Friday, June 01, 2007

The Daily Mall Reader: J. L. Hudson Company Customers King! (in 1961 anyway)

A daily dose of mall-related reading...

"No Embarrassed Customers"

TIME Magazine - Friday, Jun. 02, 1961

(Excerpt) Into the downtown Detroit department store of the J. L. Hudson Co. stomped an outraged customer, demanding to return a suit that he had bought a year before. He had just got around to taking it out of the box in which it was delivered. "Now look at it," he fumed. "It's wrinkled." Where most department stores might have offered a free pressing, Hudson's complaint department without a murmur refunded the full purchase price of the suit.

This attitude, the product of a scrupulously enforced rule that "the customer must never be embarrassed," has helped make the 80-year-old J.L. Hudson Co. a Detroit legend—and one of the nation's most successful retailers.

Read the full article here.

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Anonymous Matt from CLT said...

The anticdote in the opening paragraph reminds me of when I was working at Rich's in 1997-1998. A customer came in to return a full 8-place setting set of china because she was getting a divorce. The china had never been used and was in its original packaging (although the boxes had been opened).

Of course she had her receipt -- but it was one of the old style put-the-card-under-the-carbon-and-swipe kind, which obviously hadn't been used since the mid 1980s. I dropped that one like a hot potato onto the floor manager, who did actually refund the money.

If I had been in charge, I wouldn't have taken the china back, and all I would have done for the guy in the instant story is give his suit a pressing.

I suppose there are reasons why I'm not the next J. L. Hudson...

Sat Jun 02, 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous didi said...

"If I had been in charge, I wouldn't have taken the china back, and all I would have done for the guy in the instant story is give his suit a pressing.

I suppose there are reasons why I'm not the next J. L. Hudson..."

LOL, Matt! Funny stuff.

Sat Jun 02, 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Ha! Well, too, I guess you can more afford to do generous returns like that when you're J. L. Hudson.

But I agree, I still don't know that I'd be quite that easy.

Sat Jun 02, 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cora Buhlert said...

The gall of people such as the guy with the crumpled suit or the lady with the china never ceases to amaze me.

Besides, it may be different in the US, but in Europe there are usually time limits within which you may return an item and get a refund. A couple of years ago, for example, I had problems returning a faulty computer component because I hadn't installed it rightaway and thus only noticed that it was faulty two months later.

Sat Jun 02, 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt from CLT said...

I want to say that right when I left Rich's, The Bon started a "test-run" for Federated of a 60-day return policy...period. I think something like that isn't a bad idea. I haven't looked at the back of a macy*s receipt lately, but I do notice that they put those little stickers on the tags when you buy something, similar to what Dillard's does -- maybe macy*s does the 60-day thing now as well.

Really, though, maybe I'm just bitter and jaded (already, at only 28), but I would tend to think that if you have a policy in place like Hudson's, you'll get far more people who abuse the system rather than change their shopping habits.

Tue Jun 05, 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

Maybe I'm being too optimistic here, but I don't think an unconditional return policy is a bad thing.

It worked pretty well for Hudson's and countless other stores because it meant that if you bought something that didn't work for you, there wan't going to be an issue, unusual circumstances notwithstanding.

A number of retailers still do it, and I'm sure they lose money on it, but the goodwill they offer as opposed to a stricter policy that tends to aggrivate customers (who tend to trash the store's reputation to each person they talk to for a while) makes the whole enterprise worthwhile.

Sun Jun 10, 08:21:00 PM  

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