Money-smart kids / Vote with your dollars
Published 5:43 pm, Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I hope this personal story will inspire you to teach your children the value of good, personal service and the financial choices that go along with it.
One evening at home I realized I needed to scan a document and e-mail it to one of my clients. Of course, I was having a problem with my scanner, so I decided to run off to a store (I'll omit the name to save them the embarrassment) to make a few photo copies, scan in the document and then e-mail it off to my client. Not a big deal, so off I went.
I arrived and started to make my copies, but there happened to be a jam in the copy machine. After trying to fuss around with this copier for ten minutes (like a typical guy who won't stop the car to ask for directions), I politely (and I stress the word politely) asked one of the employees if they could lend a hand.
With the look that she gave me, you would have thought I asked her to go outside in the freezing cold and help me change a tire.
Needless to say, the employee wasn't winning any customer service awards and I wasn't so happy. But I needed to get a few things done, and so just went the other way and tried not to make an issue of the rudeness.
When it came time for me to scan the documents, I asked the sales person how much it would cost. It was 89 cents a page. I thought that was fair, although I wish they'd drop the attitude. Finally, I asked what my options were to receive the scanned PDF. She replied, "Oh, we can e-mail it to you." As the word, "Great" left my lips she blurted out, --¦ and it will cost $5."
That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for me. I just couldn't take the terrible attitude (and trust me it was rude under anyone's description of it) PLUS have to pay $5 for the privilege of e-mailing me the document they just scanned in. No way. No how. Not going to happen.
Have any of you ever had a similar experience? Of course you have. I don't care that it was only $5, it was the principle of the ridiculous cost.
I quickly responded with a "no thank you" and walked out of the store.
Now, to be honest with you, I was steamed! This included a personal tirade, talking to myself in the car saying something like, "If I ever treated one of my clients like that they would drop me in a heartbeat."
I know, I know, I know... I should have a better attitude. I should have just breathed in, counted to ten, done some meditation, gone have a drink at The Duck... something else, right?
I did the next best thing. I e-mailed my client that they would have the document the next morning. Then, I stopped by the Westport Public Library where they eagerly welcomed me with open arms to help me scan the document, save it, and then e-mail it off to my client.
Imagine that, a smile, friendly voice, and it cost me nothing.
While some of you are probably laughing that I opted to not just spend the $5 to $10 to get it done that night, I can tell you that I felt like I made a difference. True, the store that didn't get my business that night didn't go bankrupt without my little sale. Correct, that rude salesperson just doesn't care to "get it" and I'm sure my walking out of that store didn't faze them for even a second.
But, I personally felt great that I spent my money with purpose. And even better, I had a conversation with my son the next morning to tell him about it. And maybe, just maybe, he'll remember that story and make sure he's "voting" with how he chooses to spend his money. He might not get it as a 7-year-old. However, that won't stop me from continuing to share other similar stories with him over the years as I'd like to believe that someday, one of those stories will sink in and make a difference.
Tom Henske, a Westport resident and partner with Lenox Advisors, a wealth management firm with offices in New York City and Stamford, created the Lenox Money-Smart Kids Program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org