If you give your customer something the customer values, then you should also make sure you are charging for it. Or at the very least, use this value-added item or service to make the customer more loyal to your company. And while that is a fairly easy concept to grasp, it’s important to realize that the opposite is also true. If you charge your customer for something he or she does not value, then it hurts the relationship, sometimes badly.

In 2004 I decided to go back to Apple, after a few years in PC hell. This was when their OS X was still fairly new and also before there was an Apple store at every shopping mall in America. Thankfully at the time, only about a mile from my house I found an independent Apple reseller and service shop. Because of the proximity, this place became my sole source for all of my Apple gadgets; computers, accessories and service. As Atenga grew, this became the place we purchased all of our computers for our staff, and where we got service for the entire company. I became what I thought was a very loyal customer.

When the iPad had just came out, I bought one at the place. It was a gift to my wife. But she did not want to use it “naked” and asked me to also get a cover for it. I went back to my trusted Apple reseller and spent some $60 on a cover. But we discovered the cover only covered the back of the iPad, not the screen, so I went back again to the Apple reseller. And since they did not have a cover also covering the screen, I decided to return it and get my money back. The package was unbroken.

“Fine, no problem” the clerk woman said and took three steps to the left and hung up the cover from where I had removed less then an hour ago. “Less our 10% restocking fee” she said, turning back to her ever-loyal customer. “WHAT! RESTOCKING FEE. FOR WHAT?” I angrily replied. I explained that I was a loyal customer who had used this place for all of my Apple needs for six long years, that I had spent tens of thousands of dollars with them over that time-period. The reply: “I’m sorry sir, but that is our policy. I can’t do anything about it”.

That was about a year ago. Of course I wrote to the manger/owner of the store multiple times and I never got a reply. Have I gone back to this store since then? No way. Will I ever go back? No way. For a measly $6 this company lost a happy, profitable and returning customer, who since then has spent thousands of dollars on Apple gear elsewhere.

So be careful when you invent charges that do not provide any value to your customer. It can hurt. Badly.

With mellower regards than a year ago,

Per Sjofors


AuthorPer Sjofors