I don’t like arctic cold. I like it even less when I have to take care of unexpected car maintenance. What we would do ourselves in summer, we might look for someone else to handle in winter. Eleven-degree temps can color a person’s perception of value. It can make us do the unthinkable.
Last Saturday, I dug out from twelve inches of snow. After clearing a path to my car, I jumped in and cranked up the heater. To my dismay, I saw that the driver-side daytime running light had burned out. The wipers were screaming as they cleared the melted snow. They needed to be replaced as well.
In summer, I’d take care of these maintenance issues myself. Wipers are $18.95 each and bulbs run $5 for a package of two. Total cost, if I did the job myself, would be $45.58, with tax. In the cold winter, however, I was ready to have someone else do it, even if I had to pay more.
I searched the web and found three shops that could do the whole job for $39.95. That was good, but they sounded too good to be true. The first shop didn’t answer the phone. The second said they could fit me in say two weeks. The third price was a little less, but they just seemed shady. I wondered what they might cost me in time, hassle, and the risk of a botched job.
So, I did the unthinkable: I called the dealership down the street. Even though car dealerships have a reputation for charging a lot, they earned my trust a few months ago when I thought I needed new brake pads, and they told me I didn’t. Good news - they could fit me in that morning. That also meant I could sit in their well-appointed heated waiting area—with high-speed WIFI, comfy chairs, and a beverage dispenser. I was more than willing to pay for this convenience – I booked the appointment.
My car was ready in 45 minutes. They changed the wipers, replaced the light bulb, did an overall mechanical check, topped off the fluids, checked for recalls, and washed the crud off my car. The total bill came to $76.64—almost twice the fly-by-night places. Yet, I was totally satisfied with this deal!
Bottom-line: customers will shop for deals. Yet when uncertainty and convenience appear, they tilt decisions toward providers they trust. When the context for buying changes, sometimes the service or product is “worth” much more. Suppliers that consciously build trust, reap the trust dividend—repeat and profitable customers.