The “Great Guarantee” Caper – Laugh at My Expense!

[This article was originally published on LinkedIn (8-13-14) in slightly different form.]


The “Great Guarantee” Caper: Best Buy Won, Office Depot Lost & Logitech Laughed at My Expense – And All the Way to the Bank!

On the Importance of Having a Power Guarantee

by Karl “imaWebGenius” Steinmann © 2014

I had an experience the other day which illustrates the importance of 1) having a great guarantee, and 2) knowing what your competition’s guarantee is. It was also a lesson, as a consumer, in the hazards of assumption.

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My business banker father used to say: “ASSUME: It makes an ASS out of U and ME.” That’s what I was thinking as I left Office Depot, not exactly in the best of moods, and on my way to Best Buy – where I knew I’d find satisfaction.

Lest the rather self-important title of this broadside deceive you, understand that this is not an in-depth, exhaustive, hard-hitting piece of business journalism. In fact, it’s little more than a personal anecdote. But it goes to a profoundly important aspect of business.

The upshot being that Best Buy got my business, Office Depot lost it, and Logitech laughed all the way to bank, by default, and completely undeservedly. Here's how…

Office Depot – The “Great Guarantee” Caper, Part 1

Before getting to the meat of the story, let me preface with this: I just read through 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall. The author happens to be one of the most important minds to emerge from the internet marketing scene, and he’s the man behind what's considered to be the bible on Google Adwords (The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords). I've learned a lot from his stuff. In his new book, he stresses the importance of the “power guarantee,” among other things.

Basically, a power guarantee is one that's so good, the customer can't say no. That's good for sales in the short term. In the long term, such a guarantee can create a powerful bond, particularly when it's been tested and proven to be as good as it sounds. In such a case, the customer will probably never go with anybody else ever again, and he or she will become one of your most powerful evangelists.

I admit it. I'm spoiled. I didn't realize how much of a power guarantee the Best Buy guarantee is until I saw the Office Depot guarantee (such as it is) in action. But given what happened, it was kind of funny that I'd just learned the term from Perry's book. Let me explain.

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About half a year ago I needed to replace my faulty Logitech headset. It had developed serious problems after only about a year or so of light use. Since I can’t use Skype without it, I rushed out to my nearest office supply store, which happened to be Office Depot.

There was a range of headsets to choose from. I settled on Logitech once again, because one of the better units was on sale and it represented (theoretically) the best value. A 2 year Performance Protection Plan was being offered for a reasonable price. I figured the old headset failure was a fluke, and for a few bucks more I wouldn’t have to worry. Everything would be good.

Ha! Little did I know.

Having experienced the value of these protection plans in the past (at Best Buy) – where you can walk in with a dead device and walk out with a new one – it seemed like a no brainer. So, I bought my new headset and guarantee, and was on my way.

Office Depot – The “Great Guarantee” Caper, Part 2

Now fast forward to the present. Suddenly, out of the blue and for no known reason, my replacement Logitech headset died. And after only six months or so!

Muttering something unprintable about Logitech, I jumped in my car and headed off to Office Depot once again, guarantee docs in hand. I plunked the dead headset on the counter, told the Nice Young Woman (hereafter referred to as NYW) behind it what had happened, and asked for a replacement.

The first thing she said was: “I’m sorry to hear that, sir.” I thought that was nice.

The second was: “Did you register this item after you bought it?”

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I was taken aback. This wasn't so nice. I’m sure I looked totally flustered. “Uh. I don’t think so.”

“Did no one tell you that you had to do that?”

“Er… Not that I recall.” I suddenly had a bad feeling about this.

“Yes. I’m sorry,” NYW said sympathetically and somewhat sheepishly (she was half expecting me to explode on her, I'm sure). “You must first register your purchase before I can process a return, sir.” She proceeded to show me the number I needed to call, and underlined (in black Sharpie) the important data I’d need to provide.

So now my irritation levels had gone from yellow to orange. You don’t have to do this crap at Best Buy, I remember thinking.

Best Buy – The “Great Guarantee” Caper, Part 3

My story of woe wasn’t NYW’s fault, so I excused myself to the car and called Office Depot. Fortunately, the phone tree wasn’t too bad. I reached another Nice Young Woman who walked me through the whole process of product registration. It took about 15 minutes (in part because the first NYW had obliterated half the numbers I needed in her “underlining”), at the end of which I expected to hear that my issue could be handled today. Which it could be, though not exactly in the way I wanted.

It turns out, the Office Depot guarantee is nothing at all like Best Buy’s, though you might be forgiven for thinking they are the same. When they sell it to you, it's definitely made to sound like it is. “Sure. Got a problem with it, we'll replace it. No worries.” Uh, not exactly.

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There was a problem. The “deadset” was still under manufacturer warranty. It hadn't been a year. This meant that while I could get a replacement, I couldn’t get it from Office Depot! I’d have to call Logitech and deal with them. Yes. Seriously.

So I ask you, dear reader, how does this help anyone who needs it now? Today? This minute? The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t! Can you say, “Next to worthless?” I wanted to scream.

The ol' Mood Meter was redlining now, but I managed to avoid taking this other NYW’s head off because, once again, it wasn’t her fault. Besides, I knew I could just kick the dog.

Kidding! I don’t even own a dog, nor would I kick one if I did. But I sure felt like kicking something – or somebody. Groaning, I hung up and headed off to Best Buy, trying not to create a major road rage incident. DWSR. Driving While Seeing Red.

Logitech – The “Great Guarantee” Caper – Part 4

Once at Best Buy, I had a brand spankin' new super-swank headset and was out the door in less time than it took to deal with Office Depot’s Nice Young Women.

The precious irony here is that I’m now on my third Logitech headset in a row! Yep, they got me again, for the same darn reason. The best value (theoretically) was the Logitech unit that was on sale! I fully expect to fail in six months time. Or if the trend line follows the first two, it should go kaput in about three! Anyway, this is not exactly a sterling vote of confidence, is it Logitech?

This time, though, I know I can walk into Best Buy with my “deadset” and walk out with a replacement. No headaches, no hassles, no additional drama. Now that's a power guarantee, and “no worries.” Are you listening, Office Depot and Logitech?

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Woody Allen once said: “90% of life is just showing up.” Logitech has that down to a science. At both Best Buy and Office Depot, the lion's share of headsets were theirs. Add in the fact that their headsets seem to be on sale when I need one (maybe they're always “on sale”), and it's what I keep taking home.

Eventually, though, I'll get smart and do some online comparative shopping. My Logitech days may well be numbered. In the meantime, it is what it is. Every business has to do crisis management from time to time, and this was one of those times.

So sorry, Office Depot, you’ve were trumped by Best Buy. Not because your prices aren’t good, but because your guarantee sucks!

If you're looking for the moral of the story, dear reader, here goes: Perry Marshall says every business should have a “power guarantee,” one that's truly valuable and does what customers think it does. Make sure it's as good – if not much better than – the competition, too! Don’t let YOUR guarantee be the issue that drives customers to the other guy!

NOTE: I'm taking bets on how long the most recent Logitech headset lasts. If you want in, get in touch!

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I'm the author of several ebooks that you may find of value, all of which are currently free. The Google Adwords Verdict (Adwords for Attorneys), BadAss Hangouts (How to generate traffic and more with Google Hangouts on Air), and 5 Ways to Get Buyers and Buzz from Facebook. Click a link to get one – or get them all!

I'm also an LI Open Networker/LION, so if we haven't hooked up yet, please feel free to Connect with me via: ►►► karl “at” imawebgenius “dot” com ◄◄◄.

I appreciate any and all feedback.

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