Thanks to Seth Godin for pointing out the Four Paws Design web site. Only one thing keeps any of us in business and that's customers. They're doing us a favor when they buy from us. If we don't make the process easy, there are plenty of other choices. Laying down rules for the customer to follow is seldom a good policy. If we must have restrictions, then there are ways to let the customer know without sounding heavy-handed. Here are some quotes from Four Paws FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) with comments in brackets.
Why am I limited to the number of items I can order?
Due to rising fuel costs, we can no longer order and store large amounts of inventory. During the busy holiday shopping season, we generally limit items to 1-2 per order. If you see something you would like us to special order in bulk for you, or want an additional item, email us for availability. At this time we cannot offer discounts on bulk orders but can discount your shipping charges.
[translation: Our stock is limited. Chances are we only have one or two of an item in stock. If you want us to place a drop-ship order direct from the manufacturer, don't expect a price break, even though we're selling you something that we have no investment in. We're busy during the holiday season, but we know you're not. If you want more than two items, you can always place another order.]
The item description states there are 4 in stock, yet I can only order 2, what should I do?
We are making every effort to accurately list the exact quantity of each item in stock. If the item description states there are more in stock than you are allowed to order, please email us and we will add the new amount to your order.
[Allowed to order???? You're kidding, right?]
Do you ship outside the United States?
No. Due to the rise in international shipping costs and fraudulent orders, we are no longer shipping outside the United States. We suggest having your order shipping to someone in the US who can ship it to you.
[If I'm paying for shipping, what difference does it make if shipping costs are rising? If I have to pay in advance, how can my order be fraudulent? Besides, do you really want to use the word "fraudulent" when you're talking to a customer?]
I do not want to place an order online, help!
Unfortunately, we can no longer take phone orders. Customers forget to tell us something and after the order is placed and processed they claim we wrote down incorrect information. By placing an order online we have a record of exactly what you want, especially for custom-designed items, leaving no room for error.
[Translation: Sorry, no help. We don't make mistakes, but you do. We don't trust you enough to get it right. Besides, if we let you order by phone, we'd have to give out our unlisted number (see below).]
Why can't I pay with a check?
We are no longer accepting checks or money orders as a method of payment. Over 90% of people who want to pay by check forget to. This ties up merchandise that would otherwise be sold immediately, especially during the busy holiday season.
[Translation: Only one out of ten of our customers are smart enough to remember to send us a check for something that they went to the trouble of ordering. Man, our customers are D.U.M.B!]
Why don't you list your phone number?
Like you, we do not want telemarketers calling us!
[How do you know that I don't want telemarketers calling me? Maybe I AM a telemarketer. Besides, as a customer, do I really care what you want? What about what I want?]
What if I need to contact you about my order?
We are online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As soon as you email us, we usually respond immediately.
[Usually? What does that mean? When "Fluffy's" custom doggie bisquits don't show up in time for her birthday, I don't want to depend on your "usually" responding immediately.]
There are more, but you get the idea. There are plenty of places for me to shop that will "allow" me to buy as much as I want, that will allow me to pay the way I want to pay, and that won't treat me like I'm stupid, or that I might be out to rip them off.
Of course, the best way to shop is in a bricks and mortar store, not online. But, online or in person, if you make it hard for me to do business with you, someone else will make it easy.