Scrappy or crappy?

Last week, I did something I haven’t done in years; I walked into a national chain bookstore, determined to buy a book.  After reading several Kindle books, I missed the feel of a hardcover.  Ten minutes of browsing led me to “Trillion Dollar Coach” about Bill Campbell, a Silicon Valley ‘Yoda’ who helped mentor Google and Apple.

The price on the back cover read $28.99, but that’s kind of like a car’s MSRP… Nobody pays the list price.  Out of curiosity, I check the book’s price on this store’s website: $15.17.  That’s more like it.  Next, I check Amazon’s price: $19.60.  Scrappy Brick-and-Mortar Retailer 1, Behemoth Online Retailer 0.  Hold the applause.

I walk to the counter to pay, and after a brief hello, the cashier asks me if I want to sign up for something to save 10%.  No thanks.  Then she asks, “What’s a good email address so we can send you valuable coupons?”  No, I’m good.  I prefer non-valuable coupons anyway.  Finally, she scans the barcode and the register shows $28.99.  I protest and tell her the online price is $15.17, and she says, “Oh, we don’t have the same prices online as we do in the store.”  Ummm.  “And besides, that’s the Marketplace.  Those are used books.”  I’m sure I looked like Napoleon Dynamite in deep thought, so she says, “But I can give you the online price, which is $24.31.  With tax, the total is $26.01.”  Still stunned, I slowly hand over my cash.

When I get to my car, I set the book on the passenger seat and stare at it for an unusually long time.  Buyer’s remorse is riding shotgun.  I wonder if the library has this book?  I go about my day, but I can’t shake this feeling that I’ve been taken.  After several hours, I do what most rational people would do…I let it go.  And, by that, I mean I took the book back to the store and requested a refund.

This all might seem petty or stupid or a waste of time, but it confirmed to me why I hadn’t been into a national chain bookstore in a while.  It’s much less of a hassle to order online and have a book show up at my door 1-2 days later.  Plus, I save money and I’m not accosted with “deals” (Save $1 on your next Danielle Steele purchase!).

Do companies really think they can still get away with charging a premium price for subpar customer experience in today’s world?  We see it all the time in the financial advisory world: “advisors” and firms selling high-fee products that underperform, nickel-and-diming their clients for add-on services, and offering one-size-fits-all solutions—all of which fly in the face of how P&A operates.

Rather than trying to upsell our clients, our approach is to up-serve you.  We know the client experience bar isn’t coming down; your expectations will continue to move higher.  We also know there’s a big difference between scrappy and forgetting the “s.”

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Since 1995, Pittenger & Anderson has guided individuals and families going through money-in-motion events. We are a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor and a full-time fiduciary providing investment management, financial planning, and complimentary services to 800+ clients in over 30 U.S. states.

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