I frequently write about the few troublesome customers that come my way. The vast majority of my dealings are uneventful and not worth mentioning. Like all businesses though, you get a customer here or there that you can live without. I do not get mad. I deal with it, try to find some humor in the situation, and move on. My intent is to pass that humor on to you in my commentary to make you laugh.

Sometimes a customer will say, “I don’t know if I’m being one of those people you write about.” I can say that 99.999% of the time, their requests are quite normal.

I recently had a customer order about 120 stamps and plate blocks. He asked if I could group them by year. It took a few seconds to grab some extra glassines and write the year on the front of the glassine. Filling the order was otherwise normal. This request took a few extra seconds to group the material by year and was perfectly reasonable. I compiled with his wishes without a problem.

Sometimes a customer (or new customer) will ask for, say, 100 copies of a particular stamp because their club is doing a cachet and cancel for their upcoming stamp show. Do I have 100 copies in my discount postage? Many times the answer is yes, even if I have to pull some copies from my everyday stock of mint stamps.

Requests for discount postage are sometimes along the lines of “low denomination stamps,” or “combinations of two stamps that equal 49 cents.” Requests like that are also easy.

Many requests start out with a humble tone: “If it’s not too much to ask …” or “Would it be possible to …” When you have been in business for years like I have, you learn to recognize the legitimate request coming from an ordinary collector who just needs a little extra attention. That is fine by me. Superior service is one way to set myself apart from other dealers.

I can detect bad requests from a mile away. They do not involve a lot of money. They involve a huge amount of my time though.

Here is a bad request – and I see plenty of these. Someone sends me a list of 100+ Scott numbers. They want one copy each from my discount postage. They do not even compute the face value or the discount value.

I do not know of any dealers who sell discount postage by the individual Scott number. The customer has stuck me with the job of computing the face value and discount amount of each stamp on their list to get to the total. Did I forget to mention that since they did not total it, there is no check enclosed? I need to send the stamps to them and hope to see payment in return. Uh, no thanks. I get so many requests like this that I actually have a form letter saved on my computer. I mail it to them along with their original order form explaining why the order was not filled. I do not hear from those customers again. That is fine by me.

If you have a request you are not sure about, ask me. There may be times when I have to say, “Sorry, I cannot help.” For example, sometimes I do not have the stock you need. Many times though, your request will be perfectly OK and I will be glad to transact business with you. You will not be the subject of one of my future commentaries! I promise.