A customer service story

By Jon Swanson

“Are you Martha or Molly?” I figured it was a simple question. He acted like he owned the place.

“I’m George,” he said.

george's place
The sign says Martha and Molly’s,
but the customer service was George’s.

It was a clothes and shoes shop in northwest Ohio, on a road where most of the cars are from out of the area. We were there because we weren’t ready to end our short vacation. Most of the other people were there, I’m guessing, for similarly non-residential reason.

When we walked into the store, George said that he’d give our daughter Hope a discount on the moccasins she was looking for if I smiled. I didn’t, not really. I’m not a good smiler, even for a discount.

Hope had come in a few minutes ahead of us. He chatted with us. He chatted with her.

When it came time to pay, I asked about cards. “Cash, check, or mail it to me,” he said. I looked up. He was looking at me, waiting for my choice of three serious options. We went for check. But it turns out that he really does let people walk out of the store with his products and a promise to pay.

“Only been stiffed once,” he said. “I should have known better with them anyway.”

I’m not sure whether we got the smiling discount or the good parent-daughter relationship discount or the because-I-run-the-store discount. Whatever it was, it helped.

And I smiled as we walked out. Not because of the discount. Because of George.

New here? Take the Guided Tour. Like what you see? Get our updates.

About JNSwanson

Jon has been a regular reader and occasional contributor around here since 2006. Jon works as a pastor, but he understands business better than many so-called business people. He gets that it is about people, relationships, service, and yes, even love.

Wondering what is and is not allowed in the comments?
Or how to get a nifty photo beside your name?
Check our commenting policy.
Use your real name, not a business name.

Don't see the comment form?
Comments are automatically closed on older posts, but you can send me your comment via this contact form and I'll add it manually for you. Thanks!


  1. says

    I’m going to go out on a limb and assume George is a genuinely good guy, which is why he was so accommodating.

    I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and pretend he’s not a saint; isn’t it possible that what’s happening is George (knowing his store is on a “on a road where most of the cars are from out of the area”) keeps marked up prices but offers “discounts” to the people who probably don’t regularly return?

    This is similar to what you hear about Black Friday sales. Stores mark up their original prices then discount those to look like even bigger savings.

  2. says

    I understand. And I’m glad you asked. I’m a pretty healthy skeptic on that side.

    However, the prices were already at the low end for those moccasins. We’ve looked enough over the past few years to know.

    What I do know is that part of the discount comes from not having to pay the credit card fees.

  3. says

    I got to say, this is an impressive story in terms of creative price points and salesmanship. The part regarding him letting you walk out the door with it strikes me as his way of offering a 110% guarantee or something along those lines. He’s basically saying, ‘you’re so close to buying, I want to make sure you do.’ As he mentioned, he’s only been stiffed once, and I bet rarely do people actually walk out with the stuff before purchasing. Plus, I’m sure it helps with theft as well.

    Great story, he should definitely tell it to others – media, bloggers, etc. He’s implemented a great way to close the deal.

    -Ryan Derousseau

  4. says

    George is a smart guy. The gains he’s made from adopting this policy…such as the free publicity from this post…would far outweigh the loss from one customer who didn’t pay.