Don’t Let the Rules Make You Stupid

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A while ago I ponied up the $22 to buy a coffee thermos from Starbucks.  I got it home and realized that it leaked badly – a manufacturing flaw. So I took it back to my local store (I’m there all the time) and showed them the leak.  I didn’t have a receipt, but it clearly said “STARBUCKS” on the side, and it was new enough that identical models were still on the shelf.

The manager agreed that it was unusable, but informed me that Starbucks couldn’t replace it or refund my money due to ‘policy.’  So I very kindly asked her if she wouldn’t mind calling her supervisor explaining the situation, and then letting me know the outcome.  I gave the thermos back to her and to Starbucks as it was of no use to me.  It was all very pleasant; I wasn’t at all cranky with her.

A couple of days later she called (good for her) to let me know that there was nothing that could be done.   Incidentally, had I bought it at Walmart for half the price, I would have gotten a no-questions-asked refund.

I thought of all the possible responses available to her:

  1. ‘Take another thermos, sorry for the inconvenience!’ Premium brands offer premium service after all (preferred)
  2. ‘Sorry, we can’t replace it, but let me give you (insert Starbucks pacifier gift here) for free’ (not ideal, but better than nothing)

But instead she (and her supervisor) adhered to ‘policy’ and as a result I’ve told and re-told this story many times to many audiences. And I decided to try to choose an independent store whenever possible.

The tip today is:  DON’T LET THE RULES MAKE YOU STUPID! Don’t allow your ‘policies’ to get in the way of doing the right thing.

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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