Denise Adams

Customer service is invaluable for businesses to stay alive. Surviving often comes down to outstanding customer service.

I had an unpleasant experience in a weeks’ time with a local business and a national chain. The chain rectified the situation with good customer service. The local one lost this customer who’d been going to their business since they opened.

Let’s start with the big box.

After weeks of research, I finally found a laptop to suit my new needs. I went to an electronics box store to try out the keyboards.

Since I used their store to test drive the laptop, I felt the only fair transaction was to spend my money with the store providing the service.

When the laptop arrived, the power cord wasn’t in the box. I called their customer service line.

After listening to their pre-recorded music and pressing “one” numerous times, I eventually got through to a real person (and wishing they’d follow the procedure at this newspaper and have a real person answer and route calls.)

Then the power went out and I lost the connection. A few minutes later, I called again, pressed all those buttons and a real person came on the line.

After pretending to listen to what I needed, he said he’d connect me with someone who could help me. Instead, he disconnected me.

I screamed at the phone and called back, pressing all the buttons again and listening to all the same pre-recorded messages and cursing the person who invented electronic routing.

A new representative said the problem wasn’t theirs. It was the manufacturer’s problem. I explained I didn’t order the laptop from the manufacturer – I ordered it from them.

At that point, he said I had two options – get a $25 gift card – the power cord is $30 in the store — or return the laptop.

“I want a third option,” I said. “I want you to FedEx the power cord to my house like you did the laptop.”

“That’s not an option,” was the reply.

“Then I want to speak to a supervisor,” I said.

“They’ll tell you the same thing,” was the reply. And he refused to connect me to a supervisor.

At that point, I was done. My husband said he’d take the laptop in the next day and either get a power cord or return the laptop.

In person, the store associates were polite, apologetic and ordered another laptop. It arrived two days later, power cord included.

Online customer service = F. In-person customer service = A.

My second frustration came from a local car wash. For Christmas, my son gave me a gift certificate for four deluxe car-wash packages. I went a couple of times to get my car serviced, but each time, the manager told me he didn’t have the staff on site and to come back.

I went last week and a new manager said he’d bought the business and wouldn’t honor the gift certificates.

I protested.

He agreed to one service, and I told him I didn’t think that was fair to get only one wash when four had been purchased.

My son earned the money for that gift by welding in 100-degree weather, often hanging from a scaffold 10 stories up. That money didn’t come easy to him and I wasn’t about to let his gift go, especially as there wasn’t an expiration date on the certificate.

I tried to bargain for at least two — the new owner wouldn’t budge. He made me give him the gift certificate — I took a picture of it — and I got one cleaning package.

I posted the situation on social media, and someone posted that their neighbor owned a new car wash in Fulshear on FM 1463. He wanted to give me four packages for free to make up for my bad experience.

From that post, at least five people said they’d now frequent the new car wash.

I was quite surprised, but realized this business owner lives in our community and owns a local business. I won’t make this new owner take on an extra burden, but he’ll get my business from now on.

There’s a simple solution to cleaning up the former business’s horrible track record and making a good name for yourself.

Do the right thing and the bucks will roll your way. Fry people, and bad karma rolls your way as well.

In these tough economic days, customer service is the one area that doesn’t cost a dime yet can mean thousands of dollars in good will and repeat business.

I know where I’m spending my money. Be careful where you spend yours.

Denise’s email is dhadams1955@yahoo.com.

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