I never thought, as a business owner, that I would have to play the bad guy. To be honest, I didn’t think running a business would be anything like it is. Movies and TV shows give a skewed version of the business world. It’s not an over night success: inventory gets messed up, fiscal backing is not free, and customers will drive you nuts (hey, I am being honest, imagine the emails I get).
I try to give each customer the same service I’d want if I was shopping. Customers tell me all the time how wonderful my service is and how they love shopping with me, and it makes me happy to know I am providing a great service to them. There are nightmare customers. This is a “peek into a fashion start up:” the good, the bad and the ugly. In the almost four years of running Imperfect Concepts, I have only had 4 complaints to my knowledge. A customer once accused me of stealing her money because her package was in the wrong city. The package wasn’t delivered it yet, but it was in transit to her, and she still accused me. She finally received the package, and has been a loyal customer ever since.
When Imperfect Concept was a boutique selling camo pants, people had issues with sizing so I would gladly exchange them–as long as they paid the shipping and handling. I deem that very nice since the return policy says no returns or exchanges. This customer exchanged emails with me regarding size, and I stated the measurements and suggested a size based on what she gave me. They did not fit. So we finally agreed she could exchange them for the shipping and handling charge. I invoiced her, but she was still very upset and entitled. This exchange made me realize that I need to stop bending my rules just to appease a few. This has caused me the most work, and at this point in my career, it’s great to have loyal customers over one-time shoppers who I bend over backwards to help. The camo-pants-woman went to Paypal to dispute the charge of the purchase, but after we agreed to resolve the issue and she still didn’t want to pay the fee. Luckily, Paypal was on my side with this.
Business owners, STAND YOUR GROUND. If it is more work to return an item, do not do it. Trust me when I say this. Customers, please understand a small business is not a major department store or a major brand. We are solopreneurs who work long hours and spend our time building our brands. It’s tough. There are days that i’ve peeled myself out of the bed because I’m so frustrated. This blog is here to help other business owners and potential new brands. I always want to be honest and helpful. We are here to help and not hoard information. It’s all about learning lessons that I am willing to share publicly. Thank you for listening, and I hope this helps someone else.