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BUSINESS ETHICS –BE UPFRONT AND HONEST WITH CUSTOMERS

I have had two cases of companies in Trinidad who have demonstrated poor business ethics. Interestingly both have brand name products known for high quality for which a premium price is paid. Unfortunately they do not represent their brands well given their callous treatment of their customers.

One of the companies has a policy of collecting 50% up front, 25% when shipped and 25 % on delivery. In other words you are financing the product all the way. As a result what exists is a high trust on the part of the customer with the firm. Where a customer trusts you with 50% deposit up front as we say it is expected that the receiving firm will have some level of respect for the customer. The company verbally promised to deliver the product by the middle of February 2016 (a maximum of eight weeks) having received their deposit in the last week of November 2015. When nothing was heard from the company attempts were made to contact the salesman. It was difficult to do so but finally he could not give any information about the delivery since he had to contact his boss. It was more than a week later that the boss called to say that the shipment was delayed. A week and a half has elapsed since then and yet no word from the boss. The company has now said that the shipment has been made . They have been asked to produce a bill of lading to prove their word.

It will be one month before the product is received thus delaying the completion of the project. The customer has no recourse except a receipt for the 50% and a promise to deliver in eight weeks.

Lessons:
1. If the company wants your money up front ask for a written contract with penalties for delays beyond a reasonable time

2. Ask who is the foreign supplier so that you can make contact

3. Trust but don’t trust the supplier/vendor except you know that they have a track record for delivery and above all honesty

4. Have an alternative supplier and write in your contract a refund arrangement within a specified period of time.

You see this particular supplier has been very successful and has a number of large clients. the small ones don’t really matter of the boss would have treated them with a little more respect.

I am tempted to name and shame but if by the third week of March nothing happens I will do so without reservation.

The other company also has a lot of talk but are woefully short on service. I will tell you this much. These companies are suffering from success. They seem to be living by the philosophy that the customer needs us. we don’t. Put that sign up and celebrate if you truly believe it.

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