In all my years being a customer I have dealt with some pretty ridiculous policies. Policies that cripple businesses by pushing customers away or forcing employees to have their hands tied when it comes to helping customers. It always boggles my mind why you would make it so difficult for a customer to be your customer. They give you money! Without them your business will fail! But hey, these policies were written for a reason, who am I to question them?

Here are some ridiculous policies I’ve come across:

  • At a convenience store – “I’m sorry, there is a minimum $10 purchase for credit cards.”
  • At a thrift store – “There is a 3% charge for using a credit card.”
  • At a family owned hotel – “We don’t accept credit cards. You have to pay in cash up front.”
  • Trying to activate a pre-paid credit card – I had to call to activate between 11am and 3pm PST. When I went to check the balance a few weeks later and forgot my password I was locked out of the site for 24 hours after 3 failed login tries. I was instructed to call customer service. “I’m not able to change your password unless you have failed to login 7 times.”
  • At the DMV – “Cash or checks only” – unless you want a background check, then it is cash only.
  • Tried to buy one small item on a website. Went to check out and an alert came up that I needed to purchase a minimum of 5 items or $25.
  • At a big box retailer – “We don’t price match sale items.”
  • A sub sandwich shop – “We can’t deliver to you. We have a 1 mile delivery radius.” I live 1.1 miles away.
  • A pizza shop – “Free delivery up to two miles. After that it is $1.50 per mile.”
  • I wanted to buy an item that was in a locked showcase but the only person who had the key was the manager and they were on lunch. Policy forbid the manager to come off of lunch to unlock the case or for another employee to use the manager’s keys.

Policies are meant to protect the customer and the business, not stop the customer from being a customer. But what makes a good policy?

A good policy is a written policy. The policy should be clearly defined in both purpose and expected outcome. The purpose of the policy should include how, when, and to what extent the business conducts the policy. A good policy should promote business and give the employee power to help the customer do business with your business. When creating policies look at the following:

  • The policies impact: Will this policy cause any unwanted issues towards the business or customer?
  • Implementation: Can the policy be implemented easily?
  • Relevancy: Is this policy relevant?
  • Effect on Efficiency and Reliability: Will this policy hinder or help our products or services?
  • Ethics: Are your policies ethical? Fair and honest policies don’t hurt business, they help business by helping the customer feel safe.

Policies are meant to protect the customer and the business, not stop the customer from being a customer. So this week, ask yourself, are my policies killing my business?