Great Customer Service Is Alive And Well!!
It all started with a joke...
A couple of weeks ago one of my employees decided to play a joke on me by placing a magnetic card deemed a "Golden Ticket" inside of the gas tank cover. You see, I periodically place one in a strategic location on their work vehicles to see if they are doing a proper "pre-trip" before they drive. This is to make sure they are doing all they can to drive safely in a vehicle which is ready to go each and every day. Well, I had heard that someone was trying to check me out on my personal vehicle, seeing if I ever "pre-tripped". I do and I found the card which is normally turned into the office for a $10 gift card to a local eatery. But as I was checking out my truck I noticed my left rear tire was low. Now, these tires were purchased just over a year ago at considerable expense (to me) and I took care of them. To see a low tire meant, to me, that the same person who was playing a trick on me had let the air out of the tire. In my mind it wasn't flat, just low. So I aired it back up and went on my merry way, smug in the belief that I had caught on to the trick quickly.
Then a couple of days later I noticed this same tire was low once more. The first time could have been a joke; the second meant I had a slow leak in the tire. I felt all the way around it, sidewall to sidewall but could not find anything sticking out of it. I aired it up once more and kept an eye on it. Every two days or so it would lose enough air to need re-filling. So, a trip to the tire shop was in order.
When I purchased these tires I had also purchased the Road Hazard Warranty in order to care for them. But, over the year and change I had misplaced the paperwork so my lovely wife called the local Firestone dealer to see if they had any record of our purchase. They did, as the various store's records were put into a single server so anywhere you are they can find you. I had purchased the tires in another city but now that we lived seventy miles away would not be returning to that store to have it fixed; rather we would go locally.
At the local Firestone...
We had a 3:45 PM appointment to get the tire fixed. We arrived early, around 3:20 PM. Then began the wait. They were busy so 3:45 came and went; 4:00 then 4:30 and finally 5:00 PM. I was getting antsy and my wife went to speak with them. As she did, the truck disappeared from view and reappeared in the bay to be worked on. Finally!
Then shortly thereafter came the news: not one but two nails side by side in the tread. We went to look at them and were dismayed to learn the tire was not fixable as the plug they used was for a single puncture and with there being two together they could not do the job properly. So, a new tire was in order. But, of course, they did not have that particular tire in stock. Of course.
That was when I grew frustrated. When we had purchased these tires last year we had specified the size tire the truck called for. I went to the store and waited while they pulled the old tires off and then told me they did not have the tire I wanted in stock. What did I want to do? They did have a larger tire and would gladly sell me them at the cost of the original. Over a barrel I had no choice so I said yes. Now, when I need the tire to replace the flat this store didn't have the tire I needed. I asked when the tire would be in, Monday. This was Friday and we were taking a trip to the Right Choices Corn Maze two hours away the next morning. I asked could I put the spare tire on and get the replacement fixed on Monday; the manager hesitated saying as the spare tire was the original size and what we had on were larger this wouldn't be a good idea. I understood and my frustration grew. Then, it happened.
These tires I picked out last year and had replaced yesterday are great tires. Within the first two weeks they literally saved the lives of my daughter and I when we drove through about four inches of standing water while driving highway speeds. Water soared twenty feet or more above the truck as we hit this water and I have no doubt that had we been on the tires I just replaced we would have lost control and gone off the road at 55 mph. No doubt.
So, what are they? Primewell Valera A/T is their brand name. They come in a variety of sizes for most SUV and truck applications. Not too expensive but they are a well made tire with a 50,000 mile warranty.
This young man, probably no more than 25 years old, listened to my voice, read my frustration and body language. He said to us "It sounds like you're unhappy with what happened to you before." I said that yes, I was upset before because I was told the other store had my size tires then once they had me in they saw they did not and sold me a larger tire, and now that I needed that larger tire this store did not have it in stock.
He then did what I absolutely never expected. He made an offer I couldn't refuse. "What if I replaced all of your tires, in the right size at no cost."
Huh? What did you say? Replace not only the one that is flat, but the other three just to make sure I have the right tires I should have had originally and do it for no cost? AND throw in a NEW warranty for an additional 5 YEARS or 50,000 miles all for free?!?!
Valera AT is Primewell's new all-terrain tire designed for light trucks and SUV's. The high traction design and improved tread compound gives you traction on soft surfaces and all season performance in wet and slippery conditions. Backed by a 50,000
This was absolutely the last thing I ever expected and to have a young person, one of the group I have seen time and again act as though how I feel is of no consequence to them which caused me to have little to no hope for the future of Customer Service actually care if I was happy or not with not only getting a new tire to replace the one that went flat (with two nails through no fault of their own) but also whether I drove on a spare tire that might cause harm to my truck. And to correct that he offers four brand new correct for my truck tires at no cost to me whatsoever.
I was flabbergasted. I smiled from ear to ear and shook his hand more than I probably should have but I could not help myself. I was having great Customer Service supplied to me from someone who cared.
But the day did not end there.
I also had two people at McDonald's supply us with drinks full of smiles and cheer, acting as though we were the most important people in world to them at that moment in time, rather than the hundredth they had seen in the last hour. Far too often I am just a person in the line, giving money and getting burgers. That started the day off before we headed out to get the tire fixed but at the time I failed to notice it fully; later it sank in.
And then that evening I went to the local big box store to pick up a few things and some chicken for dinner. In the deli a young lady waited on me to make my choices before realizing she did not have the bucket there to put the food into. After she headed to the back to get the buckets the other young lady in the deli finished with her customer and checked on me to see if I needed anything else. I did and asked for some potatoes and gravy. As she scooped some out for me she said the buckets the other girl was getting were buried on top of the shelf and if I didn't mind she had a different bucket there they could use which would get me on way faster. I thanked her and said that would be just fine. She smiled and set out to finish my order.
She could have walked away and left me to wait on the other girl to complete my order; she didn't owe me a thing yet she took the step to make sure I could get what I needed faster which would get me home faster. Again, this was a young twenty-something year old girl, much like the one at the other fast food restaurant earlier in the day.
Three instances, three young Americans both men and women of an age that I had serious concerns with about knowing and understanding the importance of Customer Service to the customer. And let me tell you, this gave me pause to understand that there are people out there who care, who understand, who will carry us forward.
And that, my friends, makes me happy.
Updated August 7, 2018
This past week we had another slow leaking tire. Left rear, and of course we were in a hurry. You see, our daughter had gotten married this spring to a very nice young man. He is a welcome addition to our family and our youngest son just dotes on him as he knows all the best games, how to play them and will play Xbox with him for hours. He also is a phenomenal artist and can literally build his own computers from scratch. So we are just as overjoyed as our daughter is to have him be a part of the family.
But we had never met his family. This day was our day to meet them and changing this tire would make us late. I had a can of fix-a-flat in the rear compartment so out it came. A mere moment later we were on our way.
The next day we went to Firestone in our local big city to get the tire fixed. After an hour we were met by the service technician who informed us that because of the addition of fix-a-flat Firestone would not touch the tire to repair it.
Whatthehell? Seriously? I've been using this stuff for over thirty years and never had a tire shop deny me getting one fixed. Until now. They would happily replace it, so I wasn't too mad. After two years of driving on it they gave me about 60% credit towards a new tire but they were out of the size I needed. One would be delivered the next day but as we lived 45 miles away and I had to go back to work then, the following Monday would be the next time I could get there. No problem. So running on the spare we drove home.
As we drove, my wife called Walmart and learned that they would fix a tire with fix-a-flat and for only $10. Seriously?! So now I am on the hook for a replacement new tire ($70) at the place I purchased the tire complete with Road Hazard Warranty when I could have taken it to Walmart in town for no gas burned and only $10? I'm telling you, Murphy was my ancestor!
But the silver lining here is that I do have a new tire; I got the old tire back and fixed it and still have a really good spare tire. So overall, not bad; not bad at all.
Just remember those of you who have Firestone tires:
DO NOT USE FIX-A-FLAT ON YOUR TIRES!!
I don't know if any other tire places have this same policy but it might behoove you to check before you have that situation happen to you.