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Are you a loyal customer for all the wrong reasons?

Do you stick with your plumber because he or she is a friend of a friend? Or a hairdresser because you’ve used them for years? Or a gardener who’s not quite up to scratch, but you don’t want to put them out of a job?

I’m fascinated when I hear people talk about a service they’re unhappy with but don’t finish it, because they’re either scared of hurting the individual’s feelings or putting the person out of business.

I have to confess I occasionally find myself in this camp. Don’t get me wrong – if the service is bad I’ll certainly complain about it or go elsewhere. But if it’s mediocre, and I’ve been going through the motions with that person for a few years, I’ll continue ticking along.

Cutting my hairdresser out

I love my hairdresser for all the right reasons. She offers excellent service, always listens to what I want and politely persuades/dissuades (delete as appropriate) me out of a drastic change.

However, last weekend I had to book an appointment with her colleague and I was horrified at the thought of being disloyal to her. I can’t help but feel like a traitor by seeing someone else – it’s like I’m having an affair.

Now, I do have justified reasons for ‘seeing someone else’ – the salon manager was trying to wean clients onto another colleague in preparation for my favourite hairdresser’s maternity leave (I will of course return to her when she is back from leave).

But I was so unsettled by this that I spoke to her before visiting the salon (and changing my allegiance!) to reassure her that I wasn’t ‘cheating’ on her.

Our local loyalty

We’ve discussed the problem of switching in the financial world before on Which? Convo – a topic of a slightly different nature because you’re unlikely to ever feel embarrassed to tell your bank you’re leaving them. In fact, I’m always quite pleased when I can tell my bank/insurance provider that I’m on my way out because I’ve found a better deal.

Perhaps the more impersonal contact we have with financial providers makes us feel less connected. Not to mention that they’re often big national names, compared to the local businesses we’re more likely to encounter in our daily lives.

Are you an overly loyal customer, or am I the only one who comes out of our local deli with two bags of shopping when I went in for bread because I just wanted to keep her in business?


I buy Christmas cards and books from a charity that I have been a member of for many years. The prices are high but I have found that the same goods are available from the same charity at substantially cheaper prices via Amazon. I have not bought any goods directly from my charity (which I won’t name to avoid embarrassment) since making this discovery.

Dave D says:
4 May 2012

Generally speaking IO don’t stick to people who are providing a bad service. I’m very lucky in knowing (at the moment) a superb plumber, a superb electrician (and I’m also a qualified sparky myself, although not registered at present, so I can always use that to help ‘persuade’ an electrician who tries to white-wash me!), and a superb joiner. The joiner is the only tricky one: he’s been very ill with cancer and I feel horrendously dis-loyal about he fact that I’m going to need some joinery done before he is fit to work again and I’ll have no choice but to use someone else.

When service is poor I generally go elsewhere at the drop of a hat ….. with banks that resulted in my running out of high street banks to move to about 12 years ago!!!!

Very lucky where I live, small towns/villages close by, so choice of local shopping is quite good.
I apply the same criteria to both local and national businesses.
If I receive some shoddy produce/service, I tell them loudly the next time I use them.
They have an opportunity to put it right and if they do not, then I do not use them again and tell my friends/family.

Dave, running out of banks, I know that feeling heh, I stopped using any bank account 4 years ago.

I don’t do loyalty really – I shop for convenience and quality but I use a nectar card simply because it came with one shop which I still use for convenience and quality – I employ people I trust and like the quality of their work But usually do all my own DIY. I’ve used the same on line Bank for many years because the service is first class and accurate can’t see a reason to change.