Why let a new business customer walk away?

By Chris Dawson August 14, 2015 - 9:53 am

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?

  • Ross
    2 years ago

    I’ve recently been doing some mystery shopping. What’s most striking is that managers of big stores have no communication with customers or any autonomy. One manager seemed to think his job was to ignore customers.
    In relation to the post above, it seems as though companies issue a template that mostly works and their businesses plod along. There is no room for anyone within a store to make a decision.
    If I owned a DIY store I’d be doing as much as possible to get your money. If I couldn’t get the credit deal for you, I’d have given you a deal for cash.

  • Lee Pearce
    2 years ago

    It does amaze me sometimes the barriers put up by companies to make a sale.

    There is the other side of this, where companies will sign you up immediately and electronically, but when it comes to cancel they require written confirmation sent to their head office by post!!


  • Robert C
    2 years ago

    I’d do anything to stop a customer going elsewhere (providing the sale fits within my margins), but that’s the difference between a SME and a nationwide large retailer.

    I ran an ebay store for a nationwide retailer for a couple of years and a lot of business practises they had for their bricks and mortar stores were infuriating and nonsensical. Some of these practises were clearly forcing potential customers to shop elsewhere. The systems were archaic and management had no interest in investing any money into developing it. It meant business practise at the customer facing side was shoddy at best.

  • PayPalUser
    2 years ago

    I think I may be mssing something here, normally a Trade Account is for businesses in the buliding trade, are you saying that you are a builder?

    If you are not a builder and cannot prove that you are you, then your appication would be rejected anyway because you are just another Joe Public as far as Wicks or indeed B & Q are concerned.

    • 2 years ago

      Perhaps… but as a self employed person, as well as selling online and writing a blog, I’ve been known to do the odd bit of construction work now and then.

      That aside, I still think it’s daft to let a customer about to pay to walk out to a competitor without any real attempt to stop them from leaving and seeing your sale walk out of the door.

    • Roger C
      2 years ago

      The days of requiring to be “dyed in the wool blue collar” to get a Trade account are long gone, most outlets now accept just a letterhead or visiting card and, for nearly a decade now, most PC users can churn out theirs on their printer with no hassle.

      I think most outlets these days use the “Apply for a Trade Account today!” almost as a loyalty card but to not have a Manager step in and grab that missed sale in a new store? Crazy!

      Even more amazing is around my way Wickes undercut B&Q almost everywhere?

    • james
      2 years ago

      yeah i was going to say the same, unless you’re “in the trade” you’re not supposed to have a trade card.

      if B&Q treat theirs as a storecard and hand it out to anyone, then thats their perogative, you can hardly consider it fair to slander wickes for doing things correctly.

    • 2 years ago

      I agree…. but Wickes didn’t even get as far as asking if I was eligible, they just told me it would be impossible to do a deal on the day. A few years back when I opened a B&Q Trade point account all they wanted was my VAT number.

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    We only wish we had the time to go flirting and frollicking around b&q and Wickes

  • elvis
    2 years ago

    Always the problem with large companies. They become to big to function properly. Sadly my local B&Q is closing in early 2016. No competitor around for at least 50 miles :-(

  • Stephen Walder
    2 years ago

    Why did you use a large multi national in the first instance?

    I find its quite convenient sometimes for bits and pieces but find local timber merchants are far more price competitive (and usually more knowledgeable). I also don’t think you’d have an issue opening a trade account.

    • Steve P
      2 years ago

      As Above, never ever use a national chain unless desperate or they have a real “keen” special on. a local timber merchant will nearly always beat a national on off the shelf prices and that is before you start asking for trade discounts..

  • Andy R
    2 years ago

    Given that you’re not actually in the building trade, you should read the provisions of the 2006 Fraud Act.

    I’d particularly draw your attention to the section entitled Fraud By False Representation, either for gain or to cause loss.

    • Peter King
      2 years ago

      There is no requirement to be in the building trade for a B&Q trade account.

      Any sole trader, or business can open one.

      So no possibility of fraud unless Chris was using someone else’s identity, pretty unlikely.

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