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[Archive Post] What's going on with Rio Grande?

Does anyone know of another company similar to Rio Grande but MORE
reasonably priced?

Sue Kapoor

Hi All,

We stopped at Rio last week on our way home from a show in Nevada.
Already aware of the telephone/computer/service issues, we thought we
might be able to quickly pick up a few things and avoid the telephone
order mess. No such luck. We ordered about 10 items costing a little
over $100.00. It took over an hour for the warehouse to pull the
order and when it finally came up front half of it was wrong. By the
time they finally got it right, we had been waiting a little over 2
hours. Approx. 5 or 6 other people also came in to pick up things
(nobody had any huge orders or large items) and I don’t believe
anyone had less than a 45 min. to 1 hour wait. In the meantime, John
Trujillo (front desk service rep) spent a great deal of time
flirting and paying attention to a female friend who had stopped in
rather than making any noticeable effort to expedite our orders or
perhaps assist the warehouse in getting the orders pulled. One
gentleman came in to return an item and John flatly told him it would
be at least 2 weeks before he could do any returns.

Several days later I called to place another order and was able to
get a service rep. on the line after a mere 30 minutes on hold. In
the meantime you are greeted with an excessively cheery voice telling
you how service is still not up to Rio’s standards but the new
computer system is working “beautifully!”. When I finally got a rep.
on the line and asked about the situation, she told me in 12 years of
working for Rio, she had never seen anything like this. She was
unaware that customers were being greeted with the "beautifully!"
msg. and actually told me she didn’t know why they would “lie” about

Rio clearly has a BIG problem on their hands and it I’m sure it is a
direct result of an incompetent software vendor. However, I think Rio
shares a lot of the responsibility for not insisting on real time
side by side testing before making the conversion, not dedicating a
team of service reps. to get fully up to speed on the new system and
not having adequate resources in place to deal with the customer
service issues if the system caused the kind of problems it has. It
was very disingenuous for their IT people to allow this to be
executed in the manner it has.

The other thing Rio needs to be taken to task for is not expanding
their service hours or taking/processing orders on weekends to try
and keep up with the delays created by their new system.

We received a customer service questionaire the other day. Are there
objections to including some of the experiences orchid members are

Best to all,

Mike Dibble
Carmon Deyo
Black Horse Design

I would like to offer a sincere apology to any who have been
inconvenienced by either our recent system conversion or our sharp
increase in business that has led to delays on the phone. Perhaps I
should take a moment to offer you a “state of the business” update,
so you’ll have it from the source what is going on, and what we are
doing about it. While we know that the changes we have made will
lead to better service for you, we certainly do not take for granted
your patience or your inconvenience during our transition.

We implemented our new computer system on July 8, and things ran
very slowly throughout that first week. By Monday, July 15 we were
nearly back to previous efficiencies. Getting behind significantly
during that first week made catch-up extremely difficult, and the
following two weeks involved a number of customer service issues
related to training, process fine-tuning, and technical adjustments
to the new system. Implementing a computer system for a large
organization is not just a technical change; it is true cultural and
adaptive change. Though extensive training had taken place prior to
implementation, we experienced all of the issues that are part of
such a massive transition.

We had planned the implementation to take place just following the
4th of July holiday, traditionally a slow time, because we wanted to
mitigate the customer impact as much as possible. However, our
telephone hold times began building throughout June, and the demand
has continued to increase dramatically. Hold times have been far too
long, and our phone lines are frequently busy. We apologize for the
inconvenience you have experienced while waiting for service from us.
As of Monday, August 5, we have started rolling our new training
classes into our customer center, and by the end of August we will
have nearly doubled the number of customer service representatives;
soon you will have a far more satisfactory experience when ordering
from us.

Though change is always difficult, and this one has certainly been
challenging, we are excited about the capabilities of our new
technology and the opportunities to improve services to you in the
future. There are a number of services our customers have asked for
over the years that our previous systems would not accommodate.
We’ll soon have our service levels back up to your expectations, and
then we’ll start focusing on additional improvements. We sincerely
appreciate your patience with us during these changes, and we will
return your loyalty by investing ourselves wholeheartedly in
providing you with the service, products, and you expect
to make your business the most profitable business it can be.

Andrea Hill
The Bell Group/Rio Grande

I called Rio on Thursday and was on hold for about 20 minutes before
getting a rep. She was very nice and sounded like she was still
learning the new system. The order process only took about 10 minutes
if that. Now here is where my problem comes in. UPS they have for the
third time delivered my order from 2 different vendors to obvious
wrong addresses.

How you mistake an address I haven’t a clue. After I am sure it is
very easy to confuse the number 8 with any numeral between 0 and 9.
Please someone tell me how one can confuse an office building in an
"OFFICE PARK" with a garage studio???

Thank goodness both orders were less than $50 and the rep at Rio
handled everything well. She said she would call UPS then call back.
She did so within 10 minutes and resent my order.

So for me Rio seems to be getting better however I am done with UPS
all together. The last 3 mistakes were not the only mistakes done.
Those were within the last 4 months. If anyone has any suggestions
please let me know.


Thanks for the explanation Andrea, however it doesn’t substitute for
good service. There is no possible reason or explanation for the
number of customers who have been seriously inconvenienced over the
past several months by Rio Grande - I am only one and I’ve had it. I
suggest that your company send ALL CUSTOMERS the customer service
questionnaire - I’m sure many of us (whom I feel confident you want
to keep as customers) have important feedback for you. Rio Grande
needs to go a long way to rebuild customer goodwill and confidence -
answering the phone in a timely way is just the beginning.

Maja / Maja Designs

        Does anyone know of another company similar to Rio Grande
but MORE     reasonably priced? 

As an ex lapidary and tool store, I can tell you that all of the tool
retailers are working with a very low markup. There will be little
difference between Rio Grande and your local Rock Shop when it comes
to tools. The later may have a little longer delivery time, but not
by much. The local will appreciate your business while Rio Grande
and others think that they are giving you the privilege of shopping
there. The local might not have the source for some of the Hi-tech
equipment offered by the big catalog stores, but for 99% of your
requirements, they can fill your needs, sometimes at a lower price
than the “Big Guys”.

Just a little food for thought.

Don Rogers

I tried calling Rio Grande yesterday on their order line and got an
all circuits busy message, same with their 800 fax line. I finally
faxed their local fax line. Ordering is certainly not as easy as it
was a couple months ago. Rick Hamilton

I have been dealing with Rio for 9 years and have been very
satisfied with their service. If I start a new Silver technique or
new design, even if I have carefully read and prepared for it ,I have
all kinds of problems.We should have patience. I am sure they will
make service better than before. Not connected with Rio in any way.
–Bill from L.I.

Hello Andrea - Since, we are all in your data base - have you
considered sending a letter to all of your customers regarding this
change and what to expect in the way delays or potential delays?
I’ve been spared, because I haven’t needed to make a purchase
recently, but the frustration on our end would be that in planning
the timing of our orders - we would be expecting the same prompt
service that Rio has always provided and, instead, would be
encountering major delays or problems. There have been several times
when I needed a product on short notice - be it for a special order
or because of poor planning on my part. I would then be forewarned
to possibly choose another company for that specific order.
Personally, I wouldn’t turn away from a company, like Rio Grande,
that has served me well for many years - but, we do have our own
deadlines to meet! btw - I have always appreciated Rio’s generous
return policy and also, your willingness to solve problems that come

    There are a number of services our customers have asked for
over the years that our previous systems would not accommodate. 

What types of services are you referring to - internet ordering?
You have kindled my curiousity.

Thanks ahead, Cynthia

How about Fed Ex? Or (sigh!) the well-known entity called by most
(with excellent reason), “snail mail”.


Dear Maja, I agree completely. I thought an offer of was
the best I could do in the current forum. Our folks are working
night and day to improve service, and we are training new associates
as quickly as possible. I genuinely do not know how to explain the
tripling in our order volume that started in late May and built to a
crescendo in July. We did not change anything in our marketing or
advertising, and the economy does not support such growth. We were
truly caught unaware.

If you wish to fill out the customer service questionnaire, you are
more than welcome to do so. Your thoughts offered on e-mail are also
a very important contribution to our knowledge about customer
experiences, and are taken as seriously as the customer service
assessments. Though I did consider your suggestion, I am not
inclined to send the customer service assessment to everyone on
Orchid. I think that takes advantage of a non-commercial forum for
one thing – though myself and others from Rio read the threads
constantly, we try very hard not to commercialize the experience.
For another, I have received dozens of responses to that e-mail from
customers and non-customers alike, and we are making good use of
that feedback. When others, like yourself, are interested in doing
the survey, it is offered to them as well.

I honestly think the best that we can do is to demonstrate
improvements, and we are committed to that. In the meantime, if
there is anything I can do to assist you with your service, I will be
happy to do so. I will also drop a customer satisfaction survey in
the mail to you, if you don’t mind giving me your mailing address.
Thanks again for your feedback.

Sincerely, Andrea Hill Director The Bell Group

i have been using Rio grande almost exclusively for close to 10 years
for most silver findings, etc. i use them becaause the sales reps
are super friendly and the service is excellent. not because the
prices are the chepeast! i feel that it is important to have some
customer loyalty…i would hope that when i have rough times in my
business that my customers would not totally give up on me! i
understand this is a dog-eat-dog world, but rio’s problems have not
been going on that long in the big picture, and they are seriously
trying hard to fix them. so…i suggest being patient and
understanding, even though it is a big company. remember that they
have always provided us all with excellent service in the past.
they will figure it out! i undertsand it is very frustrating, as i
too have had an order shipped out late, much to my dismay. but i,
for one, am willing to hang in there, just because i am a loyal
customer. i’m personally am kind of surprised at the anger i hear in
some of these letters. joanna gollberg

You will all be happy to hear that I phoned them this morning and
gave up again. Even all circuits busy to deal with. However - after
lunch I tried again. ** A whole new world. Message gave wait time
of 30 min. but then said so that not to lose your place in line you
could press 1 to have an agent call you back. It confirmed my phone
number automatically and then asked my name and customer number.
Sure enough, in almost exactly 30 minutes a most charming and smiling
agent took my order promptly and efficiently and it was a very nice
experience. That is a very fine “Save” on Rio’s part, and the long
apology recording was gone as well. Thought I’d give you all
hope. Do try again.

Pat Hicks