Why let a new business customer walk away?

Wickes BandQI want to extend my garden office and to do so need a quantity of timber, sheets of OSB, roofing felt, posts, coach bolts, hardware and the like. Seeing as a brand new Wickes store has opened up in Newbury I thought I’d give them a whirl.

The staff were lovely, walked around the store with me and using a head-set communicated with another member of staff on the checkout to collate my order, as we discussed the merits of slightly too short 3.6m lengths of timber (in stock) compared to slightly too long 4.8m lengths of timber (that would have to be ordered in).

The problem arose when it came time to pay – I asked to open a trade account but that apparently takes 3 or 4 days and no I can’t have the 10% discount available to businesses until I’ve received a trade card through the post. There didn’t appear any possible way to order on the day, so I left them with a £400 order to cancel on their till and drove less than half a mile to B&Q.

The staff in B&Q were even lovelier and patiently went through their catalogue to find the same specification of materials. It’s only a small B&Q in Newbury so everything will be delivered from their larger Reading store. Having tallied up the total, applied trade discount and given me free delivery the bill came to £272 which they were delighted to debit from my bank card then and there.

What I don’t understand is why Wickes weren’t biting my hand off for a £400 walk-in-order just a few days after opening? Also, even after the 10% trade discount which they couldn’t give me, why were they still 30% more expensive than B&Q?

I’m afraid I’m very unlikely to ever visit Wickes again. If I’d not gone to B&Q I’d have been more than happy to part with £360 in Wickes but they made it to onerous to purchase from them. I’ll probably never go back and I’ll be recommending friends who live locally to avoid Wickes and go straight to B&Q.

In this electronic age where you can sign up for practically anything with a few clicks of a mouse and obtain thousands of pounds of finance on the spot for purchases like cars, surely it can’t be that hard to open a trade account for a customer ready and willing to spend some cash?

Would you let a new small business customer walk away to buy from a competitor?