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Daily Wire Tip Jan. 23: Dealing with Difficult Customers
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
January 23, 2011
First I would like to thank you Dale for all you have taught me. Thanks to you and Wire Sculpture my business, Curly Q Jewelry Design, has been a success. My question is how do you handle customers when they take advantage of you?
A couple of months ago, I sold two bracelets and a pendant to a woman who works at a restaurant I frequent. She asked for a discount, since she was buying three things. I gave it to her. The next time I came back, she bought a pair of earrings and wanted to trade the pendant she had for the one that matched the earrings. Since she seemed to be a good customer, I did this for her.
She then decided she wanted to trade both of the bracelets because they didn’t go with any of her outfits. (One of the stones was white). She wanted a bracelet and ring to match the pendant and earring set she had just purchased.
Fine. I made a bracelet that matched the set, but she didn’t like it and wanted me to remake it. So I did. The ring, she chose which pattern she liked and what size. When I brought it to her she said she had changed her mind and wanted a different style and size. A week later she calls me to tell me she doesn’t like this bracelet anymore and wants to trade.
I’m sorry, but I’ve had it! She thinks I owe her two bracelets still, when really I’m in the hole with this woman. Help! What do I do?
-D’arcy in Madison, Wisconsin
D’arcy, although the WS team and I thank you for your kind words, you are what makes your business a success! For some people self-determination, self-drive and self-promotion can be a real challenge—congratulations!
Now as for your present situation. I know how hard it is to say no, especially when you are starting out and you want to please everyone for fear of losing a customer or maybe preventing a negative comment that you think would spread through your community. It’s hard! You have to remember this is your business!! (Personally I would have stopped after trading the pendant, because completing a set makes sense to me.)
As you have already traded two bracelets for a ring and another bracelet of a different design, I would simply explain to her that you are very sorry, but you simply can not make any other "trades." That this is your business and although you do appreciate her as a customer, you can no longer trade items out for her. You could back this up by showing her a written list of the items and their "retail" value (which should include your labor and a custom design fee). If you have properly priced these items, the values should confirm that you no longer "owe" her any more jewelry pieces.
You could even relate your situation to one she may identify with, say a dessert? If a customer were to order a piece of apple pie from her and then ate half of it and decided they didn’t like it and wanted to trade it for a piece of peach pie, and after eating a bite or two decided they wanted a dish of ice cream instead, and after the ice cream had been served the customer changed their mind and wanted to trade it for a piece of chocolate cake; what would she do? Would she continue to trade desserts without any additional charges?
Now I have to ask, what is your personal policy on custom orders? We have had some great discussions that could offer you some ideas. Check out these three articles, and be sure to check out the comments too! Customer Order Policies, Writing a Return Policy, Customer Satisfaction.
Of course, if you don’t already own it, may I also recommend The Definitive Guide? Members of our faculty and I discuss all types of show and order situations as well as give a lot of other advice, based on solid experience. I am sure that lots of us have had similar experiences and will share their stories here too.
Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong
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