I finally got back to my desk, I had a PM from John, and I've replied back...
Honestly, I hope you guys can understand that this topic has me walking a tight-rope above a flaming pool full of alligators, because there's some disagreement on this here, and I don't want to cheese anyone off..
I'm not just a business owner, I am also a customer. Yes, I spend money at other places too.. LOL...
There are many schools of thought when it comes to how businesses should treat customers. Some of the mantras are very cut-and-dry, like "the customer is always right"..
But I find simplistic approaches are cop-outs.. Easy 1-sentence rules for handling often times complicated and diverse issues. Kind of like how "zero tolerance" policies sound good in theory, but can be moronic in application.
Crooks, scam artist and people of low-character LOVE businesses that follow the "customer is always right" rule. They shop exclusively at those places.
So as a business owner, you've gotta be smarter than that. You have to take an intelligent and human approach, and I use this term a ton in customer service - GOOD FAITH
Acting in good faith almost always results in a happy customer, who's been treated fairly, and who will respect the company and come back again. There's only one caveat. Both parties must be willing to act in good faith..
If I've got a problem with a customer, and I'm the only one willing to act in reasonable good-faith, at that point it's not about "company vs. customer".. At that point, it's about me and you.
And where the point/threshold of "reasonable and appropriate accountability" lies, that requires two parties willing to act in good faith. OR... Attorneys. And I HATE the latter option. LOL!!
When a mistake is an honest mistake (on the part of a company), and the customer knows it's a mistake right away, right from the outset, then there's a decision to be made by the customer.. And that decision should not have anything to do with who's bigger, who's got the deeper pockets, etc... That decision should be rooted in good faith.
If a cashier at McDonalds accidently slides you a $100 bill as part of your change, do you politely return it? I mean, it's her mistake.. And McDonalds is ultimately responsible for her training and performance... And it's not like McDonalds is going to miss the $100 bucks...
But does it make it right, simply because McDonalds is McDonalds?
John's situation is a bit different, because he didn't mistakenly get handed cash...
But he seems to be a very level-headed fellow, and whatever he decides, quite honestly, is his business.
My blathering above is simply a reflection of how I try to do business from a business's point of view, and how I view the relationship between NPD and our customers.
I hope I don't ruffle any feathers, and if I said anything that might be misconstrued, I'll gladly/hopefully clarify.