We had an interesting experience recently. It illustrates one of the biggest problems in both small and large businesses.
In spite of all the customer surveys and all the social media listening opportunities, businesses tend to ignore valuable feedback because solving a problem is often harder than just ignoring the problem and letting your customer continue to deal with it.
Our home is for sale and was under contract. The Saturday before our contract fell apart, we took all of our old paint and chemicals to a special hazardous-materials collection. That left us with no paint for touch-ups as we were preparing to get our house back on the market.
My wife hired a painter that we have used many times to do some minor painting that required matching one room’s paint. Since it was such a small job, and he was squeezing our work in between coats of paint on a neighbor’s front door, she agreed to get the paint that was needed.
One paint that we required was a Benjamin Moore paint and another was Sherwin Williams Navajo White. Our painter told my wife that she could save some time by just going to the Benjamin Moore paint dealer, and they could mix the Navajo White with their paint computer.
Sure enough my wife came back with a small can of Benjamin Moore paint labelled Sherwin Williams Navajo White. The picture at the top left is from that paint can. Our painter tried it on the spot we were trying to fix, and it looked terrible. We thought perhaps our wall had faded, but my wife had a Sherwin Williams paint strip with Navajo White, and it matched our wall perfectly. The other Benjamin Moore paint that had been matched with a Benjamin Moore paint chip worked fine.
My wife headed back down to the hardware store where she had bought the paint. They completely ignored her request to try to fix our $22 quart of paint. Their comment was that if our can of paint was computer mixed, they were not prepared to fiddle with the paint. I guess the computer is always right, and the customer just has to live with it.
A day or two later we stopped by Sherwin Williams and bought a gallon of their Navajo White paint. That evening I painted the small area that needed fixing. The paint matched perfectly.
I decided that we needed to get a refund on our Benjamin Moore Navajo White paint so I put a drop of it on the Sherwin Williams paint strip and headed off to the hardware. I took the can to the front desk and asked for a refund. First the lady offered to remix it, but I told her it was too late for that.
I showed her the paint strip which demonstrated how far off their Navajo White was compared to the real Sherwin Williams Navajo White paint. She was completely uninterested. At first she told me that if I wanted Sherwin Williams paint, I should shop there. I told her that she should not sell Sherwin Williams labeled paint if it didn’t actually match Sherwin Williams paint, but she didn’t seem to care about my observation. However, she did go talk to a manager.
We got our money back after the discussion, and I appreciate that. However, they were uninterested in fixing the problem we uncovered.
I guess giving us back our money is easier than fixing the real problem of a paint matching computer that doesn’t work properly. Still we ended up making three trips just to get the cup of paint that we needed. Of course I won’t buy any more paint from that hardware store.
Hopefully they get few customers looking Sherwin Williams Navajo White paint, but my guess is that the next customer will be just as unhappy as we were if they are trying to match some paint already on the walls.
Like many businesses, our hardware store chose to ignore the real problem and leave a trap set for the next unsuspecting consumer.