Silly Pricing Practices

December 12, 2011

Here is the first new entry under the “Silly Practices” umbrella.

The other day I bought a television from Amazon.com. I buy everything from them and am a big fan. The TV was about 40% off the retail price and was $200 less than anywhere else. I thought was I was getting a good deal (and I was). Amazon.com has a price guarantee on the televisions they sell. If the customer finds the same TV being sold for less elsewhere or on Amazon.com within 15 days, they will credit the difference. I could also, for any reason, return a TV within 30 days and they pay for shipping both ways.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving (4 days after I bought the TV), I saw that Amazon.com has dropped their price by $150. Cool. I wrote customer service asking for my account to be credited. Instead of them agreeing to do so, They told me that Black Friday and similar discounts did not count and they would not credit my account.

My television had not yet arrived at my condo (but it was shipped to a 3rd party who would ultimately deliver it to me). So I decided I would buy a new one at the low price and see if I could cancel the first order. I was unable to do this through the Internet, so I called.  They were extremely responsive.  I asked if they could either cancel the first order or, better yet, cancel the second order and credit my account for the difference.

Again, they would not give me a credit. Even though the first TV had shipped to the local courier who was gong to deliver it to my house, they decided to intercept it and have it sent back without my ever taking delivery. They shipped the second order later that day.

From a customer point of view, other than having to call them, they end result was what I wanted.  I got the TV delivered on the same day as I wanted for the $150 less.

But the silly thing here is that Amazon.com paid for a 50 inch TV to be shipped to a courier, and then returned. And then they had to pay for my new TV to be shipped. Had they simply credited my account, they would have saved quite a bite of money and energy dealing with the return.

Knowing Amazon.com, there might be a good reason for doing this. But from my perspective, it just seems silly.

What other silly practices have you seen? Write us at: stories (at) sillypractices (dot) com.

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Introducing Silly Practices

December 9, 2011

My latest book, “Best Practices Are Stupid,” discusses why replicating what someone else is doing is not a bright idea.  Just because something works for one company, does not mean it will work for you.

Of course, not all practices are even good. Some are just downright silly.

Even great companies do silly things.

I am astonished every day by what I see.

Companies make their customers jump through hoops. It seems as though companies (and their employees) take great pleasure in making our lives difficult. And sometimes these silly practices cost the business money but they still do them anyway.

Are these companies bad?  Of course not.  In some cases, these practices have been around for decades and have not caught up with the times (“that’s the way we’ve always done it”).  In other cases, the organization’s business model/design make them difficult to do business with (“our internet sales group is not connected with our retail stores”).  And of course, in some situations, things that seem silly to the customer are designed to protect the company from catastrophe (“we need to return to the gate because the FAA will fine us if we are on the tarmac for more than 3 hours”).

Today I decided to launch a new website dedicated to gathering and sharing the silly things well-intention (and not-so-well-intentioned) companies do.

Here the concept in a nutshell…

Companies have policies and procedures that they use to run their businesses. Most are logical and serve an important purpose.

But many are just plain silly. They don’t make any sense because they either negatively impact the consumer experience or cost the company money.

IMPORTANT: This is NOT a gripe session. It is not a place for you (or me) to complain. Instead it is a chance to share the silly things that companies do. Yes, we can laugh at them if we want. But my hope is to start raising awareness of these practices so that they can be eradicated…or at least better understood.

Everyone has blind spots. They don’t realize the unintended consequences of their actions. But when you put a spotlight on them, you can take corrective actions. This is a key step in being able to innovate more effectively.

I encourage you to contribute.

Make a difference.  Share your story.  The best way to do this is to email it to us at: stories (at) sillypractices (dot) com [my spam filter will ask you to verify your identify]. Provide as much or little detail as you want. I will post appropriate emails here for others to see. Let me know if you want your name and contact details included (the default will assume anonymity).  In the future, you will have the chance to enter your stories directly.

COMING SOON: Although for now we will post the practices on this blog, in the VERY near future, we will move everything to a new (yet to be developed) website: sillypractices.com. Stay tuned.

P.S. We are playing around with different names for the new website.  Which do you like?

  • sillypractices.com?
  • dumbpractices.com?
  • weirdpractices.com?
  • badpractices.net? (the .com is taken)
Please leave a comment with your suggestion.  Thanks!

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