Competitor Slander

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Benjamin Peers, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Benjamin Peers

    Benjamin Peers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I run a small independendent vape shop and coffee lounge. Business started off incredibly well, however over the past year we have seen a decline in sales, loss of regular customers and customer confidence.

    Initially i presumed this was due to a failure on some part of the business so throughout this we have improved the facilities, upped our marketing engagement and done nothing but generate positive reviews. Increased stock variety and remained competitive on pricing (often significantly lower than our competitor)

    to show the position we sit in. On Google we are the highest rated store in the area with more than double the number of reviews compared to the second highest rated store, with a similar scenario on Facebook. Our engagement with the community is massive compared to our competitors and our remaining customer is incredibly loyal.

    The main competitor, who this post is regarding charges a higher price for exactly the same product, offers less facilities, however has been around for about 4 years longer than we have.

    Given the above information it came to my attention about a year ago that one town over (from the competitors second store) that they were not happy with us stocking a certain product. They then proceeded to tell customers, they are going to file lawsuits against us regarding this, told customers that our product was fake and other comments along these lines as well as petty comments.

    As a result of this i approached the person where these rumours had originated from and resolved the issue amicably. To which i presumed was the end of the issue.

    Our situation did not improve, over the past couple of months it has come to my attention that the store in our town. Has been spreading similar rumours now. While it has been something that i have been hearing more and more about recently. Until, the other day one of my customers came in, explaining her concerns to me as she enjoys coming to my store though has been told that the reason we can keep our prices low is that we stock dodgy and fake products, knock offs and take advantage of good people by exploiting them for money.

    This alongside other rumours such as, selling drugs, selling to minors, taking advantage of vulnerable adults. I believe these vicious rumours are impacting my business. While all the customers who inform me of these events we have not lost, they will only form a small percentage of the overall affected.

    Our response has always been the same, in that we assure the customer these are unfounded rumours and not to worry about such things. Our response is to carry on doing our positive bit and the truth will always shine brighter.

    Though i am starting to believe that the truth is not shining brighter, we are starting to lose customers to a point where it is starting to impact the survival of the business.

    So my question is what can i do about this? They appear to have been careful to not place any of these untrue accusations to writing or provided any tangible evidence of this.

    What is the best way to combat this type of attack on a business?
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: Benjamin Peers Member since: Jul 19, 2019
    #1
  2. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Full Member - Verified Business

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    I know what I'd do but unfortunately I don't suppose that I can post it on a public forum
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
    #2
  3. Nochexman

    Nochexman UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    Do you have any means of identifying the customers you have lost and asking them why they have stopped shopping in your store?
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: Nochexman Member since: Jun 14, 2011
    #3
  4. Benjamin Peers

    Benjamin Peers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Unfortunately not, we don't have customer data stored and the ones we have spoken to normally have a loose based reason such as the competition holds flavours we don't, where they are using a flavour we stock and charge less than the competition. While politely explained that " we have that flavour to" it is responded with "oh! i never knew" and then we never see them again. (thats an example though most are very similar on the very few I have managed to speak to.
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: Benjamin Peers Member since: Jul 19, 2019
    #4
  5. MikeJ

    MikeJ UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    Send a friend in to the store with a hidden microphone.
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: MikeJ Member since: Jan 15, 2008
    #5
  6. Benjamin Peers

    Benjamin Peers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I like the sound of this, though with recordings of it what would i be able to do with this information?
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: Benjamin Peers Member since: Jul 19, 2019
    #6
  7. kulture

    kulture UKBF Legend Staff Member

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    I would get documents and letters from your suppliers which prove that you sell genuine products. I would create posters and window displays highlighting the message only genuine xxxxxx on sale. I would change my marketing to emphasise that you only stock the best and offer good value for great products
     
    Posted: Jul 19, 2019 By: kulture Member since: Aug 11, 2007
    #7
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  8. MY OFFICE IN CHINA

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    1. Get witness statements first, then speak to a solicitor for advice.

    2. Would increasing your prices allay any fears with 'lost customers' that you're undercharging or selling 'allegedly' fake or inferior products?

    3. Do what you can to show you are selling genuine products.
     
    Posted: Jul 20, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
    #8
  9. Benjamin Peers

    Benjamin Peers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I like the sound of this, it is not commonplace for suppliers to provide such documentation, though i believe this might be something that can definitely be arranged! and taken advantage of in a massive way for marketing purposes.

    Yeah i think getting a witness statement is going to be one of the toughest parts, though a recording much easier.

    Increasing my prices is something i have considered though we do not charge under the RRP in most cases, it is more a case of them charging over the odds, while this may benefit us in this interaction i believe we would lose customers to competition further a field

    It is hard to prove though I will be in contact with all my suppliers first thing monday to find out what we can do to ensure this.
     
    Posted: Jul 20, 2019 By: Benjamin Peers Member since: Jul 19, 2019
    #9
  10. MY OFFICE IN CHINA

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    The point is to be proactive!
     
    Posted: Jul 20, 2019 By: MY OFFICE IN CHINA Member since: Nov 16, 2011
    #10
  11. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    I do hope that is a typo, otherwise I think you may be too late!
     
    Posted: Jul 20, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #11
  12. Benjamin Peers

    Benjamin Peers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Indeed, been on the phone to each supplier this morning asking them to make something such as a certificate of authenticity that we can display on the wall. Official looking, at the moment these are not commonplace in the industry though i do believe they should be so maybe we are on to something here.

    Haha not quiet down to the singular yet though time for action indeed
     
    Posted: Jul 22, 2019 By: Benjamin Peers Member since: Jul 19, 2019
    #12
  13. glengraving

    glengraving UKBF Contributor Free Member

    86 37
    Personally, I'd raise the prices. I don't reccomend being known as the cheapest around (as, if that's your selling point, it's a race to the bottom) - and it seems to be supporting the perception that you're selling knock-off product.

    Maybe the competition is being shady as he thinks your undermining the value of the industry.

    edit: I see you have addressed this point in a later post. You seem secure in your price point [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
    Posted: Jul 23, 2019 By: glengraving Member since: Jan 24, 2019
    #13
  14. Benjamin Peers

    Benjamin Peers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Our prices are not much cheaper only by a £ in some cases. Though in the market as a whole we are not the cheapest nor the most expensive and seem to hold a middle ground here.

    If i was able to obtain recordings of said slander would i have a legal case? How would i pursue this and where could i go to get advice?
     
    Posted: Jul 24, 2019 By: Benjamin Peers Member since: Jul 19, 2019
    #14
  15. ineedadollar

    ineedadollar UKBF Regular Free Member

    285 14
    A common practice in the vape business, unfortunately. Had the same happen to us, by a competitor. I've just put on our facebook etc that all products are guaranteed to be genuine etc.
    And made sure we have a better shop then them. Give the customers more reason to come to us over them. It also helps that one of there staff. Doesnt belive in doing that and will often send customers our way if they dont have something we do
     
    Posted: Jul 25, 2019 By: ineedadollar Member since: Sep 8, 2011
    #15