Customer Disservice 101

or “How to Lose My Business Permanently”

There are two bead supply stores in this area, Ornamentea, located in Raleigh, and The Original Ornament, located in Chapel Hill. In the past, I’ve shopped at whichever one was more convenient (given that neither of them are terribly convenient to start), based on other activites like going to Raleigh for dinner.

Both stores have a “Frequent Flyer” card… buy $X of beads and get $Y’s worth free. My first problem with The Original Ornament happened about a year ago when they changed their policies about the FF card midstream. When I signed up, it was buy $200 (or maybe $150?) get $20 free, I think. Well, one day I walked in and they had changed the program to Buy $250 and get $20 free. Though they were willing to apply my punches from my old card to the new one, this still really bothered me since (IMHO) they should have honored the program I’d signed up for — and upon which my previous purchases had been based. IOW, part of the reason I’d spent the money with them was due to the rewards program and to change it midsteam was, in effect, breaking a contract with me.

What they should’ve done is honored existing cards at the terms under which they were started, but created any new cards under the new system. This would have been fair to the customers, while respecting their needs to change their business model over time. (As an aside, I know that legally they can do anything they want, as I’m sure the fine print said something about program details changing at any time, etc. etc. However, this does not make it the right thing to do, nor a good one from a customer satisfaction POV.)

The next problem (and, as it turns out, final one, as I won’t be shopping with them again) came yesterday when I attempted to buy more beads (always, but always room for more beads!). I had my purchases picked out when I realized that I didn’t have the actual card with me. I didn’t figure this would be a problem as most places with FF programs will just start you a new card then combine them when you find the old one (just like airlinees will merge multiple FF accounts). I asked the fellow at the desk if that would be OK and he said that No, they wouldn’t do that.

At this point I figured I’d run into “Policy” and I didn’t blame him for giving whatever answer was in the employee handbook. So I asked the manager the same question, having explained the situation, and she said “No” too.

Ok, you obviously don’t need my business. And I put back all the beads and clasps and wire and left.

I’m considering sending them their card (which I’ve now located) in the mail along with a nice note. Would that be too mean?

6 thoughts on “Customer Disservice 101

    • Prissy is a good word for this. C’mon, you want incentive for people to come back and spend, but then make that process a pain in the ass? Stooopid.
      I say send back the card with note – reinforces your point.


  1. Would that be too mean?
    Not at all. As long as you’re not nasty to/at them — which I’m sure you wouldn’t be — IMHO, a note explaining why they lost your business would be a Good Thing. That lets them know that their current way of doing business does not meet your needs or expectations and that because you have a choice you have chosen not to do business with them. Might have absolutely no effect — certainly, it won’t help you, personally — but it might improve someone else’s experience in the future.


  2. Wow, you put the beads back? I’d have left them at the register, said “no thanks, decided against this purchase”.
    And also the sending back the card with the letter is a perfectly reasonable idea. As well as perhaps mentioning however many previous cards you’ve gone though (if any).
    Buggers of unripe melons.


  3. a wee bit vindicated
    Ok, thanks for the response… knowing that some people I respect think I wasn’t way outta line by being upset helps a great deal. I think I will send them the card with a note explaining why I’m returning it. I imagine it’ll cause some eye-rolling and “Whatever”s, as the owner of the store seems to be a bit arrogant (and why wouldn’t she be? jewlery making is “hot” and she’s the only supplier in a 30 mile radius… sigh), but that’s ok, I’ll have made my point!
    (PS — Hi Brandy! How in heaven’s name did you find me? I’ve been reading your web/art page for eons!)


    • Hiya!
      I think you musta linked to me eons ago and you were in my web stats. :) I’ve got very good stats and I pour over them sometimes. It can be ego bruising or stroking.
      I bet you’ll get eye-rolls, but it’s still worth doing. Better to have a tree fall unheard in the woods than to have no tree fall at all.


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