I’ve tried to like Rainbow sandals, I really have. Despite numerous problems with my first pair, I still wanted to try the hemp version instead of the standard leather version because it seems like they’d be more durable and comfortable. The leather ones crack easily and don’t hold up to moisture very well, which is unfortunate considering how much sweat my feet are capable of producing. I strolled over to Landmark Clothing on University today in search of the mythical hemp sandals, only to be severely disappointed.
Someone about my age greeted me when I walked in, and when he asked if there was anything he could help with, I told him I was looking for Rainbow sandals. He pointed over to a wall where approximately 15 pairs of various sandals (all Rainbow brand) were hanging. After looking over the selection and not finding what I wanted—it didn’t take long; there were only 15 pairs, after all—I asked if this was it or if other varieties were off hiding somewhere else.
About that time, an older man—clearly the owner or at least a manager of some kind—emerged from the back of the store and took charge of the situation. He informed me that they could order anything I wanted that wasn’t in stock.
“Great”, I said. “How long will that take?”
“Two weeks at minimum, but probably more like two and a half.”
“But I can order them online and they’d get here quicker and cost less”, I protested.
“Go ahead and order them online, then.”
“Thanks, I think I will. Have a nice day.”
And then I left. And just like that, Landmark Clothing lost a sale and a customer, because there’s no way I’m ever going back into that store again.
This is just one of many customer service stories I could tell—and do tell from time to time right here on this site. When did it become fashionable to treat customers (and potential customers) like crap? When did businesses become too good to accept my hard-earned cash that I willingly want to throw at them? When will small companies wake up and realize that they’re not just competing against other local shops, but against every vendor with a website?
Today, for the first time in my life, I was actually somewhat proud of my decision to go to business school. That feeling has since worn off (and it didn’t take very long, either), but the point remains: common-sense business practices might not be common sense to a lot of people trying to run a business. And if that’s the case, then things that aren’t common sense (e.g. marketing, accounting, operations management) must be way out in the ether somewhere.
Oh, and by the way, I did end up ordering the hemp Rainbows I was looking for. They should be here in about four days.