Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: When cheap gets expensive for business owners

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence at your service Canadian Rental Service column Russ Dantu

I was stocking up on some wine just before the pandemic set in. I mainly stop in at Costco if I have to buy wine, beer and spirits and have extra time on my hands, as it’s usually quite busy. But the pricing is right.

On this day, I was heading to the local liquor store that I have supported for many years. There are four to choose from within two minutes of each other but I’ve just always found what I wanted, at a price I wanted, and they treat me pretty well when I go there. For some reason, I decided to go to the big box liquor store that was just across the parking lot from my regular spot: Liquor Depot.

I walked in, got a basket and started checking out the various wines from around the world. I didn’t see that many of my favorites so I chose several that were new to me and a few that I drink quite often if I’m having wine. I then grabbed a six-pack of Sapporo beer (I love this Japanese beer), and headed to the front to check out.

The young lady smiled and asked if I needed anything else. I said “Just an empty wine box to carry the 10 bottles I am purchasing, please and thanks.”


“Sorry sir. We don’t give away our empty wine boxes anymore.”

“Umm, ok, but I cannot carry 10 bottles without a box.”

“We are selling these wine bags. They hold four bottles. You can buy three and you’ll be set.”

“Yeah, I don’t really want any more bags in my house, thanks, and I’m definitely not interested in paying for bags when a cardboard box will work.”

“Well, I’m not allowed to give away our boxes.”

“Well, I guess I’ll go somewhere else to buy my wine and beer today then.”

“Sorry sir. Those are our rules here and I have to follow them. It’s been like that for quite a while.”

I looked at her with that “dazed and confused” look at the absurdity of her answer, stepped out of line and actually put the bottles back where I found them (I probably should have just placed them at her feet and told her to deal with it as I was quite miffed at how she was handling the situation). She smiled and said, “Have a nice day!” as I left the store…which infuriated me even more.

I then went across the street to my usual place and bought 12 bottles of wine and some Sapporo (did I mention that I love that beer?). It came to just over $220. They treated me well…and even gave me a box to put it in!

This got me thinking. Who in their right mind would tell their staff to not give out cardboard boxes for the few people who ask for it? Who wouldn’t say to their staff that if it meant losing a $200-plus order that they should definitely get a box for the customer? Who in their right mind would come up with this rule to start with?

The bags were $1.99 each so not a lot of money but if you’re like me, you probably have too many bags sitting in your home already.

It also reminded me of a great video I encourage you to watch. Google “Give ‘em the pickle!” and see what this restaurant owner is talking about. A great story and pretty much the same as what I went through with the liquor store.

So many businesses seem to be missing the mark on the way they conduct their business. Like the liquor store, they are leaving money on the counter.

I don’t mean to whine about the wine issue but it just frustrates me when I see so many businesses struggling and some simple common sense could definitely add to their bottom line. With the pandemic, it’s more important than ever now to really step up our customer service practices. When it comes to a new customer walking in the door, we usually only get one chance to do it right. If the impression is as poor as the liquor store incident, we too will be missing out on a lot of revenue.

Are you leaving money on the counter? Are you implementing rules that drive your customers away?

I fully intend to reach out to Liquor Depot to see what their logic is. I’ll let you know if they listen or tell me to put a cork in it.

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit

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