Lighting Store in the Dark About True Cost of Arcane Policies
I recently went to get my hair cut at one of the most Mayberry-like barber shops you’ve ever seen. It’s the Facebook of the 1950s, stuck in time, the chairs are original. The smiles are authentic. Conversations filled the air. It was a pretty day, and the place was busy.
A person I know well was there with her child, and was talking about how she recently bought a lighting fixture . Once it was up, she didn’t like it. It just didn’t look right when they held it up in it’s proposed location. She it back to the store in original condition. That’s when the trouble started.
The store proceeded to charge her a restocking charge of 20%. They fought with her, for 20 minutes, over approximately $40. She put up a fight and eventually the store gave in. The store’s manager told her “We’re doing it this time, but next time we can’t.” I hate to break it to him, but there will not be a next time.
But it gets worse, Mr. Manager. Much much worse.
I can see the manager’s thought process as he does quick single-customer break-even analysis: “It’s going to cost us $xx.xx to take this back and resell it. We need to get that money out of this person before they leave the room or we end up losing money.” Lifetime value probably didn’t cross their mind. Emotional impact of the argument didn’t, nor did effects of pissing off a social butterfly.
But that’s exactly what happened. You see, I’ve been to this customer’s house. It’s lovingly restored and she takes great pride in it. She host get-togethers all the time in the form of bridge games to book clubs to dinner parties where conversations often end in the request of a tour of her 1920s house. The new lighting fixture would have entered those conversations – to the 20+ people who would have seen it in her home, as well as the 8 or so listening in at the barber shop. Her authentic voice carries well.
If she was a habitual buy-and-try customer, the store might have to put their foot down. But she was a first-timer with lots of friends. The lighting store blew it.
Bottom line: the $40 restocking fee fight probably cost that company $1000+ in lifetime value and $10000 or more in PR damage.
What they should have done:
“Mrs. Smith, we’re sorry that this didn’t work out – I will be giving you 110% of your purchase price to help cover some of the trouble. All I ask is that you consider our store for your next purchase (hand her a fresh catalog) and that perhaps you tell a few friends about our company. Would you like to go through some alternatives to the fixture that didn’t work out? Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your house.”
Enter Rejuvenation Lighting. This store (and blog) is not in the light fixture business. They sell emotions and they realize it. The “Rejuvenation Community” connects people with a reproduction lighting “otaku.” They don’t have the opportunity that the local store had to engage in person, which would have been a huge competitive advantage, because they screwed up so badly.
Rejuvenation ‘s return policy offers peace of mind.
We understand the unpredictable nature of the restoration, remodeling, and building process. With few exceptions, as listed below, we offer a full refund of your purchase on items returned to us within 30 days of the shipping date. … If the error is ours, we will pay all shipping costs.
Now that’s seeing things in a whole new light.
photo credit: ishanz