Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The business of business

Friends, I come before you with a few tales of good old fashioned American commerce, and the individual needs and wants of a specific customer--me.

I sometimes use this space for venting purposes, but sometimes I don't manage to convey when something has been resolved or at least addressed to a point of mutual satisfaction, so allow me to relate at least one example of this.

So here's one that turned out well.  About three weeks ago, I recognized that I needed auto service.  Nothing major, just the usual oil change and tire rotation.  The stuff that if you do it regularly, you prevent problems down the road.  Rarely an issue beyond the time investment needed to take care of it.  We have dealt with a regional chain of tire and auto repair shops for a number of years, so I went to the nearest location to our house.  They were full up, so I went across town to one close to an appointment I had later.  They worked me in, and appeared to take care of my needs.

A few days passed, and I noticed that the car was riding roughly.  Gave it a little more time, due to weather and varying road conditions.  Went back to the original servicing location when it was convenient, they couldn't handle my issue at the time, so I went to my nearer location the next day, and they told me that the wheels were not balanced at the shop that did the work.  Problem solved, right?

Not quite.  Noticed that my problem was less, but still there, lot of vibration in the steering wheel.  I wrote a complaint on the company's website, and I received a call late last week from the regional director--the fellow who originally sold me the car's current tires (66,000 miles ago, no less).  We worked out a time and place to meet and he assured me that he would take care of whatever issue existed.  I went there this morning, we went for a test drive together, and he immediately noticed the issue.  Went back to the shop, where he removed both front wheels himself and examined the balancing.  Turns out the fix was not major, but still something that was missed the first two times.

Loyal customer now satisfied, and remains a loyal customer!

Remember my description about the new flooring?  The dealer sent a guy to do "our fix" and he was woefully underprepared for all that needed to be done, despite our extensive description, pictures, etc.  They are apparently sending the original install crew back to us to take care of these mostly cosmetic issues.  The guy whom the dealer sent said that they would "take away" a paying job from this crew as punishment for what they didn't do right the first time.  Somehow I'm not sure that gives them much incentive to do it right this time, either, but I suppose we'll see.  My wife will be at home with them when this happens next week, so I feel certain that they'll be kept at the house until full satisfaction is achieved.

Ever seen the movie "Falling Down," where Michael Douglas plays an aerospace worker who just snaps one day and goes on a violent spree?  The funniest part of the movie is where he enters a fast-food joint and asks for breakfast a scant five minutes after they stop serving it.  I'm reminded of this as I read this morning that McDonald's is finally going to consider selling their breakfast menu throughout their operating hours, and not just in the morning.  Good move.  Now, if they'll just do what they said and actually reduce and simplify the lunch/dinner menu.  I mean, how many permutations of the chicken sandwich or burger are necessary?  I walk in (or drive up) knowing what I want, but for those who need options, there are just too many for McDonald's to produce well.  Think about how far Wendy's has moved from the original formula of burgers, fries, Frosty frozen desserts and soft drinks.  Dave Thomas probably spins in his grave when he thinks of the expansive menu they feature now.

Last one....I received a letter from my cable TV provider yesterday, saying that my rates were going to increase by a net of $26 TODAY.  One day after the undated letter arrived at my home.  I called, explained that I didn't find this to be acceptable, and, wouldn't you know, they "reduced" my rates to the point that I now will pay $6 more than the previous rates.  Pretty cruddy way to extract a rate increase.  And think how many people would just ignore that letter or quietly accept that increased price as a cost of doing business.

I know deep down that at some point cable TV will get cheaper, and broadband Internet service will increase dramatically, as the cable companies are still the best providers of Internet service and they know it.  Cord cutters will ultimately find that they'll be paying through the nose for their standalone Internet service, or it will be tiered like data plans on cellphones.

Look through my examples above.  Anything strike you as the RIGHT way to do things?

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