Thoughts about warranties and relationships

When you buy used, warrantied merchandise from us, we have a relationship.   These relationships are two way and voluntary.  There are rare situations (oh so rare, but shocking when they happen) that we decide it’s probably not in our best interest to be in a warranty relationship with someone.  As much as I hate to ever let someone down, it’s better for our employees, our business and our other customers to “break up” with a customer and suggest that perhaps we cannot make them happy.  It’s especially astounding when we have bent over backward and owe nothing to the person(s) abusing us.

Recently, we had a scenario at Lakeline where a customer thought we had sold a guitar without a dongle.  We were very confident in our being right, but the customer was quite adamant and went on to yell at us about how we ruined Christmas day.  We went ahead and took the guitar back, and suggested that if they find the dongle in the gift wrap, they could come back.  The customers were very rude, yelled at my employees and an owner (the teenaged child and parent — both!) and made accusations about shady business practices.

A few days later, they returned, dongle in hand and demanded to buy the guitar they had returned and received a refund for.  Not only were they abusive on the prior visit, this visit was also abusive.

Since I wasn’t there for the prior visit, I called Tim to find where the guitar had been stored.  I was shocked as I walked to the back of the store only to be confronted by the same woman, holding an umbrella, demanding to hear my call to find the guitar.  Stunned, I said “No” and proceeded to find the guitar and finish my conversation.  Once located, I asked if they had the dongle and asked our employee to test the guitar before we sell it to them again.  I wasn’t interested in having a problem again.  While he was testing the guitar, the woman began a verbal attack.  After listening to a few of her attacks and having her pace me like a lion in a cage as I tried to move away and do other work, I decided I wasn’t interested in having another 30 day/minimum relationship with her.  I did not think the sale was worth the risk.

You see, our warranty puts us in a relationship.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to be in a bad relationship.  It seems she thought it was going to be a bad relationship as well, since she was complaining while trying to buy from us (again).  Our other customers were witness to the bizarre behavior on both events and I decided I didn’t need the negativity to return for another set of customers and friends to endure.

Later, when looking at the video to archive in case I need it, I was startled to see that this person had gone into some bizarre battle mode and followed me across the store holding her umbrella up in the air while I was walking to the location we store the incomplete or damaged goods (because a returned guitar without a dongle was useless).   Her body language and words were threatening and she even came back into the store after the event to yell at the next customers to say something about the quality of the merchandise we sell.  This is odd, since that would be the same merchandise that was fine when sold to them, and they wanted to buy again once they realized they had indeed misplaced the integral part.

My apologies to the customers that were there when this customer came last week.   I’m sorry to those that were there the second time this week that had to see me break up with a former customer and ask them to leave, but you can be assured we won’t be in that bad relationship again.    I’m not sure that having a relationship with anyone so angry and irrational is good for any of us.   I hope you understand and agree.   –Stace