Is Customer Service a Thing of the Past?

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HRPufnstuf

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Short answer: yes.
Just had my cynicism trumped by the staff at Missouri Meerschaum.

My new Charlestowne Cobbler has developed a rim fault which is rapidly deteriorating. I sent images and my complaint to the company via e-mail earlier today and they responded almost immediately. They explained they would not send another pipe because the cost of international shipping would exceed the value of the pipe, but they immediately processed a full refund to my PayPal account. I was impressed and responded to express my thanks.
 

captpat

Lifer
Dec 16, 2014
2,277
12,168
North Carolina
Customer service is one of those things that's an "eye of the beholder" issue. The OP and vendor did not have a common vision of satisfactory customer service. I can recall a few occasions where we "fired the customer," the trouble putting up with their demands exceeded the amount of money we were collecting so we kicked them to the curb, There were a few prospective customers that we turned away that had the markings of being problematic.
 

woodsroad

Lifer
Oct 10, 2013
11,773
16,069
SE PA USA
I've worked in retail and customers definitely invented the 'customer is always right' belief. I worked at Office Depot as the manager of the computer repair center. I've had many people bring in computers asking for returns after they damaged the product. I refuse to take in a laptop that has milk and fruity peebles leaking out of it.
Capt'n Crunch, perhaps, but never Fruity Pebbles.

The amount of porn on kids laptops was ridiculous. Some I didn't know existed.
So the job wasn't all bad.
 

woodsroad

Lifer
Oct 10, 2013
11,773
16,069
SE PA USA
The amount of porn on kids laptops was ridiculous. Some I didn't know existed.
I agree that it seems like customer service has declined precipitously over the last several decades. But then, I'm reminded of sucky businesses of the past that are no longer with us, and of current businesses that have incredible customer service. Case in point are the big-box home improvement stores. Lowes and Home Depot just take the cake for poor CS. Try to find an employee to help you with something. Then when you do, they usually don't know shit. I've had to pull customers aside and warn them after overhearing the horrendous "advice" given them by employees, especially in the electrical department.

Well, I'm putting up a small outbuilding right now, so I've been dealing with those stores, the local lumberyard (now owned by a huge national chain) and the family owned lumberyards out in Lancaster County, PA. The local lumberyard was great with ordering and delivery (lumber quality was slightly above Lowes), until I had to return something and go pick up something else. Then it was like pulling teeth. Incredibly disconnected, lots of driving around the yard, back to the office, back out to the yard, where I had to load by myself, even though the lift operator had no other customers.

So I turned to the family-owned lumberyards out in Lancaster. Old Order Mennonites, they are not just friendly, but unbelievably well organized. The quality of product is unsurpassed, prices much lower, employees know their stuff, and they have you loaded and on the road in no time. My local lumberyard looked like a ghost town, empty sales desks and no customers. three people working this big yard. The Lancaster yard, in comparison had a dozen CS reps in the store and a staedy flow of a dozen customer trucks getting loaded by six forklifts that never stopped moving. People were lined up from all the neighboring states.

So, CS is there, you just have to vote with your money and shop where you are appreciated.

IMG_6530.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Jan 30, 2020
1,899
6,277
New Jersey
I agree that it seems like customer service has declined precipitously over the last several decades. But then, I'm reminded of sucky businesses of the past that are no longer with us, and of current businesses that have incredible customer service. Case in point are the big-box home improvement stores. Lowes and Home Depot just take the cake for poor CS. Try to find an employee to help you with something. Then when you do, they usually don't know shit. I've had to pull customers aside and warn them after overhearing the horrendous "advice" given them by employees, especially in the electrical department.

Well, I'm putting up a small outbuilding right now, so I've been dealing with those stores, the local lumberyard (now owned by a huge national chain) and the family owned lumberyards out in Lancaster County, PA. The local lumberyard was great with ordering and delivery (lumber quality was slightly above Lowes), until I had to return something and go pick up something else. Then it was like pulling teeth. Incredibly disconnected, lots of driving around the yard, back to the office, back out to the yard, where I had to load by myself, even though the lift operator had no other customers.

So I turned to the family-owned lumberyards out in Lancaster. Old Order Mennonites, they are not just friendly, but unbelievably well organized. The quality of product is unsurpassed, prices much lower, employees know their stuff, and they have you loaded and on the road in no time. My local lumberyard looked like a ghost town, empty sales desks and no customers. three people working this big yard. The Lancaster yard, in comparison had a dozen CS reps in the store and a staedy flow of a dozen customer trucks getting loaded by six forklifts that never stopped moving. People were lined up from all the neighboring states.

So, CS is there, you just have to vote with your money and shop where you are appreciated.

View attachment 269375
Truly, an outhouse fit for a king.
 

woodsroad

Lifer
Oct 10, 2013
11,773
16,069
SE PA USA
I have enough ramen and Twinkies to last the millennium.

(Does anyone here remember Jeff Schwartz's "The Adventures of Mabu, Warrior Prince of TEOTWAWKI"?)
 
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kanaia

Part of the Furniture Now
Feb 3, 2013
660
551
Having a keen grasp of the obvious, some shops are customer oriented as they wish to make even more moneys. Others, where the owner is happy with the profit line, can get confrontational with a customer who feels wronged.

Then there are the always "right" customers who have no idea how to approach a retailer to seek redress.

Not sure I fully understand what "obc83" is getting at. The upper class, generations ago always demanded subservience and "correct" behavior from those they deigned to do business with. They often sent staff with very clear directions to handle such transactions. If the product received didn't, in every way, satisfy the buyer, the vendor could pay a heavy price, losing a paying customer, of which there probably few. One butcher in a town had it pretty well. A second butcher? That created an alternative, competition. This was probably back in the day where "the customer is always right" was born. It was a matter of survival, where those with money were the insurers of profit. Loyal customers were no more loyal than today's customer is. Granted people were a bit more accepting of poor product/service in smaller localities where buyer and seller were neighbors or, at least acquaintances.

"Retailing has been around since "bartering" developed. Food might have been shared with family and friends, a well formed club or nubile daughter could be wares. Bartering and selling are "retailing", swapping a sheep for a wagon or selling the same for money are simply two sides of the "same coin", "trade." Only the "currency" varies.


But we had the drug store and its magazine rack. Some could resort to dad's "stash" of Playboy and such. Earlier generations had "Paris Postcards."
And when Dad hid the stash there was always the Sears catalog.
 
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Sigmund

Lifer
Sep 17, 2023
1,463
12,380
France
I think if more people do like Woodsroad it will help. Of course you cant always do that. If you want to live in a McDonalds culture shop where people know nothing and care less. I have not been in the US for 6 years but when I was there I would go to a local hardware and lumber store when I could. It was a little more expensive but the wood quality was better and they were helpful. Heck, if you had a problem you were trying to fix on a project you could bring it in and the guys would walk around looking for solutions in the hardware section even if it was for a few fifty cent parts. It exists but it is harder to find.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
19,747
45,290
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
Customer service is still around, as when I go the the local hardware store in Ashland. The staff is courteous, helpful, and they really know their stuff.
Same with the local furniture store, Garrisons. The service and quality is first rate, and if there’s an issue they address it immediately and make sure you’re happy.
 

AroEnglish

Lifer
Jan 7, 2020
3,710
11,457
Midwest
Customer service is still around, as when I go the the local hardware store in Ashland. The staff is courteous, helpful, and they really know their stuff.
Same with the local furniture store, Garrisons. The service and quality is first rate, and if there’s an issue they address it immediately and make sure you’re happy.
There’s a hardware shop just like this in Ann Arbor called Stadium Hardware. Probably one of the biggest things I miss from living there and that’s not a slight against the town, the shop was just that great.
 
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sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
19,747
45,290
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
There’s a hardware shop just like this in Ann Arbor called Stadium Hardware. Probably one of the biggest things I miss from living there and that’s not a slight against the town, the shop was just that great.
My brother retired to Ann Arbor and is still working on settling into his new home. I'll suggest that he check them out.
 
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