It was a suicide mission. I knew that going in.
That’s the way I like it. Long odds against … well, impossible odds.
I made my time (sic) and said my goodbyes. “Goodbye, iPod. Goodbye, iMac. Goodbye, iPad. Goodbye, Apple TV.” I’m only human so I brought the iPad with me. I knew we would make a fine Thelma & Louise moment together.
I was going to that McDonalidzed experience at the strip mall where they make eyeglasses. What the hell, you can only die once.
I made sure to bring my blue pen. We were decidedly heading out past the point of no return.
I squinted and turned to face my destiny. I took that warm feeling spreading through my pants as a sign I was doing the right thing.
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Chilling eyeglasses – in about an hour
Sometimes a good idea can be taken too far.
Like shopping on the internet. Customers who made purchases from DecorMyEyes.com sometimes got a little something extra in addition to their order. The owner of that website recently plead guilty in a Federal court to two counts of sending threatening communications, one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud.
That sounds pretty typical for the internet, if you ask me. But wait. There’s a twist.
The threatening communications included threats to kill or sexual assault customers who complained about products purchased from the website. The owner maintained several aliases used to menace his customers by email.
In one case, the owner, Vitaly Borker, sent an image of customer’s home he had obtained from Google Maps, saying, “P.S. don’t forget that I know where you live.”
Read the article in the New York Times
Man, that guy sure has made a spectacle of himself.
The judge told the man, “These threats are chilling, Mr. Borker.”
It turns out that I’m pretty good at customer service after all. At least by comparison.
Those who know me know that I dream of replacing my boss and striking out on my own on the internet. I know I’m smarter and I’m not willing to lie, cheat and steal to make a buck.
I was considering my approach a skosh harsh – at least until I heard about Borker’s tactics. Now all of the sudden my plan sounds downright timid.
My plan was simple:
- No phone. Ever. Instead I’d offer a pledge to respond to most inquiries by email within one business day. You think Amazon.com whores over phone calls to get orders? No way. Once you accept calls your order accuracy goes in the toilet and you spend your day hoppin’ around like a chicken on a hot plate. An interruption-driven day increases your error rate in other areas, too, like shipping.
- The website would include profanity. Like our “no bullshit” policy. That policy would include things like our honesty guarantee. We don’t lie to take your money. Ever. And our non-edited testimonials page that lets it all hang out. Period. Someone has something shitty to say about us? We don’t edit it or take it down. We lump it.
- The FAQ would explain things in no sense. Why no phone? It costs money and ruins our day. Don’t like it? Go order someplace else. If you want a low error rate on orders and a fair price, buy the thing. Or not. Either way, we’re not going to whore all over you.
- No games pricing. You pay based on our wholesale price plus a modest percentage so we can enjoy the things that you do, like food, clothing and shelter. We won’t round up to 99 cents and we won’t change prices 15 times a day based on bullshit things like you zip code or how many items we’ve got in stock.
- The big piece would be our “in stock” guarantee. The website would report the quantities of products that we actually have on hand. That number would be accurate and updated in real-time. No “drop ship” bullshit and no placing your order just to find out we don’t have the damn item. The guarantee would be simple: If we say it’s in stock, it ships within one business day or you get the item FREE. Period. No fucking bullshit.
- Another policy: No returns. No exchanges. If you want the item, buy it. If not, go away. This keeps our prices low. Instead of spending our day dealing with your indecision, we can focus on running our business efficiently and keeping our prices low.
No doubt that some people would be put off by this approach. Those are exactly the bottom-feeders I don’t want to deal with. Go suckle on another store’s teat.
But, and this is just my hunch, I think some people would appreciate this approach. We’d ship quickly, have a competitive price, and guarantee what our website says. It would be just that simple.
Are you convinced? Do you hate bullshit and like making an honest living? Want to be your own boss and eliminate the idiots from your life? Open up your damn wallet and invest in my company. What are we going to sell? I have no friggin’ idea.
If all else fails, we can always switch tactics and hire Mr. Vitaly Borker to be our spokesperson. Don’t forget – he knows where you live!