Small business owners: Own up to errors and reap some goodwill

My husband and I are starting a new business together, so I can now call ourselves small business owners. It's a huge step for us, choosing to be self-employed as we have always been employees of big corporate companies.

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Recently, we engaged a printing company to print our namecards (aka business cards in others parts) in Bras Basah Complex. Not only did they have a good range of special paper to choose from, we we're impressed with the care they took with our order, doing a test print to make sure the difficult chartreuse colour we wanted was accurate, and the logo was clear enough. We specified the quantity we wanted in an email, and it was confirmed.

The printing company called us a few days later to say that the cards we're ready but they had printed the wrong quantity - more than what we had specified. They asked us if we would like to purchase the extra boxes of namecards.

My husband and I made a decision not to buy the extra namecards. Our reasons we're a) we are on an extremely tight budget and it takes a lot of discipline to stick to it b) it was not our mistake so we didn't feel it was right to pay (literally) for it.

So we went to collect the namecards, and again, we we're asked if we wanted to purchase the extra namecards at a 50% discount. Again, we politely declined, and said nothing more.

The manager said, "Oh, then I'll just keep this and when you come back to print more, I'll sell you at full price."

Er, excuse me?

That pretty much confirmed in my heart our decision not to purchase the extra namecards was the right thing to do. It even made us feel like we would never go back there again to reprint our namecards. Because that statement showed to me the heart of the business owner and her unwillingness to accept that she had made an error. And I thought it was rather presumptuous of her to think I would return again.

What I would've done:

Give the extra namecards to the customer for free and explain it was an error. It was my mistake, and besides, who else can use the namecards? Better to reap some goodwill and get a return customer and referrals.

An alternative would be to junk the cards and never tell the customer you made the error of printing more, but that would be such a waste. Or keep the cards and hope the customer returns so you can sell it at full price again, but to me, that seems silly.

But it was definitely poor form to tell the customer that you will sell it to them if they missed out on a chance to buy them at a discounted rate at this moment.

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Posted in Business Service Post Date 11/07/2015


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