Wait, what's this about being nice to others? How did we get from picture framing to philosophy? What's the connection? Well, we posted this blog as a result of a number of incident and customer observations we made over the years and some of which we will recount. First incident: Giving away free picture frame hooks. When we first started picture framing someone read someplace .. (probably in a U.S. picture framers' magazine) that a good customer goodwill exercise was to give away a free packet of picture frames wall hooks with every custom picture frame sold. The reasoning behind this being that most customers want to hang their pictures as soon as they get home but often, when at home, they find that they don't have that one picture hook they need to hang the picture up. So to avoid a possible disappointment, the free picture frames hooks packet would be included ... with every completed custom picture frame. Well, we actually did that for almost two years until a disgruntled customer made us stop and re-think our policy. It so happened that the soon after taking a new picture frame home and hanging it up with our free picture frame hooks the picture fell off the wall. The customer then rang us up, blamed our free hooks for the fall and asked us how did we propose to fix the damaged picture frame, the scratched wall paint and dented skirting board. Second incident: Giving away matboard offcuts. These offcuts are mostly unwanted pieces of cardboard leftovers which every picture framing workshop accumulates every time a window mat is cut. The majority of these offcuts are flat and clean boards, but are too small to be useful and so they tend to get thrown in the rubbish after a while. Some years back one of our customers, a child care worker, asked if we had any small pieces of cardboard that we weren't using that she might have, for the children to draw, or cut and paste on. Sure enough we gave about a hundred offcuts or so, for free. We gave her kindergarten these free offcuts for a while, until one of the kindergarten mums rang us with a complaint which made us stop giving away the boards. Apparently one of the children got a paper cut from handling one of the sharp edges of the matboards. The lady in question wasn't going to sue us or anything, but would we mind trimming square all four sides of each of the matboards offcuts before giving them away in the future? Third incident: Giving free advice. Because we're in the picture framing business, because we make picture frames and because we sell picture hooks, people often ask us how they should hang pictures up on their walls. Well, over the years we've gained some practical knowledge about how to hang pictures so we know a thing or two. For instance, we suggest to hang all pictures with at least 2 or more hooks. What this does, aside from distributing the load from 1 to 2 hooks, is to ensure that the picture stay level once hung. We also we advise customers to avoid hanging those new-fangled stick-on, self-adhesive, contact, nail-less, wall hooks now being sold by major office and stationery stores, for all picture frames bar perhaps, the very small ones. The reason? We get 2 to 4 pictures every month back from customers for repairs and re-glazing. When we ask customers what happened they all tell us the same story, and that is that the picture frame hung on their with the contact hook or hanger wall for hours, days, weeks and months, even years and then one day the hook or hanger gave way and the picture fell off the wall. We sometimes even weigh picture frames so that customers know what rating picture frames hooks they should buy. Alas, there's always a spoilsport. One week-end we weighed a large picture frame for a young couple and suggested what capacity picture frames wall hooks the should buy. We then got a phone call from the male partner on Monday morning complaining that he'd "followed" our instructions but that the picture he'd hung fell off the wall during the night and that we were "responsible". It later transpired that we'd said to use picture hooks rated in kilograms ( Australian has been metricated for 40 -odd years) but that the customer had bought and used a pack of picture frame hooks rated in U.S. pounds. In other words the customer had used hooks half as strong as needed and recommended by us, no wonder the picture frame gave up and fell! Fourth incident: Helping customers put picture frames in their car. Actually, this activity is so interesting that it merited its own separate blog post. Be that as it may, we often get busy mums with chock-a-block, packed cars and little ankle-biters running around picking up their picture frames. So we often try to help and actually put the customers' pictures in the boot of the back of their cars as mum or dad has got enough on her or his plate just managing payments and the little ones. We remember once loading not one but six picture frames once for a particularly frazzled and hectic mum in her family station wagon. We packed the frames slowly and carefully, as we always do, after the customer had just finished paying for them. Of course, we couldn't stop the children throwing stuff and toys around, jumping about and whacking one another in the rear, near the frames. Nevertheless the customer rang us later the same day. Two her picture frames were damaged, one had a bump and another a scratch. As we had helped pack the frames in the car, we must have somehow caused the damage. The customer then asked, could she bring the frames back so that we could re-frame them by the time her husband would come later that day? We could be forgiven for wanting to give up on customers and maybe the entire human race in general but although we have felt like it, from time to time, we haven't and we won't. Sure some customers and many people can be so alienating as to make you want to have to do nothing with them but they're in a minority. Most customers and most people are, remain, and will always be nice. And so, to end, yes, it is worth being nice and kind to others, it makes all of us, and the world, good and better.