Dear Customer… You’re Fired!
Today’s marketplace is extremely competitive. Companies are using every resource within their means to attract and retain customers for the long-term. Growing a repeat customer base of people who share their positive experiences in the community will help any business ensure future success. This really isn’t a news flash though, as this has been the business model of many companies for ages. What is newsworthy however is a company that thinks it can get busier by firing its customers. Flat out telling them that they are no longer welcome if they don’t spend as much as others.
Now clearly this requires some explanation. My wife and children recently visited an Iris Eye Centre for my daughter’s annual eye exam. An exam that is covered under our medical and Iris is paid for the service. What occurred bothered me to the point that I felt compelled to write them a letter and here it is.
Attn Customer Service,
I would like to first point out the fact that my family has been customers of your establishment for a few years now. Feel free to look it up. My wife had come to you for eye exams until she had laser eye surgery there, my daughter has been getting her eye exams there and my son also had an eye exam there. We chose Iris for exams because of its location, service and reputation. Two of which I now question.
That being said, I can only hope someone can appreciate how much it infuriated my wife and I to learn that if we don’t purchase our glasses at Iris that you no longer want us as clients for our eye exams. My daughter was getting an eye exam yesterday and happened to mention that she got her glasses at West Coast Optical. After the exam my wife was called in. She was told by the optometrist that the two businesses at Iris support each other and that if we weren’t going to buy our eyewear at Iris after the exam, he no longer wanted us as clients. A $50 off coupon was given toward a purchase if we chose to use it.
This is unbelievable. We have never purchased eyewear from Iris because we are money conscious people and we are loyal to the business owner at West Coast Optical so we shop there. We enjoy the service and the quality of their products are as good and often much less expensive. It is really none of Iris’s business where we buy our glasses. As a consumer I have choices and if I choose to visit for eye exams and go elsewhere to buy glasses that is my prerogative and my right.
I am not sure if this is the voice of one doctor or if this is policy now but it’s crazy to me. I work at a golf course that has a driving range. Could you imagine me going up to a person at the driving range and telling them, that if they were not going to golf at my course, they were not welcome at the driving range? Insanity!
Your mission statement on your website says, “OUR MISSION is to provide our customers with the highest quality products and professional services in the world of eye care.” It doesn’t say you can only get the professional services if you BUY the quality products.
I am giving you an opportunity to provide an explanation before I go public with this on my blog. A quick response would be appreciated.
I sent this letter 3 days ago and have yet to hear anything back. During those 3 days, everywhere I went, I saw countless businesses that offer multiple services and couldn’t imagine any of them turning me away if I only wanted to pay for one. If they reply I will up date this post.
Update – Jan 26/11: After sending two follow up emails over the course of a week I got a reply from Iris via email stating that they indeed had received my letter and informed me that the manager of the location would be contacting me. A couple more days went by and I got a call from her only to tell me that someone else from their company would be contacting me. I was starting to feel like no one cared or wanted to confront my concern. Well when I finally heard from someone to discuss the matter, it was very clear that they do care… about them selves. The person that wanted to speak with me was their lawyers! Apparently it is their company policy that when someone contacts them and uses words like “go public on my blog” in their letter it kind of a big deal. The lawyer was very pleasant and, to some extent, seemed to sympathized with my frustration in how long it was taking to get a response from Iris. She asked my side of it and said she would be contacting the location manager to speak with her as well. I reiterated everything in the letter and then was asked “what I want to come of my letter” I just said I wanted someone to call me and say that the optometrist misspoke and that that was not their policy. Two days later she called again and explained that apparently their was an email sent to me from a regional manager from an airport in Phoenix that did not get through to me or other people that were CC’d. This was part of the reason things took a while. She then stated that during her conversation with the location manager she was told that the manager had spoken directly with the optometrist in question and he had assured her that he never said that he didn’t want us as customers if we didn’t buy our glasses at Iris. Which is exactly what I expected them to say. It has basically come down to a “he said, she said” scenario. The difference is my wife knows what he said and she also knows what she said.
I was then asked nicely by the lawyer to remove my blog post. Iris would prefer not to have any bad publicity about them online, however given that this is 100% my right to share an opinion it shall remain.
So what is the end result? Well, Iris has lost us all as customers forever, which by the sounds of it is a disappointment to the manager but I guess for that one optometrist, it’s mission accomplished.
I am totally appalled by this story! This is the main reason why I no longer work for Iris. You should definitely report this to the College of Optometrists of BC (http://www.optometrybc.com/), they should know about this!
I am interested to hear if they actually respond to your complaint, and how they will justify this behaviour.
PS- I have shared this with some of my co-workers and we all feel this type of behaviour is adding to our success! the companies that are in it for the customer (aka Clearly Contacts) will prevail over those who are only in it for the money.
Keep me posted!!
January 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm
I sent this article to the College of Optometrists but there was no reply. Iris replied to tell me someone would get in touch with us. Then the manager of the location in question called us to say someone from Customer Services would call us to speak about this matter. Still waiting…
January 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm
Thank you for your blog post about Iris’ new “policy”. They gave me the same response today when I called to book my regular eye exam. I was shocked. I’ve been a patient of theirs for 11 years, during which time I have spent thousands of dollars on eye glasses and contact lenses.
Recently, I discovered Clearly Contacts online and found that I can buy the same contacts, and glasses for literally a fraction of the price. Needless to say, I have been purchasing through them, and I’m not willing to go back to spending $450 a year on contact lenses when I can spend $120 for the same ones through CC.
You’re right, it’s none of Iris’ business where I buy from, and I find it completely unethical to mandate that I purchase from them in order to receive health care for my eyes. BS if you ask me.
I hope you don’t mind, I posted your blog post on my facebook page to illustrate exactly what I was feeling, as you very eloquently conveyed my thoughts. I’m thinking of possibly taking this to the media, as it needs to be made known.
In the age of social networking, this is a very poor move on Iris’ part. Very poor.
Thanks for sharing.
February 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm
Hi Terra, Sorry to hear that you have experienced the same issues. Iris is clearly trying to cover something up here. Its nice to hear we are not the only one that they have disappointed! Clearly they have no loyalty to their existing clients!
February 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm