Fall of the Colossus : Following Up With Am-Hi-Co
I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, and the comments on the last post have only served as impetus to do this sooner, rather then later. We’re going to revisit Am-Hi-Co and see just how hard the once great behemoth has fallen. After all, they were operating under a similar model before they brought in the American team to run things, but there was a reason they brought in the American team: the model they were using was hemorrhaging money. Perhaps under the tutelage of the Americans, using the example they’d set, the previous team was able to at least maintain the momentum enough to keep ahead of trouble. Somehow, however, I doubt it. Old habits die hard, especially bad ones.
The first thing is first. Since that first mail bag way back when, we’ve seen indication that The Herbal Aroma Shop and Am-Hi-Co had a more than cordial relationship. It’s an obvious and readily available fact that the majority of Am-Hi-Co’s American shipments come from the same location in South Carolina that The Herbal Aroma Shop’s do. THAS’s phone number too, for a while, referenced Am-Hi-Co. Also, while it is unconfirmed, it seems at least some of the packaging takes place at the South Carolina facility as well, presumably by someone on the Herbal Aroma Shop staff. Notice too that The Herbal Aroma Shop is the only non-shill vendor I’ve come across consistently selling legitimate Am-Hi-Co legitimately.
There is obviously a relationship there. The extent of it is unclear, but it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the nature of what is going on. THAS provides a stateside base of operations covered by it’s own operation and handles all the details of the shipping and, possibly, preparation. In return, THAS gets an exclusive line on a popular line of products in a field where brand matters, and independent of THAS, Am-Hi-Co has a reputation as a great brand.
Or, at least, it did.
A meander over to the Am-Hi-Co pastures paints a picture of a place in well hidden shambles. On the surface, it looks like business as usual, but a closer look, really any look at all, and you see the trouble, and some troubling details. The first is what was alluded to by the comment left for me over the weekend. Pop on over to Buzz Wholesale and check out their legal section. No point your mouse toward Am-Hi-Co and hit up their legal section. Notice anything? It appears that Am-Hi-Co wholesale stole their legal section right off of Buzz Wholesale. They didn’t even bother to edit or change the thing, it’s 100% a copy/paste job.
A brief parsing of the broken English of the official posts in the forum reveals difficulty to the point that it is almost laughable. When half of your die hard fans are looking around wondering where the other half (and everyone else, for that matter) evaporated to, it should be a big clue that things aren’t going well. That, and losing the ability to accept credit cards for the forty thousandth time. Hell, for a week or two there, the only way to pay Am-Hi-Co was wire transfer to an offshore bank (they had even somehow lost the ability to do COD), which is a method usually reserved for deposed Nigerian royalty wanting to share their supposed wealth with you or the Swedish National Lottery that you won somehow without ever entering. As far as security and accountability goes, international wire transfers are right up there with suitcases full of cash traded in an abandoned warehouse. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that several perspective customers’ banks weren’t even capable of handling the transfer. At any rate, the inability to pay by credit card is the kiss of death when it comes to online retail, especially without a suitable backup in place. Apparently, they have been trying to sneak back in to Alert Pay, but they’ve been there before and I would be rather surprised if Alert Pay let them back in after Am-Hi-Co’s previous abuses of that system.
And how about the products? Well, there isn’t much new. There are the same old brands like Ivory Wave and Atomic Bomb and the newer counterparts like Bliss and Black Mamba, all in their most recent formulaic incarnations. Version 6, I think they’re on now. The quality seems on par with where they’ve been before, but of course this doesn’t matter if you can’t, you know, pay for the stuff. Even if you could, the forums are bursting with people who have been waiting on packages and shipments and updates for nearly a month.
So much as I expected. Between the legal entanglements that I’m sure must be closing in and catching up, what seems the be the return to poor customer service, and their inability to maintain even a semblance of an operating procedure, it is, as it has been, simply a matter of time before the giant falls for good. It may be a long fall, but it’s happening, and the crash will be resounding.