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Is this good business?

This time the discussion centers around a seller based in Canada and selling tooling in the U.S. over the Internet. Their advertising offers "free shipping" to anywhere in the U.S. This guy orders some bits from them and they get delivered with a substantial bill for customs fees.

So the guy is stuck paying more than if he had purchased the same tooling from a US vendor charging a higher price and shipping on top.

Half of the participants in the discussion are of the opinion that "Well, honestly, as any US Customs officer will tell you, it's your responsibility to understand the laws, not the vendor."

And there it is again. That "logic" that cannot be argued with and yet forgives the vendor all responsibility for deceptive practices, putting the burden squarely on the shoulders of the customer. But we all know quite well that these costs were not disclosed deliberately because the company would have probably lost the sale if the buyer had been aware of the extra "hidden" costs. So while they acted within "the letter of the law", they really did not act in "good faith" and as a result, instead of losing a sale they have lost a customer.

Maybe the vendor does not care, and that is their prerogative. But not what I would consider "ethical" or "sensible" business practice.

Years ago, I read a book called "How to Sell Anything to Anybody" by a "sales guru" named Joe Girard. He talked about what he called "Joe Girard's Law of Two Fifty". What it boiled down to was that the "average" person is acquainted with 250 other people. And while a happy customer might never mention you, if you had an unhappy customer, you could pretty much bet your last dollar that all 250 of those people were going to hear about it. Then you start to figure out how many of those people are going to tell their friends and acquaintances what they heard and, after a few "degrees of separation", there are a lot of people who are going to hear about how bad you are.

Do you know how many tool vendors have come and gone since I started doing woodwork? Well, I don't either really, but I can assure you that it is more than the number doing business right now. The one's who are still in business are the ones who, over the years, provided the best service, not the ones who advertised the lowest prices.


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