Standing in queue to pay at a till in the Body Shop last week, I noticed a man who had bought merchandise worth £50 having a conversation with the lady at the counter. She was trying to get him to pay an extra £5 for a Body Shop gift card (some deal where they’d give you £7 worth of free gifts on your birthday). He argued that he’d just spent £50 and didn’t want to spend an extra £5, and that they ought to give it to him free for being a good customer. She conferred with a colleague and then pronounced that they couldn’t do that because ‘the system wouldn’t accept it’. He left in a very angry mood, as he should. They tried getting me to buy the gift card as well, but I politely said no.
Five minutes later as I was leaving after ringing up my purchase, I saw him coming back with a very determined look on his face. It was a look that said that he’d had those minutes to think about it and wanted to let them know that he didn’t like the way he’d been treated. I didn’t stay to see the confrontation, but one thought flashed in my mind as I walked out: the day your systems become more important than your customers, Body Shop, you should know you’ve got a problem.