You are a worthless customer


Artscow.com, Thank you for telling me how worthless I am and giving me something to write about.

While this post is a dedication to artscow.com, the major focus of this post is “What is a customer worth to you”.

I am aware that there are more than a handful metrics and formulas you can use to figure out a $ amount; but this post is directed more towards the ethical and monetary value of a customer.

So let me start with a series of events…. Which were actually related to my wife’s interaction with an ecommerce purchase:

We have been long time customers of shutterfly, we love their customer service, product quality and the variety of products and services they offer…

Shutterfly does entice us with special offers and discounts and many times we pay full price for their products, which compared to professional studio and/or printer are a steal with as good or greater quality. Whenever there is a need, we have obtained products from them…

However; every now and then, you come across an offer that doesn’t cost you anything, and you say why not… One of these offers was artscow; they were offering 30 8×10 prints for free; all you had to pay was standard us postage, roughly $3.

My wife ordered the prints; a decent looking website.. The eCommerce/cart was slightly underpowered compared to shurterfly (boy is that an understatement) but it was a Fairly painless process.

A week or so went by and the prints showed up in the mail. We noticed that these shipped out of china (nothing wrong with that) and upon opening then, the print quality was decent; I.e nice color and gloss… However upon inspecting the images, the pictures were cropped left and right. From the 15 prints, 2 were usable.

My wife got on gmail and contacted customer service; a day went by and the response we got was instructions on placing items in cart and ordering them. None of the content in the response addressed the issue with the print.

Now I had to get involved; I took pictures of the pictures and emailed them over along with what it should have looked like. Also took a screenshot of their webpage that showers thumbnails of what was being ordered.

What I was expecting was a “Thank you for the details, please use this coupon to reorder your prints. While reviewing your images, we notices that the image is slight larger than what 8×10; even though it would have fit as the proportions were correct, out tool does not resize/shrink. Hence the cropping”…..

What I got was, “you didn’t adjust the image, so your got that”..,., and that was it…

I guess, we have been spoilt by shutterflys tool that notified you of any potential issues you may run into if your image is larger than the print or the image resizes, or crops.. but is that really our fault?

Here is where my “You are a worthless customer” statement ties in.
1. We were given FREE prints
2. We paid about $3 in shipping

How hard would it have been for artscow to say “Let us fix your experience, here is a coupon for another set of free prints” and maybe they could have even thrown in a “and you don’t even have to pay for shipping this time”… keep in mind, we still had coupons in our account for free prints which artscow.com would have been aware of… so I guess, we were not even worth $3 to them 🙂 what does it tell you about such a vendor?… so what is their official policy? “ArtsCow.com offers 30-day money back guarantee on all products. If you would like to return or exchange an item, please contact us to fill out a request form, and we will instruct you on how to send the item(s) back. Please keep in mind, shipping charges are not refundable”…. go figure…

Let me compare this to similar situations with shutterfly, at one time we ordered prints using low res images instead of the high res ones. When they got printed, the pictures were pixelated, obviously customer fault; however, shutterfly reprinted and shipped for free! I believe our order was worth $65; doing a comparison on “how much a customer is worth” I would have to say that we were at least worth the $65…. Now should the order have been $600 and it had been customer error; I do not know if shutterfly would have given us the same “let’s fix it for you”… eventually it tapers off and vendors will only pay so much to hold onto customer loyalty… however, their policy “If, for any reason, you’re not happy with a purchase, we’ll replace your order, at no charge, or give you a full refund.”….

Enough about shutterfly; let’s talk about Zazzle.com. We purchased a Groupon for $50 for $25; went online, customized some invites, ordered the invites; got them in the mail; somehow the “customized text” was replaced with the “generic text” that was shown as an example.
1. Customer error? No, and even it was….
2. Cart/Website should have caught the issue as no one would be buying customized invitations and keep the generic/sample text

The total order was worth $87; I chased Zazzle customer service down on twitter and had them help me with an emailed request to customer support. We got our Groupon certificate replenished and balance refunded and we placed our order again. Customer worth? $87 in this case…. and actually, if you look at Zazzles policy “If you don’t love it we’ll take it back”..

Now let me mentioned another eCommerce vendor that i actually know more about, and that is blank-label.com.

I know that at blank-label.com we care about customer satisfaction and loyalty, on the front page currently we have “Our Custom Fit Guarantee You will be completely satisfied with your custom fit dress shirt. If not, we’ll take it back and try again–free of charge.”. We toyed with 100% refunds in the beginning and then moved onto free remakes and we have been thinking of going back to 100% refunds or remakes. We moved away from 100% refunds was because we really wanted to do a good job of making sure that we met customer expectations and simply giving the money back wasn’t cutting it for us; if we still messed up after the 2nd try, we do refund the $’s and if someone really doesn’t want a remake, we refund in those cases as well… it’s just not a published policy 🙂

What is blank-labels customer worth? I have seen transactions in the $300 range been credited back to customer service; if you have not yet tried a custom shirt from blank-label.com I suggest you give them a try.

In summary, Customer satisfaction brings customer loyalty; if you do not care about your customers, they will not care about you…. especially if you make them feel worthless.

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