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So I just had a really annoying experience! I requested a sample of a promotional item from an online company a few days ago. I should have known that something was weird when they took the last four digits of my credit card, but wouldn’t actually let me buy the sample. They said that someone would get in touch with me within a few days.

So a few days pass, and I just heard from a salesperson. His first questions to me were: Are you with a company? And by when do you plan to place an order?

Now, I do understand about wanting to prequalify your customers, but the truth is, how could I say when I’d want to place an order if I hadn’t seen the item yet? When I replied that I was a small business owner, he replied back saying, “We’re a business to business corporate branding firm, we recommend this other company absafdlkf for your needs.”

Ok. Now. Correct me if I’m wrong- but isn’t being a small business owner actually being in business? And, since they were charging me for the sample- and I was willing to pay- what was the big deal? Am I missing something here?

So, at his recommendation, I checked out the other company. But they didn’t have anything close to what I was interested in, so it was a throwaway referral.

But, since I’m good at internet research, I promptly found another supplier and was able to order- and pay for- my desired sample.

So I wrote back to the first company and said, “Well, given that I’m a business owner, I’m likely in your target market. And your referral wasn’t a good one, because that company didn’t have the items I was interested in. But no matter, because I’ve already found another supplier and placed an order. You can remove my name and contact details from your database and close out my request.”

So there you go. The company was difficult to do business with, and lost a sale.

And the fact is, if they had specified on their website that they only wanted to deal in orders of 5,000 quantities or more, I would have known that I wasn’t a good fit for them. But I didn’t see any of this specificity on their site. And for them to take my information, place the expectation that by giving my credit card details, I’d actually get what I ordered, and then, a few days later, responding somewhat arrogantly and with a poor referral, too- that’s just bad business.

So whenever something like this happens, I always take a look at my own business processes. Where am I being difficult to do business with? Is there some way I can streamline my service policies so they are clearer, more defined, better reflect who I serve and what I actually do?

And when I don’t find anything that needs immediate tweaking, I just give thanks that I’m me and not them.