In The Bag Got Discount Right, Message Wrong

by Kevin Burton  

   A blogger left speechless, that is not a good thing. Kind of defeats the purpose.

   But speechless I was.

   I had some questions for In The Bag Cleaners after a recent transaction. I presented a card they sent me promising a 33 percent discount. The next day when I returned for my order, the clerk told me I had received a 10 percent discount instead.

   I wrote about it on Page 7 (Did I Just Get Taken To The Cleaners? Sept. 29) and to the business owner by way of an e-mail address on the back of the card.  Within half an hour I had my answer.

   It wasn’t what I expected.

   I had gotten the promised 33 percent discount, and not as a make good. I had it all the time. I just didn’t know it.

   Owner Dave Coyle sent me a screen shot of the transaction. The internal company records show more detail than the receipts do. The screen shot showed I had been given the correct discount, even though I was told it was only10 percent.

   That is the part that left me speechless. Retail workers always talk up their discounts and low low prices. Messaging that goes the other way?  Not sure what to do with that.  Mr. Coyle said he would look into it.

   It is so odd, I just can’t stay there. 

   One last thing though, about the transaction. If an actual 33 percent discount looked to me like ten percent, you can tell that the regular prices had gone up since I had been there last.  But we know that had been a while. That’s why I got the discount card as an inducement.

   Bottom line, In The Bag got it right, at least in what it charged.

   Let’s pursue some larger questions. When you read the post last Sunday, did you assume the eventual explanation would show the company had done something wrong?  

   Are businesses guilty until proven innocent? 

   When that clerk erroneously told me I had gotten a lesser discount, it fit nicely into the most common narrative in the news, that of big corporations cheating little customers.

   There is a magazine called Consumer Reports that not only rates SUVs and vacuum cleaners, but also alerts us when big companies lie and cheat customers to fatten their bottom lines. There is no shortage of stories to be covered by Consumer Reports and other watchdogs in the media.

   So if your mind went to that narrative, as mine did, there is a reason for that.

   In terms of gratitude though, I can do better. Much better. Gratitude for big discounts, small discounts, short checkout lines, whatever.

   From the transaction at the cleaners, I am grateful for the discount, their turning the order around in one day and for the owner’s answering my concern in about half an hour.  In fact I was astonished by the latter. This was on a Sunday afternoon. Doesn’t this guy watch the Chiefs?

   But I am not grateful enough most of the time.

   One day in a supermarket, for some reason it struck me how much food is available to us in this country. It just doesn’t happen that way in many other places. Because of my low vision, there was literally food for as far as the eye could see. When I commented on this, the person I was with did not respond, even though I repeated myself. 

   I have lived in a place where electricity and hot water are the norm, but not a given.  Today I have benefited from both without thinking about it at all. Some lessons we learn need to be relearned.

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