A Marketing Minute – Is The Customer Always Right?

It was about time to leave for a NARI meeting, and I was selecting a pair of pants from my closet, when much to my surprise, I pulled three pair in a row that must have belonged to “Too Tall Jones.” My thigh was bigger than the waist and the legs were clearly a foot longer than mine. Not that I would’ve minded fitting into any of the three, it would have meant my waist was about 32” and I was well over 6’6”, but it just wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

Hey, we all make mistakes, and I’d expect this kind of mistake from a cleaning establishment . . . probably happens all the time. Tomorrow I’ll just take these back and ask them to rectify the situation. That made sense . . . or so I thought.

The next morning I walked into the cleaner, the same cleaners I’ve been using since I moved to the neighborhood, said my hellos, after all it wasn’t like they didn’t know who I was after spending $50 a week there for more than two years, then I held up a pair for the pants that went from my arm pits to just brushing the floor, and the place broke into laughter. Everybody agreed they weren’t mine.

Well, if they weren’t mine, they had to belong to somebody now didn’t they? And it would follow that since this was the only dry cleaners I used, I must’ve gotten the ill fitting pairs from here. I mean after all, they were still in the plastic with, this is important, with the call tag stapled to the top with the cleaners’ name, address, and telephone number printed neatly across the top. Not a problem you’re thinking . . . right?

Nope . . . in spite of the evidence, the clerk refused to take them back and refused to discuss what reparations they were willing to make. The pants had a red tag stapled to a belt loop, and she pointed out most vociferously, that they never used red tags, only blue or green. I asked if this were their call tag and she agreed it was, but “we never use red tags,” she said. Back and forth went the conversation for 20 minutes or so, me pointing out their company call tag, she pointing out, “We never use red tags.”

So who won? The cleaners won the first round and I have the pants neatly hanging in my closet, unused forever. But they lost a true and loyal customer . . . me. I’d spent a substantial chunk of change in the establishment over the previous two years that I now was most assuredly going to spend somewhere else, but I’m sure the clerk sleeps much better now that she held firm in her conviction that they “never use red tags.”

The moral of the story is clear and the message is evident: The customers may not always be right, but they are ALWAYS the customers regardless the tag color.

Oh . . . does anyone want to swap three pairs of khakis with 42” waist and 30” inseam for three pairs with 32” waist and 36” inseams?