Today, while walking on the main shopping street in a European capital, my eye caught a glimpse of a large Omega sign. After a little hesitation, I entered the watch and jewellery shop and approached the counter, somewhat reluctantly.
“Is that the Omega sign on the wall outside the shop?” I said to the three men behind the counter.
“Sure it is,” replied the tallest of the three.
“I thought so. I have a Speedmaster. And I had my watch strap shortened here, some two years ago. It cost me 10 Euro,” I said.
“Uhmmm…”came the reply.
I continued, “I thought it should be for free.”
“If you buy your watch here, it is free,” the tall guy said with growing suspicion.
“Interesting. In Zurich airport, they told me they´d do it for free, regardless of the place of its original purchase.”
A moment’s pause.
The tall man eventually replied, “Well, we initially did that too, but had to start charging for that… there were too many alterations.”
It did sound like an excuse. “Okay, but it´s not Omega’s policy, is it?”
“Well, I can give you your 10 Euro back if you´d like,” he responded quickly.
“Sure, that´s a good idea,” I said. “Thanks.”
The shop assistant with the dressy designer glasses somewhat blinked, but managed to produce the 10 Euro bill. Surprised, I left the shop.
I’m sure he wished I’d bought my Speedmaster in his shop. I had actually intended to. But I remember the very moment like it was yesterday: the then shop assistant, a lady, inspected me from head to toe and offered me a cheaper model, saying it would be a much better one for me.
Needless to say, I eventually bought the watch elsewhere. I only took it back to have the strap altered. A friend of mine told me – and I verified this in Zurich – that they should have done it for free, not for a fee of 10 Euros.
So why am I writing about this? Do you think it´s too small a figure to make a fuss about? For me, it’s quite the opposite. 10 Euro is a big cost for losing customer trust. It takes surprisingly little to lose that trust. And it takes a great deal to win it back.
Today, the shop assistant made the first step. And I thank him for doing that. The lesson? In negotiation, as well as in customer service, there is always a tomorrow.
So tell me, how many chances would you give the guy?