March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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112 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 Last Laugh BY DAN DANBOM Dan Danbom is a former speech writer and communication manager whose freelance work has been published worldwide. His book reviews for a number of publications have motivated thousands to give up reading. Nonetheless, he continues to write and is also a principal at Danbom & Sons Books, an online bookstore headquartered in Denver. | | | | T he smaller the business, the fewer policies it has, and the bigger the business, the more policies it has. This is one of the odd aspects of business: With success comes policies that run off customers. I'm proud to say that my business has just one policy, and that is if a customer wants to return a book, I give a full refund. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often, and people don't return books because they thought the author didn't create enough dramatic tension in the subplot. It seems, though, that larger businesses have more complicated policies. I was reminded of this last week when I called my cable-phone-Internet-junk mail pro- vider, whose name rhymes with Glom Fast, to request a service change. After providing my 286-digit account number, phone number, address, mother's maiden name, and birth address, plus the phone numbers of cousins currently living abroad, the helpful customer representative asked for the last four digits of my Social Security number. Apparently, Glom Fast gets a lot of calls from people impersonating other customers and needs to be sure that you're not such a person. But one problem is the company had the wrong Social Security number on file. This didn't stop the rep from selling me a new service bundle, and it hasn't stopped the company from accepting my money for 30 years or so. But when I received a contract requir- ing I sign and return it, I noticed that the quoted prices were lower than the prices it planned to charge me. Bad policy No. 1: So I went on the company's website, used the chat function, and tried to convince the rep that I wasn't impersonating myself. The rep refused to do anything because, again, my Social Security number didn't match. Bad policy No. 2: I told the rep it's dumb to ask me to guess the wrong number, but that didn't faze the rep. So I asked for a su- pervisor to call me, but it turns out there's a policy that only allows an online chat and someone can't call me, despite being a phone company. Bad policy No. 3: I finally figured out a way around that policy. I'm not me in its eyes, so I couldn't possibly have ordered ser- vices. Glom Fast can take the new services that the Dan Danbom impersonator or- dered and shove them up its modem. Now that's a good idea. If smaller businesses try hard, they can come up with equally bad policies. My wife once filled up at one of those gas 'n go plac- es that offered a free $5 car wash for spend- ing $10 on gas. Her car only took $9.71 of gas, so she asked to pay another 29 cents to get the car wash. But, no, she had to buy $10 worth of gas. She asked if she could pump 29 cents worth of gas onto the pavement. The clerk briefly considered calling the police, but by this time, a long line of customers had formed behind my wife and were waiting for their own disappointment. The clerk re- lented but told my wife never to come back. Not a problem. You might want to review your own pol- icies. Do they make it harder for customers to do business with you, or do they make it easier? Are your policies for your conve- nience or for the benefit of the customer? Feel free to call me to talk about this. I'll be impersonating myself all afternoon. Stupid Company Tricks pw

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