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The Simple Difference Between Good Business and Bad Business

by Travis Miller

Like millions, my wife and I have had some after-Christmas returns to deal with around here. Most went off without a hitch. But there are 2 specific instances (one really good and one really bad) that I want to share with you. I think they're important because they represent simple things some businesses do to win and/or lose customers. *WARNING: You'll want to read this because there's a new policy at a major retailer (think bullseye) that has been designed to screw consumers and is very deceptive. I like to talk about point of sale experiences like these because, for small businesses, this is a very easy time and place to make changes. Treating customers well is free and may be more valuable than all the marketing you do (or should be doing). Delivering good service is quite different than talking about good service. Most businesses deliver blah service. Very few do very well. So listen to what happened to us: THE BAD: Tried to return an unopened $30 item I received as a gift to Target in exchange for the same item in a different color. They tell me that their policy requires a receipt for exchanges of items of over $20. Since when? Since always. Bull. But I received this as a gift. Ask the person who gave you the gift for a receipt. Yeah...sure. Speak to a manager. Manager doesn't like my shock and awe approach to debate and calls security to escort me out of the store. At this point, it's principle, obviously. I talk security out of removing me from the store, as I hadn't done anything to warrant it. I try again with the manager by pointing out that it's ridiculous to believe that she's entrusted with keys to the store but not with the ability to exchange a $30 item for a like item. Bottom line: don't buy gifts from Target unless you make sure to include the gift receipt. They are not budging on this ridiculous policy. THE GOOD: I gave Jennie a Coach purse for Christmas to add to "the collection" as I call it. I knew full well that she's not going to wind up keeping the purse I picked. Yes, I'm a wizard in the kitchen, but that does NOT equate to being good at picking women's handbags. Anyway...she goes back to Dillard's (not the original store) to exchange the purse. She's treated like a queen. I should mention that when I picked the original bag I had Ella with me. But the lady behind the counter had the patience of Job. She spent nearly an hour with me and my squirming, wiggling, running-away baby. Then, beyond all belief, after the first exchange, Jennie goes to a third Dillard's store, this time with me, and exchanges the bag for yet another. Once again, treated respectfully and carefully, without hassle. Now, after multiple trips and exchanges she has found the perfect bag for her collection. Throughout the process, Dillard's provided excellent service that seemed above-par. Of course we had a receipt. I guess that makes all the difference these days. In conversation, Jennie pointed out to me that perhaps we received such a different level of service from Dillard's than from Target because of the price point of the item in question. Maybe. But consider this: we have spent a WHOLE LOT more at Target over the years than at Dillard's. I'm sure like a lot of families, we make a sizable investment with them every year. They really ought to think about not treating their customers (or guests as they call them - but that's another story) like jerks. Oh...and so should you.