How this company put me off in 10 seconds (I was ready to spend $200,000)

I’ve got to tell you what happened to me the other day.

10 seconds.

$200000 lost in sales.

You can call this a record.

This company must be big enough to AFFORD this $200000 loss in 10 seconds?

Well, this is the first lesson: no matter whether you sell cheap products or very expensive ones – 10 seconds are enough to lose a sale!

Now I’ll tell you my story.

1 – I was ready to buy

When a new product is launched, or a company opens a new branch close to where you live, the curiosity is huge. Trying costs you next to nothing, so why not?

Well, a new gas/petrol station just opened last month and I was “curious” to try them.

I needed to BUY (yes, I was ready to buy):

  • gasoline = $30
  • 1 liter of motor oil = $8
  • 2 liters of engine coolant = $12
  • …but first of all, put some air in the tyres = FREE

Total = $50.


“Ok, but you said $200,000 in your blog title?”

Well, thanks for asking đŸ™‚

Gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912. And now in 2014 we’re probably somewhere between $3,200 and $4,000. Per year!

In the course of a life time (remember the chapter about Life Time Value in my book?), you’ll be in the need of purchasing gasoline/petrol for 50 years. Therefore, $4,000 x 50 = $200,000.

2 – I was ready to buy!!!

This is no mistake.

I just wanted to point out, once again, that I was ready to buy. With a lot of exclamation marks!

3 – And then, this happened

I decided to start my “new customer” journey with the easiest purchase.

The air. The free air for my car tyres.

I approach the usual spot where the air and water pumps are, and see this:

Water and Air are not FREE! Please insert 75c


(This is not the original picture, but I wanted to give you a “visual” idea!)

Anyway, weird – I thought water and air have always been free?

As a new customer, I had certain expectations

But maybe I’m wrong! – I thought – Alright, I’ll stop by the other gas station later on to put air.

4 – And then, this other thing happened

After I decided not to put air in the tyres, I drive to the actual gas pump and start the buying process.

Here in America it’s all prepaid and self-service, so as usual I insert my Debit Card and wait.

The display shows (after various up-sells steps that I forgot about):

There is a $0.35 convenience fee for the use of debit cards. Proceed?


They really lost me here.

My expectations were already down after the air-is-not-free event – and now the company is telling me about the fee?

I only wish it was something like this instead:

But unfortunately…

5 – One plus one equals… zero

Yes, one plus one equals two in mathematics, but equals ZERO in business.

No matter if the fee for air was $0.75 and the fee for my debit card was $0.35: my expectations as a new customer DEFINITELY did not consider having to pay for air and fees!

It’s simple:

  • I am a buyer. A new customer.
  • I have certain customer expectations.
  • My wallet is open.
  • …and yet, I changed my mind FAST, very FAST

After the second disappointment, I drove away and went to my usual gas station to purchase gas, oil, coolant, and put FREE air in my car tyres.

The new gas station just missed out on a total lifetime customer worth $200,000.

“Ok, so what are you trying to tell me with this story?”

I’m telling you that not only that company missed out on a 200k sale. They WILL miss out on several sales, as I’m going to tell this story to as many people as I can (you, of course).

It’s a TOTAL DISASTER – and that company will NEVER HEAR from me again, simply because as a new customer I did not feel welcome.

I’m not being bad.

The point of this blog is:

  1. Like the gas station, it’s guaranteed you missed out on a lot of sales too. But, you will never KNOW how many and WHY. It happened to me, it happened to you, it always happens
  2. Hovewer – put away the past. Put yourself into your customers’ shoes and A-N-A-L-Y-S-E your business in 10 seconds!!!!

And if you can answers to all of these questions:

  1. Which are my potential customer’s expectations?
  2. Which barriers are currently stopping them from buying from me?
  3. Which notices should I place OUTSIDE my store or on my website homepage to avoid my potential customer quits after 10 seconds?
  4. Which promises do I need to fulfil, and how can I surprise them with a great, warm WELCOME?
  5. And finally: Am I charging for stuff that should be free?

If you can sort this out it’s guaranteed: new customers will LOVE TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU.

Think about potential customers. Not putting them off is the VERY FIRST STEP to convert a sale: put off customer, no sale. Happy customer, happy sale.

About The Author

Rodolfo Melogli

Author, WooCommerce expert, WordCamp speaker and Internet marketer, Rodolfo Melogli helps entrepreneurs overcome their ecommerce nightmares :) Rodolfo is the organiser of the Dublin Ecommerce Meetup, WordCamp Dublin, the Dublin WordPress Meetup and the Dublin WooCommerce Meetup. He enjoys interacting with people, running on the beach and chasing tennis & soccer balls. Of course, he loves pizza too.

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