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“The cheapness of man is every day's tragedy”

That title is from a quote from Emerson …

I was checking Tweets and saw Dave Fleet (@davefleet) quipped that Apple had shipped 3 iPhones to Canada… thanks Steve! Very funny, made me think …

Over the years in dealing with numerous companies, one of the better quips I heard from a client was that their American parent company viewed Canada like a bad version of Ohio, but cheap!

On top of that, the other day in the car, the radio reported on a new research study that stated Canadians view price as the #1 factor over customer service when buying a product, and CS lagged well-behind in second place. Duh! Who didn’t know that? What, are ya new?

Here’s a story I love, thought I would share it with you.

Bob won a lottery. $28 million to be exact. For the first year or so he traveled, played golf and generally messed about enjoying his new-found wealth.

But this was not enough for Bob. He was a people-person and liked being around folks so he bought a beautiful little beach bar in St Martin.

He did not need the money, he just liked being around people, so he priced all his drinks at 10¢.

One sunny afternoon at Bob’s Place two old guys from the States wander into to the bar. Above them a sign read – Drinks 10¢!

One of the old guys asked what the catch was? Bob proceeded to tell them the story … Amazed, they ordered two martinis – make them doubles!

Bob served up two perfectly prepared marts and said … That will be 40¢! Amazed the two old guys had a great time and when the drinks were done, re-ordered. Sure enough, Bob refilled and proudly stated… 40¢!

This was all too wonderful.

But, one of the old guys saw two men sitting down the end of bar, arms crossed and not drinking. He asked Bob …What’s with that?

Bob said… Oh, they’re Canadians. They are waiting for Happy Hour.

In all my years of living in Canada, the one thing that has been a constant is …  we are cheap. We do not tip well, we tend NOT want to pay a premium for great service, or a great brand …  and all of us, pay dearly for that.(That ties back to the title here BTW)

In Toronto, I see many signs. There are no Jazz Clubs. The owners could not make a go of it when jazz patrons would come in to see a group and order a tea. Most restaurants are under utilized and the only places that are jammed are discount Big Box stores. 

Summerlicious for example, where the restaurants put together a cheap menu for a promotional period, is a pandemic. My friends in the food biz call it Summer-Vicious, where they see many a group of people come in, order shared entrees and one bottle of water and tip a buck.

I have several other examples, but you get mt drift.

As for the Tweet that started this smallish tale, if I was Steve, I would ignore Canada too.


  1. Dubya
    Dubya July 30, 2010

    Although there are many Canadians who do not generally tip well…
    I find that tips are an expectation these days, and that solid service is no longer required to receive gratuity.
    For every bad tip you’ve seen… I’ve seen five examples of bad service, and one example of outright terrible service.
    As for paying for a “great service” or a “premium brand” I think you’re a bit off base. “Great service” is more or less extinct, and as far as premium brands go – marketers are still unable to provide a compelling case for paying additional costs simply because a brand is listed as “premium.”

  2. mose
    mose July 30, 2010

    The chicken and egg principle applies. Most Canadian business owners I believe have given up. If we Canadians traditionally or habiyually will not pay for better service it follows suit the companies will not offer it.

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