Penny Wise

PiggyBankHaving started a business with only $5,000 I know first hand the importance of watching every penny. That being said, there is such a thing as being penny wise and pound foolish in many areas of business. I’ve recently had several such experiences.

While using a Liquid Paper dispenser to change entries on the paper calendar liquidpaperwe keep at home, I became frustrated when the 3rd dispenser suddenly quit working as had the other 2. These were all new, part of a multi-pack I had in my office supply cabinet. Irritated that they all broke almost immediately I went to the company’s website and filled out their on line comment form.

The response I got said all their products are guaranteed and if I would just return the broken ones with my receipt they’d be happy to replace them. This response just irritated me further. Certainly I keep receipts for electronics and larger purchases with a warranty, but what home consumer keeps receipts at the ready for tape, pens and Liquid Paper?

On top of that, a day or two had elapsed and the ones I had tossed in the trash were long gone.

The proper response would have been an apology and a coupon for a replacement package. After a tersely worded reply, they did in fact put a package in the mail but why make me jump through hoops?

Seriously, are there hoards of people filling out the complaint form on a daily basis to get a free Liquid Paper? Given how much is spent on packaging and advertising subsidies to office supply stores to get customers to purchase, isn’t this being penny wise and pound foolish?

CharmsI also have 3 pricey charms I’d bought from a home distributed costume jewelry company, Jewel Kade. The charms have a welded hoop to put a chain through that goes left to right, not front to back. That wasn’t obvious on the website when I purchased them as gifts and the problem is that it prevents the charm from hanging properly on a chain.

Upon closer inspection of the website photos I saw that each hung from the chain using a lobster clasp. Mine hadn’t come with these clasps and I didn’t see a way to purchase them separately in the catalog. So I emailed. Again, a penny wise, pound foolish response.

I was not thanked for my business but was told rather curtly that the clasps come withLobster clasp the chains, not the charms. I’d have to buy their chains, tie a ribbon to wear them or go to a craft store and buy something to make it work.

Really? A first time customer and the response is to basically tell the customer they were wrong in their purchase? How much could 3 lobster clasps possibly cost? Less than a dollar I suspect at their wholesale price. A company that includes them with every chain obviously has boxes of them on hand. Why not make them available on line for $1 with other purchases for customers who want to hang several charms on a single chain?

I would have been happy with a reply that they are $1.00 each, let me pay on line and put them in the mail.

Instead, I’m irritated that, with all there is to do this time of year I’m going to have to fight the traffic to go to a hobby store to try to find something that will make these pricey charms giftable. This company has spent a lot of money to produce a glossy, photo filled catalog and an equally impressive website to attract customers only to lose them over a solution that would cost them less than ONE DOLLAR. Does this make good business sense to anyone?

Christmas+Tree+Watering+System+with+Green+Box+DesignContrast those examples with the Ever-Green Christmas Tree Watering System I purchased at least a decade ago. When I got it out to use last year I noticed the hose had gotten moldy. I went on the website to look for a way to purchase a section of replacement tubing. Finding none, I emailed asking how I could get it.

The response? “Send me your address and I’ll mail it to you.” He didn’t tell me to go to a hardware store though certainly after all the years of use, I would have found that reasonable. I would have been okay if he’d just given me the proper diameter of the tubing to shop for.

Instead, it was more important to his BRAND that I continue to use it and that it not leak so he just sent me a small coil of the proper tubing in an envelope. I think I’ve given at least 6 of these as gifts and, as the kids start putting up trees in their own homes, I’ll be buying even more.

No one can afford to give away the store, I get that. But there is a cost-benefit analysis that needs to be done. You spend untold amounts in advertising, catalogs, brochures, websites – all to earn a customer. Isn’t it worth a fraction of that to keep them?

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2 Responses to “Penny Wise”

  1. Jack Oziel Says:

    Well Sunny, you taught me long ago to do what you can to make the customer happy. I’ve seen you give away free mattresses to customers because the services or product received were not up to the standard you promised your customers. That amounted to a lot more than just a couple of dollars. I helped you start the first Sleep Country store 22 years ago, still there today and use that same philosophy in dealing with customers today. There are times I feel a customer is expecting more than they should but for good customer relations I ask myself “How often is this going to happen.” Usually, the number of times I get this type of customer is rare so I satisfy the customer. Have a good day.


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