Here’s a Great Way to Lose Some Customers :)

Never, ever, step outside your own rules/boundaries….

I don’t often blog negatively but we’re away in Cornwall this week, staying in an idyllic house in a place called Polzeath. The family come away every year to the same house which is near a well known hotel called The St Moritz. Today I witnessed a great way to lose customers and wanted to share it with you.

So here’s what happened. There is a party of 10 of us deciding whether to go for a swim over at the hotel. 4 of the girls are getting beauty treatments at the hotel tomorrow so a few of us pop over first and ask if the group can have a discount on the swimming today.

Officially the hotel offer people having treatments 50% discount on the swimming so we’re going to see if they’d be kind enough to extend that to the rest of us. The guy on the reception tells us that everyone can have the discount and so, very happy, we pop back to the house and round up the group. Everyone bounces over to the hotel happy as larry and the girl on reception tells us she’ll get the manager who we had originally spoken to.

The managing director appeared 5 minutes later and in no uncertain words tells us that everyone pays full price and only the people paying for treatments get it half price. He says this without any consideration or thought for what sits in front of him (10 new customers for a start). In fact he goes on to say, ‘you can’t expect me to give the benefit to everyone – I’m afraid the person you spoke to didn’t have authority to say that, I’m the managing director and I say everyone not having treatments pays full price’

So lets dissect this in case you want to use this tactic to lose some of your customers.

  • We wanted to use a facility that sits there and costs money whether people are in it or not.
  • The whole time we were there we only saw about 10 other people (we were there for at least 2 hours).
  • He took about £100 off us instead of £50. I very much doubt we’ll be recommending the hotel or it’s facilities now.
  • We could have gone back there everyday this week for all he knew – at a fiver per person, per day that would have been some good business for him.
  • He was unwilling to budge from the rules he’d laid down.
  • In this social, sharing world, it was pretty easy for me to write this and share it to thousands of people

Now some of you might be saying – but what if others found out, would that cause him a problem? Maybe, and if that was really going to be an issue I think the way the situation was dealt with could have been better even if the outcome wasn’t the one we’d all wanted. Communication is everything in business – your customers are your new marketing.

If you’re wondering how I would have approached the situation – here’s how: I would have told us that the first guy had made a small mistake but that on this occasion I was willing to stick by it. I might have made a little joke about not telling anyone and I’d have had 10 happy customers without a bad taste in their mouths and returning every year.

Now Your Thoughts

  • What fantastic strategies have you found for losing customers?
  • Do you have a different view on this? Was the guy right for sticking to his own rules?


  1. Jamie Banks on 16th May 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Not only a good way to lose customers, but appalling staff management!

    As you pointed out in a previous post, a manager delegates authority but retains responsibility, and if a staff member makes a mistake, you stand by his/her decision, at least in public, unless the circumstances absolutely preclude so doing, which they didn’t in this case.

    The hotel MD has now undermined the staff member who made the offer that was subsequently withdrawn, and has made him look foolish. He now has an employee who is likely to be disincined to take any initiative in future for fear of falling foul of his boss.

    The MD has created two new problems by the nature of his intervention, irritated customers and a disenchanted employee!

    Not perhaps the best example of how to run a successful business! Does some aspect of Fawlty Towers spring to mind?

    • Banksy on 18th May 2011 at 6:36 pm

      A warm welcome to Jamie – not only a great comment but also my father and his first on my blog – a special moment as I owe a lot of my business success to this man 🙂

      I particularly like the reference to Fawlty Towers – it has made me chuckle. I hadn’t thought as in depth about the knock on effect of the staff member being undermined but it’s so true.

      Hope to see you commenting again soon.


  2. Graham White on 17th May 2011 at 6:59 am

    I agree completely with your resolution, that’s exactly how I would have handled it too. The manager, if he was annoyed, should have had a quiet word with the staff member and not told off his customers instead. There’s plenty of better ways he could have dealt with the situation and ways in which he can prevent it happening again.

    • Banksy on 18th May 2011 at 6:39 pm

      I’d like to think in reflection we caught the guy on an off day Graham but I have a feeling we didn’t. Such a shame as it’s a lovely venue.

  3. Alison Jobson on 18th May 2011 at 10:33 am

    Good customer service is not hard but it’s amazing how many businesses fail to get it right. Often it just takes a bit of thought.

    Your approach would have been far more effective. Maybe if the MD had just thought things through a little better then you would be tweeting at the end of the week about about what a great hotel it is and not how bad the customer service is!


    PS Blogging on holiday?!

    • Banksy on 18th May 2011 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks Alison – You are so right and I think business owners need to wise up to the fact that in this social age we turn to channels like Twitter and Facebook so easily. As I mentioned in the post, I don’t like negatively blogging but this really did make me mad and it was my way of venting.

      p.s. Yes I know, blogging on holiday – Wait for my post one day on never turning off 😉

  4. Annette Harpham on 18th May 2011 at 10:42 am

    Great post. One of the key rules of customer service is never to undermine your frontline staff. This just shows how little had been invested in proper training and support for frontline staff.

    Here are some general principles for getting customer service right:
    Make sure your frontline staff are ‘people’ people;
    Invest in them with training, and never stop doing so;
    Set clear parameters for performance and responsibility;
    Trust them and empower them to make decisions;
    Listen to them and learn from them.

    And most of all, understand that customer service is an attitude, not a department or function!

    There’s more at

    • Banksy on 18th May 2011 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for your first comment here Annette – I really appreciate your time. Your blog post is great and one that I’d highly recommend others read. You might be interested to know (if you didn’t already) that Mr James Trebble also witnessed this – as we’re away together 🙂

  5. Jim Graham on 26th May 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Irony central… The guy runs a hotel. He works in the hospitality business…

    I work in the Leisure Industry and don’t always all get everything right but if we offer something to a client then we stick by it. Even if it costs us money.

    The only argument for what he did is preservation of a brand value. But its pretty pointless preserving a brand value if the brand itself will die in the meantime.

    • Banksy on 29th May 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Hey Jim, great points. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment 🙂

      Folks – Jim has a great blog for his business at: – I recommend you checking it out

  6. […] Here’s a great way to loose some customers – I got quite miffed one holiday in Cornwall a year or so ago and decided to rant a little on […]

Leave a Comment