The View Up Here

Random scribblings about kites, photography, machining, and anything else

Customer Service – Two Stories

Posted by Tom Benedict on 12/05/2011

I recently had two experiences of good customer service.  They both put smiles on my faces, so I figured I’d share.  I’m of the mind that if you want other drivers to use turn signals, the best thing to do is use turn signals yourself.  So in the hopes that people in the customer service industries read this, here we go:

The first started about eight years ago when I first bought my Jeep.  I got it used, and it was in rather feral condition at the time.  I had to replace a clutch cylinder, front transmission seal, valve cover gasket, you name it.  And for some reason the clutch pedal had this awful tendency to fall to the floorboards.  The push rod that connected the pedal to the clutch master cylinder didn’t seem to have any way to attach it to the cylinder.  It just kind of sat there and pushed on it.  So when I hit a bump, about half the time the clutch pedal would fall off.

I went to the local car parts store to ask for whatever part was missing, but they told me no such part was in the diagram.  “The clutch pedal connects directly to the master cylinder,” was what they said.  I thought I had fairly compelling evidence it didn’t, so I blew them off and lived with this oddball behavior for almost ten years.

About a month ago my clutch master cylinder started to fail.  I had to pump the pedal just to get it to shift.  Not so good.  I adapted my driving style to this new behavior of my car, but I knew it wasn’t safe and I knew it would fail inspection.  So eventually I went back to the car parts store and bought a new master cylinder.  It cost me fifty bucks.  Lo and behold, there was that @#%^ push rod, clearly an integral part of the master cylinder.  I couldn’t help thinking, “You idiot!  They were right all along.  The push rod that’s flopping around at the end of your clutch pedal IS part of the master cylinder.  It’s been broken for as long as you’ve owned the car!”  Thirty minutes later I had a new cylinder installed, my car shifts like a dream, and there’s no more falling pedal syndrome.

Moral:  Even when people tell you something you think makes no sense, they may still be right.

The second happened earlier this week.  I ordered a new memory card for my camera from Amazon.  32GB, Class 10, nice card.  We don’t have street delivery where I live, so all my packages go to my post office box.  About four days later there’s a card in my box saying I have not one, but two packages, and that there’s postage due on one of them.  Postage due?  Since when has that happened?  I took the card to the counter, not really knowing what to expect.

What happened was Amazon sent two packages with the same postage label on both.  Only one copy had been purchased, so the other had postage due.  But why two packages, I wondered?  It’s not like you can split-ship a single memory card.  I paid the extra shipping and opened both packages.

Inside were two smaller packages, each with their own shipping label.  One was to me, and matched the shipping labels on the packages I’d just opened.  The other was addressed to someone in Alaska.  Clearly what had happened was they had been re-packaged into larger packages so the shipping label would fit, and one of them got the wrong label on it.  I asked the postman what I should do.  He told me they couldn’t even send it back because as far as the system was concerned, only one of those packages even existed, and since I’d received them, that bar code was declared done.  I emailed Amazon instead and told them the whole sob story, offering to forward this guy’s package to him.

Within an hour they replied saying they had already credited my account with the amount of the additional shipping.  They thanked me for offering to forward the other package, apologized for the inconvenience, and offered to cover any additional shipping that might be involved.  Hot dang!  I went back to the post office the next day and put the second package in a mailer.  As soon as I got back I sent Amazon a second email to let them know the amount of the additional shipping.  It was in my Amazon account within the hour.

Sure, on the face of it this means this happens frequently enough they knew exactly what to do.  But it still made me feel good to know they were that on top of things.

Moral:  Even when things screw up, supporting the customer in a professional manner earns you huge kudos.

I’m happier than ever to buy my car parts from the shop in town, and now listen a little better to what they say.  And I’m happy to order from Amazon, knowing they will do whatever they must to take care of me and my orders.  Life’s good.

– Tom

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