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Hey, we all love compliments but hate the complaints. As businesses, complaints are definitely part of the package. As a business owner I certainly have no problem with legitimate complaints because sometimes we all have a bad day. None of us know what is going on in any one person's life at any one time. But when I encounter complaints from customers from the customers' own wrong doing I feel compelled to respond.
We, the Great American Society, have created a gross sense of entitlement among ourselves. We can do no wrong, the Customer is ALWAYS right, the business is ALWAYS subservient to the customer. Sorry, I was never raised to believe in this falsehood. As a human being I was raised to understand that I am responsible for myself and my decisions. When I see posted notices of a business's Return Policies, either at the cash register or printed visibly on the receipt of my purchase, I know what my options are, and at that point I decide whether to continue with the purchase or not; "Emptor Cavete" Let the Buyer Beware.
We have 3 negative "1 Star" posts on YELP among the many "5 Star" posts. Now i must state that I do not personally utilize YELP, nor do I believe in the "Power" of the anonymous post by anyone to influence my decision making skills. However, i do realize that the vast majority of the public looks to these sites to narrow their decision making in areas where there is an over-abundance of options from which to choose.
The posts I am writing about here consist of 2 complaints:
1. 1 customer's complaint that we are a full retail bookstore. We are not a discount bookstore. I do not know what people are used to at home, but in a town of 5000, the fact that we have even 1 bookstore is a major feat. In a town that basically closes from January to June, the fact that we have 1 bookstore that remains open year round is a major feat. And, I am always happy to send any and all customers to a neighboring business for used books when that business is open - May-Sept.
2. 2 customers' complaints that i would not give money back for a purchase made days earlier. As I said to them..."Read Your Receipt". NO REFUNDS GIVEN, EXCHANGES AND STORED CREDIT OFFERED AT THE DISCRETION OF THE MANAGEMENT. This customer and her friend were offered to exchange the product, (not a book, but a coffee mug that leaked when heated), for another of the same, or a similar product, or a store credit to purchase anything in the store, (perhaps a freaking book, which is why we are in business to begin with), but NO her decision was to make a scene. And. OK we all have the right to make a scene, but we DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT HOLD OTHER PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS. This was a $10.00 sale, and I could have easily relented and given her the $10.70, back. I probably would have, much to my partner's dismay, had i not been verbally attacked by this customer upon her bringing the item back. There was no understanding that this was a manufacturer problem to which I had no recourse, this was plain and simply my fault and i was trying to take advantage of her, and the fact that I NOW refused to give her the $10.70 cash back made this an even more egregious affront.
Our approach to Returns, Exchanges, etc, has to be handled on a case by case basis. We have a policy set in place, it is posted and it is printed on each and every receipt generated. That is in place to protect us as a small, independent business. We do not have the protection of a large corporation that can pull funds from x to cover y. We are certainly more lenient with our regular customers than with people who only visit once. Why? Basically, because we trust them not to cheat us, just as they trust us not to cheat them. If you come to my BOOKstore to purchase a mug that is 4 dollars cheaper in my store that the store down the street that specializes in souvenirs, then in my mind you get what you paid for. This is not an attempt to cheat you - we buy from the same source- but just a notice that I will only stand behind the actual product that am in business to sell...BOOKS.