service http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8363/all en-US 5 Customer Service Battles You Just Can't Win http://www.wisebread.com/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/airport-customer-frustrated-86513930-small.jpg" alt="airport customer frustrated" title="airport customer frustrated" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Regular readers of my articles will know that I am something of a consumer watchdog. But even I have to admit that some battles cannot be won. They can certainly be fought, but you will end up wasting your time and money trying to get any kind of outcome on the following five customer service issues. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-get-exactly-what-you-want-from-customer-service?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Get Exactly What You Want From Customer Service</a>)</p> <h2>1. Returning an Open DVD, Blu-ray, or CD</h2> <p>Once upon a time, you could return open box media. I personally returned a few VHS tapes in my time for different titles because I just wasn't happy with them. Reviews were hard to come by back then, and copying a VHS tape took some major hardware which most people didn't have access to (I know I didn't).</p> <p>These days, copying media is so easy my grandma can do it. Because of that, no store is going to let you return an open DVD, Blu-ray, or CD (including software) unless you are going to swap it for the exact same title. Basically, something has to be wrong with it. But if you're looking to swap it for another title, or get a refund, you may as well talk to the wall. You will get nowhere.</p> <h2>2. Getting a Free Replacement Without a Warranty</h2> <p>Things are certainly not made to last these days. It's actually called &quot;planned obsolescence&quot; and manufacturers first started doing it with light bulbs. They'd make them cheaper, sell them for the same price, and you'd buy replacements sooner. Warranties are there to protect you from defects for the first year, but to be honest most products will pass that test. It's after two or three years that things go bad.</p> <p>But whether your TV or iPad stops working a month after the warranty expires, or three years, you will have an impossible time getting a free replacement. If you're really lucky, you may get a discount on a new product, or some kind of deal on a repair. But &quot;like for like&quot; will not happen unless the retail gods have blessed you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-secret-credit-card-perk-that-saved-me-300?ref=seealso">The &quot;Secret&quot; Credit Card Perk That Saved Me $300</a>)</p> <h2>3. Terminating a Service Contract Without Consequences</h2> <p>Whether it's a cell phone contract, the lease on a car, or the alarm system on your home contracts are there to protect the company. When you signed the contract, you gave up certain rights in order to get something from the company, be it a free phone, a discounted rate, or other free equipment. That contract will also state, very specifically, the consequences of getting out of the deal early. This will almost always be a hefty &quot;early termination fee.&quot; If you somehow think that being super friendly and giving the company a &quot;great&quot; excuse is going to get the customer service rep to waive the fee, think again.</p> <p>There may be a few loopholes you can use to your advantage, such as moving out of state or having a massive life change, but generally you signed the deal, and you take the penalty. Next time, read the contract and know exactly what you're getting into. Also, some of these companies, and in particular the alarm companies, will auto-renew your contract annually without even telling you. The same early termination fees will apply; so, get to know your expiration dates.</p> <h2>4. Getting an Airfare Refund Because You Missed the Flight</h2> <p>So, here's the deal. Whether you buy a refundable or non-refundable ticket, you're pretty much screwed once the flight has taken off. At that point, the ticket you hold in your hand has lost its face value. Now, you will most likely be offered another flight if you get to the airport within a few hours of the original departure time. But after that, kiss goodbye to your ticket. And refunds are just never going to happen unless you know someone who works for the airline that can pull a few strings.</p> <p>You may think that buying travel insurance will help. Check the details though. The most common reason people miss a flight is due to bad traffic, and travel insurance doesn't cover it. It will cover tornadoes and hurricanes, but those are much more rare than being stuck on the highway. Remember, before you book, make sure you really want to go. You'll pay more for refundable flights, but you'll have more options prior to the flight departing.</p> <h2>5. Expecting Insurance to Cover &quot;Wear and Tear&quot;</h2> <p>Many people seem to confuse insurance with maintenance, and that's a big mistake.</p> <p>Normal wear and tear happens, especially to homes, and you cannot expect the insurance company to replace an old roof for free, or jump on your cracking concrete and repair it free of charge. The bottom line is this; if it has broken over the natural course of aging, or your own pets did the damage, you can expect to get a big fat <a href="http://www.keithrlaskey.com/four-common-denied-homeowners-insurance-claims/">no from the insurance company</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you waged any fruitless customer services battles lately? Vent below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service">The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving">Are You Tipping Wrong? This Is What You Should Be Leaving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-cheap-easy-ways-to-survive-a-terrible-workday">11 Simple Ways to Survive a Terrible Workday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-camping-sleeping-pads">The 5 Best Camping Sleeping Pads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-51-ways-to-organize-your-whole-life-in-2017">Flashback Friday: 51 Ways to Organize Your Whole Life in 2017</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living consumer affairs customer service service Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Paul Michael 1227984 at http://www.wisebread.com The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/customer-service-466197661-small.jpg" alt="customer service" title="customer service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Nowadays, it seems like every single company is trying to cut corners.</p> <p>If companies are not <a href="http://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/2014-july-job-cut-report-46887-job-cuts-announced-boosted-microsoft">laying off several employees</a>, then they are forced to find <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/business/22layoffs.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">creative ways to cut labor costs</a>. Given the deadly combo of smaller budgets and fewer employees, it seems that great customer service is bound to disappear. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-get-exactly-what-you-want-from-customer-service?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Get Exactly What You Want From Customer Service</a>)</p> <p>Does this mean that great customer service is dead? Fortunately, there are several companies out there working very hand to consistently deliver outstanding customer service. Here are the six companies in which great customer service appears to be alive and well.</p> <h2>1. Amazon.com</h2> <p>The online retail giant takes the the mantra &quot;the customer is always right&quot; very seriously. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos often leaves a seat open, representing the customer, at conference tables. The &quot;empty chair&quot; is supposed to represent &quot;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/04/04/inside-amazon/">the most important person in the room</a>.&quot;</p> <p>Bezos takes customer service so seriously that he welcomes messages from any client to his very public email <a href="mailto:jeff@amazon.com">jeff@amazon.com</a>. He is well known to read customer complaints and forward them to the relevant Amazon employee with just a single character addition: &quot;?&quot; Question-mark emails from Bezos are taken as top level action items by their recipients.</p> <p>The empty chair and question mark strategies from Bezos seem to be getting the point across and creating a culture of great customer service. The 2014 Customer Service Hall of Fame list puts <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/07/19/customer-service-hall-of-fame/12690983/">Amazon at the top for the fifth consecutive</a> time with 57.5% of survey respondents giving Amazon's service an &quot;excellent.&quot; Additionally, the American Customer Satisfaction Index has put <a href="http://www.theacsi.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=149&amp;catid=&amp;Itemid=214&amp;c=Amazon&amp;i=Internet+Retail">Amazon at the top of its online retailing category</a> since 2000 and within its overall top 10 for several years.</p> <p>Need further proof? An Amazon service rep didn't even blink in replacing <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/technology/05nocera.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">a $500 Playstation at no extra cost</a> that got stolen from a customer's doorstep.</p> <h2>2. Morton's Steakhouse</h2> <p>When I asked on Twitter (BTW you can find me at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/daviladamian">@DavilaDamian</a>!) for tips on companies with the best customer service, a follower, who prefers to stay anonymous replied via direct message: &quot;You have to check out <a href="http://shankman.com/the-best-customer-service-story-ever-told-starring-mortons-steakhouse/">Peter Shankman's Morton experience</a>.&quot;</p> <p>Shankman is a busy author and speaker and back in 2011 he was stuck in a rut. He knew that between 3:30 a.m. and about 9:00 p.m. he would only have time for a single meal, during a lunch meeting. Since he is steak lover, <a href="https://twitter.com/petershankman/status/103936299983060993">he jokingly tweeted to Morton's Steakhouses</a> if they would meet him at the Newark airport with a porterhouse. Turns out they did! Despite the 23.5 mile distance between the closest restaurant and the airport, the short three hour window to pull off the stunt, and the tweet meant to be a joke, Morton's came through with an outstanding example of customer service.</p> <h2>3. Nordstrom</h2> <p>The main source for Nordstrom employee's great customer service is empowerment. For several years, the company's Rule #1 in its employee handbook has been: &quot;Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.&quot; Employee autonomy has been <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/03/15/the-nordstrom-two-part-customer-experience-formula-lessons-for-your-business/">identified by several industry experts</a> as the source for Nordstrom's renowned customer service. This is why even housekeeping staff are able to help customers.</p> <p>What do Nordstrom employees identify as their key differentiator from other retailers? A Nordstrom employee that worked in the corporate offices and store #001 reveals that it is the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/03/15/the-nordstrom-two-part-customer-experience-formula-lessons-for-your-business/">no-excuses return policy</a>. Ever heard of the <a href="http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/nordstrom.asp">customer that returned tires to a Nordstrom in Alaska</a>? (Catch: Nordstrom doesn't even sell tires!) Nordstrom accepts returns even without receipts and no matter how worn out a piece of clothing might be. She also points out that everything is in small details such as:</p> <ul> <li>Answering the phone on no more than the second ring.</li> <li>Walking a customer to a location instead of pointing to it.</li> <li>Providing one-on-one service.</li> </ul> <h2>4. USAA</h2> <p>In the financial services industry, USAA often tops the best customer service lists. In the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/usaa-and-amazoncom-top-annual-customer-service-ratings-by-temkin-group-2014-05-21">USAA's banking business took the top spot</a>, and USAA's insurance business tied with Amazon.com for second place.</p> <p>A USAA customer for several years, Ligaya from Fort Rucker, Alabama, explains why she is loyal to the company: &quot;Consistently great customer service, always upgrading banking options and polite service reps. I also like that they take customer security very seriously. I've never been in one of their actual banks but have never had a problem in over 10 years.&quot;</p> <p>Founded in 1922 by a group of U.S. Army officers, USAA focuses on customers who are military members and their families. After reviewing <a href="https://www.creditkarma.com/reviews/banking/single/id/usaa-federal-savings">70 customer reviews</a> from this company, it seems that Ligaya is not the only one happy with USAA service. A remarkable 67% of those reviewers give 5 out of 5 stars to USAA.</p> <h2>5. Ritz-Carlton</h2> <p>Despite being a very large hotel chain with several locations in 21 countries, the Ritz-Carlton has been able to maintain a strong reputation for outstanding customer service for over a century.</p> <p>Take, for example, the story of Joshie the Giraffe. When a boy's beloved stuffed animal was left behind at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida, a father told him a white lie: Joshie decided to stay a bit longer at the resort. The same night, the staff from the Ritz-Carlton called the father and informed him that they had found Joshie. The father requested if they could take a picture of Joshie on a lounge chair by the pool. The staff did not only agree, but also carefully documented <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038.html">Joshie's extended vacation</a> before sending him back along with some goodies.</p> <p>This and other &quot;wow&quot; stories are shared during the <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-02-13/how-ritz-carlton-maintains-its-mystiquebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice">company's daily 15-minute meetings</a>. The same wow story is shared across all Ritz-Carlton hotels on the same day to congratulate staff that provided outstanding service and inspire everybody else. For example, employees are empowered to make decisions, such as providing freebies, to <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/04/10/how-the-ritz-carlton-inspired-the-apple-store-video/">minimize the perceived waiting time</a>.</p> <h2>6. Zappos</h2> <p>This list of companies with best customer service wouldn't be complete without including Zappos. This company has not one but several stories of <a href="http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values">legendary great customer service</a>.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://consumerist.com/2011/05/19/zappos-saves-best-man-from-going-barefoot-at-wedding/">A best man for a wedding was saved from going barefoot</a> by intercepting a pair of shoes that were being delivered to the wrong address and providing an overnight replacement pair of shoes to the right destination.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Zappos sets the expectation for both customers and staff members that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFe9nSlS894">everything can be returned</a>. No questions asked and at no charge to the customer.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A woman, whose feet had been damaged by harsh medical treatments, had to order six different pairs of shoes to see if one would provide her comfort. The rep that helped her process the return of the unwanted shoes via phone wowed her with <a href="http://www.divinecaroline.com/fashion/whats-hot/how-zappos-knocked-my-socks">a bouquet of lilies and roses</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The company offers <a href="http://www.zappos.com/vegan">over 1,060 pairs of vegan shoes</a>. No, that's not a typo. Zappos decided to take action and address the hundreds of requests for those that prefer non-leather shoes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The company holds the record for one of the longest customer service calls: <a href="http://www.today.com/money/zappos-customer-service-call-lasts-10-hours-1C7711067">10 hours and 29 minutes</a>. The most amazing thing is that the rep remained friendly, even when most of the call was about providing advice on how to relocate to Las Vegas. The customer did buy a pair of Uggs boots.</li> </ul> <p>These stories go to show that there are still companies around in which the customer is king.</p> <p><em>What is your best customer service experience? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-key-to-free">The Key to Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-paper-towels">The 5 Best Paper Towels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-camping-sleeping-pads">The 5 Best Camping Sleeping Pads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-autumn">9 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Autumn</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-collars">The 5 Best Pet Collars</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping customer service public relations service shopping Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1205245 at http://www.wisebread.com Are You Tipping Wrong? This Is What You Should Be Leaving http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/restaurant-tips-78773767-small.jpg" alt="restaurant tip" title="restaurant tip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you ever wonder if you're being too stingy or too generous &mdash; or if you're supposed to tip someone for their services at all? What about when you go on vacation: do the rules change? And what is the &quot;right&quot; amount to show appreciation for service providers at the holidays?</p> <p>Well, wonder no longer, because it's all here in Wise Bread's guide to tipping for (almost) every situation.</p> <h2>Dining &mdash; In or Out</h2> <p>Eating at a 5-star restaurant is different than a counter-service joint. Here's the lowdown on <a href="http://www.emilypost.com/out-and-about/tipping/89-general-tipping-guidelines">how to tip for food-related services</a>, based on advice from the Emily Post Institute, run by the family whose name is synonymous with etiquette.</p> <ul> <li>Wait service at a sit-down restaurant: 15-20% of the pretax total of your bill.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Host or Maitre d': Generally speaking, it's not necessary to tip the person who shows you to your table; however if you feel they've gone out of the way to find you a special table on a busy night, a $10-$20 bill is a nice token of your appreciation.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buffet: 10% of the pretax total of your bill<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take-out service: This is a completely discretionary tip. Generally, it is not necessary to tip when you pick up a take-out order, but if you feel you've received exceptional service, or that you've placed a particularly complicated order, then tip 10% of the pretax total.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Delivery: For home or office food delivery service, the Post Institute recommends 10%-15% of the pretax total of your bill. However, they also suggest a flat tip of $2-$5 dollars for pizza delivery, depending on the size of the order and difficulty of delivery.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bad weather delivery: Couriers appreciate <a href="http://www.grubstreet.com/2014/02/delivery-services-in-bad-weather.html">a little something extra</a> when the weather gets ugly, according to Grub Street. Adam Eric Greenberg, a UC San Diego Ph.D. candidate and co-author of &quot;probably the most thorough study yet on bad-weather tips,&quot; says percentage-based tipping (Greenberg suggests 15%-20%) should kick in when an order is greater than $15. &quot;When the weather is bad, be a bit more generous by tipping 20% to 22%. If it's raining outside, tip 22%-25%,&quot; he recommends.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bar service: The Post Institute suggests leaving a $1-$2 tip per drink, or 15-20% of the tab.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Barista: While contributing to the tipping jar is not obligatory, it's nice to leave an occasional tip if you think that the barista went above and beyond, or if you're a regular customer. Among the <a href="http://www.rd.com/slideshows/13-things-baristas-wont-tell-you/#slideshow=slide10">13 Things Your Barista Won't Tell You</a>, according to Reader's Digest, a $1 tip goes a long way in creating goodwill.</li> </ul> <h2>Looking Good &mdash; Stylishly Tipping at Salons and Spas</h2> <p>The general rule of thumb is to leave a 20% tip for all the people who help you look and feel your finest. For hair services (cut, special-occasion styling, color, chemical treatments); nail services (manicure, pedicure); and spa services (facials, massages, waxing), the 20% rate is a guideline, but you can always increase the rate or round up the amount if you feel that your stylist, manicurist or esthetician has spent a more-than-average amount of time with you, or gone the extra mile to make you look amazing.</p> <p>In some salons, a shampooist will wash your hair (often with a nice scalp massage) before you sit down in the stylist's chair. Here the jury wavers between a $2-$6 tip.</p> <p><strong>Note</strong>: If your stylist offers free services between cuts, like a bang trim or neck shave, be sure to leave them a small tip ($2-$5) to show your appreciation for their time and service.</p> <h2>Getting Around</h2> <p>The 15%-20% tip guideline also applies to taxi and limo drivers, depending on location. When taking a cab or limo to the airport (or to your destination, whether hotel or back home), the Post Institute recommends an additional $2 for the first bag, and $1 for each additional piece.</p> <p>Do you like to keep your own vehicle looking spiffy? At a full-service carwash, the general rule of thumb is to tip $2-$3 for a full-service car wash for a regular-size car, but $3-$5 for an SUV, truck or van, according to Angie's List.</p> <h2>Traveling</h2> <p>&quot;Everyone that touches your bag gets a tip,&quot; according to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman of the Protocol School of Texas. A bellhop should generally get $2 for the first piece of luggage and $1 for additional pieces.</p> <p>She recommends leaving the cleaning staff in the hotel &quot;a couple of dollars&quot; every morning &mdash; not at the end of your stay. &quot;If you wait till the end of the week, they've already changed staff three or four times.&quot;</p> <p>According to the Post Institute, there is no obligation to tip a concierge for answering simple questions, but it is customary to give a $5-$10 tip if the concierge makes dinner or theater reservations for you.</p> <p>When <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/travel-etiquette/2008/12/Etiquette-101-Tipping-Guide">traveling abroad</a>, the rules vary by country. Do your homework ahead of time to make sure you respect cultural norms.</p> <h2>Help Around the House</h2> <p>Even the do-it-yourselfers of the world often rely on the experts to keep their abodes looking good and functioning well. This can be one of the greyer areas of tipping, but the <a href="http://www.angieslist.com/articles/top-10-services-tip.htm">following tipping guidelines</a>, courtesy of Angie's List, can help you decide how much to dole out to household help.</p> <ul> <li>Handymen, plumbers, electricians don't generally expect a tip; however, a tip shows your appreciation for exceptional service or a small (free-of-charge) favor, like stopping by to fix a leaky pipe.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The tip for movers depends on the size of the job, length of time it takes to complete it, and the quality of the work. For a small job, $10-$20 per team member is a nice way to show your appreciation for a job well done; you may want to increase that to $20-$50 per mover for larger jobs that take longer to complete and require more muscle power.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>For people who help keep your house and yard looking good year-round, the customary practice is to give them a tip once a year, usually at holiday time.</li> </ul> <h2>Spread the Holiday Cheer</h2> <p>From your hair stylist to the garbage haulers, your mechanic or your babysitter, a gift at holiday time is the perfect way to say &quot;thank you&quot; to the people who provide you with year-long service. A gift card makes a nice holiday gift because it's a little more personal than cash, but still allows the recipient to make some choices about how to spend it.</p> <p>How much you choose to spend on a holiday tip depends on many factors, including your own financial circumstances. A batch of homemade cookies with a personal note of appreciation for services rendered throughout the year is an acceptable holiday tip if your finances preclude a large cash outlay.</p> <p>If you can afford it, the <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T050-C000-S001-holiday-tipping-tip-sheet.html">normal cost of one service</a> is generally recommended as a holiday tip for:</p> <ul> <li>The hair stylist, manicurist or esthetician if you see that person on a regular basis throughout the year;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your pet's groomer;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your personal trainer at the gym;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cleaning person (more if they help you out more than once a week; something to split if your cleaning help is a team);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your child's babysitter or home daycare provider.</li> </ul> <p>Other people you may choose to tip in the form of a small gift at the holidays include:</p> <ul> <li>The letter carrier (note that the <a href="http://www.oge.gov/Topics/Gifts-and-Payments/Gifts-from-Outside-Sources/">U.S. government</a> prohibits federal workers (that includes postal workers) from receiving a gift valued at $20 or above);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Newspaper delivery person (between $10-$30 depending on how often you receive delivery, quality of service, difficulty in getting to your home, etc.);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Doorman (the amount here ranges widely depending on where you live; anywhere from $25-$150 appears to be customary);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Garbage collector (between $10-$30 each, assuming your municipality does not prohibit such gifts; check first!);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your local fire and/or police department (a gift to share &mdash; box of chocolates or other culinary treat is nice);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your child's preschool or grade school teacher (<a href="http://www.parenting.com/article/holiday-gifts-budget">guidelines vary widely</a>, but some experts recommend adding a small gift &mdash; perhaps something the child makes by hand- in addition to cash or a gift card).</li> </ul> <h2>What Is a Tip?</h2> <p>Diane Gottsman says that the word TIP stands for &quot;to insure prompt service.&quot; Whether you agree with that statement or not, when considering whom and how much to tip, bear in mind that tips are essentially tokens of appreciation &mdash; tangible ways to say &quot;thank you.&quot; When you tip at a restaurant or spa, consider the fact that most workers depend on that extra cash as part of their regular income. And tip accordingly; if you think your waiter has significantly enhanced your dining experience, let your cash complement your words of appreciation.</p> <p><em>Anybody who's deserving of a generous gratuity we've missed? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mardee-handler">Mardee Handler</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-agree-with-the-new-standards-of-restaurant-tipping">Do You Agree With the New Standards of Restaurant Tipping?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/let-things-go">Let things go</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-two-ceos-to-listen-to-my-complaints">How I got two CEOs to listen to my complaints</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service">The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win">5 Customer Service Battles You Just Can&#039;t Win</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips customer service gratitude gratuities service tipping Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Mardee Handler 1189078 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Which Online Dating Service Is Right for You http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-which-online-dating-service-is-right-for-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-which-online-dating-service-is-right-for-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/laptop-4845541-small.jpg" alt="woman using laptop" title="woman using laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some stellar articles on which dating service is right for you, achieving anything, and staying ahead of a disorganized boss.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://lifehacker.com/which-online-dating-service-is-right-for-me-1506628817">Which Online Dating Service is Right for Me?</a> &mdash; If you are looking for a dating site with with advanced dateology, try OkCupid or Zoosk. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Get-More-Willpower-33521396">Achieve Anything With These 8 Powerful Willpower Tips</a> &mdash; If you want to achieve anything, relax and make small deadlines. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://timemanagementninja.com/2014/01/how-to-stay-ahead-of-a-disorganized-boss/">How to Stay Ahead of a Disorganized Boss</a> &mdash; To stay ahead of a disorganized boss, over-communicate with them and ask for feedback. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="http://www.johnnymoneyseed.com/how-life-works/easy-road-hard-road/">The Easy Road and The Hard Road</a> &mdash; Stop letting yourself be advertised to unless products will actually save you money. This will help you avoid leading the normal consumer lifestyle. [Johnny Moneyseed]</p> <p><a href="http://sweatingthebigstuff.com/start-investing-pity-party-excuses/">sStart Investing, No Pity Party, No Excuses </a> &mdash; Don&#39;t use the excuse of not having the budget to invest keep you from investing. [Sweating the Big Stuff]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/01/19/9-ways-to-never-regret-another-day-of-your-life/">9 Ways to Never Regret Another Day of Your Life</a> &mdash; To never regret another day of your life, let go of disappointments and take calculated risks. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2014/01/5-ways-to-help-you-get-started-on-your.html">5 Ways To Help You Get Started On Your Most Important Work</a> &mdash; Buddying up to get accountable can help you get started on your most important work. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/3-times-makes-sense-pay-someone-else-something/">3 Times it Makes Sense to Pay Someone to Do Something For You</a> &mdash; You may want to pay someone to do something for you if you don&#39;t have the equipment you need. [Sustainable Personal Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.frugalconfessions.com/entertainment/5-ways-pinterest-has-added-value-to-my-frugal-life.php">5 Ways Pinterest has Added Value to My Frugal Life</a> &mdash; Did you know Pinterest can help you make expensive art for a fraction of its actual cost? [Frugal Confessions]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/how-and-why-to-plan-a-blessingway">How (and Why) to Plan a Blessingway</a> &mdash; A blessingway is the celebration of a woman&#39;s transition into motherhood. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-which-online-dating-service-is-right-for-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-for-love-online">Looking for Love (Online)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-companies-that-pay-you-for-referring-friends">10 Cool Companies That Pay You for Referring Friends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/science-says-you-dont-need-a-standing-desk-after-all-you-only-need-this">Science Says You Don&#039;t Need a Standing Desk, After All -- You Only Need This</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-more-ways-to-hustle-free-drinks">5 more ways to hustle free drinks.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-hot-water-now-what">No Hot Water: Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks best money tips Dating online dating service site Fri, 31 Jan 2014 11:00:14 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1122375 at http://www.wisebread.com How to be the best customer http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-be-the-best-customer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/customer_servicetempx.jpg" alt="" title="Customer service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="240" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've no shortage of &quot;How to do good customer service&quot; articles designed to be applied from the company's side. But <strong>what about customers?</strong> We need each other to thrive, and whether you're in front of the sales desk or behind, we're all humans. An obvious point worth remembering because just about anyone who's worked in customer relations has tales of customers who weren't just dissatisfied, they were abusive jerks. And there's <strong><em>never, ever</em> a good reason to heap hurt on someone else</strong> &mdash; such wasteful emotions clog reasonable complaints.</p> <p>As someone who's both answered thousands of issues in varying roles (and created documentation to support it) and has bought products from a variety of companies ranging from the monolithic to 1-person operations, here's what I've learned. It's biased towards smaller companies since it's easier to enact change with them, but can apply wherever you'll be listened to.</p> <h2>Document everything</h2> <p>If a frontline agent isn't doing a service to their company by being rude to you, get their name. Consider recording your calls (be aware of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_recording_laws">obtaining consent</a>; companies will often say on the line they're recording <em>you</em> for training purposes!). Tagging the emails they send you. And so on. Create a history if you're routinely being wronged.</p> <p>If you need to bring bad behavior to a supervisor's attention, <em>don't</em> present your case as &quot;I hate ALL OF YOU IN THIS COMPANY&quot;. Rather, if it's a specific problem with an individual, you're willing to go beyond and point out <strong>you generally like doing business with people who work here, with an <em>exception</em></strong>. It'll be their word against this troublesome employee's, but if you have evidence, they can't cover it up. (And if it's numerous people or the general mindset of a company that has you irked, yeah, you should take your business elsewhere.)</p> <p>In an age of electronic surveillance, taped support calls gone wrong have become a way to escalate problems when a company doesn't listen and a consumer feels helpless, so they amplify it through The Consumerist or one of many comedy sites.</p> <p><object height="385" width="480"> <param value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ryas9OANw-E&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;rel=0&amp;color1=0xcc2550&amp;color2=0xe87a9f&amp;hd=1" name="movie" /> <param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /> <param value="always" name="allowscriptaccess" /><embed height="385" width="480" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ryas9OANw-E&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;rel=0&amp;color1=0xcc2550&amp;color2=0xe87a9f&amp;hd=1"></embed></object></p> <p>Related, <strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/personal-finance/consumer-affairs">Wise Bread has a Consumer Affairs category</a></strong> you'll want to check out, including <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-just-things-should-work-properly-too-mr-dyson">Paul Michael's sucky experience with a Dyson vacuum cleaner</a>.</p> <p>I don't recommend going out of your way to destroy a company, but use documented proof to substantiate the poor treatment you've gotten, which will hopefully <strong>help management solve the problem</strong>, and possibly thank you for getting their attention, as a result.</p> <h2>Learn to file effective bug reports</h2> <p>A surprising second point? Not so much when you realize it's a finer level of documentation. Observe the connections: while &quot;bug report&quot; is most commonly associated with computer software and electronics, the <strong>key importance is being able to show someone else how you arrived at a problem via a series of steps they can follow</strong>. If it sounds similar to giving driving directions, that's exactly true. And it's important in <em>any</em> sort of conflict resolution.</p> <p>If you buy an app and discover bugs, sending bug reports (via the developer's preferred channel) will help them make it more stable, and hence, better. Bug reports don't have to be boring text instructions. Especially when you need to show visual elements, consider using a video recording tool like <strong><a href="http://www.jingproject.com/">TechSmith's Jing</a></strong> (free basic version, I love it) to make video bug reports and narrate what's happening &mdash; show stuff as-it-is!</p> <p><em>Don't</em> assume a company's quality assurance will find all bugs. It's true they should do rigorous testing to deliver a robust end result, but the fact is <strong>there are far more variations of possible computer systems than they'll ever be able to try inhouse</strong>. Customers who whine about problems they're aware of instead of spending the same time to step up and communicate aren't useful.</p> <p>Many companies give discounts and free products for being an exceptional bug reporter, including <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_test#Beta">beta tests</a>. Don't expect entitlement and be familiar with the company's culture beforehand &mdash; some, like <a href="http://torley.com/picnik-is-beautiful-convenient-and-a-lot-of-fun">Picnik</a> who I'm helping test their Show feature, are much more amendable to personal contact with customers than others. After all, continue <strong>to communicate. Loyalty never gets old</strong>, and if a product is going to serve you for months and years, having a close bond means you'll be taken seriously. Not all customers are the same and you <em>do</em> want to be the best, yes?</p> <p>Plus, after you've gained an understanding, you can teach other customers how to file bug reports, too, empowering their experiences.</p> <h2>Don't bitch about what's out of an employee or company's control</h2> <p><strong>Focus on actionables.</strong> What <em>can</em> be done.</p> <p>For instance, if your Internet Service Provider goes offline because someone drove their car into a tree, knocking down power lines and cutting off your connection, it's uncalled for to ring the ISP up on a cellphone and scream &quot;FIX IT NOW YOU @#$%ING IDIOTS!&quot; They can't &mdash; that's likely the electric company's responsibility. All your insults serve is demonstrate is what a jerk you are. Better approach: <strong>call and ask for a status update</strong>: &quot;What's going on and when can you expect it to be fixed?&quot; <strong>Learn instead of accuse.</strong>&nbsp;<em>Simple.</em></p> <p>Yes, professionals should have backups and contingency plans. But notice how there's no such guarantee as 100% uptime in the industry. Be forgiving of occasional mistakes, and they will be forgiving of yours. <strong>Continue to make suggestions where a company can improve their service</strong>: you may not get a personal response depending on volume, but if I really enjoyed my stay at a hotel, I send in the comment card.</p> <p>Another example of fruitless bitching: you're calling a human in billing about technical issues you have with a website. They cheerfully mention they'll escalate your details to the engineers (who aren't on the phones since they're heads-down programming) and suggest you take the initiative by posting on the company's forums. But you continue to gripe to the billing agent about it. They can be sympathetic, but your words are being wasted and you're tying up time that could be spent on another customer's actionable problems. <strong>Make it a priority to learn about <em>what</em> goes <em>where</em></strong> so urges you have to connect will be effective.</p> <p>When in doubt, ask questions &mdash; for emphasis, <strong>learn instead of accuse</strong>. You have every right to remind a company if they haven't been responsive (<a href="http://torley.com/acronis-true-image-2009-awful-customer-experience">like I did for Acronis True Image 2009</a>). But don't point fingers. The blame game is played by losing attitudes which are too much talk, not enough walk. <strong>If someone is just, they'll admit fault.</strong> And for all you CS reps reading this: unfortunately, while a rare minority, there are customers who have mental illness and need to see a professional. Don't be their doctor. And <em>never, ever</em> tolerate abuse. It works both ways.</p> <h2>When you're treated right, be vocally appreciative</h2> <p>Perhaps this should've been #1. But I wanted to see if you noticed.</p> <p>Customer service reps endure more abuse than they should have to. Like I said, no one deserves abuse. On the flipside, <strong>I've hardly ever felt productive, friendly workers get sufficient customer praise to inspire them each day and keep going!</strong></p> <p>This is why I'm doing my part: <strong>every time I believe I've been treated exceptionally, I directly send a testimonial</strong>. I also often use <a href="http://twitter.com/torley"><strong>Twitter</strong></a> and <a href="http://torley.com/"><strong>my personal blog</strong></a> to get the word out about awesome products that are made by awesome people. Word-of-mouth is especially important to small companies that can use all the earnest marketing they can get to thrive. Like what I wrote about bug reporting earlier, some savvy companies keep track of &quot;key influencers&quot; and may offer you goodies. These are mutually beneficial: <strong>the company's product adds value to your life, you help support them in ways beyond paying money</strong>.</p> <p>In the service industry, this also applies to eating out. You're a restaurant's customer. Received lovely, attentive service? Then <a href="http://www.oprah.com/media/20080909_tows_waiter">generously tip waitstaff</a> who've given you consistently excellent treatment. <strong>Actions have consequences and you're frugal, not chintzy.</strong></p> <p><strong>Customer service is an ecosystem</strong>: an honest, friendly worker who gets berated and hears no good words is going to be very confused, and even frustrated about why they even bother to go above and beyond. So pay attention to what makes you smile.</p> <h2>What is a supercustomer?</h2> <p>A supercustomer is not necessarily someone who throws a lot of cash at a company, although that can be part of their makeup. I use &quot;supercustomer&quot; to describe those &mdash; <em>the best!</em> &mdash; who <strong>go beyond the call of customer duty</strong> (intriguing way of looking at it, hmm?) and don't just routinely consume, they <strong>actively participate in improving the people &amp; products of the businesses they enjoy</strong>.</p> <p>The Internet has opened up many opportunities, from the trusted reviews of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help">Amazon Vine</a> to the &quot;People-Powered Customer Service&quot; (as redundant as that may seem, we need to be reminded in an era of voice mail and faceless megacorps) of <a href="http://getsatisfaction.com/">Get Satisfaction</a>.</p> <p>Old ways of putting a wall between the people who use the products and those who make them are stupid and dying, because in the end, <strong>we're all humans who want to be happy</strong>.</p> <p><strong><em>So be the best customer you can be!</em></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-be-the-perfect-customer">10 Ways to Be the Perfect Customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-being-a-terrible-customer">8 Ways You&#039;re Being a Terrible Customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-cheap-applecare-on-ebay-be-trusted">Can cheap AppleCare on eBay be trusted?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-brands-making-the-world-a-better-place">5 Big Brands Making the World a Better Place</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-social-media-can-save-you-money">6 Ways Social Media Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping abuse bug company customer Help product service support twitter Fri, 03 Jul 2009 18:26:18 +0000 Torley Wong 3349 at http://www.wisebread.com Can cheap AppleCare on eBay be trusted? http://www.wisebread.com/can-cheap-applecare-on-ebay-be-trusted <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-cheap-applecare-on-ebay-be-trusted" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/applecare.jpg" alt="AppleCare" title="AppleCare" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After my previous article about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inside-the-shady-world-of-cheap-itunes-gift-cards" target="_blank">too-good-to-be-true iTunes gift cards</a>, I turned my attention to another discounted Apple item: <a href="http://www.apple.com/support/applecare/" target="_blank"><strong>AppleCare</strong></a><strong>, essentially an extended warranty for your Apple products</strong>, including Mac computers and those omnipresent iPods. Like so much insurance, it promises &quot;peace of mind&quot;. There's just one problem for many: <em>the price</em>.</p> <p>Especially in today's recessed times, having to pony up to $350 (for the MacBook Pro) for 3 total years of tech support and phone coverage can be hard. That's why a lot of sellers are selling cheap AppleCare.</p> <h2>My AppleCare adventure</h2> <p>In my ongoing tradition to <strong>not recommend something unless I've done it first</strong> &mdash; helping you mitigate risks by diving through that unexplored portal beforehand! &mdash; I landed on <a href="http://ebay.com/" target="_blank">eBay</a>, and easily found numerous listings for discount AppleCare. I have a Mac Pro, and AppleCare normally costs $250, but I spotted it for $92 &mdash; that's <strong>$158 saved!</strong></p> <p>After some scanning, I paid <a href="http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/480sherry_W0QQ_nkwZQQ_armrsZ1QQ_fromZQQ_mdoZ" target="_blank">480sherry</a>, who has a 99.9% feedback rating, and as of this writing is continuing to sell AppleCare. Surely those 2,200 buyers can't be wrong, right? In my own experience, I was pleased to receive a code less than a day afterwards.</p> <p>That's right, <strong>just a code you <a href="http://www.apple.com/support/applecare/overview/" target="_blank">enter at Apple's site along</a> with your product serial number</strong>. I did so, then received an email &quot;certificate&quot; confirming its validity from Apple. No actual box, as is often the case &mdash; but I encourage you to scrutinize each seller, for some offer this option at a higher cost.</p> <p>Does this mean you miss out on anything? Not really, since the TechTool Deluxe diagnostic suite, which would normally be bundled in the physical package, is a free download at Apple's site. You still need to burn it to DVD, which might be a problem if you're really not tech-savvy, but the software itself is included.</p> <h2>What's the real story here?</h2> <p>Unlike the distinctly more dubious world of iTunes gift cards, AppleCare is morally relaxed. I asked over a dozen discount AppleCare sellers how they managed to do it, the answers were consistent in most cases: they bought it in bulk and are passing the savings on. One fellow said:</p> <blockquote><p>We buy from dealers and other sources, some going out of business, some trying to reduce excessive inventories. Everything is 100% Apple, so no risk to you. We sell hundreds of these each month</p> </blockquote> <p>Another reinforced:</p> <blockquote><p>I buy in bulk so I recieve a better price that the average person. There are no limitations. Thanks for looking.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=8573481" target="_blank">Further research</a> also substantiates this, altho as is par for the course, there's the usual skepticism. There've also been <a href="http://forums.mactalk.com.au/21/34657-cheap-applecare.html" target="_blank">academic situations</a> where teacher/student discounts are used. Outside of eBay, there are some strange sights, such as <a href="http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1933301" target="_blank">this guy hawking bulk AppleCare from Singapore</a>, with the most thread self-bumps I've ever seen.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>I've had <strong>no problems with my cheap AppleCare coverage so far</strong>: I haven't had a troublesome incident to put it to the test, but I haven't received a notification from Apple nullifying my cert either.</p> <p>Provided that the eBay seller is backed by an excellent reputation as in my example, <strong>you could easily get AppleCare at a much lower price than face value</strong>. I only wish the same could be applied to the cost of Macs themselves. ;)</p> <p><em>Have you had an adventure in cheap AppleCare? Do share!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-cheap-applecare-on-ebay-be-trusted">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer">How to be the best customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-mac-minis-beware-small-gains-at-a-big-price">New Mac minis: Beware small gains at a big price!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-start-flipping-items-for-cash-online">What You Need to Start Flipping Items for Cash Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-save-money-on-ipads-iphones-and-macs">6 Ways to Save Money on iPads, iPhones, and Macs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-advice-for-the-gadget-addicted">Frugal Advice for the Gadget Addicted</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance Shopping apple applecare eBay ipod Mac service support Warranty Sun, 08 Feb 2009 13:39:43 +0000 Torley Wong 2818 at http://www.wisebread.com How I got two CEOs to listen to my complaints http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-two-ceos-to-listen-to-my-complaints <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-i-got-two-ceos-to-listen-to-my-complaints" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/911383_83110087.jpg" alt="CEO briefcase cigar pen" title="CEO briefcase cigar pen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Here’s a shining example of how Wise Bread writers not only read each others stories, we also follow the advice. And in my case, it worked like a charm. I’m two for two, and I plan to keep on going whenever I have a problem. What I’m talking about, ladies and gents, is the good old-fashioned complaint letter. </p> <p>Several months ago, Margaret Garcia-Couoh published a <a href="/the-letter-always-wins">great article </a> about writing a physical letter to contact a company. Before that (long before, one of the first article I ever published) I <a href="/how-to-complain-and-get-a-good-result">wrote an article</a> outlining how to complain. And after experiencing two really cruddy examples of customer service, I decided to combine the two.</p> <p>First, Firestone. Here’s a very, very abbreviated version of my experience. </p> <p>I had a complete oil change/tire rotation coupon for Firestone for $14.99, so I made an online booking. First, my GPS couldn’t find the store because the address on the website was wrong. I missed my Monday appointment but called and said I’d be in tomorrow, booking the same time slot. When I brought the car in on Tuesday morning at 8am, there was no record of my appointment. So, I came back bright and early the next day, only to be told the store didn’t have a filter for my car (seriously). I offered to go pick one up myself, and was directed to a local Wal-Mart…who don’t stock VW Passat filters. So, I had to come back again the next morning, where my oil change was finally done…but the coupon wasn’t accepted. I had to pay $34. Oh, and I needed new tires too, which were going to cost me $800 if I bought them at that location. </p> <p>I could go on, but you get the picture. Four days and a whole lot of wasted time and money for a simple oil change, and not even the discount that was promised at the end of it. I was annoyed. No, I was fuming. So, I did what I usually do in this situation and sat down to write an email. Then, I stopped. I recalled Margaret’s article and decided instead to write the letter in my word processor. I signed it, put it in an envelope and personally addressed it to the CEO of Firestone, Mr. Mark A. Emkes. </p> <p>A few days passed, and nothing happened. After a week, I had forgotten about it. That was until I got three phone calls from three different Firestone employees; one assistant to the store manager, one store manager and one district manager. The CEO had clearly lit a fire under someone, because all three were extremely eager to rectify the situation. I had the cost of the oil change refunded, and the store also agreed to mount and balance any new tires that I bought for free (which I got from TireRack, great savings there). Result. One very happy camper here. Maybe this mailed letter idea was legit? </p> <p>Well, a few weeks later I got the chance to test it again. My wife took a trip to California and rented a car. She called me after she had driven only a few feet from Deluxe Rentacar and said the car didn’t feel like it was running correctly. She then asked what the tire pressure was supposed to be. I didn’t know the exact specs for a PT Cruiser off the top of my head, but I said 32psi was a rough estimate. The tires were at 10psi! How they let her drive off in this amazed me, but she filled them at a nearby garage and drove off. When she brought the car back, she had left a brand new pair of children’s shoes, complete with box and receipt, in the back seat. They cost $45 and she was naturally upset, but her friend said they could go back to the rental place and pick them up without missing their flight. So she called Deluxe Rentacar, said she was on her way back and could they have the shoes ready and waiting. This is when an exceptionally rude woman said, and I quote “there are no shoes in that car. And anything that’s left in the cars is fair game.” Fair game? What? So, my wife called me and I, in turn, called again on her behalf. I got the same, rude “fair game” message, which seems to me like another way of saying finders keepers. I was not happy. </p> <p>Once again, the complaint letter I mailed did the trick. I wrote to the CEO/owner/president of Deluxe Rentacar, a very nice man called Mr. John P Hennessay, who called me shortly after receiving the letter. He was very apologetic and also wanted to know the names of the people involved, so that he could rectify their behavior. He assured me it would never happen again, and also refunded the cost of the shoes to the credit card my wife used. If she does go back to L.A. soon, I know she’ll be happy to use Deluxe Rentacar again.</p> <p>If you’ve had a bad experience yourself, I think it’s well worth the time and effort to mail your letter (be it printed out or handwritten) to someone high on the food chain. And if you’re not sure where to get that information, my favorite source on the internet is the <a href="http://welcome.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau</a> . Type in the name of the business, the address and it will spit out a bunch of information for you. You’ll get names of the principles, the corporate mailing address and all sorts of other good information (you’ll also get an idea of the company’s track record at resolving complaints).</p> <p>Also, no-one wants to receive a whining, bitching rant, so make your letter polite. But, make sure you point out everything that happened that caused you distress. It’s also good to add in some praise of the things the company has done right, if not now then in the past when you’ve used them before. Remember, CEOs and business owners are people too, they deserve to be treated with respect, especially if you’re looking for a favorable result.</p> <p>Follow this advice, the <a href="/how-to-complain-and-get-a-good-result">advice</a> in my previous article and the wise words of <a href="/the-letter-always-wins">Margaret</a> and I’m sure you will get the same great results that I did. Corporations want your custom, your repeat business and your patronage, and it’s a lot easier to keep a customer than to try and get a new one. It’s in their interests to keep you happy, you just have to make them want to keep you around. If they already think you’re a lost cause, your letter will almost certainly go in the that special in-box known as the garbage can. Best of luck. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-two-ceos-to-listen-to-my-complaints">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-a-good-and-memorable-first-impression">Making a good and memorable first impression.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-list-of-senior-discounts">Big List of Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-get-exactly-what-you-want-from-customer-service">9 Ways to Get Exactly What You Want From Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs General Tips business CEO complain Firestone letter service Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:54:53 +0000 Paul Michael 2439 at http://www.wisebread.com To change the bulb, just remove the bumper. Wait, what? - UPDATED. http://www.wisebread.com/to-change-the-bulb-just-remove-the-bumper-wait-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/to-change-the-bulb-just-remove-the-bumper-wait-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/418916937_2a33f453a1.jpg" alt="VW headlight out" title="VW headlight out" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I was warned. I had been a loyal Honda owner for my entire driving life. But, after realizing that my Honda Civic Coupe was just too awkward for my growing family, I started looking around. I saw the VW Passat, I loved it; but a friend told me “hey, just so you know, she’s nice but she’s ‘high maintenance.’&quot; Boy, was he right.</p> <p>The ’06 Passat I purchased was low mileage and well taken care of. Black, pristine, a work of art from German engineers. Aside from a few small problems that were fixed within weeks of purchasing it, everything was going great. Then the passenger-side headlight went out (prompting a handy warning light on the dash to start annoying me). <em>(For an update on the Daytime Running Light issue, scroll down.)</em></p> <p>I popped over to Checkers and asked the helpful man behind the counter to look up what type of bulb the Passat takes. He pointed me in the right direction, I got to the checkout and then the guy asked me why I was buying it. Strange question, right?</p> <p>“My headlight’s gone, passenger side, so I’m swapping it out,” I said with a smile.</p> <p>The guy looked at me quizzically; I must have just oozed naivety from every pore.</p> <p>“You know these things are really tricky right, and you’ll need a special tool to get it done.”</p> <p>This was all news to me. When the headlight bulbs went on my old Honda Accord, I swapped them out in five minutes. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.</p> <p>So, I didn’t buy the bulb, I called my VW dealership. As it turns out, bulbs are covered under the warranty so I just sat around for an hour (yes, an hour) while they swapped the bulb out. Fast-forward one month and the driver’s side bulb decided to go out on me. I guess these VW bulbs only last a couple of years. That would have been good to know. Anyway, I made an appointment and this morning, I dropped it off. That’s when the service manager asked me a strange question (these strange questions keep popping up with this vehicle). </p> <p>“What time will you be picking the car up?” he said.</p> <p>&quot;Oh, I’ll just wait” I replied, and went to sit down at the customer service lounge. <br />That’s when the service manager dropped the bombshell. </p> <p>“You’re going to wait 2-3 hours?” he said, shocked.</p> <p>As it turns out, the driver’s side headlight in the VW Passat is nowhere near as easy to get to as the passenger-side bulb. No, this one requires them to remove the front bumper and a few other parts to get to it. Seriously. So, I took the complimentary shuttle service to work and decided to write this post, as a warning.</p> <p>Do your homework. It’s not just about comparing cars, and up-front prices. Check out the Cost To Own, which can add thousands to the cost of the car. Edmunds.com has a <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/apps/cto/CTOintroController">very handy calculator</a> that you can use that helps establish the True Cost To Own, or TCO. </p> <p>Also, if you know someone with the make and model of the car you’re thinking of buying, ask about maintenance, parts that fail and general ownership experience. I had failed to do this thoroughly on the VW Passat (brushing off that brief warning from my friend and thinking no more about it); if I&#39;d looked into it more carefully, it may well have changed my purchasing decision. When my car is out of warranty, a new bulb is going to cost $55 (or more for the newer, brighter bulbs) plus labor (2-3 hours for the driver’s side, with labor typically being $70/hour). That’s over $200 for something that would have cost just $15 on my old Honda.</p> <p>If you’re skilled enough to do that kind of job yourself, then maybe this doesn’t apply to you. But for the rest of us, it’s a kick in the wallet. And it all leaves me pondering some simple questions – “Why did the VW engineers make the bulbs so inaccessible? Could it be anything to do with giving more work to the service centers? Or is this just what to expect from German engineering?” All questions I may never know the answers to.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE: The Daytime Running Light (DRL) issue. </strong></p> <p>So, as I have mentioned in the comments box, I am no fan of DRL. In fact, there&#39;s even an organization out there against it, <a href="http://www.lightsout.org/">here</a> . They were introduced for satey reasons but to be honest, the closer you get to the equator, the less likely you are to need them. If you&#39;re in Alaska, they may be a good idea. Here in Colorado, I have no need for them most of the time. </p> <p>I did a little digging around after my VW dealer told me they could be disabled, but they wouldn&#39;t do it. Well, this being the information age, I went to the web and found the following <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4VX1HeC-JU">video</a> . Please note, <strong>you do this at your own risk.</strong> I&#39;m sure VW frowns on this and it may invalidate the warranty. If you want to try it, it may be better to wrap the pin in electrical tape rather than bending it. That seems like a more reversible method.</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/o4VX1HeC-JU&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/o4VX1HeC-JU&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344"></embed></object></p> <p>If it works, you&#39;re looking at extending the life of your bulbs considerably. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-change-the-bulb-just-remove-the-bumper-wait-what">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-diy-car-repairs-to-save-big">8 Easy DIY Car Repairs to Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-smart-ways-to-boost-your-gas-mileage">11 Smart Ways to Boost Your Gas Mileage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year">How to Save an Extra $1,094.86 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-reasons-why-i-love-public-transportation">Five Reasons Why I Love Public Transportation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Cars and Transportation bulb Cars headlight Honda maintenance repairs service VW Mon, 08 Sep 2008 16:50:41 +0000 Paul Michael 2408 at http://www.wisebread.com Papa Murphy’s update: nice save. http://www.wisebread.com/papa-murphy-s-update-nice-save <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/papa-murphy-s-update-nice-save" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/359791913_5ae3fccd1c.jpg" alt="Thumb Up" title="Thumb Up" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="217" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As some of you are aware, I experienced the wait of all waits at Papa Murphy’s recently. Over one hour for a phone order, which left me fuming (partly at my own politeness for not having said something sooner). Anyway, I informed Papa Murphy’s of my story and got a nice result.</p> <p>The response came from the owner of the Papa Murphy’s franchise, Larry Luttrell. Not only was he incredibly polite and apologetic, he was also genuinely concerned at the debacle that happened. From Larry:</p> <blockquote><p><em>Our goal is to provide &quot;door-to-door&quot; visits in less than 6 minutes. We often even time our stores to make sure this happens. So you can see why an hour plus visit concerns me. I am outraged by this happening and will take whatever steps necessary to improve our operations. Chances are, that we might not have had anyone over 20 working at the store. 95%<br />of our employees are under 20, but that doesn&#39;t change my expectations of those people.</em></p> <p>I would love to mail you some free pizza cards, to encourage you to give us another chance, and hopefully win back your business. Hopefully, this was not your last visit, but if it was, I&#39;d like to refund your money, as you definitely did not get what you paid for. </p> </blockquote> <p>And in a follow-up email:</p> <blockquote><p><em>My regret is that I lost other customers that same night, most of whom, I&#39;ll never have the chance to win back. </em></p> <p>We really do strive for perfection. I will personally be spending time with our relatively new manager at that store. On a different note, I will be installing an additional POS unit in that store this summer, which should help with our &quot;speed of service&quot; issues. Although I cannot guarantee a six-minute service time each and every Friday night, I feel pretty safe telling you you&#39;ll never again wait an hour. If I cannot make that happen, I truly deserve any &quot;bad press&quot; I get.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, what happened? Well, I received my free pizza cards in the mail and placed the order. Then, I arrived at the store 15 minutes later, which was once again as busy as it had been before. This time, however, the phone orders line was much, much shorter than the walk-in orders line. &quot;Ah-ha&quot; I thought, &quot;this looks promising.&quot;</p> <p>A very polite member of staff took my name, grabbed my freshly-made pizzas from the shelf and I paid with my two free coupons. I was in and out in 3 minutes and 48 seconds (yes, I timed it).</p> <p>Rarely do I get this level of response from a company. Usually a complaint is greeted with silence. Sometimes I get a “gee, sorry about that” and nothing is done. This was one of those occasions where a store genuinely wanted to fix the problem, win back customers and revive their reputation. And they did it with style.</p> <p>So, fair is fair. And that’s why I am writing to let everyone out there know that Papa Murphy’s did good. Very good. And the pizzas were first class; in fact, I’ve never tasted a cheese pizza quite as good as the one I ate last night. Something tells me they’re gunning for pizza chain of the year…again.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/papa-murphy-s-update-nice-save">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-idea-for-papa-murphy-s-make-the-pizzas-in-order">Great idea for Papa Murphy’s – make the pizzas in order.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-really-save-with-amazon-prime-pantry">Can You Really Save With Amazon Prime Pantry?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-pizza-night-fun-again-with-these-30-pizza-sauce-alternatives">Make Pizza Night Fun Again With These 30 Pizza Sauce Alternatives</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/concession-stand-treats-a-license-to-print-money">Concession stand treats – a license to print money.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink coupons customer care Papa Murphy's pizza response service Thu, 14 Feb 2008 23:29:17 +0000 Paul Michael 1799 at http://www.wisebread.com Getting more for your money in the most unexpected place http://www.wisebread.com/getting-more-for-your-money-in-the-most-unexpected-place <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-more-for-your-money-in-the-most-unexpected-place" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/424094_chatter_teeth_3.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I often get on my soap-box about bad customer service. I also preach (sorry) that you should all expect more for your money, be it shopping online or grabbing the weekly groceries. But I have to admit, even I thought this one was out of my out of my grasp. I’m referring to my recent trip to, wait for it, the dentist. </p> <p>I am admittedly no fan of dentists. I’m allergic to pain and suffering, and they’re usually not in short supply at the tooth doctor. My last visit was over a year ago because of a completely rotten experience. I had to wait forever to see someone, I was flat-out insulted, my mouth was cut to shreds from the x-rays and I was then told I needed over $4000 worth of work. I declined (I later found out it was unnecessary work anyway), I came home in a sulk and my wife said she’d find us a better dentist. It took her a while.</p> <p>Then, a few months ago, she said she had found our dentist. I was skeptical to say the least, but she was so happy that I had to admit, I was curious. After her appointment she received a thank you card from the office. Then, a $10 gift card to Jamba Juice. And she also came home with a state-of-the-art power toothbrush that she paid way less than retail for. </p> <p>Value for money, friendly customer service, thank you cards, gifts. Could this be right? Aren’t we supposed to loathe the dentist? Well, I had my first appointment on Wednesday and I was genuinely taken aback.</p> <p>When I arrived, I was greeted by a warm smile from the receptionist and she said “Hi Paul, how are you today?” She knew my name. No cold stare, no “where’s your insurance card?” just a genuine expression of being pleased to see me.</p> <p>I was ushered to a chair, offered a cold drink and I filled out my paperwork. Then I went into the dreaded dentist’s chair where one of three people that day got to work. First, I had my x-rays taken. The technician was gentle and concerned for my well-being. After that, she asked if I would like moulds made of my teeth for whitening. I wasn’t so sure, until she said “it’s free…and so is the whitening gel, for life.” </p> <p>Once again, my perceptions were challenged, but I happily took my freebie because whitening procedures are really expensive. Then, a dental hygienist entered the room and spent over an hour cleaning my teeth, finishing by massaging my gums and jaw. When I saw my dentist I was happy and content, and he used the latest laser equipment to detect cavities. I had some, but I really didn’t care at this point. I had been treated so well the news was minor. </p> <p>I’m having my fillings done in a week. But I’m not bothered. In fact, I’m genuinely fine with going back. I can bring my favorite movie to watch, or I can choose from a wide selection in the office. And as my wife can already attest to, I won’t feel a thing.</p> <p>Why is this story important? Because it shows that some people can actually get it right. They make you feel like more than just a number, they volunteer to give you genuinely expensive services for free, they even know your name when you walk in the door. It is something sadly missing from this world of large corporations. And I for one am loving this breath of fresh air. If you&#39;re not getting this kind of service from your dentist, doctor, optometrist, vet or anything else, maybe you should look around. </p> <p>By the way, if anyone lives in Colorado the practice is called <strong>Cherokee Trail Dental Care</strong> and they can be reached at <strong>(303) 457 5288</strong>. They are filling up with patients fast, which is hardly surprising. It’s not a paid endorsement, they don’t even know I’m writing this article. But I think what goes around comes around, and that works for good deeds as well as bad. I advise anyone who runs a business, large or small, to pay close attention to this small practice with big ideas. It is without a doubt my best customer experience this year, if not this decade.  </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-more-for-your-money-in-the-most-unexpected-place">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy">The line between frugal and crazy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-off-of-crest-whitestrips">$7 off of Crest Whitestrips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer">How to be the best customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-pessimism-can-actually-improve-your-finances">4 Ways Pessimism Can Actually Improve Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance customer dentist happy service smile whitening Fri, 21 Dec 2007 17:54:24 +0000 Paul Michael 1529 at http://www.wisebread.com