9.13.2008

companies that deserve your patronage

Back when I was in the business of selling shoes, I was told that an unhappy customer tells ten friends, but a happy customer only tells two friends. Classic scare tactic right? What's the message to a young, impressionable salesman like myself? Don't screw this up or an angry customer is going to take your promising career for an uncharted cruise to hell!

I've heard iterations of that statement expressed elsewhere so at this point I'm pretty much calling it a fact of human nature, much like "the person who cares the least, controls the most" in relationships, "can't teach an old dog new tricks," and my favorite, "men are from mars, women are from venus."

But seriously - what does it say about us - if we only regurgitate negativity and never spread the good word, especially about companies? Maybe that's why companies with wretched customer service stick around, and the good
guys get dumped on. Boy, isn't that a life lesson, nice guys
getting crapped on.

So in an effort to buck the trend, I wanted to do a quick PSA for a couple of companies that I've had outstanding service from. They deserve your patronage because they stick by their products, are attentive, and courteous.

And just to prove that I'm not all sunshine and rainbows I'll throw a few negative ones in there to show you how much fun smear campaigns can be.

Cat Eye
These guys make some of the best lights & accessories for bicycles. They are innovative in design and function. A while back I wrote to Cat Eye, telling them about some of my good experiences with their product. I also told them that I was having issues with a fastening device with one of the four lights I own, made by them. The man who responded was very nice, and asked for my address. He shipped me a replacement part, for free. What great service. The light was only 20 bucks - but still. They won my lifetime patronage right there.

RE Load Messenger Bags
One of the best makers of messenger bags around. Sturdy, custom made bags that can seriously fit anything your little heart desires in it. A while back, my comfy shoulder strap started fraying. I took a picture of it, and emailed the folks at RE Load. I told them of my problem, and asked what could be done. Without a second thought, they sent me a replacement strap at no charge. I had owned the bag for 4-5 months and had put it to good use. I was so pleased with their service, I swore myself to a tribute later on down the road. Definitely buy products from people who back their stuff up. It's good business, and good investing.

Contour Design
These guys make protective accessories for portable electronics. I bought a shield for my iPhone. After purchasing it, I found out that the slot to manuever the silence button was not wide enough. I emailed the company and informed them of this design malady. They told me they were fixing it, and would send me a new one when the redesign was out. They kept their word. Not only did they send me a new one, they overnight fed-exed it. For a $25 dollar item. Pretty sweet.

Bike Trailer Shop
This is an online mercantile that sells bicycle trailers and accessories. A little while ago I ordered a liner for my trailer, and a cargo net. I got a bungee cord, but no cargo net. When I called, instead of playing semantics (like I thought they might), they apologized for the oversight and sent me my cargo net the very next day. Thank you very much!

Companies that are in our dog house:

Lululemon
Ashley bought me a pair of their underwear - for athletic endeavors. The only problem is, they were made for women, clearly. Not anatomically smart at all. I wrote them a very thoughtful letter about how they could improve their garment, and If they needed some help I'd be glad to show them how men's supportive undergarments should fit. Ok, I didn't say that last part but I did give them valuable feedback. I never even recieved a peep from them. Thanks for nothing, literally.

TeleFlora
Online flower merchant. Ashley used them to get flowers to her mother for Mother's day. They did not get to her on Mother's day. She paid for a service she did not get. When Ashley confronted them about it... all they offered was a stingy 20% discount. Lame.

1-800-Flowers

Yes - We have bad luck with flowers ok? Don't rub it in. I ordered flowers for Ashley and they didn't include the thoughtful note I penned. Now the note is floating around in cyberspace - sentiments never delivered. How tragic.

12 comments:

pigeoninthepark said...

Great topic! Part of my position at work is to act as a customer service liason and it's amazing how appreciative customers are when I'm able to do rather mundane things for them (ie sending back a lost personal item). Probably once a day I hear from a customer about how rare it is to have "good service". It's sad that something like customer service has gone from being the norm to being an anomoly.

That said, I'm mortal enemies with Time Warner Cable. The fact that they more or less have a monopoly here allows them to charge ridiculous prices and provide shoddy (at best) service.

Sarah said...

Great post! You have inspired me to write about a good/bad experience I had with a company awhile back. I've seen in the news some people who post a video of their complaints on youtube and in some cases, enough people watch it and it makes the news, so the company finally does something to make whatever the complaint is right. Sweet revenge!

Dawn D. Lion said...

Hmmm, I can't think of a company off the top of my head that I've just loved or hated. But I appreciate the recommendations because I like supporting good people with my few purchases, and I might need a new bike light.

MF said...

I will tell you that I had some SPECTACULAR service with a floral company in London, of all places. There was a hitch in getting them to her on a specific day, but they called me after their normal business hours (and at an international rate) to let me know that the delivery was not made but assured me that she would get a fresh bouquet arranged the next morning. Then they called me back to let me know exactly how the delivery went.

Good idea to look for the good places, David. When I get a bike, I'll remember these things.

Dawn D. Lion said...

BTW that's a pretty cheesy picture, David.

david said...

for reals dawn, thats why i picked it. i let google image search do the work for me. i just said "satisfied customer" and that's what came up

Blythe said...

I am a big fan of:

Caribou Coffee. They know my name, they know my drink, they give me free drinks all the time. And when I am picking up my friend/boss Cathy's drink, they know what that is (and unlike me, she switches hers periodically).

I at least give some respect to:

Jamba Juice. After an extremely annoying experience, I wrote them a long e-mail detailing exactly what was wrong with their service, and why, when I want a jamba juice, I have to sit and think for awhile whether it will be worth dealing with their hideous service. They e-mailed back, apparently appreciative. They called me. They sent me free drinks. The manager now knows my name, and has obvious told her staff who I am, and that they should apparently fear my wrath, because the service has definitely improved.

Usually I get at least decent service, so there aren't that many companies I avoid entirely, other than Walmart.

Benson and Jaimi said...

Wow David, you really wrote all those companies? Most people just have those thoughts and then never follow through. I'm impressed.

I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. The Lululemon example was especially humorous!

Jaimi

Liz said...

Nordstrom. The best customer service ever. Their return policy is awesome, and they'll bend over backward to do stuff for you.

Also, Verizon wireless. I know, no one likes cell hpne companies, but whenever I call the staff is totally competent and helpful. And if i raise my voice even slightly, they'll hook me up.

And I'll tell you who I absolutely despise... TicketsNow. It is too long of a story to share here, and I don't want to start getting emotional. But I hate them. And I hope they all die. Seriously.

david said...

jaimi - yes, i did write all those companies. its kind of a weird, egotistical thing.

i love doing surveys, and i like writing companies because i assume that they'll want my opinion. i mean, who wouldn't want my opinion, its really good (i say), so give it a try?

blythe - i love how our tendencies to react the same way in comparable circumstances, is somehow explainable by our dna, right?

remember the time you threatened stevensen toyota west and they cut me a check for 800 dollars. your letter proved that the pen is mightier than the sword. although, the only real way we could verify that is if i showed up with a sword and demanded that they pay for my broken radiator.

aisy said...

sorry about your undies... but i love lulu. maybe it's the canadian in me.

the youngs said...

David,
I am totally with you on this. We tend to be a murmuring folk, don't we. For this reason, I have made a concerted effort to praise good service. I sent a letter to my dentist to give "props" to the hygienist who cleaned my teeth. I also took a thank you card to the sales person at Big Lots Furniture (yes, I shop at Big Lots!! Hey, they've got some great deals, okay?!) who helped us get our new sofa and rocker. She was having a terrible day when we came in-having missed her lunch break, but still gave us service with a smile. So, I reciprocated the treatment with a gift card for some grub. I think the world would be a better place if we would just spread a little more sunshine, but I know there are times when some peeps deserve a good old whoopin' (you know who you are: CIGNA HEALTHCARE!!)