Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Economy: Is the customer always right?

Turns out Murky Coffee, a local coffee place in Arlington, has 'policies' about its coffee:

"No modifications to the Classic Cappuccino. No questions will be answered about the $5 Hot Chocolate (during the months we offer it). No espresso in a to-go cup. No espresso over ice."

This ticked off a customer from Brooklyn (there's a surprise) who thought that if he paid for his expresso, he should get to do what he wanted with it including put it over ice. So after being denied his triple espresso over ice, he bought a triple espresso, requested a cup of ice and mixed his own, but not before throwing a hissy fit.

And then he wrote a scathing account of the whole thing on his blog. That was read by thousands of people and winged electronically around the world.

And now for some promised opinion:

In the end, the store decides if they are selling the thing you want. If they're not selling it, and that's their choice, then the option available to you in a free and civilized market is to take your business elsewhere.

Arguing and cussing and leaving profanity-decorated tips are uncivilized options. And by engaging the craziness, they subvert the market: The guy gave his money to the coffee house, including a tip, even though he was treated badly. Wrong incentive structure!

Oh, and note to the coffee house: Give the guy his espresso over ice, for God's sake. Life's too short.

It's a cliche but not a bad principle: 'practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty'.

No comments: