I recently had a water pipe break in my basement due to freezing. It made a huge mess, covering the basement floor in about 2 inches of water. Because the water was “clean” as opposed to sewage, the insurance company decided that they should restore the carpet and pad (I truly believe they are in bed with Service Master). The cost: about $3000. The fact that they could have replaced the entire carpet for $2000 seemed irrelevant to them. This doesn’t make economic sense – just because it was technically possible to dry the carpet and then re-install it, didn’t mean that they should. But it gets better…

In the closet below the leak were a large number of photo albums, some board games, and stuffed animals. When we put together the list of damaged goods, we told the insurance company that the stuffed animals were worth about $5 each. Rather than simply paying us $5, they insisted upon getting them professionally cleaned and restored!!! (My kids are now grown and I don’t even want the stuffed animals – when they come back from the cleaners I am just going to get rid of them). Sure, it might be possible to restore them, but why pay this money to the restoration company just because it is technically possible? Is anyone listening to the customer (me in this case?).

The one thing that got damaged that the insurance company refuses to pay for, other than the cost of the albums themselves, is the photos. I have a friend who restores old damaged photos – why doesn’t the insurance company have a preferred provider of these services and pay to restore the only thing I really care about – the photos – and just make a decision on the other items based on value rather than trying to appease their service providers. After all, I am the customer and one who pays my premiums each month.

OK, enough ranting. What does this have to do with your online business? Quite simply, give your customers what they want, not what you want to sell them. Don’t use your website as a way to dispose of excess inventory – use it as a way to promote your best-selling items. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!