There is no greater con than the one who agrees to be conned.
I walked into my neighbourhood cobbler’s shop with a pair of red leather boots in my hand. Each boot is in need of a new zipper. I love my boots! They remind me of what Robbin Hood used to wear.
I ask the cobbler, “How much for the repairs?”
He answers, “About $25. Cash.”
I agree to the transaction. The cobbler takes my boots and goes back to work.
What does a transaction need to ensure no one gets conned?
Two weeks later, I walk into the cobbler’s shop and ask for my boots.
The cobbler starts looking through a mountain of boots and shoes scattered all over the floor.
While he is looking for my boots, I turn my gaze to various shoes and boots for sale for $5 or $10. I have seen them in the past. Who leaves their previously worn shoes behind?
I watch the cobbler dig around to find my boots. He’s an old man in his mid-sixties, judging by his business licenses that date back to 1959 on the wall.
“Have you found my boots yet?” I ask impatiently.
The cobbler hands over a pair of tall, skinny, black boots. “This is yours. Your name is on the tape.”
I am far from being amused. “These are NOT my boots!”
“Yes, they are! They have your name on it.”
I am angry. “My boots look different!”
The cobbler picks up the boots again and says, “I have the wrong Anne.” And just like that, he drops those boots on the ground and searches for my red boots again.
Finally, he finds them! At that point, all I want to do is leave. I curtly say, “$25, right?”
The cobbler looks at the counter, eerily calm, as if he has done this thousands of times before. “I said about $25 then, but the two zippers were hard to take out… a lot of work… so it’s $35 cash… for each boot.”
For each boot? I am furious! “This is NOT what we agreed on! Who pays $70 for two zippers?”
He quickly spits out, “You think I’m expensive? Go on Main Street and 4th! They charge more! Sometimes $40 to $50 more!”
I stop talking. Something is nagging in the back of my mind. I get it! I’ve heard those words before. This cobbler has said those exact, same words to me the last time I was there. I had been conned again!
Without saying another word, I pay the cobbler $70, grab my boots, and leave.
Why did I pay the cobbler?
Because he reminded me of two valuable lessons in doing business:
Lesson #1: Define clearly the terms of transaction.
Price. “About $25” is vague and does not constitute a clear transaction price in itself.
Quantity. “How much for the repairs?” does not stipulate how many units are involved.
Recourse. What is my/your recourse if a transaction goes wrong? There was zero slip. How do I prove in court thatmy red boots were even mine to begin with?
Lesson #2: Pay attention to the clues around you. In my case:
Two full racks of previously worn boots and shoes for sale. Did customers leave them behind because they got conned too?
No receipt. If we really like our item, are we really going to leave it behind with a stranger who refuses to issue receipts?
Been there, done that. How many times does one need to be conned before learning their lesson?
In case you might suggest, “I would never do business that way!” know that the cobbler has been in business since 1959. I wonder how many customers went through his doors.
Here’s what I would like to suggest to you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation as mine:
Get clear before agreeing to anything
Pay the price for learning the lesson.
I trust you have found value in this article.
My name is Anne Beaulieu and I am an Emotional Intelligence Coach who assist her clients in knowing exactly what they are getting into while doing business. You can connect with me at https://walkinginside.com/contact-us/
Your EQ coach,