4 Amazingly Stupid Ways To Lose Customers

June 6, 2008

Some companies lose customers through bad service, some through carelessness - eg they don’t bother to keep in touch with them. But some companies alienate perfectly happy customers through sheer stupidity. Here’s a few acts of stupidity you want to avoid at all costs:

Discriminating Against Customers From Particular Countries: One of the great things about the Internet is that we can shop worldwide without getting ripped off if we’re from a particular country. Or at least we could.

I’ve used both expedia.com and expedia.co.uk for quite a few years and I’ve always been happy with them. But this week, when I tried to visit expedia.com, a message popped up saying that folk from the UK would now be restricted to their UK site. And when you see the difference in price, you realise why. It costs several hundred pounds more to book the exact same “deals” on the UK site.

This is a foolish move on Expedia’s part. Telling your customers that they can’t use your main site because you want to charge them more is the same as telling them you want to rip them off. After all, Expedia.com were happy enough to take my money when the pound was weak against the dollar. And most people are going to do what I did - check out Orbitz instead, discover that flights are a whole lot cheaper and become an ex Expedia customer.

Spying On Customers:
I don’t know if you’ve experienced this before, but many companies now have the capability of knowing what potential customers have been browsing before they visit their site. And some of them have a little pop up box allowing you to speak to an advisor who knows all about: “INSERT PRODUCT NAME YOU’VE BEEN BROWSING HERE.”

I’m guessing most people will be highly offended by this. I certainly was when it happened to me. Why on earth would anyone want to buy something from a company who spies on them?

The Good Old Promotional Code: Have you ever been in the middle of purchasing something online before, when you notice a box saying, “Insert Promotional Code Here”?

Lots of companies do this, which is great, as we all like a nice discount. But what a customer sees when they see that little box is that someone else is getting the same product for less money. And most of them will go off and try to find a promotional code. Trouble is, they might also find some better codes offered by one of your competitors whilst their browsing. Be smart, if your going to offer codes like this that are available to everyone, offer a link to them on your website. Or your customer might just leave and not come back at all.

It’s A Good Deal But You Can’t Have It: Few things are more irritating than the words, “Offer Not Available To Exisiting Customers.” Banks are notorious for coming up with this type of thing. And even if it was a deal you weren’t interested in taking advantage of, it’s still annoying, because basically the company is saying that they don’t give a toss about their regular customers.

Have you came across these acts of stupidity online that lose customers online? Did you continue with your purchase? Can you think of anymore idiotic online practises you’ve seen that would put you off buying?

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13 Responses to “4 Amazingly Stupid Ways To Lose Customers”

  1. Opal Tribble - Vegan Momma on June 6th, 2008 12:23 pm

    Companies that have live chat enabled on its website and start chatting with you almost as soon as you visit. I always leave.

    Opal Tribble - Vegan Momma’s last blog post..Mommy‚Äôs night out; Bonding with an old friend, while soaking up culture & classical music

  2. john on June 6th, 2008 2:18 pm

    EXPEDIA is a huge scam. Source: http://www.victimsofexpedia.com and http://www.expedianews.com

  3. Akemi - Yes to Me on June 6th, 2008 2:45 pm

    Oh, Cath, I luv your attitude!

    Let’s see — I don’t like sites with no FAQ or sites where I have to dig around for 15 min to find the FAQ. And sites with no real contact info. Needless to say, those with poor customer service.

    For example, the company I’m using for my eBook delivery. Yes, I do have business with them currently, but for my next book, I’m definitely going to use another vendor. As a new eBook writer, I had some questions, and their response was slow and off the point (I don’t think they really read customers’ emails.)

    On the other hand, as an entrepreneur myself, this post makes me think. Am I liable for any of these? I hope not. #3 is especially tricky, I think. We’d want to give incentive for more businesses, but how can we do so effectively without affecting the overall profitability? Hmmm . . .

    Akemi - Yes to Me’s last blog post..How I Traded My Life For Future Security And How I’m Getting It Back

  4. Barbara Swafford on June 6th, 2008 6:06 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    This post reminds me of the segment from CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s “Keeping Them Honest”.

    You’ve brought up some great points. The promo code always gets me too. Like you said, either give a link to get it, or don’t have it on there.

    That’s interesting how you found a UK site has different prices than a .com site does. Kudos to you for doing your research and sharing your findings with your readers.

    Thanks for another great lesson in teaching consumers to be informed.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Book And Product Reviews Generate Traffic

  5. cathlawson on June 6th, 2008 10:03 pm

    Hi Opal - that is so annoying isn’t it? It’s even worse than an assistant pouncing on you as soon as you enter a store.

    Hi John - I’ve been reading through your links. That is pretty shocking stuff. I’ve made reservations through various companies who haven’t reserved my hotel room - holiday extras, a uk site was one of those. But not booking your flight when you’ve paid for it is unforgivable.

    Hi Akemi - it’s disappointing that you’ve had a bad experience with your first ebook. I will definitely be checking this with you so I know who to avoid.

    Hi Barbara - thanks. I have not watched that program. It is terrible that they’re trying to rip off people from the UK. But I have used them far less since they took over trip advisor. Too many fake reviews and I once wound up staying in an absolute dump for the night thanks to a fake trip advisor review - and it was reserved through expedia.

  6. Tom - IncomeDiary.com on June 6th, 2008 10:14 pm

    haha. I go looking for promo codes as soon as I see they have them :D
    Tom - IncomeDiary.com’s last blog post..Is Part Time Blogging Worth It?

  7. cathlawson on June 6th, 2008 10:22 pm

    Me too Tom - there is no way I want to be paying more than the next guy.

  8. Mrs. Micah on June 7th, 2008 1:31 am

    I think a promo code box should at least be not apparent but easy to find if you’ve got one. The thing being that sometimes there may not be a promo code for any of the items you’re buying, but there’s one that applies to another category. In that case, a box to the side labeled “enter any relevant promotional codes here” might keep customers. Heck, it might keep them paying more.

    I don’t mind if Amazon gives me recommendations based on their site (though it’s funny sometimes…depending on what I’m looking at), but I find the others creepy too.

    AOL accidentally let some of those stalking logs (the ones that are apparently used for recommendations) leak. The funniest and scariest were selected by this crazy forum group and are on display. There’s nothing to identify them except a random number AOL assigns to different users. It’s not safe for work, but I found it mildly amusing crossed with quite frightening.

  9. cathlawson on June 8th, 2008 10:47 pm
    OMG Mrs M - that does seem v scary and weird. I do wonder about aol. When I search a particular term I am inundated with spam on the same topic in my aol inbox.
  10. Paul Simister on June 13th, 2008 10:37 am

    Interesting blog and I so agree about the promotional code offer. It makes it clear that other people are getting a better deal and I get a sense of missing out on something.

    There are only 3 decisions you can make
    1 - carry on and swallow the bitter pill
    2 - go off and search google for any promotional deals and probably waste more time than the deal is worth
    3 - abandon the idea

    Paul Simister’s last blog post..Common Marketing Mistakes Part 4 - Ignoring Customers, No Referral System

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