Why do we put up with bad service?

Many of us denounce bad service and announce we will not frequent businesses that have such service. Yet we sometimes do.


I found myself pondering this when a local shoe store once again continued not to return my phone calls after I ordered — and paid for — a special order pair of shoes. Or they would return my call but not leave a message about the shoes. This went on for 4 months.

I’d ordered from them before and really like the owner’s knowledge. But their follow up was horrible.

When I got around to checking out the Yelp reviews, 99% of the people complained about the same thing, even calling them thieves since they required pre-payment for special orders. Like me, many waited for months before disputing the charge with their credit card.

I finally took this route, too. No surprise they never got back to the credit card company either, so I got credit for the shoes. I imagine the volume of credit card disputes is so large the merchant can’t keep up.

But it made me ponder why I had continued to do business with them even though I’ve encountered this kind of problem with previous orders. There are other specialty shoe merchants in the area, some even closer than this one.

I had fallen prey to the owner’s seductive ways. She remembered tidbits about what I’d shared previously to convince me an expensive pair of shoes was what was needed for my difficult feet. I had visited other shoe stores, but none seemed to know as much about what to do for me.

I was swayed. The memories of my difficulties with past purchases vanished as she convinced me these shoes would make my life so much less difficult.

Sometimes we have no choice in who to patronize. We may have limited options. Or no options if it’s a utility or government.

Have you been persuaded to buy from someone even when you’ve had difficulty with them in the past? Sometimes repeatedly? If so, what made you continue to do business with them?