I had been shopping at this grocery store for decades with no complaints. Then one day at the check-out line, the bag boy started walking with me to my car. I glanced down at my two bags and said, “Never mind, I can handle it.” He looked mortified. He said it was now policy that they had to escort every customer to his or her car and put the groceries in for them.
Seriously? Am I three years old now? Do you have to hold my hand while I cross the street as well? If I need help, I’ll ask for it. Sometimes I do, but mostly I don’t. This made for an awkward few minutes as he did his job. I wasn’t irritated with him. He was only doing what he was told. I was irritated at some white guy in a suit in some corporate ivory tower for thinking he knows better than I do what I want or need.
This went on for several weeks, until enough of us threatened to go to another grocery store if they didn’t stop this stupidity. Then, glory hallelujah, things went back to normal. I don’t know who was happier, the bag boys or the customers.
Similarly, I used to go to a pharmacy that suddenly implemented a mandatory automatic refill policy. Whether you liked it or not, they would refill your meds in a month’s time, and then start harassing you with automated phone calls to come pick them up. Well, sometimes I skip doses to stretch out my prescriptions, because I can’t afford the refills. When I want a refill, I’ll ask for it. I no longer do business with them.
It’s one thing to give a customer options. Some may want an automatic refill or assistance with their groceries. Others may not. It’s great customer service to give people choices.
But when you start limiting their possibilities, when you start thinking that you know best, that’s when you alienate people. That’s when you lose customers. That’s when people vote with their feet. I’m not going to be told what to do and give you my money for the privilege. Honestly.