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yARN: The elephant in the store

yARN: The elephant in the store

A cautionary tale that relates to you and your customers

There’s nothing you don’t already know in what I’m going to tell you. Still, it might be worth your while reading it and thinking about how it applies to your business.

A few weeks ago we decided to buy a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Like many consumers we did our research on the ‘Net, surprisingly finding numerous reviews on Australian tech sites. Next we did our price research on the ‘Net, printing out a few examples or the best prices.

And, like many Australian consumers, we decided on the instant gratification alternative so headed off to the nearest store that offered price matching. In this case it was David Jones. We amused ourselves looking at the point-of-sale display until eventually a salesman came up to see what we wanted. We asked a few questions that we hadn’t had answered on-line, then announced that we were ready to buy.

At this point I offered my bundle of printouts, explaining what the best price was. The salesman said “That’s very good. Off you go and buy it then.”

Gobsmacked, I said “But you match prices, don’t you?”

The salesman answered “Not anything from the Internet we don’t.”

I tried to explain that some of the prices I had were from bricks and mortar stores, but he wasn’t interested, so we left.

We went downstairs to the Bing Lee store where it took about one minute for the salesman to check with his boss that he could match the price, then we bought the product.

You may or may not think there’s a moral in this story. I’ll tell you what I take from it. No-one forces you (as a business) to adopt policies such as price matching, but if you do, be prepared to stick by them. No hidden fine print. No “get out” clauses that the customer won’t have a hope of  knowing about.

As a I said at the beginning, there’s nothing you don't know in this story, but let me remind you of the facts of life. Some customers are like elephants. They never forget. I’ve told this story many, many times to friends, and I doubt that it has done David Jones any favours.

I rang the store manager the following day, to give him my feedback, and while he agreed that the salesman had been unduly dismissive, backed up his interpretation of David Jones’ price matching policy. You’ve seen the ads – is that what you would have expected?

Paul Zucker is the original editor of ARN, a noted industry commentator, story-teller, and he has a long memory

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Tags Paul Zuckerretailvacuum cleanerDavid Jonesopinionbing leeyARN

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