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Funny customer service complaint letter – to Sir Richard Branson

By Phil Verghis on February 11, 2009

Famous science-fiction author Sir Isaac Asimov, who was also a professor of biochemistry, once said, “The most exciting phrase in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I’ve found it!) but “That’s funny…”

Speaking of funny, enjoy this hilarious customer service complaint letter written to Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airways. But be forewarned: If you travel a lot, and enjoy food (confession: guilty as charged), you are quite likely to make a fool of yourself laughing out loud as you read it.

White glove service – or trusted advisor – a tale of $1,500 saved (Part II)

By Phil Verghis on September 10, 2008

In my last post, I wrote about $1,500 saved. This post I’ll walk through some of the major ways the dealership messed up from a service point of view.

Issue: Inconsistent information. Why was I asked to pay $1,500 when a week earlier I was told it would be covered under warranty.

Lesson: Deal with the bad news first. As I’ve written about in my book (page 24, in the section titled Psychology and Customer Service), a number of studies have shown that human beings want to see improvement. Tell me the bad news then show what you can do to improve the situation. Don’t parrot ‘rules’ that don’t make sense.

Issue: Why did they duck my calls? It is not as if I called multiple people simultaneously – I asked the same question three different times to three different people – calling the next person only after waiting a few days for a response from the previous person. I didn’t get a even a call back from two of the three people. 

Lesson: One of the dead giveaway of a of rookie manager  is an unwillingness to deal with unpleasant situations.

Issue: It took a call from their competitor for the dealership realize that they had completely dropped the ball.

Lesson they (hopefully) learned: If it takes a competitor’s call to you to remind you to do your job, you aren’t doing your job.

Issue: They finally fixed my problem but didn’t even attempt to recover from the service mistakes.

Lesson: They had me back in, and repaired the part under warranty. All done professionally. However, they never explained to me what happened and didn’t apologize. They did not recover from the service snafu in any way. End result is still the same – no future business to this particular car dealer.

White glove service – or trusted advisor – a tale of $1,500 saved (Part I)

By Phil Verghis on September 2, 2008

Last week, I experienced something that reminded me that anybody can provide good service when things are going well – it is how you recover that makes the difference.

I own a 5 year old  Acura with 48K miles on it and bought it from my local Acura dealer, which is also where I took the car to get work done. They provide ‘white glove’ service, every employee I have ever interacted with is very polite; they have free internet access in their waiting room; a shuttle service with a friendly driver; a well stocked fridge and nice coffee/tea. Yup, pricey service but a pleasure to deal with — until now.

My dealer wanted me to pay $1,500 for a new catalytic convertor when the old one was one week – count it – one week out of warranty.  (Convertor warranty was 5 year, 50K miles.)

I called the Acura dealer three times, the managers never got back to me. Finally took it in one more time, was told ‘not possible’, ‘have to pay the full amount’.

Found Hondar House thanks to the Car Talk site, they quoted me $1,000, a $500 savings. I would have been glad to have saved $500. However, the fact that the catalytic converter failed with so few miles on it (and that the Acura dealer didn’t want to give me ‘goodwill’ for the week out of warranty) bothered Frank. He asked if he could make a few calls for me. 

Frank called the Acura dealer’s parts manager, and did his magic. He got them to replace the part for free. It is not often that you find a business that will call a competitor and ask them to honor a warranty and refuse to take payment for any work done.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to save $1,500. Hondar House now has a customer for life.

In the next post, I’ll walk through some of the rookie mistakes that the dealer made. They did a good job until I had a problem, and they completely bombed it, and lost a loyal customer.


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