Saturday, January 31, 2015

You deserve to go broke…

You deserve to go broke…

I am always depressed to see the newspaper article about another long term retail organisation succumbing to high rents and the intrusion of the internet and going broke. The property soon joins our biggest retail chain… FOR LEASE and posts zero sales for the next 18 months until some other hopeful braves the wild world and starts a new venture.

I reckon lots of these retailers DESERVE TO GO BROKE!

I ventured into Perth city this week which is reputed to be more expensive than London for parking and retail rents, and walked past a number of FOR LEASE signs to go to my optometrist of 20 years to make a simple enquiry…
“How much will you charge me for similar multi focal glasses to those I have had for 2 years?”

Before you venture an opinion of what the front desk lady told me consider that this is a fearlessly competitive retail segment with many new players who offer “2 pairs of glasses for $199” and “No Gap” for members of major health funds.” And to put my position clearly, my preferred optometrist isn’t “cheap” and has no cheap price signalling… so I KNEW they would be more than “2 pairs for $199” but expected them to be better priced than last time.

Well this is what I was told:

“Last time you paid $650 and it will be more this time….”

I was incensed… no attempt to match my Private Health cover to my lenses or frames, and show me the after refund cost, no attempt to explain my choices, just “… it will be more this time…”

So I asked “What do I need to do to have my records transferred to a new provider?”
The answer just about floored me: “The records belong to the practice and you can’t have them…”
Well… that was like waving a red flag to a very angry bull… I asked that they send me by email that answer which they did… but further enraged me by saying they would charge me for a summary of my eye health history which wouldn’t be covered by either Medicare or private health insurance.

I also ventured to Perth’s largest city bookshops to buy Amanda Palmers book “The Art of Asking”. And you can imagine what happened…

Boffins… “That was VERY popular at Christmas, it is on order, we will have some in 6 to 8 weeks… should I hold one for you??”

Dymocks… “We are sold out; it is on back order and will be in 6 to 8 weeks. If you give me 50% deposit I will hold one for you…”

Now, I know for a fact that both these retailers have online bookshop divisions where the book is currently available for immediate shipping… was I offered the simple choice of “We don’t have it in stock at this shop but we can have it delivered in 3 to 4 working days from our online store with FREE delivery…”

Gee, I wondered reflectively, would that be so hard??

Side note: I actually picked up a copy in Perth at Planet Books Mount Lawley branch that day. Apparently online book sellers have killed retail books… I beg to differ on that. Retail book sellers have killed themselves.

Back to my optometrist.  I did get my email reply which reaffirmed everything that happened in person so I was compelled to reply that

1. My records are my records and as is my legal right, I wanted them and

2. I was resentful of being treated as a schumk and the three family members previously customers would be seeking a different provider for our eyewear…

The next day, I received a phone call from the owner of the business, who has 5 outlets.

He thanked me for my feedback.

He said of course I could have my eye health records. Then he explained that whilst we had always chosen high value “fashion” frames, as you do, and that they hadn’t changed much in price the last 2 years, cheaper frame options were available, but the manufacture of multi focal lens had progressed greatly and options were available MUCH CHEAPER than 2 years ago. Further he said they were able to match “like for like” offers such as the “2 pairs for $199” if that was what we wanted.

My suggestion was that he should invest in sales training for his front line staff and have them drilled on that story as well. I promised to give the situation another try when I get back from my current 2 weeks seminar tour.

I think the bookshops are doomed… although Planet Books in Mount Lawley is a niche seller, it opens when people are walking the streets of Mount Lawley at night and because of very astute targeting, has recently increased the range of books and consequently increased their floor space… how niche??  I noticed a Star Wars cookbook range… and of course everything about House of Thrones.

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