Thursday, February 08, 2007


is they will spend hours trying to explain an improper position, rather than taking 30 seconds to correct it.

I work in an industry where I must always answer questions about product. Why is this skate more expensive than that one. What performance features does this glove have. And always, I try to answer those questions the best I can, or get someone who can answer them better. That's how I make sales.

eBaY was no different for me. We sold about a dozen old stock skates from the store this year online. I had fitting questions, performance questions, even specific footbed questions. All of which I answered timely. As a result, I made about 50% more sales than my boss thought I could. And we made money.

Yesterday, I was looking at new guitars. I saw one at the local pawn I liked, bu tI was not convinced the price was right. So I went online. A guy on ebay was selling one for 100 bucks cheaper. Here's the kicker, though, a lot of product on ebay is second line, or factory defect. If I am going to spend a good deal of money on a performance item, which a guitar is, I need to knwo some things about it. As I (try to) play jazz and blues, I need to know what the bottom half of the fret board sounds like. Does it buzz when I play high? A lot of very nice guitars do, because no one intends to go up there. I also need to know the action, as I need it under 3mm for comfort.

I sent an email asking just that, action and buzz, to the potential salesman. Here is the exact email I got back:

"We do not want to sell it to anyone who is picky. These are 100 brand new first quality set up by the factory and that is all they are! If you want to buy it great we will be glad to sell it to you but if your teacher is a stickler please do not take it wrong but we do not want to get involved in that"

I had commented that my guitar coach told me what to look for, nothign else.

Read that again. WE DO NOT WANT TO SELL TO ANYONE WHO IS PICKY. Wow! It takes about 15 seconds to test for that I asked for, and ANYONE who buys a guitar would ask for the same. Some people like higher actions, and some people like lower actions. Some people want to know if the damned neck is so bowed it cannot be played before they buy the thing! Funny, I know.

So, I dashed off a reply. I basically told the guy he was lazy, and it was getting in the way of a sale. Here is what I said:

"That is just horrible, lazy customer service. If you cannot tell me the action on a guitar, a simple question anyone worth their salt would ask, or if it buzzes when played, then what kind of dealer are you? Why would you not want to sell to anyone who is picky? If your product is good, it should stand up to the picky, and you would want to prove that."

I know, not very diplomatic of me. And I honestly did not expect a response, and thought the matter closed. Obviously, this guy is not going to make a sale to me. I will pay more to go to someone who is knowledgable and friendly.

Instead, I got this:

Pardon me. Not trying to be rude but You answered it right there!!! You can tell from your attitude and knowledge of guitars that you would be a never ending problem. These are brand new first quality guitars. They play exactly the way they are supposed to. They come from ESP factory set up! We sell them at a great price and do not want to sell it to someone that has the idea that there is something wrong with them or how bad are they or how bad do they buzz or someone who is looking for what is wrong with them. We sell a great product at a great price and stand behind the product 110%. Please again do not take it wrong but I honestly suggest for you to buy guitars from local dealers to you that you can play the guitar before you buy them and then you know if you like the way they feel direct from the factory. We try very hard to please everyone as best we can. If we sell to someone that is looking for problems they take away from time to service those customers that understand and appreciate a good guitar set up the way they should be at factory specs. If a customer wants a different set up we are able to do them by request but otherwise they are exactly like they should be at factory spec and set up and you will learn to know that with experience.

Please please please understand we did not and I did not answer your first email trying to start anything. I am taking the time to answer your email as best I can so you learn and understand where real professional dealers are coming from.

Tony Litz"

A quick note. Factory setup means boo. They are assembled line style, by people who do not play guitars. Most often, the finishing touches are mechanized. The difference in action between 3mm and 4mm, and the resulting buzzing, is the difference between music and sound.

I might also like to point out they do not "try to help everyone as best (they) can" as they would nto even (and still haven't) answer my initial question. Further, they cannot "stand behind their product 110%" as they cannot even talk about it to a novice.

Anyway, I know I am sounding like a crotchety old fart here, and ranting about a very little thing, but it sort of speaks to a larger issue I have been having lately. No one seems to want to work for your money anymore. They just assume you will hand it over. A couple of my workers are the same way: "Can you show me your skate selection" "It's right over there"

It's just not the right attitude to have in sales. First, I think, you have to like sales. I am not so nieve as to think you need to like people, though that helps, but you need to like the back and forth, and the product knowledge, and the struggle that is sales. You need to like when you get through to a tough customer (for the record, I don't think I was being one) as much as when you make the easy sale. In fact, you should feel cheated by the easy sale, as you did not get to ply your trade.

And you can still go home and complain about the guy who asked a million questions, or thought he knew more than you did, but you can do it knowing you took his money, and provided him a quality product AND service. And THAT will set him straight, and keep him coming back.

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