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Polite customers - and others!

Elizabeth Ward

Just a quick thank you to the lady who brought a violin round for tuning on Saturday and left me some cat food today. It was no trouble at all and I never mind doing that sort of thing but it was very kind of you and I am sure the cats will be pleased with the luxury IAMs pouches!

This sort of thing is lovely of course but sadly quite rare.  I recall two "customers" who wanted repairs doing. I don't do my own repairs but in both cases I went to a small amount of trouble, the first to put her in touch with the repairer I use (who is about the cheapest you will get).  By the lady's "if I decide to accept your quote" reaction, anyone would think that luthiers are all crying out for work (they're not!) and that I get a commission (I don't!). Even worse was the lady who wanted a repair doing and I offered to take her violin to my repairer along with the things I wanted repairing.  She booked a time to bring the violin round, didn't turn up, didn't bother to tell me.  I guess she thought I earn a huge commission from it too.  

Then there are those who want something that isn't actually in stock but they want it urgently so I contact my suppliers and offer whatever solutions I can think of, and then the potential customer never replies to any further messages, leaving me to tell the suppliers that I am sorry to have wasted their time.  And those who seem to be offended by the fact that I am not willing to sell to them at a loss (one had the cheek to send me an offer on ebay for less than half the asking price, when I didn't have the "make offer" option open anyway.  I might have been less annoyed if it hadn't been blindingly obvious from his feedback that he was going to attempt to sell the instrument as if the trade label was a genuine "made by" label).  Or those who email back and forth for days and then just disappear because they have changed their mind but never actually say so.

In short, dear customers, when you are dealing with a small business you are dealing with real people, not robots, not call centres.  A simple "thank you" to let me know you have received my email so I don't have to send it again is appreciated.  "I have changed my mind" isn't, if I'm honest, not when I have gone to a lot of trouble, but it's a lot more polite than just disappearing into cyberspace and I never ever hard sell (if I find your choice unwise to the point of being utterly incomprehensible, which does happen sometimes, I won't ever say so.  All I will say is "OK thanks for letting me know".)

So on behalf of all small retailers everywhere - a little consideration goes a long way.

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