I mentioned in my last post that I really, really miss Rich’s department store. In the article about Rich’s to which I linked in that post, I came across this quote:
In the early 1920s, Rich’s enacted a liberal exchange and credit policy whereby any item could be exchanged and nearly anybody could receive store credit. It was not uncommon for Rich’s to provide refunds on merchandise not carried by its stores or to provide full refunds on noticeably used items. Rich’s operated under the philosophy that all people were inherently honest and that going the extra mile for customers would benefit the company in the long run. Although this approach had many detractors, the store’s continued sales growth helped prove the soundness of this philosophy and endeared Rich’s to its customers.
Even when I worked for Rich’s in the late 1980s, they had the same sort of commitment to their customers. I remember Keith, the guy who trained us, saying, “If someone comes to you and says, ‘Parisian has this same shirt for $14.99,’ sell it to him for that price. They may not have it for that price: they may not even have the same brands of shirts we do. The point is, the customer is always right, and at Rich’s we always trust our customers.” It was a great store. They did treat their customers right. And it was also a great place to work.
In today’s cutthroat, Wal-Mart-ized climate, I guess “the customer is always right” cuts into the profit margins too much.