So, I was reading this articles at Cracked.com that a friend posted on Facebook.
In the article, there was this fire department in South Fulton (Obion County, Tenn.) who has an annual $75 fee for emergency services (like, um, your house being on fire). Anyway, the man, Gene Cranick, had not paid this fee.
When he came home to find his house on fire, he called... but they wouldn't come. They said he hadn't paid the fee, and so they wouldn't come save his property.
Mr. Granick, seeing the error of his ways, offered to pay them the FULL $75 to come out now. They refused - they said it would cause people never to pay unless there was an emergency actually taking place.
Pure Stupidity Kills Businesses
There are certain times, my friend, when you have to accept the good... and the bad. Sure, Garick might've been a cheap bastard and not paid his fee/coverage for the year. But right now, when he needed the help and was willing to pay... now would've been a good time to show him how much of a BENEFIT it is to have something like, I dunno, a fire department on hand.
However, they went about this demonstration poorly. And I'll explain the better way to do it in a moment.
First, I'll show you the negativity that followed this display of poor business practice.
1) They pissed one guy off royally (who will tell everyone he knows from that day forward how the POS Fulton Fire Department let his property burn)
2) They more than likely generated a whole s*** storm of bad press. I haven't research enough to know this for sure, but I am almost positive.
3) Lost a potentially RAVING customer and advocate for their company.
4) Demonstrated utter stupidity and strengthened the image of "Cold Cash Capitalism," which is taking a beating from every direction
... And I could go on. There is so much wrong here.
So, what is the better way to have handled it?
They could've said:
"Mr. Garick, I'm sorry to hear that. We'll come out and accept your payment for the remainder of the year now, and try to save your property."
Then, they should've HAULED ASS out there and put out the fire. Supposing this got done, they ask if they can go on record with him and have a news piece published:
"Fire Department Comes To Man's Rescue"
The story would go into detail about how Mr. Garick had neglected to make his payment. He returned home on xx/xx from
The fire chief had this to say, 'Mr. Garick is very fortunate. We try to take care of our citizens here. We don't do this normally, but I'm hoping all the people who have not paid will see this as an example of why it's so important.'
Mr Garick was thankful, 'You know, I had never really cared. I thought, 'How could it happen to me? My house won't catch on fire.' I was expecting the worst when I called the fire department - but instead, they came through and I was able to salvage most of my things.'"
Wow. That's a heckuva lot better than, "Fire Department Lets Man's House Burn Due To Non-Payment."
At least, for the company. Reporter's probably like the latter more.
Anyway, keep this in mind. Yeah, you have to draw the line somewhere - but if it's between drawing the line and getting a customer... Make the right choice.
Over and out,