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How soft is too soft for charitable discounts?

12:45 am on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

So I'm sure everybody has gotten this... The non profit org asking for free merchandise or a big discount... The person on disability or low fixed income that keeps saying they're saving up to buy your product across months, but can't afford it yet... The kid who wants to buy their parent a present, but can't afford what they really want.

Being the softy I am, I admit I have fallen for these... After verifying them to some extent of course. I'm not a sucker. But I recently get an email from a guy who is on a strict income, disability... and he's been talking about getting one of our products for the whole year. He doesn't even have his own computer, he has to go to the library. So I gave in and threw in some free stuff.

But today I had to ask myself... How soft is too soft? I mean I'm sitting here, way under where we should be at this time of year. Thousands off my goal for the year. I've been working non stop 7 days a week for longer than I can remember... No vacation for years... And I can't even buy a few of the things I wanted to buy for MYSELF this year! I don't really believe in the whole karma thing, so that is pointless to even think about. At some point, I do wonder if I'm being too soft.

8:46 pm on Jan 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"Are there no workhouses?"

There's a difference between charity and work. Don't get them mixed up. If you can't or won't give charity, own up to that. "They don't want to work"? IMO, anyone who WANTS to work is an idiot. That's why they call it "work" instead of say, "vacation" or "hobby."

Yes, we are all so upright and perfect here; not one of us has ever made a mistake. Bah humbug.

3:57 am on Jan 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

IMO, anyone who WANTS to work is an idiot.

There *are* people who love their work. It's like they say 'Do what you love and you'll never have to work another day of your life'.
7:08 am on Jan 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'm with HRoth. I define "work" as something that you HAVE to do, whether you want to or not. I had to work today, and I will be all weekend. That's definitely work. If I didn't have to do that, I sure wouldn't. If I didn't have to work, I'd have no problem finding things to do, but I could pick and choose what I do each day. Why would you choose to work over total freedom? I spent the first part of my life taking things I loved and trying to make money from them, which inevitably ruined those things for me and made them miserable. Because lets face it... If it's a great thing to do, there's going to be a million people trying to do it. My advice to anyone on that is... Do the easiest thing that makes the most money, and gives you the most freedom. Then take that money and do the things you really like. The little secret that "successful" artists never mention, is that many of them never needed money in the first place.
4:14 pm on Jan 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I love my business, but if I had the money, I'd close it up in a heartbeat, because it's WORK.:) It's just about the most interesting thing I could think of to make a living at, but it's still something I have to do to make a living. As far as I am concerned, we are apes and were meant not to work but to pick bananas and lie around in the canopy grooming each other and perhaps occasionally engage in chest-beating and hooting, etc. So to me, someone who doesn't want to work is not suffering from a moral failure but just more in touch with our true ape nature.
10:34 am on Jan 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think wanting to work is what separates us from apes (amongst other things). The problem is balance how much you want to work vs how much you want to be laying on a cold pavement begging for spare change. Hence we have the Big Issue magazine.

What I don't understand is the people who beg for spare change and the ones that beg for discounts. Twice a week I have to lug 2 very heavy, very large bags from my shop to my car, often I have the takings on me, and depending on how the week has been I'm usually feeling pretty generous! I have walked past the same two homeless guys for two years one asks me to buy the Big Issue, and I stop put down my bags and buy one with a generous tip, the other swears at me when I walk past for not giving him a handout. Not once has the idiot ever offered to help carry my bags, if he did I'd easily give him a tenner.

It's the same with customers asking for discounts and freebies, but without offering anything in return (not even repeat custom, and no, not even politeness). It makes me sick. Have you ever asked a customer one that's asking for a discount face to face simply "Why?" do it with an annoyed, confused look on your face and dismissive shrug of your shoulder. They stand there and look at you as though you've just slapped them. And it feels good. That may not work for some of you who sell things you might conceivably need, but I don't, nobody needs what we sell it's a pure luxury that you buy with disposable income. I've never been given a good reason, most people can't think quick enough. On the other hand, I have some incredibly loyal customers, some send us cards, some pass our business card onto others and we get lots of extra business, those people I look after very well, I *offer* them discounts. For one customer we have given a permanent 30% discount. You give a little, you get a little you don't, you won't.

7:58 pm on Jan 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have a customer that I give a lot of freebies and special stuff to because she not only buys a lot of stuff but always gives me good ideas for new products--and she is an influential person in her community and has handed out my business card to her cohorts. People like that are a treasure.

OTOH, once in a while someone will ask for a freebie that points to a possible product. Like someone wanted a free sample of three strongly related widgets I make. I think a sampler of these three items would be a good product and am just trying to figure out the best way to package it.

12:16 am on Jan 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I don't often get requests for "freebies" from people with hard luck stories..maybe every once in awhile. But I don't feel bad not extending a discount cause it's not like I'm selling a necessity.

But for charities, I will offer big discounts if they purchase in bulk OR if they just rquest one...becaues I'm still making money.

But really, a lot of times I just offer the prodcts for free if they are a charity and have a website. It's a "free" link that will stay there pretty much forever. I have gotten a lot of great links (including several big univerity .edu links) using this.

10:44 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Well, in the 'no good deed goes unpunished' category... What started all this off was giving this one guy a break. That of course turned into him emailing me a million times between when he ordered and now. And now he finally gets it and claims a part was left out. A part that I have not left out of anything in the 9 years we've been in business. So now I get to send it to him on my dime, even though there's a very good chance it was in there. Unfortunately I have no way to prove that.
8:59 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Now he says he doesn't like the product and wants to return it. I wonder if that means he's going to return the free part I gave him as well. That part he'll probably want to keep of course. The next time I get the idea to be nice and help a person, I hope somebody slaps me.
2:22 am on Jan 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Some people are not properly socialized and just behave ridiculously, like a dog that has never been trained to go outside. It sounds like you landed one. It doesn't mean you're a dupe or that you should not be charitable in the future. It means that this guy's a jerk and probably has some mental issues. Just be grateful you are you and not him.
4:59 am on Jan 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

That's true... I've had a few like this over the years. Usually I just wear them down and they give up. But I think this guy is going to wear me down first. Funny thing is, I knew this was going to happen but I ignored the signs.

It's funny how the same lessons apply to so many things. In my old job, we use to say that the last thing you want to do is take jobs where they ask you to take a rate cut. It wasn't so bad because you were getting less money... It was bad, because if they were cheap with you, that meant they were cheap with everything. And if they're cheap with everything, that means your job is going to be 10 times harder... So now you're working ten times harder for less money. Kind of the same thing with people like this.

4:45 am on Jan 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

So after going back and forth with this customer for weeks over dozens of emails, including many during nights and weekends while trying to fix whatever perceived problem he thinks he has... this guy now says he thinks I sold him a bad item on purpose, because I got around to thinking that he was getting too much of a good deal with the free item I gave him, so I stuck him with a bad product. Unbelievable.
11:56 am on Jan 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Maybe you should reiterate the chain of events to him, pointing out without saying it out loud that he is being an ingrate. Something like, "You asked for something free (or discounted). I said I didn't do that. You asked and asked. Finally I felt sorry for you and sent it to you, something I would not normally do. Now you complain and say I sent you a piece of crap. What does that sound like to you?"

It helps if you're a New Yorker with this technique.

6:42 pm on Jan 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Ha ha... I'm sure it does. But reading some of the stuff this guy has sent me, it is beyond comprehension how any rational person would think theses things. I believe he's a person that has some mental issues. When he accused me of taking advantage of him and purposely sending a defective product, I told him we're done. Send it back, you get your money... I will not talk about it further. I'm willing to give him back shipping and everything, just to get rid of him. I counted the emails and there are 45 emails from this individual that I have replied to, trying to help him sort out the problem... many of which were on weekends and late evenings. This kind of support simply doesn't exist with any other vendor in my biz. As it turns out, it was easy to find him on a popular forum I frequent, so I am waiting for the attacks to start any minute now.
1:53 am on Jan 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I wouldn't worry too much about some loose cannon trashing you on forums. I belong to a gardening site where gardening companies are extensively reviewed. There are some very well-known ripoffs in the gardening world, and you can spend many a humorous hour reading the scorching reviews of these skeevs on that site. But it has not harmed their businesses one whit. Actually, it was that site that made me quit worrying about negative reviews anywhere.
2:21 am on Jan 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

You're probably right... Last time somebody did this on a forum, it started a feeding frenzy. Some people just love to jump in and get in on the negativity. But in the end, more people came to my support, and I actually think it boosted traffic.
This 46 message thread spans 2 pages: 46

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