Home > Uncategorized > Jumping Through The Hoops

Jumping Through The Hoops

Last month my wife used a word I’d never heard before: hidebound. Basically, it means rule-bound, though dictionary.com offers these:

  • oriented toward or confined to the past; extremely conservative
  • restricted by petty rules, a conservative attitude, etc

Many of our suppliers treat retailers like children. You have to jump through the hoops or you don’t get dessert. One Canadian supplier launched over a decade ago with something like this: “Our policies: We have no policiy except common sense.” Years later, they had created more bureaucracy than anyone else we dealt with.

But as retailers, we can do this also. If our exchange policies are as tightly controlled as some of our suppliers’ return policies; or if every tiny custom order requires a massive deposit; then our stores can’t be what they are meant to be: A place of grace.

So the comic from Chuckle Brothers seemed appropriate. The store exists on both sides of the international date line. The item is on sale for one day only, but not on the side with the checkout. “Sorry,” the clerk says, “That sale ended yesterday.” When is a sale not a sale?

After the initial laugh, we have to ask ourselves if some of our customers perceive our store that way.

  • Do we have unnecessary policies that could be eliminated and replaced with common sense?
  • Can we maintain policies to fall back on in difficult circumstances, but let the rule of grace dictate the corporate culture and spiritual atmosphere of our stores?
  • Do we need to give our institutional, church, and bulk-purchase accounts some power of arrangement; the flexibility necessary so they can get what they really need?
  1. July 24, 2012 at 11:53 am

    this is so important, sometimes we drive people away and simply make them mad by all our rules and regulations. A place of grace, I like that- but can we be too gracious? I’ve been accused of that by some of my staff- Its hard to get it right- –

  2. July 31, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I got an email from Dicksons Gifts in the US about a month ago stating that they were having free freight fridays for the next month. if an order of 475 or more was placed on certain fridays it would recieve free freight. I only order a few times a year from Dicksons because their freight is so costly to Canada so I thought I would take advantage of this great deal. three weeks later I receive my order and the invoice states a freight charge of almost 40%. I call just to make sure that this would not be charged due to the fact that I ordered it on a friday during the sale and the person right away asked where I was calling from and informed me that the sale was only in the US. I was shocked and mentioned that I had carefully read the email and it did not state only available in the US. She then informs me that all deals are only in the US UNLESS stated also available in Canada. I am so frustrated as I would not have placed this order if not for the sale and I feel like they made the error in the way they state their emails which they emailed to me a canadian customer. This may seem like a small issue but it is enough that I will make a real effort to avoid ordering from this company in the future.

    • July 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      I stopped dealing with Dicksons nearly ten years ago, and this only confirms my decision. If the opt-out “unless otherwise stated” is not in print, they have, at the very least, a moral obligation to do something to make good on this. If they don’t do that, I would walk away.

      By the way, this particular blog, while it tries to abide by journalistic standards, also has a “rant component.” So if you ever want to flesh this out into a fuller couple of paragraphs, I would very happily print it as a guest post, since I don’t believe this sort of situation should exist in our industry. Ever.

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