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Tales from the Walt Vault: The funny things that customers do #1

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!


Online Customers

Now, don’t get me wrong. Before I start roasting my customers, I must tell you: I LOVE my customers! I couldn’t be enjoying my nomadpreneur freedom here on Saipan without customers. Customers are the lifeblood of business. Customers determine what I sell, and offer me the feedback that lets me know I’m living my life on purpose. Customers are great! Okay?

Ahem. With that said, however, I’ve also learned that sometimes customers are craaaaazy!! And, I say that with all the love and compassion I can muster. Let me give you some examples of some of my online customers' funny behavior. (And by funny, I mean “strange” funny, not “ha-ha” funny!)

Read, Mary, READ!!

Right before I escaped to Saipan, I started a website called which lists, as the name might imply, all the free concerts in New York City for the summer. 

Now, the word “free” is mentioned 23 times on the site, 11 more times on the "Thank you" page, 8 more times in the confirmation email, 4 more times on the confirmation screen after you confirm, and another 8 or 10 times in the welcome email! Not only that, the second line of text on the website reads: “For 6 years, our FREE service has been YOUR resource for New York's Summer of Free Music, Dance and Spoken Word events!”

         So, yesterday, I received an email from a subscriber which read: “Dear sir, Can you please confirm that there is no charge for the freesummer concerts list.”

Of course, being the maven of customer service that I am, I politely replied, “Yes, “Mary,” it’s absolutely free!” refraining from any mention of, or calling into question Mary's reading comprehension abilities.


Fearful Frank and a tale of buyer’s remorse

A few weeks ago, another website visitor, “Frank,” purchased a paperback copy of my book, Turn Your Passion Into Profit, from my websiteNow, even before the order was successfully placed, Frank had experienced difficulty using the log-in feature of the shopping cart when first attempting to purchase, so I had to interact with him personally once via phone, and again via email, just before his purchase. So, when I saw that his order had successfully completed, I sent him another personal email congratulating him, and telling him we’d process the order right away.

Frank responded:

hello walt,

glad that my order finally went through but please give me something a little more specific than we'll get on it right away. when can I expect my book to go out and how will it be shipped? Looking forward to your response being as timely as your advertising since you've already collected my money.      


Just a few minutes later, Frank sent another email

Walt.....Just noticed an extra $5 fee added to the cost of my book that was not there when I placed my order. I'm going to trust that you will get back to me quickly on this as I'm starting to get a not so good feeling about this whole transaction. And please again....what does "at the first possible opportunity" mean when referring to my shipping date? Any chance of undoing this whole thing?    Frank


I sent a polite and understanding email to Frank and explained what a shipping charge was, assured him that it had been there quite visible during the checkout process (which he could check on his own), referred to my almost 20-year untarnished business history without complaint or blemish from the Better Business Bureau, and letting him know that his order had already shipped, but that I could refund his money at any time if he so chose.  Frank apparently received the assurance he required, and I haven't heard from him since. This was about two weeks ago.

But, here’s what stands out to me as unusual about this whole exchange. From the very beginning, Frank was receiving personalized attention from me (99% of my customers complete their book orders without speaking directly with the author of the book!), but still had doubts in his mind about the legitimacy of the process 

         The $5 shipping charge is clearly itemized throughout the checkout process. I can’t recall anyone in the 18 years I’ve been selling via mail order, or the 10 years I’ve been selling online, who has questioned a “mysteriously appearing” shipping charge. I wanted to ask Frank what planet he’d been living on, but decided to be nice.

         Frank still felt “buyer’s remorse” and wanted to cancel his order, even though he had had the unusual experience of speaking with a live person through the entire process!

         It wouldn’t surprise me if, later, Frank asks for a refund. (I think Frank has trust issues that have nothing to do with me.)

[If you want to see the full exchange between me and Frank, and the "polite and understanding" response I sent to him, check out a copy of The Turn Your Passion Into Profit Websites that Sell Manual at]

        These are just two of the recent examples of the funny things that customers do!


What I’ve learned about my online customers.

Anyway, on a serious note, the point is this: In all my years doing business online, I’ve learned a few things about internet customer human nature that help me continue to make sales, create good karma, and grow my businesses as well as those of my clients. Here are just a few that may help you with your online venture:

— People are busy (or illiterate). So, don't expect that they have time (or the ability) to read everything, which brings us to point #2:
— People won’t always fully read their emails or all the great, valuable information you’ve painstakingly placed on your websites. You may have to repeat certain information several times even though it is clearly visible on your site or in your emails.
— People don't share the same level of technical expertise when it comes to surfing, purchasing or even communicating online.. There are still many new people who don't know how to send an email, or who will write their email addresses as or some strange variation of this.
— People want what they order “now.” If they can't get it now, they'd like it sooner than later. So, if your product is normally delivered in three days, advertise that it will take five. That way they'll be surprised when it comes sooner.
— People live in fear. They suspect that you are an online scam artist.
Anything you do to allay those fears will help build trust and sales (unless you happen to get "Frank" as a customer)
— People think that money is the most important thing for you, too. Let them know that you are not starving for their business, will gladly give refunds, and may even refuse their business for a given reason.


Stay tuned for these and other puzzling and perplexing tales of customer behavior from the Walt Vault!



Note: Fans and followers of the books, Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan may order on


Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to!

Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!--Walt

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