Category Archives: Customer Service

Steve, Sam and the Hard Mattress

Give me a mattress, make it a double

Give me a mattress, make it a double

My good friend, Steve, was on a mission.  His wife told him to get a mattress for his teenage kid.

“Don’t forget the mattress, don’t forget the mattress,” Steve repeated to himself as he left for work that day.

Steve remembered.  He made it to the store for an early lunch, the only customer there.

“I need a double mattress please,” he demanded, satisfied that he remembered the size.

The salesman berated Steve with questions: What ‘softness’? pillow top? what springs do you like? have you seen this?  How much do you want to spend?

“I just need a mattress….double.” Steve was deflated.

The salesman almost refused his request…”We don’t sell that here,” he said with his eyes.

“Just give me the list of mattresses and I will pick,” Steve blurted out with his last bit of life before he walked out.

Steve got the list, picked one and checked out.

He is Simple Steve.  The guy who salespeople don’t need to ‘sell.’ They just have to lead him to water for him to drink, he walked in thirsty and just wants to consume the product and be done.

His cousin, Sophisticated Sam, is a different dude.  He has done some research, knows some detail and wants the salesperson to talk the finer points.  Sam walks into mattress stores with time, money and a willingness to learn.

If the salesperson complicates Steve’s life, he will get pissed and leave.  If salesperson goes simple on Sam, Sam will be left unsatisfied and go where he will be taken care of.

Sam and Steve are easy to identify, a few pleasantries will get you there.

I am Steve, hear me roar.


Standardizing Garbage – The Problem of Adverse Selection

$1 chicken sandwiches, there are no secrets here

$1 chicken sandwiches, there are no secrets here

The next McDonald’s marketing campaign should be,”Guaranteed: The same shitty food that makes you fat and crap customer service Nationwide!”

There is nothing like a local burger, the local coffee shop can be exceptional. The problem is, you have to take risk to go- consumers have a known quantity in the chain restaurant or box store.

Customers keep going back to chains because they know what is coming.

Here is the rub, we [customers] might know the food is terrible [McDonalds] but we drive past the local place in order to avoid the surprise – be it good or bad.

It’s an abusive relationship.

As frustrating as this is, don’t blame yourself- it is a real theory of economics.  Adverse selection refers to a market process in which undesired results occur when buyers and sellers have asymmetric information (access to different information).  The crappy products or services are more likely to be selected- I’m over simplifying but you get it.

Next time you’re tempted to stop at McDonalds or go to Crapmart just because you know what you’re going to get, roll the dice and be surprised.

The Brands That Own Me

amazonapple hiltonstarbucks

I don’t like or trust corporations but I love capitalism. I relentlessly fight against marketing but I ‘believe’ in some brands. Why? The reasons are listed below but the bigger reason is that they have maintained a decent standard of quality while ensuring personalized customer service.

Apple: Their stuff just works and better yet, it all works together. I’m a family man and the fact that our phones, laptop, tablet and TV device all work together and work every time makes me a believer. Call them if you have a problem, they give a shit.

Starbucks: I think the environment inside a Starbucks is nauseating and artificial It’s garbage and I’m almost 100% sure I don’t agree with the founders or workers politically or morally. All that being said, a freshly brewed Pikes Place is the best cup of coffee I can get. I travel so I try local coffee as much as I can. Most every other cup of coffee I have had sucks compared to a Pikes Place. They’re consistent and that’s why large chains dominate. They actually train their employees too, nice touch.

Hilton: First off, the Embassy Suites is smart enough to offer the government rate in every city I go to. Second, they have a free, real breakfast (I’m not talking about those fucking Belgium waffles) and free boos every night; can you beat that? Yes you can. Third, they have a great rewards plan. I earn free stays and status quickly. You got me Conrad Hilton, nicely done.

Amazon: Dear Amazon, you have made it too easy for me to buy exactly what I need anytime. I am a Prime Member; you sold me ‘free’ shipping and other nice benefits. You have reduced my trips to Walmart and department stores by 87%. Thank you. I even own kindles and borrow books for free. On a few occasions I have had to call or chat with you; Hamza, you are now on my Christmas card list.

The Drip Cap

False Advertising

False Advertising

Pancake Saturday. It’s a tradition.

Ahh, how the butter melts into the pancake. Mmm, how the chocolate chips mix with the syrup to make an unstoppable taste team. Oh, and my favorite, the syrup bottle that sticks to the table.

Why advertise a no-drip cap when the cap obviously drips? All the cap does is drip. It’s a drip cap.

Your syrup (and the bottle it comes in) sucks.

If you trust me, I’ll trust you


Hylete began making workout gear a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Not really, they’re pretty new.

I bought a Hylete hoodie.  Truth is, I think I’m cool when I wear Hylete gear; at least that’s what my wife says.  You might remember a post about their customer service a few weeks ago, here.

Anyway, the sweatshirt I bought was too small for me.  I emailed customer service and told them.

Elise, the customer service lady, the self-proclaimed Brand Experience Jedi seems to take her job seriously.  We’ve had run-ins before.  Like the time I had trouble creating an account; she took my info and created it for me.  Like the time my shirt was the wrong color, she gave me a new one and didn’t ask for the old one back.

This time Elise answered my email by sending me a shipping slip; she added a personal touch by remembering who I was- I felt special.  Moments later, she credited my account for the replacement sweatshirt.

“But, I haven’t sent it yet,” I thought. “But they haven’t received the sweatshirt and taken several days to process my return.”

They trusted me.  They gave me the money to buy a new sweatshirt before I sent the old one back.

I asked Elise about it. She said, “Our customers have proven to be very trustworthy.”

Of course they have; so has Hylete.

Fifty Shades of Customer Service

Christian Grey in action at Hylete HQ makes and sells some pretty good work out apparel and gives me a discount because I’m a Soldier.  They do the same for professional trainers, emergency and law enforcement folks too.  40% off suckas.

I ordered a gray shirt which was delayed a bit when I received an email from them.  The personal email said that my order was delayed due to a shipping issue and will be sent the following day.  “No problem,” I thought.

I received an email immediately after that saying that a 20% credit was applied to my account.  That’s cool, I didn’t expect that but I’ll take it.

I ordered a slate colored shirt and received a gun metal shirt the next day.  Fifty shades of ‘Grey’ so to speak.

I replied to the email since it was written by a person, not a machine.  The email also didn’t have a nasty, “Do Not Reply” warning.

The customer service agent quickly replied asking for details so she could stem the problem which may be affecting others.  She also told me to keep the shirt and credited me for another.

After determining the cause of the problem she wrote to thank me for the information and said that she was contacting others affected.

A lot of companies make decent work-out gear. What a lot of companies don’t have is amazing customer service; they do.


This guy doesn’t have cable.

Remember Mel Gibson in Brave Heart when he was being persecuted and yelled, “Freeeeedoooom!” in his last dying breath?  That was me yesterday.  I cancelled my cable service.

After years of tyranny and oppression I broke the chains.

That’s right, I’m a free man with $120 extra per month in my pocket.  The cable dictatorship has been shaken by two major advances:  My family’s total disinterest in cable programming and the increased availability of media online.

I was in captivity for years, moving house to house, making the important first calls to activate service at each new locale.  I was addicted.  Not to TV  programming but to having it available.

We rarely watched TV.

The First Step:  The kids watched the occasional show, hand picked by us and always prerecorded via DVR or online streaming. The adults consumed a show or two a week, older seasons or the current season via DVR.  I realized the media conglomerates might be able to shape what we watched but never where and when.  This was the first step to realizing my independance.

The Key:  Thank you Steve Jobs for showing me the way.  Because I am American, I came to understand that I couldn’t live without programming altogether so I needed a mechanism to consume media from my couch while eating chips and salsa.  Steve Jobs provided me with Apple TV, I use Hulu and Netflix to choose what I want to watch anytime; I get news and time sensitive media (like this blog) via any of our several internet worthy devices.

The 40 minute wait on hold with Time Warner Cable was a pleasure.  The consistent call backs to ask me if I was sure I wanted to cancel were invigorating.

“Yes, I’m sure Time Warner, you no longer own me or my people.”


I Don’t Want to Speak Your Language

Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large

“Hey, can I get a small black coffee with a little ice and a medium white chocolate mocha with skim milk and two shots?”

“A tall pikes place, light ice and a grande skinny white mocha double?”

“Whatever, a small coffee and the white mocha with two shots and skim.”

“Got it, a tall pikes and a grande double, skinny white mocha.”

“Just get the fucking coffee.”

Subway’s Olympic Green

News Flash: The Avocado in this picture doesn’t look like what they actually squirt onto your sandwich

After several friends independently advised me NOT to go to Subway and get their new Avocado topping, I had to go and see for myself.

Sure enough, they were right.

It’s some sort of paste; taco bell like, liquid stuff. It’s a green compound with consistency similar to tooth paste. Not slices, not bits. It doesn’t seem like avocado simply put through a blender, there is a synthetic aura about this stuff.

They used to squeeze it right from the bag that it comes in. The subway lady told me that recently they put it in the bins because it presents a lot better that way. One customer, she said, called it ‘do, do.’

Curious now, I investigated a bit further. Turns out that the nutrition contents listed on Subway’s website is similar to, but not exactly matching the nutritional information on this Avocado Website. Could be just a difference in breed (or however you differentiate between Avocado families.)

Still not convinced that this space age fluid is, in fact, nature’s super food, I e-mailed Subway to ask if what they slopped on my sandwich was truly the fruit of Mother Earth’s loins.

They responded:

“In response to your question, the avocado used is 100 percent avocado.”

I don’t know how it’s done but Subway somehow converted the fruit originally known to the Aztec as ‘testicle,’ into this thick ooze, easily slimed, onto thousands of sandwiches daily by your local Subway worker.

Well done Jared. Well done.

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