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Author Topic: Are we dumb or unlucky ?  (Read 5310 times)
Rhossydd
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« on: August 19, 2012, 08:02:32 AM »
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I've run a custom printer profiling business in the UK for nearly ten years now. Almost all our customers are in Europe and Oceania. One thing we have regularly done once a customer contacts us about printer profiling, is to offer to build a profile(s) for them and tell them only to pay us when they're happy with the results from it and, if not, tell us why and let us help them resolve their issues or expectations. So far everyone we've offered this to has happily paid us, some have even offered ex-gratia payments for this service.

Until now……

A US based potential client contacted us regarding profiling a LF printer with various medias. We engaged in correspondence with the person concerned, advised how to print the targets, created specific custom targets for his requirements and ended up building a lot of profiles for his approval. All in all rather a lot of work for us at a busy time.
Since then we've had an acknowledgement of their delivery by email and a promise to get back to us and then nothing, no replies to emails, no payment.

So have I just been unlucky getting a dishonourable 'customer' ? or do Americans regard this sort of 'try before payment' scheme as dumb and acceptable to exploit ?

If the former, is there an easy way of litigating for the money owed, or selling the debt on to a debt collection agency as is possible in Europe ?
I'm guessing it's probably not worth too much trouble for the modest amount owed, but it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, especially so as it was from an occasional, but recent, contributor to LuLa.

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louoates
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2012, 08:36:43 AM »
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You're not dumb. Or unlucky. Just a bit naive. Cost of doing business. Keep sending email notices as some companies can be very slow to acknowledge a debt or pay. Good luck and welcome to the real world.
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2012, 09:24:34 AM »
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.. do Americans regard this sort of 'try before payment' scheme as dumb and acceptable to exploit ?

Did you really just say that?

For real?
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2012, 10:13:03 AM »
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So, one bad experience and all American's are branded as exploitative thieves? Nice.
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2012, 10:39:17 AM »
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There are crooks in every part of the world as well as good honest people.  In Mississippi, where I lived and worked before moving to Germany, it is common practice to do business the way that you do business. Most people expect the payment when the job is finished completely, and correctly...and not before. 

Do all people working in Britain judge all people of a given nationality based on an experience with one person? This is really a stupid question, isn't it?
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2012, 12:52:39 PM »
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Did you really just say that?

For real?

Hmmm.... Jeremy, I am not sure how to understand your post. Are you expressing an outrage at the notion that Americans are somehow more morally inclined to exploit "dumb" schemes? Or you, perhaps, find it so obviously true that no question was necessary? Judging by Chuck's subsequent reaction, looks like you had the former in mind.

However, all moral outrage aside, I think that OP is onto something here. As a European (living and working in both Eastern and Western parts), now living in the States, I can see the difference in what OP was talking about. Not that I would ascribe it to any particular or inherent moral flaw of Americans (nor I think OP had that in mind).

The wide-spread practice of free offers, 100% money-back guarantees, no-questions-asked product return policies, etc., is having its consequences. Some of which are unforeseen, some are calculated. Where I was born and raised, such practices were simply unimaginable. Products could be returned only if seriously defective, and even then with a lot of hassle. As I was moving west, I was gradually exposed to more and more of the current marketing and financial practices. There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. is the most advanced market with such practices. I've seen people, even generally considered well-off, wearing clothes with price tags still attached (so that they can return them at the end of a 15 or 30-day return period).

Some people are intentionally abusing the system. Some are seeing it as yet another marketing ploy designed to nudge you to buy easier, with foreseeable abuses already built into the price. In the latter case, they might see it a less morally reprehensible to (ab)use the offer. Some others might also see certain offers as marketing give-aways (where a certain percentage of non-paying customers is simply seen as a cost of doing business). And, once again, I am not saying Americans are more inherently susceptible to this relaxation of moral principles. Just that they are more exposed to the temptation. As those practices spread even more to the rest of the world, I am sure human nature will react the same in due time.

There is another aspect in play here as well. In any good book on the "art and science" of influencing (e.g., my favorite, by Cialdini), you will find a reciprocity principle, i.e., where a little favor to you (say a free gift) is subconsciously provoking you to reciprocate and return the favor (by buying or donating). Before moving to the States, I have never had labels with my address preprinted on it sent to me for "free". Nor calendars, notecards, X-mass cards, etc. I even once got a coffee mug with my name printed on it. While initially you react subconsciously to such acts of "kindness" and readily reciprocate, you soon realize the marketing ploy nature of it and become cynical about it. As a result, I no longer feel obliged to donate or buy just because someone sent me free address labels, for instance.

Another reciprocity example: it has been proven by experiment that, for instance, street performers who offer you something (say those animal-shaped balloons) make more money if they have a policy "free, but tips gladly accepted" than if they set a price. Some people will, of course, take the free balloon and walk away, but overall, the performer will ultimately make more money that way.

To the OP: I am not sure why it happen that way. Perhaps the customer has been on a long trip and will ultimately pay (although your reference to his "recent" postings here indicate you do not think that is the case). Perhaps he sees your offer as one of those I described above (i.e., as marketing give-aways, where a certain percentage of non-paying customers is simply seen as a cost of doing business).

As a suggestion, you might want to switch your practice of try-before-you-buy to a money-back guarantee. That way, the burden of extra step is on the potential cheater.




« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 02:17:01 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2012, 01:55:01 PM »
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"So have I just been unlucky getting a dishonourable 'customer' ? or do Americans regard this sort of 'try before payment' scheme as dumb and acceptable to exploit ?"


To me, obviously enough with European eyes, the sentence is nothing but a question (two) and certainly not a statement of belief.

Jeez, no wonder we have so many friggin' wars!

Rob C

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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2012, 02:19:17 PM »
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Hmmm...

So Rhossydd asks an innocent - and entirely legitimate - question in an attempt to understand whether there's a possible cultural difference in what might be considered "normal practice" in the US compared to here in the UK, and he's insulting the entire nation?

Good grief!
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2012, 02:31:55 PM »
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Do all people working in Britain judge all people of a given nationality based on an experience with one person? This is really a stupid question, isn't it?

Well it's certainly a misinterpretation of what Rhossydd wrote.

In asking:

Quote
do Americans regard this sort of 'try before payment' scheme as dumb and acceptable to exploit?

He's clearly accepting the possibility of his naivety and dumbness, and asking whether - in fact - he was asking for the problem he's encountered.

I've certainly seen plenty evidence of things being done differently in the US: for example I've seen umpteen forum posts throughout the net clearly indicating that it's considered acceptable in the US to buy a camera with the express intention only of testing it out, and then taking it back for a refund. That simply does not happen in the UK, and it would be considered a thoroughly crappy trick if it did, being an abuse both of the retailer and of UK consumer protection legislation - but in the US it seems to be a common practice.

Hence the legitimacy of the question at the head of the page...
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2012, 02:41:14 PM »
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Hmmm...

So Rhossydd asks an innocent - and entirely legitimate - question in an attempt to understand whether there's a possible cultural difference in what might be considered "normal practice" in the US compared to here in the UK, and he's insulting the entire nation?

Good grief!

Is it normal practice in the UK to base one's judgment on an entire culture based on a single experience with a single company?  I ask this question completely in very facetious manner.  Sure, there are some low-lifes in America that would skip out on paying a bill.  There are these same types in every country.  People are people. It is ridiculous to lump all Americans into one group. The country is so large geographically and made up of such a diverse mix of cultures, nationalities, that one cannot say this is a typical, or average American response. I am an American living in Germany and I have opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart enough to realize that people are people. None of us are perfect and none of us are the same.
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2012, 02:47:08 PM »
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Is it normal practice in the UK to base one's judgment on an entire culture based on a single experience with a single company?

That's not what he did! Are we even reading the same post?

He asked whether this was an example of a cultural difference in the US - no accusation, no indignation, no suggestion that he believes all Americans to be hell-bent on ripping people off - just a question about whether there was a different attitude to how this kind of business was carried out over there.

Seriously - read what he wrote, not what you imagine he means by it.
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Keith Reeder
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 02:49:04 PM »
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Well it's certainly a misinterpretation of what Rhossydd wrote.

In asking:

He's clearly accepting the possibility of his naivety and dumbness, and asking whether - in fact - he was asking for the problem he's encountered.

I've certainly seen plenty evidence of things being done differently in the US: for example I've seen umpteen forum posts throughout the net clearly indicating that it's considered acceptable in the US to buy a camera with the express intention only of testing it out, and then taking it back for a refund. That simply does not happen in the UK, and it would be considered a thoroughly crappy trick if it did, being an abuse both of the retailer and of UK consumer protection legislation - but in the US it seems to be a common practice.

Hence the legitimacy of the question at the head of the page...

I am American and I do not know anyone that thinks that this is either acceptable or normal. I would never do this. Therefore, from my experience of living the first 44 of my 46 years in the USA, I do not see a drop of legitimacy in the assumption that this is normal in America. It may be normal in some areas, but definitely not in the nation as a whole.
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 02:52:47 PM »
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That's not what he did! Are we even reading the same post?

He asked whether this was an example of a cultural difference in the US - no accusation, no indignation, no suggestion that he believes all Americans to be hell-bent on ripping people off - just a question about whether there was a different attitude to how this kind of business was carried out over there.

Seriously - read what he wrote, not what you imagine he means by it.
I read it.  He obviously believes it to be a possibility that theactions of his customer is the norm in America.  This is no different from me thinking facetiously that it possibly could be the norm in the UK to judge a nation by one person, or by what you read in internet phpto forums
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2012, 03:03:23 PM »
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That's not what he did! Are we even reading the same post?

He asked whether this was an example of a cultural difference in the US - no accusation, no indignation, no suggestion that he believes all Americans to be hell-bent on ripping people off - just a question about whether there was a different attitude to how this kind of business was carried out over there.

oh......bull crap!

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2012, 03:31:54 PM »
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As Newton postulated, once a righteous indignation is set in motion, it continues to rage indefinitely, regardless of facts. Wink
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kikashi
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« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2012, 04:00:48 PM »
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So Rhossydd asks an innocent - and entirely legitimate - question in an attempt to understand whether there's a possible cultural difference in what might be considered "normal practice" in the US compared to here in the UK, and he's insulting the entire nation?

Good grief!

I can understand how what he wrote could be so interpreted. It was infelicitously phrased.

I'm English. I live in England. If I were to try to implement a business model similar to the one he described, I have to say that I'd sleep a lot easier doing it in the USA than in England.

I used to write shareware and had one fairly popular program, back in the 90's. It was "true" shareware, in that it was fully-featured from the outset and not time-limited; I didn't even add "nag" code until version 2. It sold pretty well, considering that there was no incentive other than a warm feeling of honesty to reward anyone who paid. I had the distinct impression that, even allowing for population imbalance, there were significantly more registrations coming in from the US than from the UK (and perhaps even more from Japan, where people really had to go to some trouble, buying a postal order, to pay me).

Rhossydd, some people will take advantage of you. They could be English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, American or any other nationality. Equally, you could be dealing with simple intertial incompetence. My suggestion: keep nagging, and if that doesn't work, spend your time more fruitfully than trying to indulge in litigation in a foreign country.

Jeremy
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2012, 07:08:16 PM »
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Hmmm.... Jeremy, I am not sure how to understand your post.

I find it rather small-minded to immediately wonder whether one should attribute one customer's failure to pay to a national tendency ...

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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2012, 12:11:48 AM »
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I find it rather small-minded to immediately wonder whether one should attribute one customer's failure to pay to a national tendency ...



Exactly!!!!  Very small minded indeed. 
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2012, 03:18:05 AM »
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You guys still don't want to admit or understand that you simply didn't understand the original question.

Shit, enjoy your outrage.

Rob C
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2012, 03:48:29 AM »
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You guys still don't want to admit or understand that you simply didn't understand the original question.

Shit, enjoy your outrage.

Rob C

He asked ' or do Americans regard this sort of 'try before payment' scheme as dumb and acceptable to exploit ?'  He did no say some people or even some Americans.  He said Americans meaning Americans in general. Why can't you admit that he was lumping all American's into one stereotype which is both unfair and untrue. He considered that this could be true. If not,he would not have posed the question. I am not outraged. So enjoy your day.
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