Customer Service 101

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I am a creature of habit, not necessarily routine, but certainly habit and because of that I have been brand-loyal to my car dealership for almost 30 years.  In that time, their salesmanship and service have been exemplary.  Today is the first day that I have ever been disappointed in that service.

Two weeks ago, I had booked an appointment for the first scheduled service for my new car as well as requesting to have my snow tires installed.  When I leased my new car in March, I was told that the snow tires I left in storage at the dealership were the same size as my new wheels so I would be able to use them this winter.

I received a call this morning from the service department informing me that they had taken those snow tires out of their storage and disposed of them a few months earlier.  There was no discussion with me about this – they just made the arbitrary decision to discard something that belonged to me, that I owned.  Even if the snow tires were felt to be “on the borderline” of being usable for one more winter, that was MY decision to make – not theirs.

Since my sales representative was off for the day, I left a message for the sales manager and, true to form, he called me back before the end of the day.  Being the person I am, I felt uncomfortable asking for some sort of restitution, but I feel my request was completely justified and, thankfully, he agreed.

We are still discussing how we can come to a mutual agreement regarding my tires but I am confident that the resolution will make me believe that I have been a loyal customer for a reason.  The fact that I have had to cough up $550.00 to buy tires that I was not expecting to buy has not escaped me but hopefully this unexpected expense will be slightly offset by my dealership’s recognition of their error.

Here’s hoping that my service appointment goes well on Saturday morning.

 

 

 

The business of doing business

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I have a very large, very dead pine tree looming over my driveway and threatening the safety of my home and my new car.   It has been dead for several years but each day when I drive in my driveway, I convince myself that it is leaning closer to my house than it was the previous day.  It was time to call in the professionals.

I found four local companies that offer tree removal services as well as free estimates.  All four came to my house and gave me a wide range of quotes for different ways that the tree could be felled and cleared.  The company I chose to do the job was the best fit in terms of safely felling the tree with the right equipment and not charging me a fortune to move the pieces off to the side of my driveway.  I thanked the other companies for their quotes and let them know I went with a different service.

Two of the other three were understanding.  One was not.  After I told him I would be happy to pass on his information to others looking for his services, I received a text message from Brian and this is what it said, “Well thank you Susan.  No need to pass my name around since you have not experienced the level of service we provide.  In future, I would respectfully suggest you exhaust your cheaper options before calling someone that spends their time and fuel to look at your work.  Good luck with your tree and hopefully the damage will be minimal.”

WTF???

To say that I was angered would be a gross understatement.   I had to hold myself back from responding with the words that were churning in my head.   Instead, I politely explained that I had chosen a company with a similar rate but a better option for me and the safety of my oak tree since Brian was going to strap the dead tree and pull it down so it would come into direct contact with my 100-year-old oak tree.  (But he assured me the oak tree would be fine!)

What I should have texted was this, “Well, thank YOU Brian.  I will certainly be passing your name around now, just not in the way I had expected since I now understand the level of service you provide.  I respectfully suggest that you not offer free estimates if you are going to whine about the time and fuel you spent doing something you advertise as free and act like an asshole when you don’t get the job.”

Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?

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If you have read my past blog posts, you’ll know that I have started a wonderful project to help our local food bank.  We are making Freezer Crockpot meals so families can feel the satisfaction of having a home-cooked meal on the table, once or twice a week, that is made with REAL food.  The ingredients are things like chicken, stewing beef, ground beef, ground turkey, vegetables and potatoes.   It has been a love affair of mine since it began last winter and continues to capture my heart.

After a sneaky email from a friend, I was recently interviewed by a local TV news station and the reporter and her fellow newscasters were impressed by the project as well.  We had a small segment on the 6:00 news to help promote our cause and gain more coverage to help increase donations.  The coverage was also put on the TV stations’ and my Facebook page to  help spread the word so we could try to help more people who could use a hand this time of year.

I received some fantastic comments and queries from others who wish to start the same type of project in their community, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen.  But amidst the praises and pats on the back, I should have known there lurked a few eyes that glowed eerily in the darkness.

After watching the clip on the news, a woman called the lodge where I work (and the kitchen we use for prepping meals) and was irate that we were not wearing gloves while we prepared these meals.  Upon first hearing of this call, I was taken aback…..and then I was angry.  I have volunteered countless hours of my time to make life a little better for those who struggle through the winter months, only to have this woman challenge my culinary safety practices.

chef-chopping

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I have been trained in kitchens since I was in college.  Before I went to college I worked in restaurants.  And in the 30+ years I have worked in the hospitality industry, I have never encountered a Chef who wears gloves, or makes their staff wear gloves, unless they have been cut and are wearing a bandage.  Hospitality staff are trained in food safety.  From the temperature of a fridge, to the cooking temperature of meats and the frequent hand-washing to avoid cross-contamination, we are well-versed in following very strict guidelines.   Watch a few videos of Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver or any of the popular cooking-challenge shows and tell me if you see their hands concealed by Latex gloves.  This is cooking, not open-heart surgery.

Sufficed to say, my blood pressure has come down and I am moving on.  One angry voice in a sea of positivity will not get me down.  I can only hope that, one day, this woman will get as much satisfaction from helping others as I do and will give the same strong-arm to anyone who tries to bring her down.

 

 

 

Putting the “jerk” in knee-jerk reaction…..

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On Saturday, I spent a couple of hours at our local Foodland trying to promote our small curling club.  We  had a tiny table set up with a lone chair, our club banner and some flyers with information about our open houses and our membership rates.  What I thought was going to be a couple of hours of chatting about the club turned into a very eye-opening experience and a great deal of fodder for this blog post.

If you have ever shopped in a grocery store, you have undoubtedly seen small town clubs raising awareness (or funds) for their groups.  Having never been on this side of the table before, I was ill-prepared for the events that transpired.

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Many locals did stop at the table.  To their good fortune, and our misfortune, they were snow birds counting the days until they left for the sunny south.  We did receive a collection of names to add to our list of possible new members.  But what I didn’t expect were the reactions of the multitude of people going by who would do anything to avoid eye contact with me.

Let me remind you, I was not selling anything or asking for money.  Most shoppers picked up their pace as they passed me, looking straight ahead as if trying to remember where they parked their car.  Several people didn’t even want to know why I was sitting in that cold lobby, they just told me they didn’t have any cash and kept moving.  One lady went so far as to tell me she had already donated!   This generous stranger had somehow anonymously given money to our little curling club and nobody on the executive committee were any the wiser.

The crowning glory was a middle-aged woman who, as she pushed her full grocery cart past me, simply responded “NO” when I had asked, “How are you today?”.

I was in awe of how quickly people were willing to dismiss  me, to turn a blind eye and not even take a moment to understand why I was there.  My presence wasn’t threatening.  I was not holding my hand out asking for anything.  To say I was disappointed by the reactions of those people is an egregious understatement.  And I can only hope that if I ever have a knee-jerk reaction to a similar situation, that I’m not such a jerk about it.

When skin gets thin

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I cannot change the moods or the behavior of others.  I can only control how I let those moods and behaviors affect me.   Today, however, was a glowing example of how that ideal can radically fail.

If I were superstitious, today would have been my Friday the 13th.  My black cat was the neighbors dog, who, first thing this morning, managed to soil, not one but, two pairs of my shorts on my way to work.  The ladder I walked under was the exit door from my house.  And the broken mirror was the negativity that continued to rain throughout the day like the shards of glass falling from that broken mirror.

I am usually very thick-skinned.   Most of the time I can deflect negativity and remain blissfully unaware of the antagonism that tends to eddy in the normally calm waters of my life.  But the vortex of that disapproval became too much.  I, without my life-preserver, was pulled under and was out of breath.

eddy

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A little positive reinforcement can go a long way.  As an adult with a great deal of life experience under my belt, I know life is unfair and the wheels can fall off the bus at any given second.   But to focus solely on the loose lug nut that made the wheel come off is negating the safe driving before that wheel fell off and the work that the bus driver had to do after its liberation to safely get that bus to the shoulder of the road.

Thick skin can actually be quite tenuous and a little praise goes a long way.   If criticism is deserved, than criticism should be administered.  But if praise is deserved, it should be just as easily passed from the lips of the people who need to say it to the ears of the people who need to hear it.

Good for the economy but bad for my temperment

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I am going to do my utmost not to turn this post into a rant, but I make no promises.

The population in our tiny town explodes from May to October.  Cottagers and tourists alike flock to our little oasis to drink from our serene waters, to sip from the fountain of relaxation and to let every ounce of their city stress slowly dissipate until they resemble nothing of their former city-dwelling selves.  This is what we are selling and this is what they are buying.

This year seems to have hit an all-time high for human traffic.   Stores are reaping the benefits of the excess numbers of shoppers, our local Foodland check-outs are all lined up six shoppers deep but I have learned to adjust my shopping schedule accordingly.

We get it.  We are not new to this phenomenon and we learn to adapt to our new routines to keep our sanity.   But there are moments that we cannot control – moments when we have to shop during the peak times and it is during these times I lose my sense of humor.

Blatant rudeness and uncaring attitudes run rampant.  You may think I am simply frustrated from working long hours and dealing with unbearably hot temperatures, but I have first-hand experience of the uncaring attitude of some of our summer guests.  My latest encounter today prompted me to vent write this post.

I pulled into the liquor store and was shocked to get a parking spot without having to wait.   I noticed three carts left on the sidewalk in front of the store, collected them and returned them to their rightful place inside the store.  Wine in hand, I moved to the tills and the line moved quickly.  I was lucky to get in and out without incident.   The woman who was parked beside me had just loaded her box of goodies into her BMW SUV and lifted her cart up over the curb, leaving it on the sidewalk.  I got into my car, made eye contact with BMW lady and then she and I both watched as her cart slowly rolled backwards, tipped over the curb and landed on my front bumper.  Not missing a beat, she slid her vehicle into reverse, no apology, not a shred of remorse, backed out of her spot to head back to her restful vacation spot.

Shopping Cart Walk

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I could feel my blood pressure rising before the color of my cheeks betrayed me.  I got out of my car, checked my bumper and wheeled her cart back in to the store to avoid having this happen to another car.

These are the people who frustrate me.  These are the people who make me believe that, to them, other people just don’t matter.  I may have ranted in an earlier blog and received many varying comments, perhaps rightfully so, but my rants are justified.  Ask yourself how you would have reacted in that situation.  For me, I would never have left the cart in the first place but, I would certainly  have jumped out of my car to make sure the other vehicle had not sustained any damage.

Rant over.   What would you have done?