It was a Sunday. I was returning from Mumbai after a long business meeting that I had there. I was quite tired, wanted to reach Pune as soon as possible as I had to go to the office next morning. I stopped at the food mall at Khopoli, just after the first toll booth on the highway. I was driving for quite some time and was thirsty.
I parked the car and went to a big restaurant to get myself a water bottle. The hotel was cluttered, dirty and I did not appear to be welcoming. Waiters were rude and the person on the counter was busy joking with the other staff. After making me wait for couple of minutes, he finally asked me what I wanted again with a sense of arrogance. I asked him for a water bottle and slipped a note of hundred rupees in his hands. As usual, I expected him to return me 80 rupees as a normal water bottle costs twenty rupees.
Oddly, I got only 75 rupees back in my hands along with the bottle. I started to stare at the bottle to see for a MRP printed on it.
“We charge rupees five extra as cooling charges” the man replied arrogantly.
Calmly, I returned him the bottle and asked him for the money back. He was furious as I took away couple of minutes from his ‘precious’ time. I bought water at the next hotel and drove back. I drive to Mumbai almost twice every month and always make a point to not to stop at this place.
I finished another long meeting on Boat Club road in Pune and come to a nice café in the locality. I am along with my wife and both of us want to eat as well as drink. Sitting at the counter is an old Parsi lady. The café is welcoming, clean and maintained very well. The old lady welcomed us with smile on her face and eyes twinkling. I placed my order and she requested me to get the stuff I want from the shelves. The shelves were full of bakery items which were fresh, delicious and made with care.
“I am very old and there is no one else in the shop. You will have to help yourself please” she said again with a beautiful smile on her loving face. I got the stuff, paid her and we sat on a table. I realised that I had not taken water for both of us. I got up and took out a water bottle from the refrigerator.
“Rs. 30” said the same lady.
“Yes, sure!” I said and gave her the cash without even thinking for a minute. The next moment I realized my partial behaviour and started wondering about it.
In the first case, I was really thirsty and was asked for just five rupees more. Whereas in the second case, I was not that thirsty and paid ten rupees above the MRP without even a second thought. Why so?
If you see, charging above MRP is not right, whosoever does it. But, in the second scenario, the cafe had earned itself the ten rupees. Paying five or ten rupees above the MRP is not difficult for anyone reading this post, the thing is, we are willing to pay money only when we feel that someone deserves it. In the first scenario, the hotel had not done anything to earn those five extra rupees. The place and the people there were so horrible that no one would pay a single extra penny. In the second case, the old lady, the stuff that she was selling, her welcoming attitude and affection with which she asked me to help myself made me feel that she had earned those ten extra rupees.
When we are doing an ordinary job in an arrogant way, no one will be willing to give us even a single extra penny. Whereas if we sell something that is remarkable and that too in a human way, people are not bothered much about the money; they are concerned about the experience.
As someone who owns or represents a brand, we always need to ask ourselves this question- does my brand deserve those extra ten rupees?