Welcome To A New Generation Where Customers Aren’t Always Right

Welcome To A New Generation Where Customers Aren’t Always Right

From being in the product and service selling space for quite a while now and that fact that it comes hand to hand with customer service I’ve noticed that things have been changing in the market.

Things aren’t like they were 5-10 years ago.  “Customers are always right,” used to be a popular slogan used by every brand.  This isn’t the case anymore, especially for new and upcoming brands.  The tradition of “customers are always” right is no longer king, some customers can be wrong.

Year by year there is an increase of buyers finding more ways to game the system, either by legal loopholes or anonymous fraud.  This type of behavior is changing the way new companies’ setup their policies, and are cracking down on customers who are in the wrong.

I’m all for customer satisfaction, ensuring that the customer is happy with the purchase so that they’ll pass on word of mouth and generate more sales and become repeat business.  This is the goal of every profitable company.  But where do you draw the line?  And at what cost?

Examples where customers aren’t always right.

I was in a restaurant a while back and a customer was making a big scene trying to get her money back for the food because she didn’t like it.  The customer in my opinion was in the wrong.  You see, the customer ate the whole meal.  Instead of taking one or two bites and letting someone know the food wasn’t good to either get a replacement or a refund at that time, the customer chose to eat everything first.  In the end the customer did not get a refund.

Someone who I mentored in the past ran an online ecommerce company that sold various furniture in Canada.  Their shop sold a nice teak table and shipped it to the customer.  About a week later, the customer wanted their money back.  The customer didn’t like the colour red.   Why was it red? Well the customer went out and bought a can of paint, painted the table red, and didn’t like the table anymore after he/she painted it.  As insane as that sounds, the shop refused to refund.  I mean, how can you possibly get a refund after you’ve painted it?!  In the end, the customer left negative reviews on the shops site, and he/she had all her friends leave negative reviews as well forcing the shop to disable reviews.

This last one happened to me on one of the shops I used to run.  I sold a customer a high end gaming video card, probably around $800.  Not trump change at the time, that was a big sale for a single item.  About two days after the customer emailed in, very aggressively.  Wanted a refund or exchange, there was a problem.  For us, no problem, we can certainly help the customer out and get everything fixed.  As an authorized seller of that brands products, they come will full warranties and guaranties.  This should have been a simple ship back, we ship a new one, and reimburse any costs that buyer was out of pocket to make things right, maybe toss in a mouse pad for free when sending back.  Turns out not so much.  The item that was sent back wasn’t the one that was sold by us.  It was the exact product, but the serial number didn’t come from us.  With help from the local distributor that we get the product from as an authorized seller, we traced it back to originally being sold by NCIX, buyer tried to switch the products.  In the end the buyer gave up trying and he paid shipping to get his swap-product back.  I’m sure it was just a ‘mistake’ that the buyer got the two confused.

Drawing the line.

With people trying to constantly push the line of what they can do to get a product for free, it can be a tough call.  I’ve had the chance to sit down with groups of people who on a daily basis utilize loopholes to buy a product, keep the product, and get their money refunded on it.  The general reasoning is that because the company they bought from didn’t have policies to protect themselves, then it’s okay.  Then the buyers would tell their friends, who would use the same tactics.

One individual expressed that he was entitled, if the company couldn’t provide fast AAA grade service, the product should be free and he shouldn’t have to return it.  He mentioned that’s how he got his xbox 360, his new tv, and over $5,000 worth of other products in the last couple years.  All for free.  Paypal, being buyer-favored for buyer-protection is one the easy ways to accomplish this.  The other is to buy from international sites where shipping takes a long time and take a gamble that the item won’t arrive in a timely manner where the site forces the seller to refund even if the product is still in-transit.

As a seller of products & services – I draw the line at scammers.  My opinion of a scammer is someone who tries to get a product and get their money back while keeping the product by looking for any type of loophole.  If any of the companies I work with have made a mistake, they’re going to make it right so that the customer is satisfied.  Scammers stick out and are usually very noticeable when they first make contact after the item’s been shipped out to them.

What customers expect.

Customers should expect to get the product that they paid for, and in the timeframe that the seller detailed when the customer bought it.

Nowadays, this isn’t the case anymore.  As large companies spoil customers with same-day processing and next-day delivery for free, customers start to expect this from everyone.  Even the little guys who take 2-3 days to process and use a slower, cheaper shipping method that may take a week to arrive.

If the seller makes a mistake, the customer should expect the seller to fix it to what is reasonable.  But in my opinion (this varies on the situation) it doesn’t always mean that the seller should refund the buyer, and let the buyer keep the item, and while they’re at it the seller should send a free gift to the buyer for their inconvenience.

More and more buyers are now starting to think this way and are getting higher expectations for sellers.  This can lead to a customer having a bad experience with you just because you don’t operate on the same level as a bigger player.

How to prevent being taken advantage of.

The number one thing is great customer service, right out of the gate.  From the time the buyer finds your product or service, to when they get it, customer service is key.

Well written and clear policies are important, make them fair for both you and your customers.  Make sure your customers know if you’ve made a mistake during servicing them, you’ll fix it, make them happy.

Always have your customers return an item before getting a refund, (and if you made the mistake, you should probably reimburse shipping after.)

Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes, understand what they are going through, understand how it feels to have had a bad experience buying something and thinking it’s not as they thought it was when they first bought it.  Use information and give the best customer service possible.  Try to get to solutions as soon as possible to ensure customers are happy sooner.

At what cost is it worth to you?

The important thing is at what cost will standing firm against a customer who is in the wrong cost you?  What cost in money?  And what cost to your reputation?

If we’re talking a small sale, it may be better just to give in to the buyer, let them have the product and give them a refund.  But how does this help?  It helps your brand, in that moment avoid getting negative feedback, but it doesn’t help the overall picture of what’s wrong with whole thing.

If you stand firm against a buyer who clearly is in the wrong, you open yourself up to getting a negative review.  This can be both beneficial or hurtful to your brand.  It’s a gamble.

When you get a negative review on your brand, comment back/reply to it, be completely honest.  Diffuse the situation and offer additional assistance for the buyer to reach out to you.  Show others who will read that later on that you’ve made an effort.  Show others that perhaps this review was unjust, that perhaps the buyer was in the wrong.  But do it tactful and elegantly, and thank the buyer for being a valued customer and move on from it.

Stand up to the values of your brand, don’t give in to bullies, and don’t allow customers to be aggressively rude to your staff and customer support team.  Help and solve issues when you can to ensure that customer had a great experience with you, but know when it’s a losing battle.

There will always, always be that one customer where no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to satisfy them.

Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoy all the blog materials i have to offer.

Damien Defranco
Founder & Chairman of the Board
Defranco Enterprises Inc & Defranco Enterprises LLC

Follow me on:


Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>