What do you mean I can’t return that item?

Hi Everyone,

Have you ever said that to a clerk in a store? It’s the one thing that will get me boiling.

So this week I want to continue with customer service. If you remember a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my blog that only one percent of returns made by customers are customers who are trying to get away with something. So why do stores make such a big deal about returns?

Several years ago, I received a flyer from L.L. Bean. The flyer talked about their return policy, and that they wanted to make sure all their customers were happy. I remember they also said if you purchase a pair of shoes and the heels get worn out, return the shoes and we will replace them. Pretty bold, right?

Let’s look at our hometown Zippo Lighters…that lighter that you buy is guaranteed for life, not a limited guarantee, but a lifetime guarantee. If you go out to the Zippo/Case Museum you will see the workshop where they repair those lighters. Zippo has been in business for over 80 years, and they are more successful now than any time in their history. Do you think that guarantee has anything to do with it?

I know I am repeating myself from my last blog, but this is a big deal. A survey was done that showed that most people do not like to return merchandise, and I agree with that. The reason has to be that they know they are going to get a hassle. So I would just recommend to all retailers to think about that survey. Do you really want to risk losing a customer over a simple return?

Also, a couple of weeks ago I mentioned raving fan customers, and how we tried to create them at Walmart. After sending that blog, I remembered another great story that I have to share with you. I had a department manager at Walmart tell me that she had a customer who had seen a sweater in another Walmart in another state, and decided to wait until she got home to buy it at the Bradford Walmart. Unfortunately, we didn’t have it, and the customer was disappointed because it was going to be a Christmas present for her daughter. My department manager asked if she could call the other store and have them ship it to Bradford, and I told her that would be fine. When the sweater came in, my department manager said she wanted to make this customer a raving fan customer by putting it in a gift box, wrapping it for Christmas and delivering it to her free. Sounds crazy, right? Wrong! That is how you create a raving fan customer. I’m not saying that you give away the store, but once in a while do something out of the box, and you will be surprised at the results.

See you next Friday!



  1. I so agree with your comments today. I’d like to push that a bit further. I’ve had several bad customer service experiences lately and I usually complain. It doesn’t seem to do any good. Unfortunately I don’t always give praise for hood service. Today I chaged that. I had two great experiences this week and made a point to let management know. Reverse psychology? Maybe. If more people were rewarded for the GOOD maybe it might make a difference.

    • I think it is a good idea to tell a merchant about good service, but I also think it is important to tell them when you receive bad service. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thanks Ron! With all this talk about how customer service has become something to put on the back burner, I want to add this ….The very FIRST word in this problem is CUSTOMER! Put them first with the thought left that you really need their “business” and you are on your way to successful growth of your “business” Remember James R. Evans? Real PERSONAL service, right?

    • Hi Bob,
      Your so right, and when you see a merchant struggling, customer service is usually the culprit.
      I been holding my thoughts in ever since I left walmart, but I had to write this, because I want to see everyone be successful. On the other hand I see so many great examples in our community, and next week I will talking about them. I do appreciate your comments!

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