Frequently Asked Questions About Doing Business With Us
|Damaged Shipments||Foreign Orders||Sales Tax|
Who are you guys anyway? We've been in business since 1977 at the same location. We've lived here all our lives. Unlike big box retailers, we do know a great deal about the products we handle. So much so it is not uncommon for us to talk people out of ordering stuff that won't work for them. Your orders with us are handled personally which is one reason we do not use a shopping cart program. We have been able to fix a lot of mistakes before they happen because of the personal attention we can give to each order. I personally enter each order.
Call us and a live person answers. I hate those endless robot phone loops where you punch this and hit that and never get anywhere. If you catch us at a real busy moment we may ask to get a number so we can call you back rather than have you wait on hold. We will call you back.
Walk into our shop and you are waited on personally like in an old fashioned store from a couple generations ago. I always feel like Sam Drucker from the old Green Acres TV show. You can walk into our shop and buy one screw.
Can't make it to our shop during our hours? If we don't have to be somewhere we will stay a little late for you. Tell us what would work.
We do business the old fashioned way; We return phone calls. We count back change. I can't stand it when a clerk just hands you a wad of bills and coins and you are just supposed to get lost without knowing if your change is correct. Do clerks even know how to count back change anymore? We do.
I respond to appropriate e mail. If you did not get a response, we did not get your e mail. Or your e mail was inappropriate. The owner of this business personally answers the e-mail. Another one of my pet peeves is companies that do not respond to e mail. I find most do not even bother. REMEMBER, email is fairly unreliable. Just because you sent it and it did not bounce back, it does not necessarily mean that it got here.
Al Cavalari, Prop
It is simple. We do not sell or rent your personal information to other companies. We only call you if we have a question about your order or if a piece of mail we sent to you comes back. Now and then I will call someone to follow up on something in which they had expressed an interest, or if some special deal comes along. Now a days, I am reluctant to provide even that service because of the Do Not Call list. Anyway, we sure don't solicit customers, or do what we all know as telemarketing.
SECURE ORDER FORM: We do NOT have one. We prefer to handle each order personally so we do not engage in e-commerce. We do not have an on-line ordering system. WE DO NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARD INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET. DO NOT EMAIL US CREDIT CARD INFORMATION EITHER IN AN EMAIL OR AS AN ATTACHMENT. E-mail is not secure. I will not accept credit card information sent to us on the internet. If you email me credit card information I will delete it. We have an order form on-line that needs to be printed out and faxed or mailed in. We take orders on the phone, via fax or US mail. Or just walk into our shop. Sorry, I know these ordering methods are a drag for those of you who like to use shopping carts on the internet.
One of my customers coined a great term about how we operate: "Old fashioned high tech." It is a kind of combo situation.
To assure correct communication, please no verbal orders over $600. Over $600 please fax or mail in our order form.
1. RETURNS: Returns require a return authorization number. There is a 15% restocking charge on returnable items. We'll happily take back brand new items returned to us post paid within 30 days of our ship date for exchange, refund or credit minus a 15% restocking charge. Your invoice must accompany your return. A note explaining your reason would help us serve you better. Shipping/handling charges are not refundable. Not all items are returnable.
Some special exceptions: Some items are NOT returnable
1) Due to our low prices, we can not accept returns, exchanges or refunds on anything purchased at a quantity discount or which may be labeled "clearance" or "closeout." Please don't buy a thousand items at a greatly reduced price and then want to return them. Not sure of what you want? Please buy just one and check it out. Dozen or gross prices constitute quantity discounts.
2) Flags 8x12' and larger are NOT returnable: CHECK YOUR SIZE before ordering.
3) Custom work and flagpoles, guidon staffs, guidon poles, kits of all types are not returnable, money paid on them are not refundable. If these have a manufacturing defect we will fix or replace at our option.
4) Halyard (rope) is not returnable
5) Stick flags, desk flags, flag kits, hardware kits, sets, flags mounted on a staff, stick or pole are not returnable.
If after using a product you believe it to be defective, please call or write. We are very serious about your satisfaction with us. You work hard for your money and we want you to feel that you received excellent value for it.
2.DEADLINES: Let us help! Please make your event dates know UP FRONT. Orders in stock usually ship within 1 working day. Even out of stock items usually ship within 6-15 working days. If you have a deadline ORDER WITH US BY PHONE AND CREDIT CARD ONLY to determine if the products you need can be supplied in a timely manner. Do not assume items are in stock or that they can ship the same day you call. Your event dates are very safe in our hands because we are very specific and never promise anything we can't deliver. REMEMBER, WE CAN'T HELP YOU WITH YOUR EVENT DATE IF WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT OR IF WE DON'T GET YOUR ORDER IN TIME! We fundamentally ship using the USPS and UPS ground at our discretion depending on the items being shipped and the destination. Allow for time in transit.
3. DAMAGED SHIPMENTS: Merchandise confirmed lost or damaged will be paid for by the carrier - not you. If your order should arrive damaged, we want to help. Be sure to note directly on the carrier's receipt any damage to the carton. Save it and all packing material for inspection by the carrier. If you accept visibly damaged shipments or opened cartons and fail to note this, your ability to receive credit will be compromised.
4. CHECKS: We accept checks under the terms that the issuer agrees to pay a $20 fee on any check returned to us for ANY reason. Checks with unreadable signatures or lacking pre-printed addresses will delay orders. Checks used in our shop need to have a pre printed NY state address with NY drivers license. No checks in shop over $300. Mail order checks may be held for clearance before shipping but they may be from anywhere.
5. FOREIGN ORDERS: Payments by Visa, MasterCard or international money order in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank only please. Any shipping/handling fees we quote do not include any customs fees, brokerage fees taxes or any other fees imposed on the other end by the foreign government. All such additional costs are the sole responsibility of the purchaser and we have no idea what they are.
CANADA: We can ship using UPS ground. Contact us for a quote by telling us what you want to order and giving us the shipping address.
For any other countries, we will no longer ship to foreign address using the mail. Sorry. Here is the story about shipping to foreign addresses and why we won't use the mail anymore: We will only ship using FedX which however makes it too expensive to ship inexpensive merchandise. The shipping cost is far too much compared to the cost of the merchandise. It is so expensive that it is not worth working up the cost to ship inexpensive items because no one will do it. It is only worth it to ship more costly items.
Now you might ask, "But hey Al, why won't you use the mail which is way cheaper?" The answer is "experience." Here is what we have experienced. Sure, almost always the mail gets it anywhere in the world reliably and fairly quickly for what it costs. That is fine if the customer is part of the "almost always." But if your package is just not showing up and it is a couple weeks overdue, then we have a problem we can not solve. We do not even have the tools to solve it. We can not provide you with the answers and the service you deserve. I do not like that stain on our reputation. All we can tell you is "well, it's the mail. All you can do is wait."
Sure, we send it insured and we get an insurance number that
some day can be used to file a claim. Will you be willing to wait for
that "some day?" Read on. The problem is, that number is not the
same as a tracking number like you get with FedX. The Post Office can not use
that number to instantly tell you where your package is like FedX or UPS can.
The Post Office can not use that number to identify where the package is and
then get it back on track. The Post Office will tell us they will NOT EVEN DO
AN INVESTIGATION OR ENTERTAIN A CLAIM UNTIL IT HAS BEEN 41 DAYS SINCE WE
MAILED THE PACKAGE! Then once a claim is started, they have 30 days or 90 days
or some giant number of days to respond. It is not all their fault, Once the
US Postal Service hands the package over to the post office of another
country, it is out of its hands. They will tell us there are international
postal treaties that bind them and that is how many days they need to do the
So there we stand. We have the customer's money and we are honorably bound to provide him with his product. Yet we can't reship the order until the Post Office has admitted the item is definitely lost and will be paid under the insurance claim. Getting that confirmation will take 70-130 days from the date we mailed it. We can't just go ahead and refund the order before a claim is paid because the package could show up weeks after we refund it. There is just no good solution because now a days no consumer would stand for hearing that they will get their refund in 41 days plus 30-90 days. The consumer would just complain to the credit card company who would charge back the purchase. Meanwhile, the product is still out there and will very likely ultimately show up some day at its destination.
The short answer as to why we won't ship to foreign addresses using the mail is that I won't be put in the position of not being able to provide the service our customers would expect. Using FedX does not put us in that position.
CUSTOMS: Keep in mind that, even with FedX, your own country's customs service is the big wild card! FedX can tell us when your shipment has reached customs. Only your government can tell you how long it will take to clear customs.
6. SALES TAX:Sales tax is a whole can of worms.
The simple part is this:
We only collect sales tax for things purchased in our shop or for orders we deliver within New York State.
After that, it can get complicated unless everyone follows the rules.
We must collect your local NY State sales tax on the amount in the "Sub-total #2" box on our order form. There is no tax on USA and New York State flags and flag kits. Exempt organizations must have form ST119.1 properly completed and on file with us before we will exempt the transaction from tax. A tax number alone does not satisfy the law and makes us liable for penalties unless we collect the tax. You are not allowed to just say "we are tax exempt." Please remember there is a difference between a FEDERAL tax exempt number and a NEW YORK STATE SALES TAX exempt number. Combined shipping and handling are taxable . . . sorry, we checked with NY State. Everything we tell you about sales tax is based on decades of research. Everything we tell you can be checked out for yourself with NY State. We understand other businesses do not properly collect sales tax. We know you've "been doing it that way for twenty years." None the less, everything we tell you about sales tax is in writing from NY State. I can show it to you.
Here is their web site: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Sorry, I do know more about sales tax than national chains who issue the phony sales tax exempt ID cards customers have shown me. I also unfortunately know more about sales tax even than some accountants, school district business managers, town clerks, and mayors. I understand your mayor said that your garden club could use the village's tax exempt status. Sorry, but your mayor is wrong. Sometimes I wish I did not know so much about sales tax because people get mad at us when we tell them that their mayor or business manager or fire company treasurer is wrong. After all, in the eyes of the customer, who knows more about sales tax? The official saying it does not have to be paid, or The Flag Guys saying it must be collected? However, if you think I am wrong about sales tax, please show me why the information I am showing you in writing from NY State is incorrect. After all, the information is in their words, not mine. Please just don't say "everyone else does it that way." Sorry, but "everyone else" can be wrong. It can happen. Don't believe me? Call up the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, give them your name and address and tell them why you have not been paying sales tax for twenty years. I bet they will be very interested in hearing from you.
Here is their web site: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
We simply have no lee way on sales tax. We can not bend or break the rules to be good guys just because you will "take your business elsewhere." We can not "forget the sales tax if you pay us in cash." We have lost thousands of dollars in my career for refusing to waive sales tax. We follow the rules no matter how many other businesses do not. Remember, we do NOT charge sales tax. We only collect it. The State of NY charges sales tax. Please contact your state legislators about that one.And check out this cool story
Here are some of the most common mistakes regarding sales tax:
Remember, the ST119 certificate is for you. BUT the ST119.1 form is for us.
1) Having a proper ST119.1 form but trying to use a personal check or personal credit card. NY State does not allow that practice even if you will be "paid back later" by funds from the exempt organization. If you use a check or credit card they have to be from the organization as named on your form.
2) Having an ST119.1 form that has been filled out with your FEDERAL ID number. This is probably the single most common misconception we encounter. You see, the ST119.1 form we are required to collect from you is blank when you get it from NY State. Organizations fill them out themselves. A perhaps well meaning volunteer fills one out ages ago with a federal number and members use it all over town to make purchases without paying sales tax. A federal number on a state form simply does not comply. Remember, The Federal Government and The New York State government are two distinct and separate taxing authorities. We can not accept a state form with a federal number. If we do and later show it to The State, we have a big problem.
So there the customer stands in our shop with a document that appears to have come from NY State and we have tell him it is invalid. But remember, that document started out in life as a BLANK form. Sure, it has the NY State letterhead and logo and all of that on it. But the INFORMATION someone filled in there is non compliant. You could fill your high school locker combination in there where the EX number is supposed to go but that does not make it compliant! Think of all those tax forms you can get at any post office. You can fill them in with all kinds of numbers, but that does not make for a valid tax return.
The customer knows they have been using such a form "for twenty years." He knows "all the other businesses take them." He knows " _______________ (fill in the blank with the name of some giant national retail store) takes it." He knows "that is the form his fire company president or treasurer gave him." All those things may be true. But all those things only mean that if a NY State Sales Tax auditor sees that form somebody has problem. The merchant who accepted the form certainly has a problem. The problem for the merchant is paying the original tax due with interest plus a fine! The organization who gave it can also have a big problem. Misuse of a tax exempt status can result in a tax exempt status being revoked! It says so right on the document. I would also not want to be the person who signed that non compliant form.
The good news is that, if you are an exempt organization, all you have to do is just look on your ST119 certificate issued to you by NY State.
Your EX number is on that certificate. Then get the ST119.1 form from NY State. We do do not have access to that form. That is the form you need to fill out and give to us. You can not just give us a copy of your ST119 certificate. The ST119 certificate is for you. The ST119.1 form is for us. Even if you stand there in my shop with a valid ST119 certificate I can not accept it. NY State requires that I have on file for it to see upon demand your ST119.1 with its affidavit statement.
Don't have an ST119 certificate? Then your organization may not even have ever applied for the status of a sales tax exempt organization. Yup, I have also seen that situation. If you do have that status, then you were issued an ST119. Remember, just because you are a 501(3)c corporation for Federal Tax purposes, it does not mean that you ever got the status of an exempt organization for NY State Sales Tax purposes. Those are two very different things.
We often ask people using a federal number on a state form to simply show us their state issued ST119 certificate. No one ever has.
3) Thinking a purchase is tax exempt based on who will be using the item. Just because your organization is buying something "for the school" does not exempt the sale from tax. What matters in the eyes of The State is the concept of "the payer of record." If you buy a widget for your school and pay with your funds, you are the payer of record and the sale is taxable unless you document its tax exempt status in a compliant manner. I heard it put so well one time during one of my many research inquiries with a NY State Sales Tax specialist. He said, "the school district is tax exempt. The people in the district are taxable." If your booster club or parent organization buys a banner for the school football team, The State requires that you document your organization's tax exempt status by using an ST119.1 form and paying with your organization's funds. If the school district issues a purchase order and buys the banner for the football team, the sale is not subject to sales tax. The school district is in that case the "payer of record." The school district is not taxable. You are.
This is a really good story: About twenty years ago a New York State Legislator was in my shop to buy a taxable item for his church. He was NOT from our local legislative district so don't try to figure out who it was! Anyway I added the sales tax. "But it is for the church!". I explained everything. "But it is for the church.!!!!" I explained everything again. "But it is for the church.!!!!" he screamed as he slammed something down on my counter and stormed out the door never to be heard from again. See what I mean about all the business we've lost by sticking to the rules. You can bet he told lots of people how rotten we are and how we gave him a "hard time." After all, "all the other businesses....." Oh well, there just is no hope. If the guy who makes the laws won't follow the laws....
Sir, if you are still out there, here is the link: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
We reserve the right to correct typos.
Product availability and pricing are subject to change
The Flag Guys reserves the right to limit quantities of any offered product, and the right to decline acceptance of any offer to purchase without incurring liability of any kind.
We may refuse to ship orders to vague or incomplete addresses.
Address Correction Fees
We are very accurate in shipping to the address you give us. When you leave out address information such as building number, suite number, part of the street name, or when you give the wrong zip code, wrong town , wrong street , or otherwise give an incorrect address, UPS will charge an ADDRESS CORRECTION FEE on EACH carton in the shipment rather than return the shipment. This fee is a minimum of $12 per carton and is even more with air shipments. Any such address correction fees are the responsibility of the purchaser and will be charged to your credit card.
We may add $12 per carton to our normal shipping/handling charges for orders shipping to incomplete or non-existent street addresses.