Forrest Gump wisely said, “Stupid is as stupid does,” meaning that a person should be judged by his actions, not his appearance. The same can be said of businesses; it’s performance that really counts.

I’ve seen a lot of retailers do truly stupid things when dealing with their customers. Consumers are the drivers of sales, aka the top line of the P&L statement. If the public won’t buy, the business fails!

None-the-less, retailers continually are doing or not doing things that erode consumer loyalty. In some cases, retailers do stupid things that permanently drive the customer away. The cost in lost sales and damaged reputation is huge and lingering.

Commonly, store staff views customers with indifference and as an interruption of the employee’s stocking chores. The store employees do not perceive the customer as the most important event of the day.

Let me give you some specific cause and effect examples of this consumer neglect. In all cases, the retailer lost the customer, lost significant potential sales, and inherited lots of damaging word of mouth.

A very loyal customer makes a sizable purchase from a store but returns the next day with two items that were blemished. The receipt was in hand, but the store personnel refused to make a $4.19 refund stating that the item was not theirs. Net result, a good customer walked, never to return but shared their unpleasant experience with lots of friends.

A consumer reads a retailer’s ad and drives twenty minutes to the store only to find out that the store was sold out of the item in question. The customer was offered only a rain check. Not good enough; the customer said, “I’ll buy it online next time from someone else.”

A consumer makes a purchase at a specialty store for $5.65 and uses their Visa card for payment. The store refuses to accept the card because the purchase price was below $10.00. (FYI, this action is contrary to Visa’s stated policy.) The loyal customer paid cash and subsequently sent a letter of complaint to store management. No response or apology was ever received by the patron. The customer never again returned to the store!

Being in a store wanting to make a purchase and/or asking a question, but no staff offers help, even from staff walking by.

Driving to a specific store to make a purchase because of their “Senior’s discount” but at the register being told that the Senior discount is given on Wednesdays only! But you reply, “I’m a senior citizen every day of the week!” It’s a waste of your time and breath.

Waiting in a long checkout line even though other registers are free and could be manned by other staff or management.

Wishing to make a purchase but the retailer is significantly overpriced relative to their competition and the retailer refuses to make any price concession to meet the competition.

And most aggravating of all is the failure of the merchant to address your complaint, stating “It is our policy . . . blah blah” as a reason not to accommodate the consumer. The store’s policy is most likely in direct conflict with the customers’ policy of dealing only with retailers who are willing to satisfy a consumer’s problem regardless of where the fault lies.

The question must be asked, is not dealing with the shopper’s problem worth losing a lifetime of sales versus being in step with “our store policy?”

Stupid is as stupid does!