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jca's avatar

Do you think, if a customer of a service checks out competing service with little or no intention of using that service, that it's dishonest or is it "part of doing business?"?

Asked by jca (26814 points ) December 30th, 2013

At work, we use a catering facility and hotel for our annual holiday party (let’s call it “The Happy Hotel”). It’s a huge party with hundreds of guests. A competing hotel (let’s call them “The Competition”) wants us to come visit and check out their facility, in the hopes that we will utilize them next year. There was a large conference at The Competition hotel last year where many people got sick and the Health Department had to investigate. We are very happy with Happy Hotel that we have been using and have little or no intention of switching (especially to The Competition, the one that made many people sick).

I think we should take The Competition hotel up on their invitation, however, and check out their facility and get prices. I think it can be helpful in negotiations with The Happy Hotel, to know what other hotels offer in terms of food, cost per plate, etc. The Competition is happy to try to sell their service and I’m sure they understand that part of selling a service is that there’s a chance that the customer will not use them.

Another person that I work with thinks that to do so is being dishonest.

I am not going to argue about it, as I usually lay low at work, so whatever the majority decides is what we will go with. I am curious, however, for other Jellies’ opinions.

If a business checks out a facility with little or no intention of using that facility, is it being dishonest or is it “part of doing business?”

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15 Answers

cookieman's avatar

Sounds like smart business to me. No different than shopping around before you buy a car, or appliance, or… anything really.

hearkat's avatar

I agree with you – especially in this day and age of easy access to information and competitor’s prices, negotiating has become part of the process. It is not dishonest to go out and see what other options there are, especially if you say right up front that you have been very pleased with the service and relationship you’ve established with the place you’ve used historically.

Besides, you’re giving the other business an opportunity for them to see what the customers are looking for. Competition is a major piece to the capitalist system – especially in ensuring that the customer gets the best options for fair prices.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Absolutely check it out. This is the capitalist system at work. It’s an example of the market economy doing exactly what it should.

Basically, there are no sure things in life. For all you know, Happy Hotel may burn down, or go bankrupt, or get new management – a million things can happen over the course of a year. So checking out the competition is the responsible thing to do in any case.

But over and above that, the different hotels (Happy and Competition) should be vying against each other for your business. Nothing should be a ‘given’ – let them earn your business every year.

So it is absolutely and totally OK for your company to check things out—more than that, it’s responsible and wise to do so,

glacial's avatar

I think it would be dishonest if you were going for the purpose of getting a free meal, or a free stay, or a free whatever. If you’re going for the purpose of getting information, then obviously it’s not dishonest – it’s exactly what The Competition wants you to do.

What’s involved with the visit? Meals, accommodation, or just a tour? If just a tour, I don’t know why anyone would raise an eyebrow.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree with you. It’s smart to look at what other hotels would offer, not just the competition, but all other hotels in the area. There’s nothing wrong with making sure you are still getting the best deal with the Happy Hotel.

CWOTUS's avatar

If you “check out the other business” by accepting free offers from them with an already signed contract in place with the other firm, then that’s “bad faith”. That is, you’re accepting a “free trial” offer knowing in advance that you will not switch.

However, just because you have had an ongoing relationship with Happy Hotel and have always used them in the past – and as long as you have no firm commitment to use their service in the future – then it’s not at all bad faith. It’s a smart offer from the competitor, and it’s up to you whether or not to try them out. They already know that they have to convince you not only on price but on quality of service and all other terms of the offer, so they know (or should know) that they’re on a steep uphill climb with you. Still, it’s smart of them to offer, and not at all dishonest of you to accept the offer, absent other commitments.

jca's avatar

@glacial: Usually the committee would meet with the catering manager for a tour of the facility, discussion about what they could do and what our needs are. Usually, as a courtesy, they offer us coffee or tea and maybe a small food item off their menu while we meet, like a dessert.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m always willing to listen to offers from the competition. Loyalty is good – even better if it’s earned.

I have had the same furnace guy for years, ever since he solved a month-old heating ordeal in 10 seconds and had to be forced to bill a service call. Last summer my AC went out during a heat wave and he reported $400–500 to try to fix it (no warranty), and $2200+ replacement. For once I pursued a second opinion and a total stranger had the AC up and running by dark at a total of $225.

We have a printer that we do $15,000+ business with a year. I’m always open to suggestions and/or offers, and always end up getting a chuckle out of it – our printer can not be beat for price or service. If I get another offer, I usually tell him what it was, and we chuckle together.

My point being (again), is that loyalty is best an informed position. There’s no harm in allowing someone to challenge your loyalty to a business, no more than there’s harm in telling the competitor, “Sorry, no, we’re not tempted to change our account at this time.”

marinelife's avatar

Part of doing business.

glacial's avatar

@jca Then I’m very surprised anyone would call this dishonest. The Competition thinks it can sway your company, and your company is letting them make the effort. This is just business as usual.

Cupcake's avatar

Not dishonest AND it gives them an opportunity to discuss all of the changes they have implemented since the food poisoning incident.

hug_of_war's avatar

It is not dishonest and any business knows that not everyone they court is going to ultimately choose them. Someone I know is in charge of getting conference spaces for her organization. One year the place they had used for years pulled the rug out from under them. Loyalty can go both ways and you should always be aware of other options, for the sake of both sides.

ibstubro's avatar

If The Competition did indeed have a food poisoning incident last year, it’s likely that the management and kitchen staff have changed 100% from that time. They also obviously lost business. I’d be eager to give them a chance and see what they’re willing to offer.

johnpowell's avatar

No worse then me going to the small skate-shop a block away and checking out shoes and trying them on and then going home and buying them on Amazon.

I know that this makes me a horrible person and the end result will end up being Amazon the only place that can sell stuff.

But what you are doing is different and totally fine.

filmfann's avatar

Before I get work done on my house, I get several bids from contractors. How is that different?

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