A recent marketing email from Big Man's Shop made me wonder whether it was trying to win my business or warn me off.
"Fantastic Half Price Sale" read the headline, below which were pictures and descriptions of some of the items on sale. So far so good.
Then, in the left-hand column, just below the company contact info, was a caveat: "Some of the special offers promoted via this newsletter are very limited stock end of line ranges. As such we cannot guarantee fulfillment of all size/colour options. We do apologise for any inconvenience." Instead of apologising and setting up the expectation of disappointment, Big Man's Shop might have been better off positioning the limited stock as a reason to rush to the website, with text along the lines of "Stock is extremely limited, so hurry today for the best selection".
And below that copy block appeared this customer service nugget: "To return goods to us please enclose the returns form with your instructions. Return goods by Royal Mail obtaining a certificate of posting. Return postage costs are the responsibility of the customer."
First off, I question whether this information even needs to be on the email. Here you are, talking to people who haven't yet made a purchase, and you're already telling them what they need to do should they be dissatisfied with their purchase. Second, the returns process sounds onerous and even punitive: "Because you were naughty, the return postage is your responsibility. That'll teach you." Yup, that'll teach 'em, all right--teach 'em to think twice about clicking through to the site and ordering from Big Man's Shop.--SC