I have been shopping through online classifieds looking for a generator to use with my camp trailer. Not an essential item, but something I want and I am willing to shop around for. I want to find a decent deal before making a purchase, but I have a specific model in mind I would like. This model is quiet, puts on the watts and amps I need and is unfortunately fairly expensive. Yesterday I found one available in the price range I was willing to spend recently posted on KSL Classifieds, one of the main sites I have been watching.
Typically good deals on these particular classifieds are sold fast. By fast I mean if you don’t jump on the chance you might as well not make the call. I jumped on this one and was happy to find the generator I wanted was in good shape, was hardly used, and most of all were available! I jumped. I committed to the purchase, said I would pay the full asking price and would make arrangements to pick it up that night. A deal was struck, at least in my mind.
The difficulty here is that the seller was located a solid hour and a half from where I live, so I needed to make the trek to pick it up. With a family, it is not always possible to jump in the car and leave. My wife was out and I was “parenting” (not called babysitting in our home), so I had to wait until my wife was back to see when it would work for me to take the 3 hours to pick it up.
My wife came home and we discussed going that evening to pick it up, only perhaps 4 hours later, but as quick as I could arrange it. I gave the seller a call back only to be told, “Sorry, I already sold it to someone else. I am meeting him right now.”
I was floored. Yes, he had already sold it, TO ME! Even more frustrating, he felt no responsibility to me whatsoever.
I suspect he was offered more money by the later buyer, but that is beside the point. We had an agreement to which he should have felt obligated. I gave my commitment to pay his price, and he agreed to sell it to me. We agreed that I would pick it up later that day. His word was obviously only as good as the next highest bidder.
It was just a stupid generator, and another deal will eventually come along. I am sure many of your reading is thinking “Get over it” but it was something that stuck with me because I let my ill feelings for this guy to fester. After a few opportunities to complain to some friends about it, though, I started to think about the meaning I could pull out of this event.
So how good is our word these days? Are we always on the lookout to slight out fellow man so that we can come ahead? When you make a commitment, do you follow through? I would never try to portray that I am perfect in any regard, but at least I feel an obligation to follow through when I make a commitment.
In the business world, especially an entrepreneurial one, your reputation is your biggest asset. Word of mouth advertising is based entirely on having earned the trust of an individual to the point that they will refer you to another business or individual. Much of my business experience has been based on this level of trust and method of marketing.
There is a place for legal documents, binding agreements, etc. There is also a place where written agreements should be unnecessary. In a simple person-to-person situation, you should be able to have a verbal agreement and have confidence that both sides will keep their site of the commitment.
Perhaps I am just old school, or better put naÃ¯ve. I believe people when they tell me something, particularly commitments. This does make me the easy butt of jokes that rely on gullibility, but I’m ok with that. Days like yesterday make me question whether my rose colored glasses are getting more tarnished and if the cynic in me is going to become the dominant personality. I do have a strong cynical side, but I try hard to keep it in check.
But, today is a new day, and I woke up telling myself to the events of yesterday behind me and keep my trust in others. If there is anything good I can take from this is to remember to be good to my word. I know what it is like to be slighted, and the feeling is not a good one. Hopefully, this little life lesson can be one that pricks your consciousness as well, and you too can commit to your commitments. Little things like this can make the world a better place.