THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT AND OTHER FABLES. . .
I thought it was time that I finally responded to the desktop (or laptop, cell phone etc) warriers who post inflammatory comments which probably border on slander. My guess is in their relatively mundane lives, they find comfort in publicly kicking others to the ground. It surely must elevate them to status of prince or princess when they make a claim that they were wronged by some mean business owner.
I’m compelled to write this after reading a post from a very frustrated friend of mine who happens to manage a popular, nationally known coffee shop and has seen an uptick in unacceptable behavior recently. The staff of her shop is absolutely the best, and truly hustle at what they do. Unfortunately, in the new “It’s all about me” era, some customers simply want to make their lives miserable by being rude to the staff. In my mind, there is simply no excuse for this.
I’m just glad that I don’t work for a corporation who insists upon some sort of coddling answer to these complaints. No one is looking over my shoulder to tell me that “You better be nice to this person, you better tell them how sorry you are about their experience and offer to make it better”. I’m just an entrepreneur who in 1977 began working at a similar shop, honed my skills, saved my money and ventured out on my own in 1993. While I did work for a great boss in the earlier years, I would never want to go back and work for someone else. That all being said, below is my response to negative reviews.
One of my biggest faults is that I tend to become a mirror image of the attitude the customer who walks in. I pleasantly greet every customer and every phone call the same. I go into every interaction with nothing but positive intentions and an upbeat attitude. It isn’t until I’m confronted with negativity that my demeaner changes too. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t that way, but other times I simply think. . . walk into my store, call me or email me with an upbeat, positive attitude, and you’ll never see me turn on you. Never.
In my nearly 45 years, I’ve dealt with thousands and thousands of customers. Retail store customers, commercial fitness customers and web site customers. 99+ percent of these customers exit the transaction realizing how much we really do care about their satisfaction. I so appreciate it when a customer in this group leaves a positive review. If they all did, I would have a 4.9 or 5.0 rating. Unfortunately, it’s only those who feel they were wronged who are sure to get on-line and “Show them” by leaving a negative review.
Here are a few reasons some people may have left a negative review. . .
Rude Behavior to either myself or my staff.
There is absolutely no reason to be rude to either myself or my staff. My staff has done an incredible job throughout this very unusual COVID time to satisfy every customer. The large majority of the customers understand what’s going on and are very patient and acceptant of what we’re dealing with right now. The way I see it is those who resort to berating, insulting or just rude behavior are simply out-of-line. If we are simply unable to fulfill your needs in the time-frame you were hoping for, then the best way to handle it is to simply move on to another vendor. One situation is the customer who ordered the pet trailer in the midst of COVID. Rather than patiently waiting it out, she chewed out my staff member on the phone. I have no tolerance for this behavior and never will. The order was cancelled, refunded and of course, this made the customer even more mad prompting a negative review. While we all hear how the customer is always number 1, at The Fitness Store, my staff is number 1 with customers following a close 2nd. If I have a staff member who treats customers poorly, they won’t be a staff member long. Josh, Jeff and Kim all truly care about the satisfaction of each customer. They do not deserve to be treated poorly, by anyone.
If the wait is too long, kindly request a refund.
Throughout this highly unusual COVID period, many products have been very difficult for us to get. Early on, we made the decision to accept orders for items many other vendors had simply stopped taking orders for. We had more than 200,000 lbs of weights on order from our primary weight vendor, who has been sending us product every few weeks as it becomes available and we continue to receive items and immediately ship them back out to customers, even as of today. If a customer simply can’t wait, from day one, we’ve asked them to simply email a cancellation and refund request to us. It’s really that simple. We don’t make the weights and if your needs are that you want them right away, we are simply not the right vendor for you. Again, for those who have patiently waited, we are so grateful. At least 2 of the negative reviews came from people who just couldn’t understand this policy. I've had 2 such customers become rude and belligerent (it even shows in the text of their reviews) with me or my staff. I did my best to make them understand the situation, but they weren’t having any of it. At a point, I simply cancelled each of their orders and immediately issued them a full refund. Even though this made both of them whole, this is when they both decided to unload a campaign of allegations and lies through Google, Velp and even the Better Business Bureau (the only complaint I’ve ever had registered with BBB). They both decided they were going to “Show me” who was the boss even after they were both made completely whole. Neither lost a penny.
Local Customers and Department Store Quality Bikes and Fitness Equipment
In 1993, shortly after forming my own company, I made the business decision to offer repairs only on “Specialty Store Quality” bicycles and fitness equipment. We don’t perform service or repairs on products purchased from a discount or big box store. We’re a small business with only 2 full-time employees and 2 part-time. We simply need to draw the line somewhere. I also tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. My view on the discount items is that while the products we offer were designed and engineered to work well and last a long time, this simply isn’t the case with the items created for the discount store. These products are loaded with feel-good features but fail to hold up mechanically. It’s virtually impossible to make something work to my standards when it wasn’t originally designed to work to those standards. A few of the complaints were a result of this fact. While I’m disappointed that customers chose to write a review, at nearly 45 years in the business, I won’t be changing my business model now.
They Don’t have Many Bikes in Stock
This is so true. In 2019, we sold nearly 300 bikes and had a floor full of products. In 2020, it dropped to a little over 100 and in 2021, we were only able to get about 60 bikes. We would absolutely LOVE to have access to more bikes, but the industry is struggling to find not only bikes, but bicycle accessories and bicycle repair parts. While we’re fighting to get product, it’s very frustrating to have customers fail to understand the situation. We certainly hope our situation will get better as we enter 2022.
While this may not necessarily excuse my behavior towards every customer, I can tell you that in my own town, I thoroughly believe my customers appreciate the fact that The Fitness Store exists. While we happen to be in the City of Manitowoc, WI with just 33,000 people, we service customers as far north as Door County and Green Bay, west to the Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac area and south to Sheboygan and Kohler. I’m in a fun business! Who ever dreads buying a bicycle? Nobody! The majority of my customers enter my building with a smile on their face and leave with a bigger smile on their face.
It seems that there has been more negative reviews lately as a result of the frustration of COVID. I certainly hope to see this take a turn on the other direction, but please rest assured, The Fitness Store offers not just the finest bicycles, fitness equipment and accessories, but also the finest service after the sale as well. We really do strive to make each and every transaction a pleasant one for our customers.
The Fitness Store – Serious Equipment for Serious Fitness.