Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Second Disturbing Trend: Cons at the Cash Register

I just posted,

Within 12 hours, I read two newsletters with deeply disturbing stories--one about the media, and the other in the retail world. Both of them made me want to jump out with a big protest sign that says "Ethics are Important...Ethics are Profitable!"--but in both cases, I'd have rather too many targets to picket effectively.

So what's the other story? Roy H. Williams, in his Monday Morning Memo (another favorite of mine despite its weak title--consistently provocative and visionary) talks about "the cashier con," where offers turn out not to be as they were presented.

His examples include a computer clerk who offered a cheap software upgrade--without disclosing that it involved filing for a manufacturer's rebate...and an oil change franchise that flat-out lied when Roy started the interaction by asking if they do state inspections.

I agree wholeheartedly with Roy that these are short-sighted and stupid, as well as unethical. He says...

In the short run, these cashier cons are likely to elevate profits. But can you think of a faster way to grind away brand image and erode brand loyalty? I traded with these companies because I believed in them. And now I don't anymore. I let them keep my money. But I did not let them keep my heart.

I share these stories with you only to alert you to the dangers of shallow, short-sighted marketing. Quicky-tricky profits often come at a terrible long-term price.

Personally, on the inspection sticker con, I would have demanded an immediate refund and filed a complaint with the state Attorney General. The outfit wasted half an hour of his time, did not deliver what was promised, and could have caused him to get an expensive ticket for an outdated sticker.

If your business delivers what it promises, gain the marketing advantage by signing the Business Ethics Pledge.


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