What a DVD Store Could Learn About Marketing

If a customer cannot get your product working, it’s your problem to solve

Hour ago I went to a local store that sells DVDs, televisions, computers and other products like that. I went there to return a movie that was not working: our DVD player could not play the sounds correctly. As a dedicated Terence Hill & Bud Spencer fan I had tried replacing the movie to a new disc (same movie though) about a week ago.

I went to the store and explained that I had bought the DVD couple of weeks ago, and that my DVD player could not play the sounds. I also told them that they had tested the DVD with me in the store last week and it worked fine here. The problem seemed to be that for some reason my DVD player could not play this specific movie properly (and for the record: I had purchased several other Terence Hill & Bud Spencer movies from this store in the past, and all those worked fine). I asked if I could change this DVD to some other movie.

The answer was ‘No’.

The saleswoman started explaining something about company policies and whatever and I interrupted her. I said “Let me get this straight… I have bought a wide screen television and the DVD player from you, and also about 50 DVDs in the past – all have worked fine. And now, last week I came here and we tested the DVD and it worked fine here, but it still was not working properly in my set. And now I cannot get my money back or a new DVD. For heavens sake… the DVD costs only $5 bucks.”

She ‘kindly’ said that “We can test the DVD here to see if it works okay”. I told her that I’m aware that it works okay here, but I told that they could come to our house to watch the DVD and see that it’s not working. Then she continued by saying “I can give you a new copy of that movie”. Then I must admit that my philosophy of “speaking ill of no man” was getting challenged. I stayed calm and explained that we had already tried replacing this copy with a new one – that happened last week. I really cannot spend hours for trying to get $5 movie replaced!

Their bottom line was something like “we have no-return policy for DVDs – you cannot return them just if you don’t like them”. So basically they weren’t trusting me. From my point-of-view, the process went like this:

1. I buy a DVD player from them
2. I buy an expensive television from them
3. I buy a DVD from them
4. The DVD I bought from them is not working in the DVD player I bought from them
5. I go to replace the DVD with a new one (same movie though), the new one doesn’t work either
6. I want to get a new movie, because the certain movie seems not to work.
7. They say no.

So… basically I’m betting $5-25 each time I buy a DVD from them. If the movie works, I can watch it. If the movie does not work… well then ‘tough for me’ since I cannot return it.

See the whole elephant, not just the tail

I dropped the DVD to the desk and said “I have bought a wide screen television, DVD player, at least 50 movies from you in the past couple of years. I’ve probably spent over thousand dollars in your place, but you can rest assured that I won’t be putting any money in your products in the future. You can keep the DVD, I have no use for it. Bye.”

I left the store, and left the DVD on their desk.

They seem to have the same problem that this pizza delivery guy had. I cannot but be amazed how some stores don’t “see the whole elephant… only the tail of it”. In this case because of $5 movie they were willing to get rid of customer worth $1000 (or quite likely much more, because I have liked their services in the past). I mean, think about this. It’s not like they are the only DVD store in town. There’s plenty of them to choose from. They have been my favorite store for no reason… I’ve just happened to like buying from them.

Until now.

Their policy was to make sure that ‘dishonest’ nor ‘honest’ customers would rip them off. While that might work short-term ($5), it certainly work for long-term ($1000 or more). I had legally bought everything from them and tried to get their product working. Since the products I bought from them were not working properly they chose to give punish me – their customer – for that.

What kind of logic is that?

20 thoughts on “What a DVD Store Could Learn About Marketing

  1. Pingback: GameProducer.Net » Blog Archive » I’m Pretty Proud of My Boycott

  2. Pingback: Marketing (r)evolution Carnival #4 - April 10, 2007 at Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

  3. Juuso - Game Producer Post author

    @Daniel:

    “Take the DVD back to the store.
    Go to the customer service counter.
    You: “This DVD doesn’t work in my DVD player, and I’d like to exchange it for another copy.”
    Her: “Sure thing! Let me grab you another!”
    Hand her the old DVD.
    Take the new DVD.
    Hand her the new DVD.
    You: “I’d like to return this DVD.””

    lol, you absolutely made my day :)

    @ZeHa: Or as a blog post title… ;)

    @Tuna: yeh… but how many manufacturers sells DVDs directly anyway?

    Reply
  4. Tuna

    Just want to expand on the title of the topic and what I said earilier. People should stand behind their product 100%, but when it comes to resellers it’s a bit of a different story. If you buy directly then there should be no issues with returns or exchanges, but resellers have a more complicated product situation.

    Reply
  5. ZeHa

    “They can have “standard policy”, and they will end up having ‘standard customers’.”

    Had to laugh on this one :D ‘standard customers’, that’s a cool phrase ;) could be actually used as a song title or something ;)

    Reply
  6. Daniel Kinney

    I assume when you say they have a no-return policy on DVDs, you mean they have a no-return policy on opened DVDs, right? (I’ve never heard of a store not taking back an unopened DVD.) If so, here’s your solution:

    Take the DVD back to the store.
    Go to the customer service counter.
    You: “This DVD doesn’t work in my DVD player, and I’d like to exchange it for another copy.”
    Her: “Sure thing! Let me grab you another!”
    Hand her the old DVD.
    Take the new DVD.
    Hand her the new DVD.
    You: “I’d like to return this DVD.”

    Believe it or not, it works.

    That said, it’s not their responsibility that DVDs work on your player. It’s your DVD player’s manufacturer’s responsibility that DVDs work on it. But be warned, most don’t warrant perfect service. However, making an official complaint with the manufacturer is likely to win you some positive attention anyway, as it seems a great number of these huge companies really do want to make their customers satisfied. Give it a shot. You might get a new DVD player with an updated firmware or even a newer model! It’s happened to me!

    Reply
  7. Juuso - Game Producer Post author

    @Organge brat: “It’s pretty much standard policy to not get a refund on a DVD once it has been opened. It’s too easy to buy it, burn it, and take it back, so I’m going to have to be on store’s side on this one. A policy of remembering “super customers” isn’t a good idea either because sooner or later one of those customers will take advantage in some way. It happens every time.”

    See what Otávio commented: “There is a pizza delivery place (Dominos actually) which we used to order from weekly. Once we stopped making orders, we received a letter with discount cupouns, the letter clearly stating they did not want to lose customers and all.”

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. I mean, how difficult would it be them to implement a system where they could see what I have purchased, and how many returns I’ve had! Besides – I already had replaced the disc to a new disc (but SAME movie). How many people would really do that if they wanted to get an illegal copy? Anyway – the point is: they were looking at the $5 – not the $1000 I’ve spent there, and that caused they loss. They can have “standard policy”, and they will end up having “standard customers”.

    @Tuna: “I see your point of view but its a two way street. You have to understand that the employee your speaking to probably doesn’t care and isn’t going to go outside the policy, they’ll always be trying to protect their job. I would probably have asked to speak with a manager before storming out.”
    Yes, I thought about that – but there was another problem… how much time would that have taken? The last week when I got the DVD replaced it took half an hour or something, and I really don’t have time to fight over $5 movie. In the end it would probably costs me more to get manager there than to switch a store :) Besides, it was stylish to leave that DVD there and left the building ;)

    Reply
  8. Otávio

    They really screwed on that one.
    And on topic of super customers, every company should think carefully. There is an online retailer here in Brazil, one of the biggest ones. My family shops with them quite often, specially since they have got many things and they are always fast to deliver it. We have been buying from them for over 3 years now I think.
    On my mother’s birthday, they sent a small box of chocolates and a discount card. Now that is a great way to reward customers.

    There is a pizza delivery place (Dominos actually) which we used to order from weekly. Once we stopped making orders, we received a letter with discount cupouns, the letter clearly stating they did not want to lose customers and all.

    I like having companies go that extra mile, it helps them get my trust and it helps me knowing that I will get a quality service.

    Reply
  9. Jake Birkett

    “A policy of remembering “super customers” isn’t a good idea ”

    I have to disagree with that, maybe a couple will but basically the first rule of marketing is sell to your existing customers as it’s way cheaper than finding new ones plus super customers become “evangelists”.

    Reply
  10. Tuna

    I see your point of view but its a two way street. You have to understand that the employee your speaking to probably doesn’t care and isn’t going to go outside the policy, they’ll always be trying to protect their job. I would probably have asked to speak with a manager before storming out.

    Reply
  11. Michael

    If I were you I’d write them a letter (retro, I know), explain everything as you have here, include a link to this blog and CC the local newspaper.

    They didn’t see the elephant… only the tail. So hopefully they wont have a problem seeing the big pile of shit they created! :)

    Reply
  12. Orange Brat

    It’s pretty much standard policy to not get a refund on a DVD once it has been opened. It’s too easy to buy it, burn it, and take it back, so I’m going to have to be on store’s side on this one. A policy of remembering “super customers” isn’t a good idea either because sooner or later one of those customers will take advantage in some way. It happens every time.

    Reply
  13. KNau

    It’s unfortunate that major retailers have no memory, no way to recall “favorite” customers. If you spent thousands of dollars at this store it probably puts you within that top 20% of customers that provide 80% of their revenue (or so the theory goes). You would think that someone would put in place a mechanism to remember that you are a valued customer and that $5 dollars is nothing in the big picture.

    These days it doesn’t matter how much business you do with a company, each time you walk through the door you are a nobody to them. Even if the employees know your name the “system” doesn’t.

    It’s a symptom of how the power structure is designed so that employees (and often even managers) have no power to make decisions themselves. Every policy is dictated from corporate headquarters with no exceptions, all the poor employees can do is repeat “sorry, it’s company policy” to the customer.

    In case anyone has ever wondered how to compete with the big box stores, customer service is a good way to start.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    If you have warranty period left for your DVD player, just go and return it to them and say it’s broken!

    Reply
  15. Steve Healy

    Wow, that’s absurd. It never ceases to amaze me when, in this day and age, companies have a “no refund” policy. You’d think by now with all the online stores having 30-90 day money back guarantees the offline stores would be catching on, but I guess not.

    Reply
  16. Kartones

    I’ve had similar problems, for example with my ISP, who had me 21 days without internet just because they changed something in their servers and kept saying it was my fault or something in my line, after more than 7 years of having them as my internet provider…
    I still keep them just because I’m waiting for my house, then I’ll stop, but I now don’t recommend them to anyone, and when they called me for a QA survey I just told them “I really don’t want to know how bad is my impression about you. I think that’s sufficient.” :)

    Fortunately, still there are some very good places to buy. For example, at http://www.play.com I buy my PC, PS2 and 360 games. I preordered Lost Planet and after 1 month (after its release I mean) I hadn’t received it. I wrote to them and they sent me another one within a week. No questions, just sent another copy of the game. That’s a good customer service.

    Reply
  17. Frozax Games

    Well, I guess that’s too late as you won’t come back there, but as you bought the DVD player from them, maybe you could return the DVD player stating that some DVDs do not work on the player… :)
    (or you could find the dvd player in the store and try there but I think it’s better to get a new DVD player for free :))

    Reply
  18. Jake Birkett

    Probably the saleswoman wasn’t the manager or she’d have gone “sure pick another movie” because manager’s are supposed to see the bigger picture. Or the company doesn’t have a clear “mission statement” which includes their customer service policy, or even worse their mission statement says “always distrust customers and never refund them” ;-)

    Reply

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