Business: The Customer Is Always Right...Or Not

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7 months ago - 3 minutes read

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One of the most prevalent slogans you'll hear and use in business, especially ones requiring service, is "The customer is always right."

Whatever the scenario, whatever the customer's approach, we're told that it's critical to the business's sustainability that everything is done to satisfy the customers.

But I have to disagree on this one. Customers are not always right. I'll give you an example while also explaining why I disagree with the notion.

On the surface, this customer relations philosophy is simple and seems to make sense. Customers, after all, are the reason for being in business. They help you pay employees and build your brand when they send friends and family your way. Without customers, you wouldn’t have a company. So it makes sense to keep them happy.


So, a few months ago, a customer expressed an interest in purchasing a certain pair of shoes, and she begged me to accept payment in instalments, which I did.

Now, we've both agreed on a three-week time frame for complete payment. She did not meet up. I contacted her about a month later to inquire about the plan, and she promised to pay in another week. I kept reminding her that the price of the shoes would rise in tandem with the depreciating value of the naira, but she remained unfazed.

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Before I go any further, please keep in mind that I am merely a drop shipper and do not keep these shoes in my house. I buy them based on the orders I receive. The customer returned two months later, saying she was ready to pay the rest for the shoes.

I tried to make her understand that the price had changed and she would have to pay extra. She immediately flared up and began hurling derogatory remarks at me.

She also requested a refund, which I refused. From the onset, I always let my customers know that returns and refunds can only be granted within the first week of purchase. I tried, but failed, to persuade her that it was impossible because I had already transferred a portion of her cash to the supplier a week after she had paid me.

I did contact this lady up to four times throughout the two months she owed me, but she did nothing. 

So, is the consumer right in this instance?
Should I be held accountable for declining a refund over which I had no control?

In the end, she paid precisely what she was required to pay since it was either that or lose her deposit. As of now, I'm probably the last person she wants to speak to.

There are various reasons why I feel the customer is not always right;

The first is that it places you in an awkward position. When I mentioned this to a few friends, they merely kept reiterating that the customer is always right. I was put in a tough position since allowing the consumer to have exactly what she wanted would result in nothing but a loss.

Now, there are several reasons why I believe that the customer is not always right:

First, it puts you in an awkward position.

I remember telling a few friends about this issue, and they kept reiterating that the customer is always right. I was put in a tough position since allowing the client to have precisely what she wanted meant not only a loss for me, but I'd also have to pay additional cash to cover the cost of the shoes.

Second, policies are broken.

Every business has its own set of regulations and norms. If I have a no-refund policy after one week of purchase, I enforce it. You don't go bending every rule and regulation you've ever set to solve an issue over which you have no control whatsoever.

Lastly, a customer cannot always be right.

My exceptional customer service has helped me stay in business as a dropshipper. If, on the other hand, a consumer chooses to be unreasonable and unkind with their manner of approach or choice of words, I am not obligated to deal with all of that.

While a few people would argue that I should have just let her get the shoes regardless of how she handled the matter or how much I had to lose, I'd  still state that allowing every customer to have their way in your business is not the healthiest way to run a business.

What Are Your Thoughts?

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