But it’s also important to use this platform every once in a while to mention when things go right.
A couple of years ago, I bought a new vacuum cleaner. I bought it from Bed, Bath, and Beyond because I’m a basic white girl and because my old vacuum was dying after 15 years. I selected the vacuum on one key attribute – price.
The vacuum I selected was a Shark Lift-Away Rotator Vacuum and it seemed to fit my pocketbook requirements and also doubled as a vacuum that was newer than the Clinton administration.
Like things so often happen, this vacuum performed fine for over a year. Nothing spectacular. It picked up dirt. I emptied the canister. I thought about it maybe once every couple of weeks. Except that after Â year, it began to develop a problem with the button that separates the canister from the bottom of the vacuum. Kind of like when the USS Enterprise used to separate in the first season but then you never heard about it again. Anyway, when you’d separate the vacuum to clean up cobwebs or something, the button wouldn’t reset when the thing went back together. It eventually did after a few whacks but it was annoying. Whatever. I have maybe 15 annoying appliances in my house right now. This condition kept up for another year when, finally, over Christmas break, I decided that I’d had it and was starting to look for a new vacuum or fix the problem. I couldn’t find any reference to the button issue on Google searches, but I did find a few forums that mentioned that Shark’s warranty repair was among the best.
Hell, I haven’t called in for a warranty repair in years. In this day and age things are just made in a nearly disposable manner and I typically don’t want the hassle and just go get a new one. But maybe the person could tell me how to fix the button and I had an hour to kill so what the hell.
I found the number and gave them a call. Not 2 minutes later I was talking with a human being. That in and of itself is worthy of a lengthy blog post. The person was American and spoke English. It was after 8 PM and their phones are open until 11. After picking myself up from the floor from being stunned, the person said that she’d never heard of that particular problem with that vacuum.
To myself, I figured that would be that and I’d just have to go get something new. And then, my expectation were blown out of the water.
“But let’s go ahead and get it repaired for you.”
“Well, I’m not really wanting to spend $100 for a $150 vacuum.”
“No, it’s no charge.”
The woman said that they have a 5 year full warranty and that this certainly seemed to fit the qualifications. She took my address down and charged me $19.95 for a new box (because I didn’t keep my old box) and I immediately got tracking information in my email.
The whole call took less than 15 minutes and I went to bed with the assurance that I’d have a fixed vacuum cleaner after a few weeks when they got done fixing it.
Two days later, I got an email saying that my box had been delivered.
When I got home, to pick up the box off of my front porch, it was extremely heavy. It certainly wasn’t an empty box.
I opened it up and inside was a brand new vacuum cleaner!
I was stunned. I called the phone number back and asked if they had sent me a new one by mistake. “No, that’s what the $20 was for. Just put your old vacuum in the box and send it back to us with the label we sent you.”
I asked again. “Will I just get this one while you’re fixing my old one?”
“No.” The woman chuckled. “We’ll fix the one you send back and then use it as a refurbished model. The one we just sent you is yours to keep.”
No upsell. No nickle and dime. No attitude. No belligerence. No extra complications. I called. They sent me a new vacuum.
Maybe it’s just that I am attuned to poor customer service. Maybe the world has truly stopped valuing positive interactions or whatever. But I was stunned. I got a new vacuum for $20 and the damn thing works wonderfully with no sign of the button problem.
Maybe I’ll never need a new vacuum again, but if I do, I can guarantee you that it’ll be a Shark vacuum that I buy.
Maybe there is hope for customers after all.