I ran into a real dilemma early this morning. One guy had rented land from me, virtually from the start of when I opened my island. Later on, another guy rented from me, and happened to be offering the same service as guy number one.
Recently, I was contacted by guy number one; he told me he's leaving Inworldz, and the reasons lay with guy number two. It seems while guy number one was busy attending to business in other virtual worlds, guy number two undercut his price and "stole" customers from guy number one.
Guy number one contacted me to tell me this in such a way that it felt like he was asking me to do something with guy number two, to make it worth his while to stay in Inworldz.
Now, if I did that, I'd be showing favoritism, which is something I refuse to do - and yet in a way I feel obligated to guy number one because he was one of my first renters.
What to do?
My first thoughts were to tell guy number one where he went wrong. It wasn't his prices, it was his lack of presence, and the fact that he didn't invest much time in getting his name out there (we have so many free services that you really don't invest any money). While guy number one was noticeably absent, guy number two was getting out there, socializing, advertising in classifieds and forums. Is it any wonder that guy number two is the one to profit?
It wasn't a matter of price as much as presence and footwork. If guy number one had spent any time inworld getting himself out there, then it may not have mattered if guy number two had a lower price. The service offered was the same kind, but how it was offered is what could've made all the difference in the world.
I won't play favorites. If I do in this case, then I have to in all cases, and where does it end? As a businesswoman I don't want the reputation of playing favorites. Doing so demonstrates a lack of integrity and would erode the trust people have in me. Besides, it's too much work to keep track of why I favor this one over that one. It can get very messy. I'd rather travel the high road and let the market decide.
The only problem I really have with the entire scenario is the fact that it appears one merchant deliberately undercut another. At the same time, it brings me back to something I've been arguing all along: If you don't spend time learning your market and your potential customers, you won't fare very well. It's not just a matter of price; it's the entire package.