Tough Cookies – Own Up To Your Mistakes

Mar 31

Tough Cookies – Own Up To Your Mistakes

We just spent almost a week trying to buy another car. It’s made me really think about my business practices and why I like dealing with some businesses, why I don’t like dealing with others, and what I want people to come away with after they buy something from me or even just join my email list.

We’d switched bank accounts to a local credit union because the bank we’d been using had too many policies that didn’t work out well when we first moved. They held our money for seven days because Scott’s paycheck was handwritten. They even held a $400 check from the State of Alabama simply because it was from out of state. The last straw was when we opened a second savings account and they neglected to tell us until we were signing paperwork about the $200 minimum balance. Seriously. Who even has a minimum balance anymore, especially $200?

So we moved to the credit union that everyone in town swore by. It was wonderful, it was great. Our son had his account there and he opened it in less than an hour with no issues. But things have changed there in a year, the main change being a video conference system which meant we were sitting in our local branch but talking to someone over a computer. It worked out fine and we opened our accounts. Then last week my husband went in to turn in our loan paperwork to buy a car.

We didn’t think it would be difficult. We applied and got preapproved. We’d found a private party sale that seemed as though it would work out okay. I won’t go through it step by step, but it took five visits and a call to a supervisor to get it worked out. The biggest issue to me was the bank wasn’t upholding a deal they’d made with us on Monday afternoon and I wanted to know why.

We’d visited the bank twice on Monday. The first time was to send in our 2014 taxes for the second time. They needed this information since I’m self-employed. After that visit we had to back out of the private party sale due to the price and the loan payment, but on the way home we stopped at a local dealer to look at a pickup truck that was $1000 less. We got all of the information on the truck and went back to the bank that afternoon.

We had to send in ALL of our paperwork again. They couldn’t find any of it, and then they had to approve the new loan for a different vehicle. We left Monday night with a deal, payments we could afford, and all was well. They just needed one more piece of information from my husband.  I guess you can imagine what happened on Tuesday. All paperwork gone and nothing could be found on the truck we’d applied to purchase. So he had to start ALL OVER AGAIN. And this time the deal was a loan for more money and less time than the deal on Monday night.

This was supposed to be the best credit union in San Antonio, the one everyone raved about. But they’d not only lost all of our paperwork four times, they’d lost the deal they’d made with us on Monday night. The explanation given to my husband? We made a mistake.

My response to that? Tough Cookies.

I like businesses that own up to their mistakes. I like dealing with people who listen to me and hear my complaint. I don’t like a business that waits until the last minute to tell you about a fee or tries to push you into buying anything. I’m not a good salesperson. I don’t want to be. I just want to offer something valuable to people and present it to them honestly.

We had to call Progressive Insurance three times this week. Each time, they did what I asked with no trouble. Our son needed insurance information faxed to him so he could get his car inspected. No trouble. We needed to add the new vehicle to our policy. No trouble. We’ve had nothing but good experiences with our insurance company.

We walked into this dealership and test drove the truck with no high pressure sales pitch. No one left us waiting for hours while they talked to someone else. The truck had a price we could afford and we looked the dealership up online to read reviews – nothing but good things and one problem we found on the BBB that had been resolved. We liked that they had resolved it and worked with the customer who filed the complaint. It gave us confidence in dealing with them.

So I called the credit union last night and asked to speak to a supervisor. I spoke to a nice lady and explained what had happened – all the visits, the multiple times we had to fax paperwork, the information about the truck being lost, and finally the big question – why wasn’t the deal from Monday night still valid? Why was it okay on Monday but on Tuesday it wasn’t? What had changed? I wanted to know why. So this supervisor took it a step further and listened to the conference call with the representative from Monday night. She called me back thirty minutes later and approved us for that deal. They would stand by what they said.

My husband returned today and he said everything went so much better. Nothing was lost. All the paperwork was in order. And they really did stand by what they’d told us on Monday night. And we’re now the proud owners of a beautiful 2006 Chevy 1500 pickup.

This got me thinking about what I do in our businesses when we make mistakes. On eBay, I let the buyer know about the mistake and I fix it. I take returns because sometimes stuff happens. Perfectly good looking shoes fall apart when they’re worn. Sometimes a shirt doesn’t fit. I list everything to the best of my ability, but if I make a mistake, I own up to it and offer a solution to the customer. I try to fix it and stand by my word.

When someone calls me about their payments to the storage facility we manage and tells me something is off, I listen to them and I pull up their rental history. I research the issue and find out what happened. If it’s our mistake, we admit it, we apologize and we fix it.

I have people who email me from my transcription site who misread my offers and think something is included that isn’t. It doesn’t happen often, and I’ve written the offer to be as clear as possible. I even got a bad review on Amazon because of a change I’d made in the book down the road and the reader wasn’t happy that the item wasn’t included with the book anymore. But when people email me and say, “I thought X was included in this package I bought. Where is it?” I tell them no, it isn’t, but then I send it to them anyway. I answer their questions and do what I can to make it right.

This is how business should be done.

How do you want your customers or clients to remember you? What do you do when you find out a mistake was made? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.



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