Caveat Emptor*

Welcome to the forty-second edition of “In-Touch”. As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please hit “reply” and let me know what you think.

Story of the Week: Caveat Emptor*

(*A Latin phrase meaning ‘let the buyer beware’)

The phone rang. My screen showed a London number and I realised that the call was coming from a website that sells tickets to Premier League football games. I picked up and spoke to the Customer Service Representative (CSR). Our conversation went something like this:

CSR: “You were asking about tickets for the Spurs vs. Leeds game in November. Are you still interested?”

ME: “No, I am not interested. Thank you.”

CSR: “Have you bought the tickets from somewhere else? If so, may I ask from where?”

ME: “No, I haven’t bought tickets from anywhere else.”

CSR: “So you won’t be going to the game?”

ME: “No, I will be going. I just didn’t get the tickets yet.”

CSR: “So, why don’t you want to buy them from us?”

ME: “To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve seen the reviews of your company and some are extremely bad.”

CSR: “Everyone gets bad reviews as well as good ones. Don’t you ever get bad reviews for your business?”

ME: “Sure, but your bad reviews are more than just bad. You have customers advising everyone to stay away from your company. Others have even reported you to the police and accused you of fraud!”

CSR: “That happens to all companies. Things can go wrong sometimes.”

ME: “Certainly, but what are you doing about it? We’re living in a very transparent world, and anyone making mistakes or purposely trying to cheat the public is going to be reported on sites like www.tripadvisor.com and www.sitejabber.com, which is where I found so many terrible reviews about your company.

CSR: “We have positive reviews too. You can’t be sure if those people are telling the truth.“

ME: “If you think they are telling lies, what are you doing about it? I would suggest that you allocate a sizeable part of your marketing budget to ensure that anyone with a complaint is reimbursed, receives a written apology and is even offered a complimentary ticket to another game. Then they might be willing to accept that a genuine mistake was made and you did your best to say you’re sorry.“

CSR: (silence)

ME: (by now I couldn’t stop!) “Let me put it another way. Several times a year, we hear on the news that a well-known brand has withdrawn one of its products from sale due to a problem that made it less that 100% safe. By doing that, the company may have lost millions of pounds, dollars, euros or any other currency but it maintained its reputation by publicly accepting that a mistake had occurred and it needed to be fixed. If you want to be taken seriously as a trusted ticket reseller, you need to have the same attitude. A bad company can only survive for so long before no-one uses it.“

CSR: “I totally agree with you sir. I promise to talk to my manager about what you’ve said.”

ME: “I hope you mean it. Best of luck!”

As a buyer, finding out as much information as possible about any company that you are thinking of having any dealings with, especially if it involves paying large sums of money, is probably crucial step number one. However, while in the past, the phrase ‘caveat emptor’ (‘let the buyer beware’) placed the onus on the buyer to make sure that the seller could be trusted, in today’s transparent online world in which millions of people share their opinions and experiences, it should perhaps be replaced by ‘caveat venditor’ (‘let the seller beware’). It is every trading company’s responsibility to prove to us that it is totally trustworthy and deserving of our custom.

Words of Wisdom

The liar’s most useful tool:

“The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.”

Stephen King

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“Are you the kind of person that ‘trusts but verifies’ or the kind that ‘commits by trusting their gut-instinct’?”

Hit reply and let me know.

Announcements

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Best Regards,

Michael R. Virardi

www.michaelvirardi.com

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