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An astounding way to treat customers

Itís not very often I hear stories of extreme bad customer service and the following is a true story.
 
Around late 2006 I made a phone call to an online tree supplier regarding trees for my garden. As the owner was extremely helpful, I reciprocated and gave a quick website review from a search engine perspective, which he replied would be taken it up with his current website design people based in Aberdeen.
 
A year or so passed and I was in a position to offer the free e-commerce package listed on this website and contacted the tree sales website owner to offer it. It turned out that he had asked for my suggestions to be implemented by his website design company but they basically ignored him.
 
If you are new to e-commerce then you should know that being able to change your page titles and meta-descriptions is vital to bringing in customers from organic search engine listings other wise you have to rely on other methods of advertising that cost a whole lot more money and time.
 
He received many different responses from the Aberdeen based website design company regarding this issue, none of which acknowledged the lack of functionality that was loosing him money or that there was even a problem. A year later and he was still displaying the same page title for almost every page displayed on his 500+ page website and wondering why Google and other search engines were not sending him potential customers.
 
Wanted to give up and work for someone else
Had it not been for Google Adwords then this website would have shrivelled up and died within months. To add insult to injury, the defence of the website design company was to show that his website was ranking within the first three pages of Google AUSTRALIA and Goggle SOUTH AFRICA! Knowing his business was UK mainland only.

At one point he was actively looking at other jobs it got so bad.
Now this website does not have a lot of competition and should easily have ranked well and sent a lot of people to his website. As the Aberdeen website design company didnít make the simple changes, he was forced to continually use Google Adwords and pay over £200 a month for a semi working e-commerce website.
 
ICAM to the rescue
We agreed that as cash flow was tight, I would set-up his new website for free (only paid for changes that required an outside software engineer) and take a small percentage of the profit which was defined as retail cost minus wholesale cost. For as long as the website was live, I would support it with technical, sales and marketing advice to which he appeared happy. No time frame to be tied in, could leave at any time and could take his customers with him. No risk for him what so ever.
 
Logo held to ransom for £1000
The absolute kick in the teeth given as a parting shot by the other website design company was claiming copyright for the company logo they designed for the owner. We received several emails threatening legal action for every instance the logo was used on the new website and then they offered to sell it to us for £1000. The laughable part was that the price went up the longer we delayed. I could not believe they were paid to design a corporate image and then hold it to ransom.
 
Our new business is other companies failed business
Many of the contacts we have made over the years have come from business people frustrated and angry that their existing website suppliers are being rigid in their approach, defensive about their mistooks and un-sympathetic about their problems.
 
There are several lessons to be learnt from this case study:

a)  The more local a business is, the easier it is for you to personally deal with a problem.
b)  Personally dealing with a problem is much more effective than making telephone calls or sending emails as you cannot be ignored
c)  Once you have paid their bill you have lost all leverage so make sure it works before paying

d)  Spend between at LEAST 10% of development and creation time on testing. 30% is more realistic.

e)  Do not sign long term contracts, if a business is sure of their product they will let their customer service keep you, not a piece of paper.