Yan Pritzker software entrepreneur, photographer, musician

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hello, i'm yan

I am a photographer, entrepreneur, software engineer, guitarist, climber, and telemark skier

This blog is about startups, blogging, Ruby On Rails, virtualization and cloud computing, photography, customer service, marketing, ux and design, git, and lots more.

I am the CTO at Reverb.com - The Marketplace for Musicians. We're hiring web Ruby and iOS developers!

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Reach me at yan at pritzker.ws

Make the easy stuff free

Posted 5 March 2010 @ 5pm in marketing

The other day I thought I had lost my Kirkwood ski resort season pass. So I sent an email to the season pass office wondering what it would cost to replace it. Their reply: $50. Now, that’s kind of ridiculous. It takes about 5 minutes of employee time and probably only a couple bucks in marginal material costs (plastic card and printer) to reproduce the pass. Given that purchasing a season pass I have already committed several hundred dollars to the resort, why should they charge me so much for a replacement?

I think there are two philosophies at play here. Their philosophy is that every opportunity to make money should be taken. By charging a large pass replacement fee, they capitalize on their customers’ misfortune and land a little extra cash. However, people lose their passes rarely so the question is: is the occasional extra $50 in their pocket really worth the bad customer service. Am I really going to think about buying another pass when I know it costs another $50 if I lose it? In comparison, Copper Mountain in Colorado charges $15 to replace a very similar pass, so I’m not just making numbers up when I say it can be done cheaper.

BUT, imagine if I had contacted them, and they said “because you’re a valued customer and have committed to skiing with us, your season pass replacement is FREE”. Might I not be inclined to tell my friends about the awesome customer service I just received? I might even be inclined to tell the whole world how awesome Kirkwood is. Is it better to have my $50 or my eternal gratitude, that will bring more of my friends to the resort? Which makes more money for the business in the end?

Of course at the end of the day, I did find my season pass, so I won’t be forking over $50 to them any time soon, but…now there’s inspiration for this blog post…. The moral of the story is: if it’s easy for you, make it free for your customers, and make them feel special. That’s worth much more in future dollars than the money you can make from their misfortune.