For most of my working life I have been my own boss. I guess that’s probably because I don’t seem to play well with others. One thing I always tried to do, and always preached to my employees, is that the customer comes first. If you treat your customers right and make them glad they did business with you, they will come back. And they will tell their family and friends to do business with you.
There were times that cost me money in the short term, but I found that it usually paid off down the road. But I wonder how companies that are much bigger than anything I ever ran manage to stay in business, because they darned sure don’t give a damn about the customer. Here are couple of examples.
We have been shopping for furniture for our new home. The other day we stopped at Ashley Furniture Gallery and Miss Terry found a nice recliner that she really liked. Both of us are short and our legs barely reach the ground when we’re standing up. So finding a chair or sofa that fits us comfortably can be difficult. But Terry said this one was just right for her. It was $450, plus tax. Okay, let’s buy it!
I told the salesman to write it up and we would take it with us. That’s when he informed me that they did not have it in stock, they only have floor models available to look at. When a customer buys anything, it has to come from a warehouse someplace else in the state. He said it would be here by Tuesday, which was fine with us. What wasn’t fine was when he added there was a $79 delivery charge. I told him no problem, we would just pick it up when it came to the store. He said we could do that, but we still had to pay the $79 delivery charge. Really? I don’t think so.
I asked to speak to the manager, and she confirmed that yes, there was a delivery charge on every item whether it was actually delivered, or if a customer picked it up in the store. She said that’s how they kept prices so low. No, you’re not keeping prices low, you are showing things at a bogus price that you then markup $79.
They also had a recliner I could live with, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was acceptable. I said I was interested in the second recliner, and she said that would be an extra $79 delivery charge. Again, that’s so they can keep prices “low.” I told her I was ready to purchase both recliners right then and pay for them, and I would take the floor models. Nope, they wouldn’t do that either. I had to wait for them to order both units and I had to pay a delivery charge on both of them. She smiled sweetly at me and said, “That’s the way we do business.”
Well lady, maybe it’s the way you do business, but it’s not the way I do! I came home, found the same recliner on Ashley’s website for $298, with $69 delivery and set up. So I ordered it and we even saved money! As for my recliner, I went to another store where they don’t play silly games, and made my purchase there.
But wait, there’s more! We wanted to buy a couple of TVs for the new house. Best Buy seems to have the biggest selection in the area, so that’s where we went earlier this week. You all know I’m not a techno-head, and I have no idea what an HD TV is, or a 4K TV, or a smart TV, or any of the new stuff they’re talking about. I expected I could find someone that worked there who could educate me. Instead, we stood around for over half an hour, in which time three different clerks said they would be right back to help us, and then disappeared never to be seen again. Finally, I nailed one of them and said I wanted to purchase two TVs right then and he turned away from me to greet another customer who had just walked up and started assisting him! We walked out.
After doing a little bit of research on TVs, I decided on what I wanted and then, against my better judgment, we went back to Best Buy yesterday. And this time a young man was very happy to help us. He was full of information. Well, he was full of something, anyway. He told us that the TVs I was interested in would not work, that we had to buy the new 4K TVs because Bright House cable, the local provider here, is switching all their programming to 4K after the first of the year. He that pretty soon any TVs that aren’t 4K would not work because they can’t receive the new programming. We asked him three times just to confirm it. If it’s not 4K, it’s going to be a boat anchor soon. Even though they have all kinds of smart TVs that are not 4K for sale, he assured us we would be wasting our money because they wouldn’t within a short time.
My BS alarm went off, so I made a couple of phone calls. One was to my go to guy, Greg White, who confirmed what I had already told Terry, there was no way any cable company was going to eliminate hundreds of thousands of customers just because they don’t have the newest and fanciest TV on the market. I also put a call in to my nephew Steve, who works for Bright House down in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Steve is a supervisor in charge of installations in that area. I told him I was shopping for TVs and what I had been told. I did not tell him where we were, but Steve immediately said, “You must be at Best Buy. Don’t go there!” Then he assured me that the regular smart TVs we were looking at were just fine, and would be for as long as I’ll be kicking around this earth.
So, we left the nice folks at Best Buy and went to Sam’s Club, where we bought the same two smart TVs we had seen at Best Buy and saved 250 bucks on the pair of them. I bet you can guess what two places we won’t be shopping at again anytime soon!
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Midwestern town in 1951.To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Support bacteria. They’re the only culture some people have.