Monday, June 8, 2009

Merchandise Only or Store Credit for Returns, the Folly

For those of you would prefer to listen rather than read, this show was originally broadcast on June 8, 2009 and you can listen to archived version at:


Let’s talkfirstabout the difference between advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations and marketing.

There is a famous saying that illustrates these differences:
If the circus comes to town and you paint a sign that says- “Circus Coming to Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising.
If you put a sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that’s promotion.
If the elephant walks through the majors flowerbed, that’s publicity.
If you can get the major to laugh about it, that’s public relations.
And if you planned the elephants walk, that’s marketing.”
If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot of money at the circus. THAT’S SALES!!!!!

I was inspired to do this particular show and interrupt my series on twitter because of an incident in a local store that happened to me this past week. Two weeks ago while walking in the Southside of Pittsburgh after dinner I found a delightful little store and was intrigued by the name. My female business associate and I decided to go in and check it out. On first glance it was a delightful store but for small women, actually perky teens and the adorable young women who stroll the club scenes at night in the Southside. Nothing in the store would fit us, but the costume jewelry was quirky, inexpensive and delightful. The shoes were a bit too high of a heel for us but the accessories were conversation pieces. The sales clerks were probably wondering what two senior citizens of such size and stature (to coin a phrase) were doing in their store.

I happen to love big, gaudy, unique, conversation starting jewelry and I have four nieces of the size that this store offers to buy for. So despite not fitting the profile for their perfect customer, I would have been a great one, but not now. Why you are asking if the store was so delightful?

Well let’s talk about the famous quote that I started out with, that’s advertising. The only advertisement that I have seen for this store is its unique name which caused us to go into the store in the first place, it’s location, which is simply real estate on the Main St of Southside, and its delightful contents once you get in the door. It’s great prices and unique contents contribute I am sure to word of mouth advertising. Remember, word of mouth advertising is great as long as it’s good. One satisfied customer will tell one, possibly two people but a dissatisfied customer will tell ten or more, statistical studies have proved this time and again.

Did I mention that I brought a delightfully gaudy pair of huge sunglasses that not only keep the sun out of my eyes but are great attention grabbers? I probably did not and perhaps will not because of my bad experience from the second purchase that I made that day. I found a wonderfully designed bracelet that I thought would be great for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday. It was a unique, eye catching piece of jewelry and I was delighted with my firnds. Sunglasses for me and a birthday gift for son’s gal. I was definitely coming back as these two delightful finds cost me less than $20.00. I am sure the owner was happy also because I paid in CASH. Now if the story had ended here that would be a great example of PROMOTION.

However, the story does not end here. I wore the sunglasse and everyone thought they were delightful but I only wore them once so far because they are hot pink and I don’t wear hot pink every day besides I have a great collection of sunglasses. But the bracelet did not suit my son’s girl because it was too large and it fell off her arm. So I tried it on, it fell off mine. Then we thought it might be an upper arm bracelet and had several people try it on, to no avail. This gorgeously designed bracelet had a design flaw.

So I took the bracelet, with the wonderful little jewelry tag on fine white string still attached and the receipt to the store and the bracelet was in the original bag. I had in mind to buy a great pair of bright yellow and rhinestone earrings that reminded me of the fifties, retro jewelry and I am sure I would have found several other gaudy pieces of “must have” jewelery. I was not prepared for the “PUBLIC RELATIONS ” fiasco that ensued. The beautiful young, size two sales clerk told me she would be glad to exchange the bracelet for store merchandise or store credit but that I could not get my money back. Now mind you, when I went into the store I did not ask for my money back, but she pointed to a sign 5 by 8 in a picture frame beside where she was standing on the counter and obscured by the same kind of delightfully gaudy flowers reminiscent of the delightfully gaudy jewelry, in good taste, considering the contents of the store. But nevertheless the sign was very small and not in plain view.

When the clerk told me this I became a little less of my normally diplomatic self as she was telling me that she had tried the bracelet on with the same challenge but unfortunately the store policy was, Merchandise Ony or Store Credi for Returns and it was prominently printed on the sales receipt. Excuse me, correct me if I am wrong but doesn’t the customer get the sales receipt after the shop owner has already received your hard earned money? Some really bad PUBLICITY now began.

I asked the young size two sales clerk to call the owner, told her I was unhappy and that I had a several radio shows and that I would love to talk about what a wonderful store this was. She called the owner the first time in front of me and neglected to say anything about the radio show. Mind you the store had several customers now because it was a peak time of day. So I had a “spritied” second discussion with the size two sales clerk and asked her to call the owner again. This time she went to the back room to avoid the eyes and ears of the customers in the store. I am sure she left out the part about the radio shows and told the owner this “fat woman” who would probably never buy again in the store was causing a scene in this quaint, small little shop.

She came back with the great news that the owner said that the store policy stands and another admonition that she would be glad to exchange the defective bracelet for something else or store credit. Well by now I was definitely tired of being pushed around by this young lady who was only do ing her job and left the store with the knowledge that this was some pretty bad “MARKETING” on the part of the stores owner.

Now mind you, how many people would come into the store at all if there were a prominent sign on the wall that said Merchanside Only or Store Credit for Returns?
Not too many, but how many more people would be turned on by 100% Satisfaction Guarnteed or Your Money Back.

Now I do understand the reasoning behind this policy because of the area and its demographics of young, hip chics with champagne tastes and beer pocket books, however, there are also people like me who would spend and some 250,000.00 condo owners who would spend also.

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:
© Joanne Quinn-Smith 2009, Monday Morning Marketeer™ 412-628-5048
Listen at:
Or on its unique radio channel at:
Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding.
Joanne has also been designated by the 2009 U.S. Small Business Administration as the Small Business Journalist of the Year for her work with information relevant to small business.
Follow at:

No comments: