On Customers and Entitlement

Sometimes, only sometimes, customers annoy me.

A guy had bought, for his son for Christmas, a Nintendo DS, the special red Mario Kart edition. It was a limited edition, like the teal blue Nintendogs edition, and once it was gone it was gone. We offer a replacement warranty on the systems we sell, though we cannot guarantee that a person would receive a system exactly like the one he’d bought. An accident befell the Nintendo DS — another of his sons dropped it and broke the screen hinge — and the customer wanted to use his warranty to replace the system.

We couldn’t replace the system with another red system — I’ve not had that system for at least a week, nor am I expecting to receive any more. We could replace it with ones we had in stock, though, the platinum or the cobalt blue. The customer wasn’t interested in that — he has three children, each need a different color system, and the other two children already have the platinum and the blue. A quick consult with the computer showed that another store, about twenty minutes up the interstate, had two of the Mario Kart red systems in stock — if he would like to drive out there that store would be more than happy to take the exchange. Again, the customer wasn’t intersted — couldn’t I have the system shipped from that store, so he could exchange it in my store? No, it wasn’t possible, I replied. And thus we were at an impasse.

So, he tells me his story again. He emphasizes that one son broke the other son’s system, that all three Nintendo DS systems his children have must be different, that driving to this other store to make the exchange will waste gasoline, and he cannot understand why we can’t have the system shipped to my store for his exchange.

There are reasons why shipping one system to my store isn’t feasible. First, the freight cost. Second, the utter waste of time — the earliest I could receive the system would be Tuesday, and if the customer drove out there he’d have his new system today. Taken together, the company reaps no benefit. First, the benefit of a sale is lost — the product is out of the system for several days, and any margin is lost on the transfer.

And frankly, the customer annoyed me. He was trying to lay a guilt trip, and I didn’t appreciate it.

If I were the man’s son, if I were the one that had broken my brother’s Nintendo DS, I know exactly what my parents would have done &mash; they’d have made me give my brother my Nintendo DS. This particular situation wouldn’t have happened &mash; I can’t think of anything equivalent when I was a kid — but that’s the consequence my parents would have imposed in a similar situation.

As Christmas approached I had phone calls from people who wanted, needed an XBox 360 for their child’s Christmas, and if I couldn’t provide it then I was ruining their child’s Christmas. What kind of a world do we live in where kids have a reasonable expectation of getting a four-hundred dollar piece of video game hardware for Christmas? Where’s the sense of proportion? Where are the priorities of the parents? I never would have had that expectation. If my parents spent four hundred dollars total on Christmas, I’d be surprised. But four hundred dollars on a single item? Just wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe I’m not the right person to judge. Video games are a hobby for those with disposable incomes. But I have to wonder at the priorities and values being instilled, if having a different and unique color on a Nintendo DS is that important, if one four-hundred dollar item will make or break a child’s Christmas. There are other things in life.

4 thoughts on “On Customers and Entitlement

  1. My favorite is the guy trying to wheedle the poor kid at EB Games for an Xbox. The kid made the mistake of saying he got thirteen systems in and when he went to check, the man’s name was fourteenth on the list. What followed was all sorts of cajoling from bribes to “Who’s gonna know if you give it to me?” to “It’s Christmas, give me a break.”

  2. First off, why do I have the feeling that “Dad” drove to the store in a huge, honkin’ truck or SUV?

    Second, the sense of entitlement probably stems from the inability of parents to instill any actual values in their children due to never being around. That XBox 360 is likely intended to be a surrogate since “Mom” and “Dad” are probably too busy being pretentious gits.

  3. Liberal return policy–they broke it, yet want to return it? Not even a lie like “we took it out of the box and it was broken!” feh

  4. Todd, he had no reason to lie–the replacement guarantee (or warranty, if you will) that he’d bought for the system covers things like dropping the system and breaking it. Hell, a store several years ago took back a PlayStation that a man’s girlfriend had shot with a gun because she felt he spent more time with it than with her–he had the warranty, they did the replacement.

    I don’t know if the man drove to the other store. If he did, it was probably a wasted trip, because I can’t imagine how a store could have two of those Mario Kart DS systems that late after Christmas, not with the kind of demand we had for them. At a guess, the two systems my computer showed were more than likely defective systems that hadn’t been shipped back to the warehouse.

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