Lets get the facts straight. I am a start-up business. I have been in business for nearly 5 years starting with 2 days per week, 3 days, now 5 days per week. I don’t have endless cash and I certainly don’t have spare money to pay for other business owners mistakes.

Brand loyalty is earned and it can very easily vanish in an instant. You want to protect your brand, your image and how other business owners perceive you at all costs. And a $2.50 error is not something you want destroying what you have spent years nurturing.

“I don’t believe the customer is always right, but in some cases they bloody certainly are right.”

This morning as I went to the post office to check my post box, I was excited for the bevvy of business magazines waiting for me. I was less than excited about my bank statements (seriously why am I still getting paper bank statements ANZ?) and then I was shocked at getting a little note on one envelope to say that I had to pay $2.50 to retrieve the envelope from my post box.

The envelope was above average size and a stamp of $1 was put on the envelope (Mistake #1). Now, whilst I barely send anything snail mail these days (paperless office for the win) even I know that a regular letter is one dollar and Australia Post can be very strict on the rules. Heck, they are running a business too and can’t have people just take advantage and hoping like hell mail that is oversize will continue to be sent without paying for it.

There was no “return address” on the envelope (Mistake #2) so Australia Post could not return the envelope to the source to get them to pay for their error. So the only option left for Australia Post was to charge me – the end consumer. I get it from their point….running a business blah blah blah – and I know it is only an extra $2.50 – but I am pissed the sender offered no way for that letter to be returned and for them to be charged the rightful fee.

I couldn’t wait to open the letter, as clearly it must have been something I ordered, and if so, I probably would have copped the fee just to get my “items”. But when I opened the envelope, I found generic advertising for a Start-up conference and three vouchers for discounted tickets asking if I could give these to my clients/friends. So the “items” inside the envelope were things I didn’t even order and didn’t even ask for (Mistake #3), and yet I am the one paying for the privilege to open the envelope. Well now I am super pissed.

Being an accountant, and helping over 200 business owners a year, who are also in the Start-up phase, this conference that was now in front of my eyes – would be the perfect fit (for both my clients and I). However that teeny tiny $2.50 error has left a sour taste in my mouth.

So instead of telling the various communities I am involved in about the conference, instead of sharing the discounted tickets in the various Facebook groups I am a part of (some with over 20,000 members) and making the event known to a wide range of ideal customers, you know what I did instead?

I posted on social media about the error (without naming and shaming – as I don’t see the point in that), I am now writing this ranty blog post and the flyers which would have cost the start-up money to print, ended up in the bin.

“Whether you are starting out in business or are a seasoned professional, brand loyalty and customer happiness is what propels your business to the next level.”

Please don’t risk it all to try and cut corners which could severely impact on your brand reputation. Reputation takes so long to build and even more to maintain, and such an innocent mistake can bring it all crashing down.

Now I did contact the business in question, as they were smart enough (or some could argue stupid enough) to put the founders business cards in with the flyers. I just wanted to point out the error so that they didn’t do it again, costing them even more in brand loyalty. Without that feedback, how on earth could they review their processes and make some positive change?

So whilst I won’t be attending their conference this year, I understand how simple errors can slip through the cracks. I get it. I totally do. The response from the conference founder was immediate, honest and awesome, which eliminated the sour taste. So maybe I will attend the conference next year, providing I get $2.50 off my ticket price to call it even !