Two way Streets

Often, there’s so much talk about retail and marketing and how to improve sales. But personally, I despise it. To interact with another human only looking for clues as to what they want to buy is ridiculous behavior. The whole process sounds so robotic and programmed. The whole thing is called consumerism and I’m not for it.

Simple conversation with a person is all one needs to help a person find what they’re looking for, because that’s what you’re doing. To me, the idea of trying to sell someone is a problem. The idea that somehow when someone comes into a store looking for something they stop being a person and start being a consumer is ridiculous. The whole process lacks love. That lacks nature and I’m not for it.

There’s a line, a bold line and it should not be crossed. When one goes into business, they have to make money to survive, and when some people enter survival mode they stop caring about you and only care about how they’re going to survive. That is all a natural process, but where does that leave you?

As a person in business I try my best to make sure I’m selling someone something that they are looking for. This is one reason I like our store being downtown, we’re a destination, we’re a place you’re only coming to if you want to. We’re out of the consumer loop. That’s fine with me. I don’t want to sell anything that the person doesn’t want or need.

I take this approach and it works. I respect people and try my best to help them find what they’re looking for. I have to be honest, I expect the same respect in return. Somehow some people have the idea that they can treat you however they want, because you serve them. That’s mean.

I have said this before, many times, and please don’t take offense, but the customer is always right stuff doesn’t apply here. I’m not sorry either. I will not be a victim. I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t let the bad apple poison me, but man, it doesn’t make you feel good when someone is treating you like crap and all you’re trying to do is help them.

My best example of this is a lady I encountered a few years ago. If I remembered her full name I would tell you. She came in, with her sons mountain bike needing a front wheel. We didn’t have the wheel, it had to be ordered. I gave her a good price on the wheel and told her to leave the old one and I would switch the tire and tube over for free so that it would be already to go when she picked it up.

The wheel came in and I called her, and I didn’t have any notes on whether she paid for it, or still needed to pay for it. It would be a rare situation that I would have someone pay for something before they got it, but I figured I would just ask her straight out. She came in, I told her I couldn’t remember if she paid for the wheel, she said she did, I handed it to her and she left.

For some reason, once she left, I knew clear as day that she in fact did not pay for the wheel. In all reality it was my fault so I was OK with what happened. I learned my lesson. Then, months later, she brings in her sons bike asking me if a remembered it. She asked a few different times if I remembered the bike, if I remembered what I did to it and such. I remembered the wheel, but she was looking at the shifter region so I told her I didn’t remember.

She then informs me that she paid to have the shifter fixed, or the gears adjusted, she didn’t really know and now it wasn’t working and it hadn’t been ridden at all and was only stored in a shed since it had been fixed. Ok, the gears came out of adjustment, so I check it out and the shifter is completely broken. I informed her that the shifter was broken and she informed me that she paid to have it fixed and it had only been in a storage shed since, implying that we took her money and didn’t fix the bike.

I can’t honestly say I remember every repair in detail, but I can honestly say that I would never charge someone to fix something that wasn’t fixed. So I told her that she would have to purchase a new shifter, because hers was broke and it would cost to install it. She didn’t understand, because she had paid to have it fixed. I informed her that even if we had “fixed” the gears in the past it had nothing to do with the shifter being broken now, and that we wouldn’t have and couldn’t have adjusted the gears with a broken shifter. Though, through her eyes, the customer is always right.

After some more chatter between us, I told her she would have to buy the part and I would install it for free. I felt like that was the middle, and even though she was in the wrong, it was fair to her. She agreed and left. She calls in a few minutes and tells me that she’s not paying for the shifter because she already paid to have it fixed. I can’t lie, I was furious. I told her her bike would be waiting for her outside.

One time, during first Friday, I was sitting on the floor talking to my friends, and a couple are looking around. They had some suggestive words like they were looking for whoever was in charge, all without making eye contact with anyone. I engaged, from the ground “is there anything I can help you with?” and lady got boisterous, and said “yeah, get up”, all while making motions with her hands. Am I nuts or does she expect to be served? They didn’t want anything other than to be addressed by a salesperson, desperate to take their money.

Another time a lady comes in and is dissatisfied with her new bike, she took it out with all her high profile friends and she got a flat and it was all my fault. Her old bike never had flats so what I sold her was junk. Also, the gears didn’t work either, and her old bike worked much better. I felt bad, hey you’re new bike doesn’t work I want to make it right. I start looking more at the bike and I noticed half the pedal was missing and a lot of paint was marred with deep gouges in frame. It had clearly fallen off a bike rack, she knew it, yet was literally blaming me.

The whole point of that is just to show how people will treat you, a person, a human, just because you’re sell things. I try to have the best customer service possible and I expect people be the best customers as possible. And really, what that all means is let us end the idea that we need to have a consumerism relationship and let us be people. Let’s interact without preconceived notions that we’re going to beat each other up.


A person.

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