Tuesday, July 21, 2020

What the Hell Ever Happened to 'The Customer is Always Right'?

By Robert Wenzel

In the 1999 book, Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion, co-founder of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus, tells the story of how ingrained "The customer is always right" was at the chain.

On one occasion a man walked into a Home Depot in Atlanta with a set of automobile tires. He wanted a refund. The problem was that Home Depot didn't sell tires but the man was adamant he had bought them at the store and finally the store manager gave him a "refund."

The tires remain nailed to the wall at that branch of Home Depot as a reminder to employees that "The customer is always right" at Home Depot.

The adage, "The customer is always right," is simply a way of businesses saying to their employees, "Don't argue with our customers and don't make a shopping experience uncomfortable for our customers."

Sounds pretty basic BUT this attitude is disappearing in the age of ever-expanding government regulations where workers are essentially being deputized as agents of the state. It changes the entire dynamic between employees and customers.

Way back in the day, it was an exciting job to be a flight attendant, travel the world and make sure the passenger experience was first class.

With growing regulations that has changed. All a flight attendant does is bark out government regulations now, "buckle your seat belt," "please sit down during takeoff sir," "please put your seat in an upright position." It doesn't stop. It has become the perfect feeding ground for mini-authoritarians.

I recently visited a friend at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The place looks like an armed camp. There are police everywhere. And from clerks to nurses everyone carries a "don't bother me" chip on their shoulder. I saw a man arguing with the front desk in a generally civil but agitated tone. The clerk called the in-hospital police on him.

I imagine this jailhouse attitude at Zuckerberg General started when Ronald Reagan as president ordered hospitals to take in all comers even if they didn't have the means to pay. Now, the place is full of lunatics and the "don't bother me" chip at Zuckerberg has become systemic.

And now, COVID-19 is turning retail clerks into belligerent agents of the state.

I was recently at a Walgreen's. I was carrying a handheld basket with about a dozen items in it. As I approached the cashier who was behind one of those plastic barriers, I put the basket on the counter and started emptying it as I have done many, many times before.

But this cashier said to me, "Could you please put the basket on the floor."

I mean what the hell?

She is behind a plastic barrier, if she is going to catch COVID-19, it is if I have COVID-19 and I am handing her the items in my basket, not from the basket itself.

I put the basket on the floor and told the mini-Mao it was not good for my back to bend to the floor. She came around the counter picked it up and unloaded the basket which was now on her side of the barrier!

A similar incident occurred to me at a CVS. I was placing items on the counter close to the opening where the cashier was behind a barrier. I placed three or four items right at the barrier opening and the other items a couple of inches back (and I am talking one or two inches). I fully intended to push the items in the rear closer to her as soon as she rung up the first few items but she barked at me before ringing anything up, "Please put the items closer."

I am not making this up. She really could have reached all the items from their initial positions on the counter with an extension of her arm.

But it didn't stop there.

After I emptied the basket, I was about to put it on top of the other baskets that were to the side of the counter. And this is the key, "on top of the other baskets that were to the side of the counter."

She barks at me, "Take the basket and put it over there by the front door," that was about 20 feet away. I looked at this newly deputized mini-Mao and walked out and went to a Target store around the corner where they have automated checkouts so I don't have to deal with mini-Maos at checkout.

And this brings me to Mark Cuban, who has become a Black Lives Matter poser.

The guy is now going a step further and outright insulting his customers even before government regulations force him to be going authoritarian in the BLM direction.

Cuban tweeted "Bye" on Sunday in response to a tweet from Mark Davis in which the Dallas-based  talk show host expressed enthusiasm about the Mavs but added that he would no longer be a fan "the minute one player kneels for the anthem." If anything, the national anthem should be taken out of sports.

But, you know, some people may actually just want to go to a basketball game to enjoy basketball without the added kneel for the Marxists bit. And Cuban insults these people.

A word to Cuban, the people behind the scenes of BLM consider your type a "good white." That is not a positive thing to be called. They are not your friends.

It is obvious, Cuban has no clue about the history and tendencies of Marxist leaders. They are vicious. They will use you when it is necessary and destroy you when they need you no more.

It is a tragedy that Cuban would go from 'The Customer is Always Right' to insulting a customer who only objects to the promotion of Marxism at a basketball game.

Cuban lucked out selling Broadcast.com at just the right time to Yahoo and then collaring his stock but it is obvious the Marxists are way ahead of him. He is not going to beat them, certainly not by cozying up to them and insulting his customers along the way.

It will never turn out well for a "good white."

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. Cuban is great on Shark Tank but totally stupid and clueless in the political realm. Was he not asking the Hildbeast to be a VP running mate? That tells all you need to know.

  2. Cuban is compromised. A sad man

  3. The regulatory mandates various authorities are imposing on small businesses associated with Covid19 reopening are often draconian and backed up with heavy fines - at least on paper. I spoke to a gym owner this morning. Besides cleaning and social distance requirements, there is customer tracking as well as required on-line courses for service providers. As the gym often works with particular trainers as 'sub-contractors' - the issue emerges as to whether the owner or the sub is the locus of the enforcement. Small business doesn't really need this as well as the downturn in custom and the long period of unproductive time they have had to carry- whilst paying rent. The regulatory load probably forces a greater degree of unfriendly behavior by business. This excludes the burden created by "Karen" type customers - mostly older people.