Wednesday, October 15, 2008

TrackItBack Takes It Back


By: Lee Distad

For those that don’t know, TrackItBack is a lost-and-found service for small electronics. Customers purchase small foil stickers with a serial number, and register their iPods, phones, and other small devices with TrackItBack. If lost, the sticker encourages the finder to contact TrackItBack, who pays the finder a reward, and reunites the lost device with its owner, at no further charge beyond the original cost of the sticker. I vaguely remember registering a Palm Zire three or four years ago that I’m pretty sure is now sitting in a drawer in my filing cabinet, but that’s neither here nor there.

Because I’m on their mailing list, last week I received an email from TrackItBack founder Jason Wagner. It was an impassioned mea culpa: Apparently, earlier this year TrackItBack changed their service from lifetime coverage to annual coverage, and instituted a renewal fee. It appears that the company received Krakatoa-like blowback from their customers. The email was a heartfelt apology and an announcement that effective immediately, all of their current customers and new customers will once again receive lifetime coverage on all of their registered TrackItBack items.

The lesson here is that as soon as you forget what your business is, you’re screwed. Change is both good and often necessary, but you can’t undertake it lightly, and you certainly can’t make sweeping changes in how your business works without considering the most important part: how it will affect your customers. If you do decide to alienate your existing loyal customers and search for bigger better ones, I sure hope your new plan really does bring in the new ones you’re hoping for. If things don’t go quite the way you planned, you can always apologize to your customers, and if you’re really, really lucky, they’ll forgive you. Requests to TrackItBack for further comment went unanswered, but I hope their realignment with their core values pays off for them.


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3 comments:

Lee_D said...

Update: At press time, no one from TrackItBack had responded to my enquiry. I just received a nice note from TrackItBack founder Jason Wagner. He took responsibility for listening to outside advisers who suggested the annual renewal, and made the decision to go back to what made them successful in the first place.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head Lee.

Best,
Jason Wagner

Dan said...

I am surprised they didn't ssay that It was still a lifetime program with an annual administration fee!