Archive for the ‘Thanks’ Category

Service of Gratitude II

Thursday, March 8th, 2018


I’m gratified when an article in a legitimate source such as The Wall Street Journal confirms one of my observations. In this case, it’s about gratitude and how it has been lost among a large swath of people, young and old alike.

For years I’ve been part of a committed group of association members who vet applications for college and grad school scholarships—as much as $10,000 plus generous fringe benefits. I’ve often written here about the scholarships or the winners. They pass three reviews: Every application is read by two members. Those recommended for the second level are interviewed on the phone and if that conversation goes well, the student meets a committee in person where final decisions are made. The competition is stiff. Some of the high school senior through grad school students are remarkable.


This year I interviewed college seniors attending grad school and only one sent me a thank you. Last year none of the students I spoke with thanked. “So what?” say you? “Nobody thanks these days. Where have you been?” you may think. So this: If two students receive equally high recommendations to move to the third and last review and one has written a thank you as short as “tx,” and the other has not, the grateful one gets the opportunity to be interviewed in person; the other loses her chance.

But the ramifications of not expressing gratitude are far greater than missing out on a scholarship.

In “An Attitude of Gratitude,” in the Journal Jennifer Breheny Wallace wrote: “As Dr. [Richard] Weissbourd sees it, parents were fed a myth that if children feel better about themselves—if parents praise them, cater to their every need and make them feel happy—it will help them to develop character. ‘But what we’re seeing in many cases is the opposite: When parents organize their lives around their kids, those kids expect everyone else to as well, and that leads to entitlement,’ he says. And when children are raised to feel entitled to everything, they are left feeling grateful for nothing.” Weissbourd, a psychologist, is faculty director of the Making Caring Common initiative at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.


“Researchers find that people with a grateful disposition are more thankful for a wider variety of things in their lives, such as their friends, their health, nature, their jobs or a higher power—and that they experience feelings of gratitude more intensely. For them, gratitude isn’t a one-off ‘thank you.’ It’s a mind-set, a way of seeing the world.”

John Wyeth

This approach reminds me of the award for niceness instituted at the Harlem Link Charter School named to honor the memory of John Wyeth who had worked there for a decade and who was the epitome of the award. I wrote about it a year ago.

Wallace also included observations of David Rosmarin, director of the Spirituality and Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. He mentioned how gratitude takes a place in most world religions.

I attended a memorable Bar Mitzvah service many years ago in which our friend’s son Julian told the congregation about his good deed that was part of his Bar Mitzvah preparation. He described making sandwiches to offer homeless men and women in Newark, N.J. and how hard it was to get out of his father’s car when they arrived in the city and what it was like to approach and speak with the destitute people he met.

Helping less fortunate people became a turning point for one family in the article. The floors in a house that one of the children helped to restore as a volunteer were in such bad shape you could stand in the home and see through to the ground. When this child returned home “she got down and hugged the floor and said, ‘I’ve never been grateful for a floor, but now I am.’”

Wrote Wallace: “The researchers found, in keeping with past studies, that general gratitude was associated with less anxiety, less depression and greater well-being. They also found that religious gratitude—toward God—was associated with additional reductions in anxiety and depression and increases in well-being.”


It’s never too late to teach gratitude to a child and Wallace noted the obvious: The most effective way is for parents to practice what they want a child to do such as thanking when junior takes out the garbage or holds open a door.

Wallace wrote that parents can “spur their children to appreciate and reflect on the time and thought behind the gifts and kindness they receive, as in: ‘Jack really knows how much you love football. How thoughtful that he gave you a jersey of your favorite team’ or ‘Wow, Grandma just took a five-hour train ride to come and see you perform in that play.’”

Do you think expressing gratitude eventually leads to feeling it and that it really has positive effects? Does a person—parent, boss or client–appear to be weak if they thank which is why they don’t do it? Do you know anyone who never thanked and then suddenly began to? Do you have examples of someone who expressed gratitude to you that bowled you over?


Service of Thanks II

Monday, April 14th, 2014

woman reading a paperStudent texting

It’s not often that I read an article that contradicts my experience so dramatically. In fact, when I read Guy Trebay’s “The Found Art of Thank-You Notes,” in The New York Times I was working on yet another post about the lost art of thanks even when gratitude makes business common sense.

The Times article seemed to have been written either by a person associated with a luxury stationery industry trade organization pushing pricey engraved note cards, or perhaps Rip Van Winkle’s great, great, great grandson–someone who just woke up, having learned of a vintage art and in awe of the fresh, new concept. Another reason for the discrepancy between the experience of stationers and others he quoted and the reality I continue to face is that Trebay said that the reemergence of elegant thank you notes sent via USPS has been launched largely by the fashion industry. I am not associated with it.

The direction of the original post was based on an email conversation between me and Erin Berkery-Rovner. I shared my astonishment at how few scholarship applicants I’d interviewed for a generous industry-sponsored program had sent an email afterwards to thank me for my time to prepare and for the conversation itself. Each one of them had my address. I thought she’d be interested and surprised given her work as college career development executive/alumni job counselor/ headhunter.

student texting 2Most of the applicants were grad students and only one mentioned anything about my business, information easy to find on my website [in the signature template on my emails] or in a two-second Google search. I’m not the only stickler for this kind of acknowledgement in a business context. The scholarship committee chairs instructed us to let them know if applicants thanked or referred in any way to our careers. Those who didn’t were on the cutting room floor.

Erin responded: “I can’t believe some didn’t write back! I thought that type of note was normal-but apparently it’s a thing of the past. It’s pretty crazy!” She added: “I’m also surprised that only one looked up anything personal about you. Very strange!”

She continued: “I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I did an informational interview with a woman and gave her a lot of telephone interview 2information on getting into higher education. I asked her to send me a list of schools that interested her. She never did. And then one of my colleagues at a prestigious school mentioned an open job, and so I emailed the woman. By the time she got back to me it was too late–the job had already been posted and had been in interviews. And I even asked for follow up, and nothing, no thank you no nothing. It’s really odd to me.”

In your dealings with people who may want something from you—such as applicants for scholarships or jobs or advice-seekers you help pro bono—where do you see the pendulum swinging: Towards written notes, tweets and texts or no acknowledgement whatsoever? Have you, like Guy Trebay, seen an uptick in bread-and-butter letters?

hand written thanks



Service of Thank You

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Thank you 1

Niece Alison, 12, at right

Niece Alison, 12, at right

I’ve written about this subject most often relating to those who don’t–for wedding gifts or business support–and those who do extremely well. In a recent radio interview I heard of brides who write one email blast thanking all gift-givers in an e-note.

I enjoy writing thank you notes and this year my work is cut out for me.

Here, first, I wanted to thank you. I am constantly shocked by people who tell me they read this blog and those who suggest ideas for posts and who comment. All give the most precious gift: Time. Between frantically busy lives with deadlines and obligations and communications at warp speed and transportation universally more complicated and time-consuming, I am viscerally aware that every second counts. Can you believe that the blog was five years old in November?

Next I am grateful to my nieces who live far away yet stay in touch. It’s unusual for almost teens/20-somethings to communicate with grownups.

Christmas cards decorate the house. I love the colors and messages inside.

We were spoiled by amazing, imaginative, thoughtful, often handmade and practical gifts–too, too many. My nephew noticed that I freaked when the fresh turkey I bought for Thanksgiving didn’t come with a pop up device to indicate the bird was cooked. One gift he gave me: a package of the pop up timers!

I started to share a list that included homemade jams, sauce, candied fruits, chocolate, whiskey cakes and biscotti to a designed, cross-stitched and framed saying enhanced by cross-stitched hearts and ribbons: “Parcels and packages, silk ribbons tied, eyes filled with wonder to see what’s inside.” But the list felt too much like that wedding gift email blast I criticized in the lead as well as a boast. We are blessed and spoiled.

What are you most thankful for? Have you received or heard of creative thank you missives?


Thank you 3





Service of Acknowledging Gifts

Monday, December 31st, 2012


Erica Martell brought Philip Galanes’ Social Q‘s column in The New York Times to my attention. He responded to grandparents whose nine “wonderful” grandchildren [as described by their relatives, not Galanes], run from 10 to 22. These children don’t live nearby so the grandparents ship the gifts. The children have never acknowledged a single Christmas or birthday present. They ask “Isn’t commanding thanks awkward?”

Galanes suggests: “Be direct. Call the parents of the younger children and speak with the older ones yourself. Say: ‘We’d like a phone call, an e-mail, or even a handwritten note letting us know that you received our gifts and whether you liked them. Otherwise, we will find more appreciative recipients.'”

thank-you-note-2This is tough to do if the parents are divorced for a range of obvious reasons starting with which parent do you approach without causing more trouble. If you are a stepparent, the rules are simple: Stay out of it.

While I think that divorce has a lot to do with why so many no longer acknowledge gifts sent them for Christmas, Hanukkah or birthdays, my husband has a different idea: He says the recipients would rather not receive the gifts.

These days if you send by UPS or FedEx, or pay a supplement to the US Postal Service, you can trace whether or not the gift has arrived so that’s an option. Why should this be a different model than any other–more and more of what we buy is do-it-yourself. If you want to know if the gift arrived, trace it yourself.

thank-you-note-4I have other ideas for these grandparents and any aunts, uncles and family friends similarly frustrated:

**Send donations to charity in the names of each child. Charities generally acknowledge gifts.

**Take a gift-giving vacation one year. Maybe the recipients’ parents will let you know that your package didn’t arrive so at the least, you’ll hear from somebody and realize that somebody noticed that you’d sent stuff before!

**Don’t take care in choosing appropriate gifts for each child [the grandparents who wrote in from New Canaan, Conn. claim that they do] and spend as little money as you can. Go to a dollar store and see what you can find.

**Send each child only a card and donate what you would have spent to a children’s charity, noting this inside.

**Give an anonymous gift to needy children who have written to Santa c/o the post office or pick names off a giving tree that organizations and charities sponsor. You can’t expect acknowledgement in this case so you won’t be disappointed.

Which of these ideas would work best? Would you dare follow through with any? Do you have other suggestions?


Service of Thanksgiving

Monday, November 19th, 2012


I’m surprised I haven’t written a post with this headline in all the years.

Apart from the season, what made me think of it was something that happened in the 14th Street Subway station the other day.

thanksgivingparadeI’ll get back to that in a minute, but first a word from our sponsor [me]. Strange how Thanksgiving reminds me most of my father who was French, didn’t share a turkey and cranberry sauce tradition and moved to this country in his 30s. Until I married and moved away first to Illinois and then to North Dakota and Turkey [as in the country] my Dad and I never walked across Central Park from my parent’s apartment on the east side to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade every year.  And while Thanksgiving continues to be a favorite holiday–I love baking pies, making cranberry sauce and stuffing and eating leftovers the next day–I also feel sad moments missing friends and family.  Just think how those who have lost all their belongings and/or family members in Hurricane Sandy must feel. They are not yet over the shock.

subway-14th-stBack to the subway: I’d been jotting a note on my mobile phone while riding downtown. I dashed out, trotting briskly toward the stairs, when I heard a man yelling “Lady! Lady! Miss! Miss!” He was running after me, waving my gloves that he’d just scooped up off the platform. I was so thankful! I often see a belt, scarf or a glove on the ground on city streets and in public places and wonder, with crowds everywhere, why someone hasn’t rescued a dropped accessory and returned it to its owner.

lostphoneDavid Reich, a colleague, found a phone on the street and left it off at the T-Mobile store so that the staff could reunite it with its owner. We found an abandoned phone at the American Craft Show NYC at the Javits a few weeks ago. While my client, Richard Rothbard, was placing calls to see if he could identify the owner, the phone rang and it was the owner’s sister. Both were still at the show. The owner was beside herself with gratitude as she hugged her phone. [When my husband lost his mobile phone a few weeks ago, nobody returned it–more typical perhaps?].

More apt, I am thankful that my husband is beginning to feel better after being sick and debilitated since spring. He is recovering from chronic tick-borne diseases that it took months to diagnose. A doctor in Pawling, NY has been unraveling the physical mystery since August. 

dsc022581While this is beginning to sound like an Academy Award acceptance speech, I am thankful for my family-and I count close friends in this category-to Lucrezia the loyal commenter on this blog and to all the others who take the time to share their thoughts; to my office colleagues, clients, media and association contacts, the students I’ve mentored for their camaraderie and loyalty and fellow mentors, many of whom have become friends.

Far more important than my Thanksgiving memories and anecdotes are yours. I hope you’ll share.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Discussion after Thanksgiving dinner

Discussion after Thanksgiving dinner

Service of Moving

Thursday, April 19th, 2012


Deborah Brown is a newly retired [ha] award-winning marketing and communications professional whose focus ranges from retail and home furnishings to publishing. She’s been a buyer, sales promotion director, retail merchandising editor at House & Garden, director of home furnishings, ad and marketing director at House Beautiful. She’s sat on countless prestigious boards and committees and is currently a mentor in Baruch College’s Executives on Campus.

Debby wrote “Service of Responsibility”  about a retail experience for this blog in December 2009.

She learned so much from her recent move that she kindly shared highlights with us:

After Walking up four flights (78 stairs) many times a day for over 40 years, opportunity knocked when a ground floor apartment opened up in my NYC upper west side brownstone.  Newly renovated into a duplex (note the small’d’) with a garden in back, I decided to approach the landlord about the possibility of relocating.  How hard could it be, moving within my building, just downstairs, I thought!  Once the final lease was vetted by attorneys, I had a two week window to prepare for, and actually complete the move. Here are 10 things I did or wish I had done.  And yes, it was worth it after settling in one month later!

1.  Talk to everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing. 

womentalkingEveryone knows someone who can help, offer resources, information or shared stories of their own moving experiences.  From my network of dog friends, one introduced me to a top real estate attorney who helped me negotiate the lease.  Another offered to call a friend who had recently undergone a renovation and expansion with issues similar to my new space.  The information that came back was invaluable in knowing what to ask my landlord. Who knew I should ask where the boiler was located to ensure that there would be no issues that might affect my ground floor apartment; if there was a drain in the basement in the event of flood and if permits had been properly filed and inspections passed so that there would be no surprise digging through my freshly painted walls?

2.  Keep a notebook with you at all times dedicated exclusively to the move

Document every phone conversation with each company involved in your move.   Include phone numbers, account information, confirmation codes; time, date and name of person spoken to.  In the event you have a problem or questions down the road, you can document who told you what and when. 

I also included in this notebook room dimensions and measurements of furniture I expected to fit into the new apartment.

3.  Line up your phone/cable/Internet/gas and electric services ahead of your move date. 

My phone provider at the time, (rhymes with “Horizon”) managed to turn off my landline the morning of the move, promising to have everything up and running by 5:00 PM.  After three days of excuses why it was not reconnected, and being stonewalled, they promised to send a technician between 8:00 AM and 5:00PM.  No one showed.  After being given the run-around again, I finally got to a supervisor who insisted nothing in their records indicated a problem with the line, and there existed no paperwork in the system to send a live person to search the problem!  I am now with another provider but wish I had arranged this crucial connection before the move date.

4. Get written estimates or Email confirmations from everyone providing you a service. 

written-estimatesIn actuality, the moving company part was the easiest.  I ended up using a Russian-owned firm with professional and efficient movers who delivered both services and fee as quoted on the phone and in a follow up Email.

5. Don’t move “stuff” you don’t need or want

Get a shredder; donate, toss or recycle the rest.  It’s true.  If you haven’t used it, worn it or looked at it in more than five years, out it goes!  This can be clothing, china, Tschokies, etc.  I surprised myself with countless king size garbage bags of shredded materials I had held on to, “in case I needed them,”  including decades-old tax returns, letters home from camp lovingly saved by my parents and of course, passed on to me; outdated files and lists of “stuff” I’d never use again. 

6.  Create a punch list for your landlord and do a walk through before you sign anything. 

If needed, take a digital camera along to document the issues.  It was here I had to point out unfinished electrical work with exposed wires in an unfinished wall, a recycled toilet seat, missing light bulbs, intercom system not connected; then making sure all appliances were in working order.    Look in every cabinet with a flash light for open holes that need to be plugged, evidence of roaches or worse to come.

7. Best money spent: a custom closet that accommodates clothing, linens, china and other possessions.

custom-closetI also decided to pay for lights on dimmers and a screen door to the garden that would allow fresh air and additional security.

8. Next best investment:

Signature TJMaax shopping bags at .99 each in which I toted everything from dishes and books to last minute “stuff” that just kept cropping up.

9.  Biggest mistake: not following my instincts. 

murphy-bed1I was talked out of a Murphy Bed in lieu of a day bed. I bowed to a furniture placement design recommended by a professional that ultimately didn’t work and I had to change it back to my original vision for the space a couple of weeks later. The day bed went back to the store, I switched the furniture arrangement and I now sleep on a Murphy Bed.

10.  Thank your neighbors, friends, family and everyone else who helped, gave advice or actually schlepped your stuff.    

Gift cards to Star Bucks, Pain Quotidian and Fairway as well as wine is always appreciated.   

Do you have any questions for Debby such as whether she feels the slightest twinge about the things she tossed? What if she needs the camp letters for her memoir? Did she consider selling any of her belongings on eBay or through an eBay drop-off? Do you have moving tips to add to Debby’s?


Service of Manners 2012

Thursday, March 1st, 2012


We’ve addressed manners before. I’d like your opinions about the following:

Arriving at a [morning] meeting with your own coffee

People do this all the time. Usually coffee is served, but especially if it isn’t, I would feel uncomfortable being the only one slurping. While it seems acceptable, do you do it?

“Let me find out if Mr./Ms. X is inassistant-on-phone1

This is what you say if you want to make the caller feel second class. Everyone knows the person is in and is evaluating whether to speak with you. There are smoother ways to say this.

Please keep your shoes off the examination table

According to both a radiology technician and doctor in an office with brand new examination tables, there are patients who pick a fight over the request to “please remove your shoes.” In addition, the doctor has seen folks with their shoes on the upholstered furniture in her waiting room.

People also do this on a train, thoughtless of others who will sit where their muddy shoes have been. Is this acceptable behavior these days?

How many times should you follow up on a business outreach?

I try calling, emailing and writing and emailing again–with more info–and as deadlines dictate, I take silence as “no.”  It sure would be nice if recipients took a sec to write “no thanks” but I know that’s too much to ask. How many times do you follow up?

Peeking at emails on smartphone or iPad during a meeting

Mea culpa and I know it is rude. If the meeting drags, it’s so tempting to sneak a quick look.

thank-you-note2Thank you notes

A friend in her mid-80s who sends gifts galore shrugged and noted that “nobody writes thank you notes anymore” so “get over it,” she said when I mentioned how many long distance gift recipients send zero smoke signals–no tweet, email, postcard or phone call. I was reevaluating whether or not to send anything to the silent ones in future.

Note: I get thank yous from children, young adults and adults and I write them too. Are we the rude ones?

Grooming in public

I feel queasy when someone clips their nails or flosses in a bus, subway or train. Monday on the train a woman across the aisle used some kind of atomizer to spray the air around her. The scent and whatever else was in the can wafted over to me. Is public transportation the new washroom?


Service When It’s Great

Friday, July 30th, 2010


A recent American Express Global Customer Service Barometer inspired me to cover instances of great service again-it’s been a while. The Barometer reported that Americans will pay an average of nine percent more to receive quality customer service and that 61 percent noted that in this economic environment, service is more important to them.

The latter surprises me because I expect top quality service regardless of the economy, but I digress.

Happy Surprise

aptroofI was having guests on the roof of our NYC apartment and lined up some volunteers to help me install the chair cushions, stored elsewhere both to preserve them as well as to keep them from flying off and injuring someone. When I got home that day the super-and he is-told me that the cushions were already on the chairs and the tables all cleaned–a blessing on a sweltering day.

Four Star Credit Card Bill Resolution

creditcardbillMy heart sank when I saw my credit card bill this month because it showed a finance charge and an unexpectedly large total. My habit is to pay the full amount so as to avoid both instances. I no longer get back my checks or even facsimiles, and I didn’t make a copy of the check mailed, so I figured I was up the creek. The issuer-USAA-which has never let me down, came through again. I asked the customer service rep to look at my payment history. He put me on hold and on his return didn’t question me and told me to delete the finance charge. It wasn’t  so much money, yet I was so relieved that I didn’t have to argue or speak with a thousand people.

Immaculate Delivery Follow-Up

newspaper-deliveryThe Wall Street Journal is delivered to the office. In the last month or so, it’s gone missing on three occasions when nobody in the building received a paper, according to the responsible man at reception. The third time it happened, I called the Journal and a copy came by messenger within an hour. I subsequently received emails from the paper and the newspaper delivery business as well as a phone call from the newspaper delivery concern’s customer service department. I was impressed at how much they wanted to keep the Journal’s and my business.

Exemplary Honesty

caraccidentWe totaled the car earlier this year and our trusty warhorse, with close to 135,000 miles on it, was sent to car heaven. Before it left, we visited it one last time at a garage a few towns away where someone representing the insurance company had seen it and determined that it wasn’t worth repairing. We were there to retrieve the stuff in it, though we could only open one door and the trunk. A week or so later, my husband got a letter with a $20 bill in it from what he thought was an employee of the car cemetery. The letter explained that the writer had found the bill in the car. So my husband wrote the chairman of the insurance company-USAA again-to let him know what a great supplier he had.  In return, he got two telephone calls from USAA until the rep found him in. He thanked my husband for the letter, and told him that the man who had returned his money actually worked for USAA and that he would be commended for what he’d done.

Friends Who Help

blackcatMy last example is the service of friends. I was one train stop from where I get off on Friday night when my husband called to tell me he was stuck with a flat tire in a torrential storm. I reached the only car service in the vicinity and the woman explained that she couldn’t pick me up because of a fair going on in town so she couldn’t get near the station.

For years, I’d patted the cat of a couple who traveled on the same train and who got off a few stops north of mine. Their cat purred so loudly you’d hear him even if you were seated four or five rows away. People don’t generally speak with strangers on this train, but we began to chat. On hearing of my situation they immediately told me they’d drive me home. They live in the opposite direction, it was late, and their kitty gets carsick but they didn’t hesitate. I know it’s not service when friends do you a huge favor, but the feeling of gratitude is similar.

Do you have examples of great service to share?


Service of Bonuses

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


There’s lots of talk about Wall Street and bank bonuses as well as the toys in Happy Meals, which got me thinking of the subject of the windfalls I’ve most enjoyed.

milkshakeIn college, Brigham’s milk shakes stood out. Next to a tall glass of thick coffee ambrosia–sometimes chocolate or strawberry–the milkshake-maker set down the icy-cold metal container in which s/he’d assembled–and the machine stirred–the concoction. The bonus contained almost as much as the original portion. Sigh.

lifesaverI’ll never forget the Lifesaver books my mom got as a stockholder [maybe from Kraft Foods?] at Christmastime. The packaging was in the shape of a book which, when you opened it, was filled with a remarkable assortment of Lifesavers. I’ve owned stock in various companies for eons and I’ve never received such a gift.

I’m thrilled when a conductor gives the audience an encore, which happens less and less these days. Union rules?

freeadviceShortly after I’d left Art & Antiques magazine, I helped out a stranger who called for advice about his art gallery opening. Someone suggested to him that I might help even though I’d launched a business in a different stratosphere. During our brief phone call, I recommended media he should invite and made some marketing suggestions. I soon forgot about the conversation that was similar to hundreds that I’ve had over the years. On Thanksgiving morning, the elevator man handed me an envelope from the gallery owner. In the thank you note was a very generous check. It was the first and the last time I saw a cent from someone needing “just a little information.”

When newsletters were printed the old fashioned way, large PR agencies spent a ton of money with local printers. The one we used was tremendously generous. As we left the restaurant after lunch, the waiter handed me an entire cheesecake because I’d swooned over the slice I’d just eaten. A total treat.

I mentor college and graduate students. When they incorporate some of my suggestions into their approach, or continue to ask me questions once the relationship/school year is officially over, these events are at the top of my bonus list.

What have been some of your most memorable or favorite bonuses?


Service of Too Little Too Late

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Nancy Farrell wrote today’s guest post. A fundraiser for a non-profit, her first  post wasService of Remodeling a Business Model,” [December 3, 2009]. She’s also a frequent commenter and generously shares her experiences.

Today she writes about two vendors who missed the boat with her by being unreasonable. As a result, once she fired them, there was nothing they could do to get her back.

She wrote:

Time and again marketers have proved that it’s less expensive to reinstate a lapsed member or customer than it is to acquire a new one. But that doesn’t always hold true, especially if you’ve managed to make the customer so angry that you’ve lost him/her forever. I’ve had two terrible customer service issues lately that caused me to take my business elsewhere.

The first happened with a credit card company. I’d been a customer for 15 years when a clerk insisted that I overnight my $13 full payment. The reason: my checkbook had been stolen and the check I’d sent them bounced-which I warned them would happen because the bank cancelled all the checks–but they cashed it anyway.

The voice of customer service made matters worse by repeating that I’d lost my checkbook when, in fact, it had been stolen-two entirely different circumstances, in my opinion. I told her that the next time I heard the word “lost” I was hanging up and that I wasn’t about to overnight a $13 check because that would be silly.

I mailed them the check via First Class mail and told them I’d be canceling the card. It was only after I cancelled it that they tried to woo me back with a $25 gift card. I declined because by that time there was nothing in the world that would make me go back.

The next incident involved a large pharmacy chain that has great hours but not the antibiotics that I needed and sometimes took up to 3 weeks to refill my husband’s heart medications.

I tried e-mailing their corporate office asking how much lead time they’d need for a refill. They sent a response saying they’d contact the local manager who then proceeded to bombard us with automated calls telling us when the prescriptions were ready.

When we went to pick up our order we were handed everything EXCEPT the pills we’d been told were available and waiting for us. One time, the pharmacist assistant’s excuse was that she wasn’t working when we dropped off the prescriptions.

Eventually they found the medications but I can’t overestimate the stress this caused my husband, a man with a weak heart. Every visit to the pharmacy seemed to generate another hitch.

Sometimes they’d only fill four out of eight prescriptions and they’d drill us: “Are you certain that you’re missing medications?” Other times the meds were in two different bags and they’d bring only one to the counter, leaving the other one in a back room.

We were finally able to determine that part of the problem stemmed from the fact that they were calling the doctor when he requires Faxes. So then they’d call again and he’d tell them to send a FAX. So then they’d call again.

After nearly two years of this nonsense, we’re now dealing with a locally-owned pharmacy that fills prescriptions for antibiotics in five minutes. The hours aren’t as convenient as the other store’s but at least they have the meds we need when we need them and they deliver. And Joe, the pharmacist, is a guy a person can depend on.

Within one business day of our asking Joe to transfer the prescriptions, the chain got wind of our plans and left us a voice mail message asking us if we were switching pharmacies because of the service and could we please call back. No automated call that time.

We wouldn’t go back to that pharmacy if the meds were free because we need them when we need them, not when the pharmacy gets around to rounding them up.

Joe said something to us I haven’t heard in years: “Thank you for your business.”

Do you have examples of vendors who let you down and once you’ve left them, try to make amends? Have you gone back?  


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