How this company put me off in 10 seconds (I was ready to spend $200,000)

I’ve got to tell you what happened to me the other day.

10 seconds.

$200000 lost in sales.

You can call this a record.

This company must be big enough to AFFORD this $200000 loss in 10 seconds?

Well, this is the first lesson: no matter whether you sell cheap products or very expensive ones – 10 seconds are enough to lose a sale!

Now I’ll tell you my story.

1 – I was ready to buy

When a new product is launched, or a company opens a new branch close to where you live, the curiosity is huge. Trying costs you next to nothing, so why not?

Well, a new gas/petrol station just opened last month and I was “curious” to try them.

I needed to BUY (yes, I was ready to buy):

  • gasoline = $30
  • 1 liter of motor oil = $8
  • 2 liters of engine coolant = $12
  • …but first of all, put some air in the tyres = FREE

Total = $50.

“Ok, but you said $200,000 in your blog title?”

Well, thanks for asking :)

Gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912. And now in 2014 we’re probably somewhere between $3,200 and $4,000. Per year!

In the course of a life time (remember the chapter about Life Time Value in my book?), you’ll be in the need of purchasing gasoline/petrol for 50 years. Therefore, $4,000 x 50 = $200,000.

2 – I was ready to buy!

This is no mistake.

I just wanted to point out, once again, that I was ready to buy. With an exclamation mark!

3 – And then, this happened

I decided to start my “new customer” journey with the easiest purchase.

The air. The free air for my car tyres.

I approach the usual spot where the air and water pumps are, and see this:

Water and Air are not FREE! Please insert 75c


Anyway, weird – I thought water and air have always been free?

As a new customer, I had certain expectations

But maybe I’m wrong! – I thought – Alright, I’ll stop by the other gas station later on to put air.

4 – And then, this other thing happened

After I decided not to put air in the tyres, I drive to the actual gas pump and start the buying process.

Here in America it’s all prepaid and self-service, so as usual I insert my Debit Card and wait.

The display shows (after various up-sells steps that I forgot about):

There is a $0.35 convenience fee for the use of debit cards. Proceed?


They really lost me here.

My expectations were already down after the air-is-not-free event – and now the company is telling me about the fee?

I only wish it was something like this instead:

But unfortunately…

5 – One plus one equals… zero

Yes, one plus one equals two in mathematics, but equals ZERO in business.

No matter if the fee for air was $0.75 and the fee for my debit card was $0.35: my expectations as a new customer DEFINITELY did not consider having to pay for air and fees!

It’s simple:

  • I am a buyer. A new customer.
  • I have certain customer expectations.
  • My wallet is open.
  • …and yet, I changed my mind FAST, very FAST

After the second disappointment, I drove away and went to my usual gas station to purchase gas, oil, coolant, and put FREE air in my car tyres.

The new gas station just missed out on a total lifetime customer worth $200,000.

“Ok, so what are you trying to tell me with this story?”

I’m telling you that not only that company missed out on a 200k sale. They WILL miss out on several sales, as I’m going to tell this story to as many people as I can (you, of course).

It’s a TOTAL DISASTER – and that company will NEVER HEAR from me again, simply because as a new customer I did not feel welcome.

I’m not being bad.

The point of this blog is:

  1. Like the gas station, it’s guaranteed you missed out on a lot of sales too. But, you will never KNOW how many and WHY. It happened to me, it happened to you, it always happens
  2. Hovewer – put away the past. Put yourself into your customers’ shoes and A-N-A-L-Y-S-E your business in 10 seconds!!!!

And if you can answers to all of these questions:

  1. Which are my potential customer’s expectations?
  2. Which barriers are currently stopping them from buying from me?
  3. Which notices should I place OUTSIDE my store or on my website homepage to avoid my potential customer quits after 10 seconds?
  4. Which promises do I need to fulfil, and how can I surprise them with a great, warm WELCOME?
  5. And finally: Am I charging for stuff that should be free?

If you can sort this out it’s guaranteed: new customers will LOVE TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU.

Think about potential customers. Not putting them off is the VERY FIRST STEP to convert a sale: put off customer, no sale. Happy customer, happy sale.

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