Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taking Jeeves To Twin Falls, Take Two

Today I'm driving 284 miles round-trip to take Jeeves in to be fixed by a dealer that isn't an ass.  At least it's a nice day for it.

Things have finally progressed since I complained to the BBB.  While Holland's Sew Shoppe continues to refuse to acknowledge that a single thing might be wrong with my machine and has now expanded their accusations of my incompetence to include my ability to work the software and hoop anything at all AND that I lied about them not ordering parts in a timely manner (3 months for a damn bobbin cover?), they refunded the $60 "repair" fee that I paid them in February to do absolutely nothing, and Husqvarna has finally stepped in (after 6 emails from me) and will be honoring the warranty because all of this started while it was under warranty, and will work with the new dealer to either find the problem or send it in to the service center.

So, it's good and bad.  While I am happy that at least I didn't have to pay for this lousy treatment from Holland's, it would be hard to find a more ungracious response than their two letters to the Better Business Bureau.  I think all of us have personal egos, but it must be very sad to be a person who would rather save face than save a customer.  Just a year ago, I was an advocate for Husqvarna and would have recommended them to anyone.  Now they're finally stepping in to make things right, but it will never be the same.  Even if everything works perfectly, I'll never be as happy as I was, nor can I ever recommend them to anyone.  And what would it have really taken for them to have behaved just a bit better and create a happy customer?  I actually suggested to them several months ago that they send out surveys to their customers to find out how they are being treated by their dealers.  On the Husqvarna Facebook page, customer after customer in totally unrelated areas are sharing horror stories of service at dealerships, and other dealers are jumping in to say that Husqvarna has "no control" over their dealers.  Hogwash (which is the only non-swear word I can think of that would be accurate here).  Manufacturers exert control over dealers all the time--just ask any car dealer or a McDonald's franchise owner.  Think McDonald's lets a few things slide here and there because they "have no control" over a dealer?  McDonald's food might be really revolting, but the corporate office makes sure that their revolting food is equally revolting worldwide.  They take more care of a 99 cent hamburger than Husqvarna does over machines that cost $3000 to $6000.  How did they not see the logical result?

In college I sold Cutco knives, as did many college students.  I still have them, and almost 20 years after I started selling them, I still sell them to friends occasionally because I can be absolutely positive that they won't regret it.  They are the best knives I have ever used, and the guarantees are absolute.  I recently sent back a couple pieces to be sharpened--including my sewing shears--and a piece with a melted handle to be replaced, and they came back quickly, no questions asked, and for unknown reasons they had replaced my 10-year-old sewing shears instead of just sharpening them.  Maybe that was easier, or maybe they found a flaw I had never seen.  It doesn't matter--I'm happy, have just about everything they make, and continue to give Cutco as gifts, as do many of my friends and relatives.  Pretty good return on investment for the occasional knife they replace for free.

When Andy and I got married, we used some of the wedding money to buy some great pans we found at a local cooking store made by an American company called Scanpan.  We didn't know much about the company, but the pans are titanium so that meant nonstick pans that could go in the dishwasher.  Score!  We ended up having two pans that had trouble after 3 years of pretty hard use, so I sent the company an email to ask what I needed to do to get them replaced, and I promptly received an email with an attached return form, and they replaced them without question--even though we hadn't realized they would send whole new pans with lids to replace the two we returned, so now we even have extra lids.  No questions asked, it probably didn't cost them a whole lot to replace them, and now I mention it to everyone I know.  Again, probably a pretty good investment.

We buy everything we can through Costco because of their outstanding customer service.  I will not even consider another insurance company because of the outstanding customer service I have received time and time again from Farm Bureau insurance.  Our mechanic, Mountain View Service, doesn't have loyal customers so much as a customer cult.  I am truly sorry that neither Husqvarna nor Holland's Sew Shoppe can see the value of creating that kind of customer loyalty, and perhaps they'll even manage to stay in business because there will always be people like me who don't know that not all expensive sewing machines are going to be backed the same way by manufacturers.  But they have forever destroyed my customer relationship with them.  I hope that whatever sense of superiority or satisfaction Holland's gets out of believing customers to be liars and incompetents is worth it.  A 280-mile drive is certainly worth it to me to never see them again.