Let The Customer Be Right…Even When They’re Wrong

40_costco1I never attempt to hide the fact that I am a loyal Costco shopper.  Nothing gets me more excited than a two-pack of Kirkland Natural Peanut Butter or a gigantic bag of baby kale.  There is one issue, however, that I have to get off of my chest.

A while back my wife and I decided to cancel all of our credit cards, including the Costco American Express Card, in favor of simplifying our finances.  We decided the promise of a rebate check was probably enticing us to buy more stuff on impulse than we probably should.  At the same time, we downgraded our Executive membership ($100/year) to the Gold membership ($50/year).  The difference between the two being that the Executive membership yields a rebate at the end of the year that’s apparently guaranteed to cover the extra $50, or Costco will refund the difference.

When I downgraded my membership, I remember the customer service guy arguing with me and telling me I was making a terrible mistake.  I told him I wasn’t interested in hearing his opinion and asked him to downgrade me anyway.  I should tell you that I have one fatal flaw and that is that I will automatically say no to any and all upselling attempts.  I tend to live by the motto, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Anyway, Costco has this wonderful practice of sending out sales people to scan my card and remind me that I’m making a big mistake for not upgrading my membership.  This happens at least every other time I shop there.  After saying no so many times, I finally stopped letting them scan my card.  It’s amazing to me that they can’t respect my wishes the first time I say no and make an entry in their CRM never to bother me again.

At this point, I say no purely because I don’t like being harassed.  My options as the customer are to either give in and upgrade, continue to argue, or stop shopping there.  A customer should never feel like these are their only three options!  After polling my Facebook network, consensus is that I should just give in and reap the financial benefits.  What would you do?

The bottom line is this: if Costco cares about the experience of their customers, they should upsell them once and then respect their wishes — regardless of whether they are right or wrong!

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

One comment

  • 100% agree. Costco should respect your wishes. Btw, bravo for cutting your cards. 3 years ago I cut the cable as well. A big step but one that got me 30 more hours of weekly productivity.

    Costco has a dif view of Customer service. Maybe they feel like your opinion is wrong. I’d consider writing, tweeting and emailing them directly to find out why they proceed this way.

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