Martin Koníček


We don't take cards for less than 2 EUR, or why hardworking people are being steamrolled.

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You surely know this situation: you walk into an Asian corner shop, whose product range has evolved from the post-revolutionary "fruits and vegetables" (writing about situation in Czechia shortly after Soviet union collapse) to the modern "cookies, alcohol, cigarettes", and there's a sign on the door: "We don't accept cards for less than 2 EUR". Why? Because the seller would be undermining his margin, as he pays 0.04 to 0.08 EUR for each card transaction, and if you buy a Snickers bar for 0.60 EUR, he doesn't earn much, god forbid he might even break even.

To not seem like I'm only blaming people from the East, you must know the situation when a handyman promises you a job, schedules ten of them, and then just shows up for the one that pays the most.

What I'm referring to here is transactional behavior. If one transaction doesn't pay off, you simply don't do it. We've been indoctrinated with this approach since school: do this task and get this grade, or from our parents - take out the trash and get a 1 EUR coin. It's so common that when you start your first job, it's likely to work exactly like that - sell ten ice creams, you get 10% from each sale.

Notice, however, that not everyone operates in this way. I recently was in a photo service shop, where I got a single photo for 0.40 EUR, put it in a photo envelope (which probably cost another 0.04 EUR), paid by card, and the saleswoman helped me for five minutes, even smiled, and didn't worry at all that this purchase might not be profitable for the company. She was an employee, so she logically didn't care.

How foolish is that businessman? Shouldn't he have a special surcharge - an envelope for photos up to 30, a large sign "surcharge 0.20 EUR", card payments under 2 EUR - we don't accept, and even then it's not a deal for us, the saleswoman should have sneered at me for bothering her with this.

And yet, this company is likely more successful than any other tradesman. How come? They build relationships. They may not profit from this transaction, but I know them, I feel good there, maybe I'll go there next time and buy a camera for 1.000 EUR.

This is a relational and generally more long-term approach, and from what I've understood, it works significantly better in life. As long as you operate transactionally, the competition is downright fierce. I have a job for you, but you only come when it suits you, and only if something comes out of it, and if a problem arises you wash your hands of it. I have a hundred people like this at my fingertips, all of them are working from dawn to dusk for a few pennies, and then they look at those people who are in no hurry and calmly close very advantageous deals, fly to Dubai several times a year, and they can't understand how you can have more with less effort.

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