It began as an innocent conversation about how great Trader Joe’s is. If you’re not familiar, TJs has over 200 stores in 19 states with the “best food and beverage value” – so they are low priced, but high quality. Shopping there is an experience – like a boutique but for food and wine. You don’t see all the thousands of products you see in a grocery store, but you find amazing, interesting things. The woman I was talking with said that she’d never met a person who didn’t like Trader Joe’s. Wow – not bad. What happened next was three people not being able to get a word in edgewise as we told our own personal Trader Joe’s stories – what products we like, and how you can return ANYTHING you don’t like, in fact they encourage this so that people will try new things.
We all agreed by the end of our conversation that we just won’t shop where we are not treated well or where they don’t seem to value our business, because we all have a choice as to where to spend our money.
My collegue contrasted our TJ stories of glee with a purchasing nightmare at a place called Carpet Liquidators. Now just by having “liquidators” in their name tells you that customer service may not be there #1 goal…. and she recounted a horror story where they didn’t believe that she had already dropped off and returned four cracked tiles, nor that they were already cracked upon purchase. This colleague of mine is a Renaissance woman – she tiled a huge room by herself in her standard DIY style. Somehow the employees of this store did not believe that the few tiles she brought back in after working so hard were broken when she bought them, and generally gave her a hard time. They made her feel like they didn’t believe her but were taking them back anyway – that basically she was a liar. All this for less than $5 worth of tile…. they totally alienated her. She told others, and none of us will ever shop there as a result of this. To top this off, she is a well known fundraising auctioneer – and can influence hundreds of others in her realm on a regular basis. Carpet Liquidators has no idea what they are losing by not having offered her a pleasant buying experience
I liked that she did call the owner of the company and explained the situation (the clerk at the counter actually told her that he didn’t want her business and for her to leave) – and how she wondered if the owner really wanted her business or not. He assured her that he was pretty steamed at the guy who helped her, and that he did want her to come back. She reflected, though, that this is where places like Home Depot excel- in making things right with the customer. Smaller independant stores need to keep in check on this –
It’s not that the customer is always right, but the customer is always creating revenue into the company, or not. Not all who set foot in a retail store would be considered valuable repeat and referral customers, so the ones that are…. treat them well.