How Not to Do Business!

Robert Terson

A few months ago Nicki and I went shopping for a birthday present for our grandson, Jack; Jack is eight—seems like yesterday I was cradling him in my arms.  He needed a new bike, a 20-incher, so we headed off to Toys”R”Us®; Nicki’s philosophy is, when he’s ready for the 26-incher we’ll go to the costlier bike shop, but that isn’t going to happen until he stops outgrowing these bikes every year or two.

We found the perfect bike for Jack (a red-and-black Schwinn).  That is until we tried to buy it.  Let me give you a list of the issues we ran into.

  • Other than the display bike, they were out of stock, and no, we couldn’t purchase the display bike; that was against the “rules.”
  • We could call in Tuesday to see if they had received more stock, but no, we couldn’t pick one up Tuesday, even if one came in, because it always takes 24 to 48 hours to assemble a bike, no exceptions ($10.00 charge).  No way we were going to make our son, Michael, assemble the bike—assembly was a must.
  •  It turned out the Crystal Lake store had eight in stock (including an available assembled one, glory hallelujah), if we wanted to schlep out there; we couldn’t, not enough time to accomplish that task and get back in time for a planned get-together with friends.  But, we asked, could the Crystal Lake store send one over that we could pick up Tuesday?  Alas, no, that would take significantly longer than picking up an assembled bike at this store, if one came in on Tuesday.
  • We couldn’t buy the display model, no matter how much I pleaded.  We couldn’t get a bike before Wednesday or Thursday, if one came in on Tuesday, or even beyond Thursday if we opted for the Crystal Lake store to send one over.


We desperately wanted to buy their product, which was right in front of us, but couldn’t do it; we were willing to order their product, if we could get it in a reasonable amount of time, but that wasn’t possible either.  I ask you: Is this any way to do business?  Whatever happened to serving the customer, putting their needs above a bunch of internal rules, making their satisfaction paramount?  Whatever happened to doing whatever you have to, to make the sale?  How much business is this huge company blowing, with their rules and procedures?  It is in a word—in my opinion, anyway—nuts!

What about your company?  Do you have a bunch of rules and procedures that are more important than satisfying the customer, making the sale?  Are you losing business to competitors because of it?  If so, let me suggest you do something about it—NOW!

After we left Toys”R”Us® and got over our frustration, we went to Walmart where we found another perfect bike for Jack—fully assembled—that we were able to purchase on the spot, deliver to Jack a few minutes later.  Thank you, Walmart!

Jack loved it!