It’s been said that there are five kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics, benchmarks, and delivery dates. That last one is a “lie” that virtually every consumer has had to deal with at one time or another. Who among us hasn’t fumed as the 2:11 to 6:23 PM “promised delivery” period has come and gone – without a sign of the ordered product?

Given the ubiquity of products, pricing, and range of merchandise, service has become a critical differentiator when it comes to engagement and loyalty. In today’s marketplace saying it, doing it, and actually delivering on it has become a more and more important contributor to retail brand loyalty.

So how do retailers do when it comes to delivering on their deliveries? It’s an attribute/benefit/value in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, and we looked at just that one quality to see how customers rated various retailers. Here’s what we found:

1. Home Depot
2. Ace
3. Lowe’s / Target
4. Walmart
5. Staples / Radio Shack
6. P.C. Richard
7. Kmart
8. Office Depot / Office Max
9. Best Buy

These assessments are generalizable at the 95% confidence level and, fortunately or unfortunately, play out in the marketplace. In fact, sad to tell, Brand Keys had a bad experience with Best Buy only recently when their crack delivery team couldn’t tell the difference between West 29th Street and East 29th Street, didn’t make the promised delivery – and then insisted that we didn’t know where our offices were actually located! To be fair, their Customer Service team did all they could to clarify the situation and they were really, really sorry, although they couldn’t manage to arrange for a more timely delivery, “all the trucks being out already for the day.”

When it comes to both life and loyalty there’s an inherent problem with thinking that being sorry is almost as good actually doing what you promised. Edmund Burke, statesman and philosopher, noted that “Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises; for never intending to go beyond promises; it costs nothing.”

But in this instance Mr. Burke was wrong. These days if you “lie” about a promised delivery time it can cost you dearly – your customers.