – I’ve already cancelled production of more IceDozers because there’s no time to procure new brush clips nor the backer cards, etc. I stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars – which is of course why Simple Global is so adamant about extorting additional cash.
I’ve contacted the Better Business Bureau and am consulting an attorney as well as, reluctantly, turning to social media to apply pressure on Simple Global. The outcome is uncertain.