Two tales of customer service done right

by DaniGirl on January 3, 2011 · 6 comments

in Consumer culture

This is the story of two companies, one big and one small, that impressed me over the holiday break. I think businesses get a lot of flack when they do poorly, but not nearly enough props when they get it right.

On the Monday after Christmas, I walked into the Manotick Village Butcher looking for some ground beef for meatloaf. I am so impressed with their locally grown, ethically and sustainably raised meat that I will now do most of my shopping at the grocery store while making a special trip there for the meat. And it’s close and convenient enough that I can just pop in to get the meat fresh on the day I need it, rather than thawing out freezer-burned hunks and having to plan ahead.

Well, when I walked in there last Monday, I was temporarily flummoxed to see the place dark, with nothing in the display cases. I cast a surprised glance at James (I’m pretty sure he’s the owner) and said, “What happened?” thinking they had suffered some sort of power outage.

“It’s Monday,” he replied. “We’re closed on Mondays.” Oh right, closed on Mondays. I knew that, but completely lost track of my days during the holiday break. “What are you looking for?” he asked.

I told him I was looking for some ground beef, and he said he had some in the back. He returned with the meat and as he dropped it on the counter in front of me, I reached for my purse. “Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said. When I protested, he replied, “No, really, it’s okay. We were just going to freeze it and use it for cooking anyway.”

Isn’t that great? Small-town service with a smile. And, he’s a photographer, too. Have you seen this set of Canada Post stamps featuring historic mills of Canada? James took the portrait of Watson’s Mill featured on one of the stamps. Pretty cool, eh?

The second story is one of customer service gone wrong, and then right. In November, we bought a Whirlpool 70-pint dehumidifier for the basement from Canadian Tire. In mid-December, we went to unplug it and the third prong of the plug stayed in the wall. All the paperwork that came with the dehumidifier said, “Do not bring this product back to the retailer. Call this number for service.” So I called that number, and was told I’d need the original receipt for service. Which was lost. That was thick in the middle of the failing furnace and mould remediation and what seemed like an endless stream of injustices, and a $380 dehumidifier rendered useless by a $3 plug was the icing on the cake.

That’s when I found out that if you pay for an item at Canadian Tire with your interac card and you bring your bank statement to customer service, they can recreate your receipt for you. It took about a week and a half, but it was better than throwing the money down the toilet.

So, new receipt in hand, I called the third-party company that handles Whirlpool’s dehumidifier repairs back and re-explained the whole story to them again. By now it was three days before Christmas, and the basement repairs had mostly been done and we were twitchy to get our dehumidifier working again. We’re pretty sure the issues that had caused the mould were fixed, but the humidity in the basement is still on the high side.

I pleaded for quick service, and was told someone would get back to me to arrange a service date soon. Shortly after that, I received a rather apologetic e-mail from the clerk to whom I had been speaking, saying that the warranty did not cover the plug. They could ship a replacement cord at cost, but it would be at my expense and I’d have to repair it myself.

I think steam actually came out of my ears as I was re-dialing the service telephone number. I got a third person, and after I re-re-explained the whole thing, she put me on hold for a very long time while she read up on the file from her end. Then she came back and said, “Well, that doesn’t seem right.” We agreed on how not right it seemed that I’d be out nearly $400 for a $3 part on a six week old dehumidifier. She told me her name was Emilia, and that she was personally going to make this right for me. She called me three more times over the next week, updating me as she escalated my claim first to her supervisor and then to Whirlpool itself. Long story a wee bit shorter, the part has been ordered and someone will be dropping by to install it in the next week or so.

Isn’t it great when someone gets the customer service thing right?


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Coco January 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm

So far, 2011 is looking good for you and yours.

2 Leanne January 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

It’s really great when those things happen. With regards to the Whirlpool service, that’s awesome. But, on one hand, I always wonder why I’m so giddily surprised when a company with great means such as those manufacturing giants like Whirlpool, et al, goes “out of its way” (quotes for emphasis) to make things right.

Do you remember the days of “the customer is always right” back in the 80s and early 90’s? Now? Not so much.

Love your butcher, too :) I have a butcher like that. He gave me some pork livers once to try them out and always offers to grind fresh ground beef for me. And his regular is always like Lean. He’s also given me some of his house spice rub blend when I bought my first big girl beef roast :)

3 liz January 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Those are both awesome encounters!

4 fangirl January 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm

A week and a half to get the receipt at Canadian Tire?? Walmart can retrieve bills within a few minutes.
Oh well. That butcher is awesome!!!

5 DaniGirl January 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Oh, sorry — I meant it took a week and a half for me to get organized enough to go, and for the manager to be in, and the manager to get around to it. Actually took about a day and a half, from the time I handed over my papers.

6 Paula January 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Big customer service from small town business (your butcher)! Love it. The CS Clerk with Whirlpool was wonderful too. I have issue with companies who mark on their product *not to return to the store* however, especially if it was recently purchased. The store where you made your purchase, in this case, Canadian Tire, should have taken the humidifier back for you and given you a refund or exchange. If you still had the box it came in, their own unique bar code would have been on it. We recently purchased an item from CT with the manufacturers instructions on it to not return to the place of purchase. We returned it to Canadian Tire without any issues.

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