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Make Sure There’s a Hole in Your Hoop

I’ll admit, I sometimes have readers and customers coming to me questioning my policies and practices. In some cases I recognize immediately that I’m not providing the best service and I change my process on the spot. But as a small company, I am often at the mercy of the service providers I use. So on occasion, when a customer complains about one of my policies, I have to answer that it is a result of how my vendor does things. In truth, sometimes the problem is that I just don’t know how to operate all the bells and whistles that the system I use provides. In other cases, the system just doesn’t match the business process that I want to implement.

For example, I recently had a customer questioning the duration of download availability for digital items purchased from my site. Because I did not know all the ins and outs of the shopping cart system, download links expired at the default setting of one day. When the customer called me on this bad policy, I dove in deeper and figured out how to reset it so that the download was available longer.

Obviously, I can’t do that if the system has limitations. In those cases I just try to over perform in another area of service and hope that the total value I provide is high enough to satisfy the customer.

So, knowing what I go through when piecing together technology, I am pretty tolerant of similar shortcomings in other small businesses, especially if I get the feeling that they are trying to do the right thing. But I am far less tolerant of those sorts of incidents in large companies that have the resources to do things correctly.

In this case I’m specifically talking about Amazon.com. I have shopped with them for years and can’t think of another instance where I was dissatisfied with the service I received. But I did recently have an issue that I still can’t quite wrap my head around. Not quite bad service, seeing as I didn’t actually buy what I needed, but vexing nonetheless.

I was looking for royalty-free music to use in my video productions. Amazon sells exactly what I need. But, I did something that most customers probably never do. I read their terms and conditions before I clicked agree. And in those terms and conditions, it specifically says that the download cannot be used in a commercial venture. Apparently this even applies to an album entitled Royalty-Free Music for Corporate Communications, and Instrumentals for TV Productions, Podcasts, Movies, and Jingles. I’m pretty creative in how I use products, but I have a hard time thinking that there is a big demand for the tracks  ‘Breaking News Sensation 1’  and ‘Progress and Technology’ in playlists at a party.

To me it makes no sense to sell something that is specifically intended to be used in a commercial venture and then require the customer to agree not to use it commercially. Even after several messages back and forth the customer service group, this issue is still not resolved to my satisfaction. If it was me running the show there, I would either remove these commercial downloads from the product line or create a set of commercial terms and agreement. I’d like to think that I would not leave my customers with a head-scratcher like this.

So that’s the lesson here. Let common sense be your guide when you set policy. And if you make your customer jump through a hoop out of necessity, at least make sure there is a hole in it…

Just for fun, do you have any other instances of similar policies that make you go “Huh?”

 

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