How do you turn generous offer into a PR disaster?

In The New Now I made the point that, whatever your promise in business, that you’d better be able to keep it, because when you make a promise or offer and don’t keep it, you usually do more damage to your brand than if you’d never made offer in the first place. By way of example, here’s my experience from this last week and how a company that I had fairly neutral feelings toward has turned me completely against the company, simply because they failed to follow through on a promise – a promise they didn’t have to make, but did.

Last Monday, Oct 26th TV Pro Gear sent out their regular newsletter (which I signed up for) with an offer for a free entry to the SMPTE show exhibition last week. I duly signed up for that free entry, figuring I’ll go if it’s free (normally $25).

I heard nothing Monday, nor the next day. So now I’m feeling like TV Pro Gear has let me down, particularly since there was no email or any follow up other than an acknowledgement that I had successfully filled out the form.

When I finally rang I was told (by their receptionist “Crystal”) that “Oh yeah, something happened and we couldn’t do that”. There was nobody else there to find out what had gone wrong and the only “solution” would be for me to go down to the show (and pay $25 for an exhibition of unknown quality). Crystal promised to take my number and someone would get back to me. I also sent an email to their general contact address asking what had gone wrong and requesting both an explanation and an apology.

No email and no phone call a week later, I decided to call. First call gets dropped by the receptionist; second call I get put through to “Bill”. Bill declined to tell me what went wrong and why I wasn’t contacted by phone or email. Basically, the company apparently simply doesn’t care about potential customers or their public reputation or they expect a simply “we’re sorry” – without explanation – to be enough. Bill, that is NOT enough!

Let me be clear: making promises to your customers (or readers of your newsletter) that you cannot or do not follow through on is very bad for your reputation. It certainly makes me think I’d never buy anything there because, how would I know what is true and what they are just saying to get me in, like the false promise in the email newsletter.

So, be very careful when you make promises: you better have the resources to follow through or you damn well shouldn’t make the promise because it will just backfire on you. Like this has.

Deal with TV Pro Gear, Flower Street Glendale at your own risk. It seems to me they don’t care. Of course, they could care, but simply not be competent enough to deliver.

There are lots of great Value Added Resellers in Los Angeles (Keycode, Advantage Video, New Media Hollywood come to mind immediately), deal with them and make a note to not create a disaster for yourself when you make an offer or promise.

4 thoughts on “How do you turn generous offer into a PR disaster?”

  1. Philip,

    I feel like 10 minutes of my life is wasted because you’re angry at a vendor. I subscribe to your RSS feed not to read rants but to understand the future of post production business and technology.

    All you’re doing here is disparaging some company (they do have some used equipment that I thought about buying, however) that didn’t treat you the way you wished to be treated.

    Please don’t do that!

    1. The issue was that making a promise in business is poison to your business if you don’t follow through. That’s a business lesson for everyone, that happened to be triggered by a particularly egregious example. It’s not that they didn’t treat me the way I “wished to be treated”, they didn’t treat me with respect, or follow through on their promise. You do that, and you’ll be out of business very quickly.

      All I’m doing here is discussing how a poorly executed offer is worse than making no offer at all. That’s an objective lesson.

      And you will get the occasional bad-service rant here when there are business lessons to be learnt for production or postproduction. Deal with it, because they’re useful lessons for those of us who are trying to build great production or post production businesses. If you’re not interested don’t read the articles tagged with “Business and Marketing”. I only blog about customer service where it’s relevant – I didn’t mention the bad service from United Airlines nor the great service I got from Jet Blue because they didn’t have lessons that were applicable to production or post.

      Philip

  2. Hay Philip,

    I have a one-strike rule with vendors. If they don’t deliver, they don’t get my business. So I’m with you on this.

    Time to read this post, 2 minutes.
    Time to write this comment, 3 minutes.
    Feeling of satisfaction, timeless.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

  3. It’s easy to see how this could apply in post.

    “Could you have a cut ready for tomorrow at 5pm?”
    “Could you render this to a dvd preview before the end of the day?”
    “Can this be done by sunday?”
    “Can you really do the color yourself or should i get someone else?”

    In an effort to appear hard-working and valuable, i’ve many times promised things i know are barely do-able. A lot of times I managed to do them, making my employer happy. But a lot of other times I stumbled for just one second and failed the deadline-delivery-whatever. A lot of times the producer realizes you were already bending over backwards trying to get things done in time, but even then, these tiny slip-ups pile up quickly. You dont want to be known as the “relatively good but occasionally flaky” guy, dya?

    Over-delivering and being the hardest working mo-fo in the place is something we all should aspire to, but cross the line and you’ll find yourself getting bad rep, no matter how good your intentions where.

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