If there’s one word to describe me, it’s this:
For example, when I went to Barcelona a few years ago, I nearly fell for one of the gambling games some guys on the street were playing. It was one of those where they had three cups, one ball, and you had to guess which cup the ball was under.
Of course they let you win a couple. Before encouraging you to bet bigger.
And before you know it…
You’ve lost all your money.
Luckily this time, my mates were on hand to say “Tom, what are you doing?”
Clearly the memo that Barcelona was the “theft capital of the world” kinda escaped my mind.
Like I say, gullible.
Now fast forward on a few years.
January 2017 to be precise.
This time, I’m in Thailand.
And it’s my very first day.
What on earth could go wrong?
Anyway, me and my mate wanted to go to the zoo and see some temples. And after looking on Google maps, we saw the zoo was about a 20 minute drive away.
Now, all we kept hearing before we went away was how cheap Thailand was. So we had no clue what to pay for a taxi. I mean, what’s “cheap” and what’s not?
But when a tuk-tuk driver (their local taxi’s which look a bit like golf buggies) offered to take us there for 10 baht (the equivalent of 25 pence), we jumped at it.
“Thailand really is so cheap!” I thought.
So we jumped in the tuk tuk.
And the driver asked if it was our first day in Thailand.
We said yes.
Then he goes, “I do you a favor – cheap ride. Now you do me a favor. If you go into a shop to look around, I get free petrol. No need to buy. Just look.”
Of course, most people would’ve smelt the bullshit from a mile away.
But me? Nope.
So we went to this shop. Turned out to be a tailors.
And if you think you’ve ever been “hard-sold” to before, then trust me, it would have been nothing compared to this place. Getting out was like walking through Mordor. (Only we didn’t have any giant eagles coming to save us.)
Though eventually, we did escape.
Happy days. The driver had filled up. We’d done our part of the deal. And now we could go straight to the zoo for a bargain price.
The driver turned around as he was driving (literally – he wasn’t even looking at the road!) and said “One more shop. One more.”
Surely at this point I’d clock on that something was wrong?
Course I didn’t.
So off we went again on our next “secret mission”. Only I don’t remember James Bond having to go to two tailors in ten minutes…
Anyway, we went in, pretended we were looking to buy, and eventually came out again.
At last, we could go to the zoo.
Yeahhh… Not so fast.
See, the driver then said “Today, it’s my birthday. I’m 55. Happy-happy.” (Whilst fist pumping the air in celebration with both hands – again, whilst driving.)
Now, at this point, anyone with half a brain cell would realize something’s a little off.
But apparently “gullibilism” is a life-long disease. And I’ve clearly got it bad.
So I said “happy birthday” with a big smile on my face.
“What a nice guy”, I thought.
And when he asked for me and my mate to buy him food for his birthday in exchange for a free ride to the zoo, I said yes.
Sure, the ride was only gonna cost us 25p anyway… But it was his birthday. And he was a lovely bloke, so why not?
Of course, I didn’t think he was a “lovely bloke” for long…
See, we turned off the main road. And before we knew it, were driving down a back alley.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been driven down a back alley with a few Thai locals staring at you not too pleasantly, but let me tell ya, it’s not great.
And, yes, I was pretty scared.
Anyway, the driver pulled up. And we walked to this building with food menus pinned against the wall.
And guess what?
The prices were “plush London hotel” prices. Fuck sake.
So at that moment, our options weren’t great. Either order some stupid-expensive food (and remember we had to buy the driver’s too), or say no and hope they wouldn’t slice us open and add “British meat” to their menu.
Safe to say, we went for the least-crap option, and paid their stupid prices.
Between the three of us, we ordered two tiny prawns (or shrimp as you Americans call it) and two bowls of rice.
Oh yeah – Me and my mate ordered water, but the driver bought a Chang beer (as if he wasn’t a crazy-enough driver sober, anyway).
So we ended up spending more on him than ourselves. Happy birthday indeed “mate”.
In the end, those tiny meals came to the equivalent of £45 plus tax.
To say we were ripped off, is a slight understatement.
But hey-ho. It’s a funny story to look back on.
(And at least we survived…)
Now then, why have I told you this?
To put you off Thailand?
Hell no. It’s a beautiful country (once you get out of Bangkok, anyway). And the people are generally very friendly.
Instead, I told you this because there’s a business lesson here.
What is it?
People only buy dog-shit in a can once
See, if that tuk-tuk driver charged us say £5-10 for the trip and did a good job (i.e. took us straight there without all the “detours”), then we likely would have asked him to be our driver during the rest of our time in Bangkok.
It would have made things easier for us. Knowing we didn’t have to look for a driver and barter with them every day would have been great.
And it would have been great for him, too.
He’d have guaranteed work, and we would have tipped him handsomely after our last day in Bangkok.
Though, instead, he went for the short-term “win”, at the expense of greater money over the long-term.
And so many businesses do this.
They put out something to the market – a product, service, info-product, whatever.
Then, because they market it so well, they’re able to charge high prices.
Which is great, and I’m all for high-priced stuff.
But here’s the kicker…
If you charge premium prices, it better be worth it
If it’s not?
Then people won’t buy from you again. No two ways about it.
So whatever you do, make sure that every single product or service you sell is quality.
When you do this, people will buy from you time and time again.
And that’s how to run a successful business.
PS- Now I think about it, maybe I shouldn’t have given thousands of pounds to that Nigerian Prince last week.