I’m not sure how many times I’ve written about this or discussed it with business owners, but it keeps coming up—being accessible to your customers, especially the ones you’ve frustrated.

And it’s not just a small business problem, in fact, my experience (yet again) with this issue just two days ago was with big businesses. They gave me a lesson in how to do your best to frustrate your customers and be as inaccessible as possible. And it’s so common nowadays that if you make yourself accessible to customers it could differentiate you from your competition.

So the two big businesses are Pitney Bowes and Amazon. I ordered an item through Amazon and the manufacturer in the USA chose Pitney Bowes as the shipper. I’m guessing that once the parcel crossed the border into Canada, Pitney Bowes, Canada, passed it off to a third-party courier for the delivery but their name appears nowhere on the online tracking. And talking of the online tracking, it indicated that the parcel would be delivered on the Saturday before the Tuesday about which I’m writing. So it was already late by a few days.

On Tuesday the online tracking indicated that Pitney Bowes had been unable to deliver and had left a notice at 1.16 pm, even though it was only 11.15 am when I saw it. Back to the future? The online tracking invited a phone call if there was a problem. I duly called Pitney Bowes, Canada. A recorded message told me that if I had a delivery problem I had to call the retailer. Apparently the transport company feels that it doesn’t need to deal with a delivery problem and, furthermore, that I don’t need to talk to one of their human beings. Meanwhile, Amazon emailed to say that the shipper was unable to deliver but would try again later. This was surprising as I’d been here all the time and nobody had tried to deliver anything. I responded to the email but it bounced back with a this-is-a-no-answer-email-address. So both the shipper and the retailer are inaccessible.

The lesson for any small business? Be accessible because you can’t afford to be as arrogant as these big businesses—they can get away with it by sheer force of their size and dominance. You can’t.