Dear Small Biz Owner,
I was thinking that my dusty old gift certificate for your services might come in handy now that I *finally* (almost) have a house again. I was also thinking that maybe, given that well over a year had passed since I received said gift certificate, it might have expired. However, the certificate is not dated nor is an expiration date listed.
I wrote you a nice note explaining that I had been holding on to the certificate and was hoping I might redeem it because after a year of house hunting followed by many months of home renovations, I am ready to "nest" and your services would come in handy.
Admittedly, I gave you an out, explaining that I understood if the certificate no longer applied. (Perhaps I should have stressed the lack of an expiration date.)
Your clipped response, "Yes, those certificates are void," left me cold, though.
A short apology, i.e. including the word "sorry," might have been nice.
Etiquette aside, a smarter business move would have been something like, "Sorry, the certificate is void. However, if you want to purchase 3 hours of my services, I will add in one additional hour for free."
I could have been a customer. I could have been thrilled by your expertise and referred my friends to you, written about you on my blog, left you good marks on Angie's List.
Instead, I'm shredding the gift certificate.