Trust Your Customers... And They Do Amazing Things...

from the treat-them-like-criminals,-however... dept

The entertainment industry has a long and sorry history of treating customers like criminals, despite plenty of evidence that suggests that treating customers like criminals makes them more likely to act like criminals, rather than less. SteveD writes in with an example out of the UK, where the proprietor of a small shop decided that his store should be open the day after Christmas, but he didn't want his employees to have to work -- and he didn't want to work either. So, he opened up the shop, put up a note and a box for people to put money in and left the shop entirely unstaffed. It actually worked out well. He made a fair bit of money and didn't find any damage or products stolen.

This reminds me, quite a bit, of the Freakonomics story about the "Bagel Man" who delivered bagels to a variety of office buildings around Washington DC and left out boxes for people to pay. On average, he ended up with around 90% of the money requested, and some interesting lessons in which types of people and companies were more likely to be honest. There's also a scene in the Kevin Smith movie Clerks where the lead character Dante does the same thing -- though his explanation for why it works is: "Theoretically, people see money on the counter, and no one around, they think they're being watched." And, as his girlfriend notes, this is "honesty through paranoia." I'm not sure which it is, but it seems that there's ample evidence that honest people don't need to be "kept honest" and treating your customers like criminals isn't necessarily a very good idea.
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Filed Under: criminals, customers, trust


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  1. identicon
    Negative Nillies, 5 Jan 2009 @ 2:27pm

    My old neighbor in Chicago had a computer shop and he would leave it open all the time and customers would pay for items and nothing stolen, broken, trashed etc. We lived in a neighborhood where gangs were aplenty and murders happened often.

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