Customer

Signs to Customers

Seth Godin points out a type of sign which has been annoying me whenever I see it, for exactly the same reasons:

Noexceptions

Leaving aside the obvious contradiction of strategy (laptop users are more likely to buy books and less likely to steal stuff, so why not let them in the store and offer them a mesh bag to carry about), this sign highlights one of the silliest (and common) policy rules: no exceptions.

No exceptions? Really?

If I gave you a million dollars could you make an exception?

And on top of the unreality of the idea, consider the message it sends to the consumer. "We're so busy and so centralized and so hierarchical that you shouldn't even bother to discuss this with our staff." Or, the short version, "go away."

Why not try a sign that says,

WELCOME!
To keep costs down, we require anyone carrying a bag bigger than this square to check it. Our check area is run by Ralph, who is kind and honest, but I hope you can understand that we can't be responsible for any items you might want to check. If this is a problem for you, consider asking for one of our mesh bags, which can safely tote your laptop or camera. Thanks for shopping at the Strand... we're really glad you're here.

If making a sign gets you all stressed out, let someone else do it for you.

On a related note, another thing that's been irking me is when a sign begins 'Polite notice'. Just put up the notice and allow me to decide if it's polite, please. It's a rough rule of thumb that if something begins 'Polite notice' that what follows is not polite.

The above was also picked up on 'Business Opportunities and Ideas' under the title thief or customer?:

Seth Godin recently posted about no exceptions commenting on a sign he saw in a shop that reads:

ATTENTION:

IF YOUR BAG IS LARGER THAN THIS,

THEN YOU MUST CHECK IT IN.

NO EXCEPTIONS.

DO NOT LEAVE

CAMERAS OR LAPTOPS.

THANK YOU. THE MANAGEMENT.

Presumably the sign is in response to a high level of shop lifting, but even then I can’t believe that more than 5% of their customers are thieves, in fact the statistics I found for the UK show that shrinkage from small retailers is on average 1.91% and large retailers 1.49%. So why treat the 98+% of customers that are honest like thieves?

Seth suggests some alternate wording for the sign:

WELCOME!
To keep costs down, we require anyone carrying a bag bigger than this square to check it. Our check area is run by Ralph, who is kind and honest, but I hope you can understand that we can’t be responsible for any items you might want to check. If this is a problem for you, consider asking for one of our mesh bags, which can safely tote your laptop or camera.

Thanks for shopping with us… we’re really glad you’re here.

Which do you think would make your customers feel more welcome?

Amazon Annoyances

Last night I made an order on Amazon.co.uk [my wishlist, it's worth a shot!], I didn't need it in a hurry and so merged it with a larger order which is due at the end of september in order to save on the postage costs. I got the "merge done" screen, but not the emails and to be honest I did not give it a second thought, email can take time.

Today I got the "your order has been dispatched" message, with lots of postage charges that I would have avoided with the merge. Ack.

I was going to email amazon today to see if my big order could be split into two medium orders (each above the free postage point), but instead I have had to navigate their "contact us" hierarchy in order to find a box to fill in and open a discussion on this issue with them.

I am not amused.

In related news, Amazon is now blogging, well the web services bit, anyway.

[Edit: 7/9/05 (september, for the middle enders out there), Amazon are refunding the postage, which is good, however I was told that if ordering things from stock then the combine orders may not happen as the item is processed almost immediately. What is the solution in this case? The only thing I can think of is to order an extra item with a delay, combine, then cancel the extra item. This is a bit of a pain, and there should be an easier way, i.e. instead of checking out, you could have the option to combine at that stage.]