The costs of a bad reputation

When you say you are going to do something and then do it, you build trust, and trust is a value creation platform.  When you say you are going to do something and then don’t, it can get expensive.  Usually in soft, hard to track missed opportunities.  The immediate costs are often quite low… sometimes you even feel a small gain.  But with a slightly larger lens of time, not having people trust you can cost a lot.  So it pays to say what you’ll do, and do what you say.

I experienced this at a store this week.  I got a card for $80 off at Lens Crafters from work… seemed like a good deal and worth giving Lens Crafters a try although I would not normally go there.  Check out the card below, it seems like a pretty open deal.  It even mentions “designer eyewear.”

Bait and Switch?

Bait and Switch?

Upon arrival at the store, I learned that Oakley products were excluded.  Oh, and not Maui Jim either.  I came to order a set of prescription lenses for my Oakley frames, so I pressed the issue after reading the card again.  There’s no mention of any kind of exclusions, although I can see that it says “complete pair”.  So I ask if I have to get new frames to qualify.  “No, Oakley doesn’t let us give discounts on their products.”  I ask her to read the card and show me where Oakley is excluded.  She can’t find that anywhere.  I press further, and she gives me a corporate business card and suggests I call there.  I find out this is not a toll-free “help” number, but the main line to the corporate headquarters.  I get to a Service Representative and he asks if I’ve spoken to the General Manager of the store.  He sends him an email and I get a call back.  He says, “Sorry, Oakley is excluded.”  I let him know I think this is a “bait and switch” and I don’t want to do business with a company that isn’t good for their word.  We conclude the deal and I am done with Lens Crafters… probably for life.

Let’s estimate what the costs might be:

1. I buy new glasses every 2 years x 40 years= 20 $300 pairs they won’t get ($6000).

2. I tell all my friends that this is not a good store.  Let’s be conservative and I affect one person for one visit  at $300.  Or, say I affect 5 people for life = $30,000.  Hard to say what will really happen here.

3.  I go to YELP and give them a bad rating.  Could be hundreds of people who check that before shopping.  Lets just say 100 x $300= $30,000.

This is fuzzy math, I realize, but it’s easy to imagine that instead of an advocate they’ve created an enemy.  They put the card together, sent it out, and then refused to honor it.  They could have said $10 discount on any frame, with some exclusions.  But they didn’t.  I’d call that poor execution in this promotion.

The cost of poor execution and then refusing to honor it is much higher than simply honoring it.  Sure, if they honor it, they risk me telling my friends to go get their Oakley lenses for $80 off.  But that’s a very small number of people, and the card has an expiration date of September 2009, so the exposure is limited.