On my second trip to the U.S. Open this week, I had nothing but positive customer service experiences.
American Express, a perennial sponsor of the U.S. Open, offers free mini radios to AMEX cardholders to listen to the live telecast in real time as they bounce around from court to court.
Despite a reminder from my girlfriend on Friday morning, I forgot my AMEX card and had to visit the AMEX concierge to try to get two radios. The customer service representative there was extremely helpful. I had no physical proof I was a cardholder—not even an email from AMEX on my smartphone—so the rep called AMEX to access my account. After a few minutes on the phone he was able to give me two radios, one for each AMEX card I have, and we were on our way.
When we got to Arthur Ashe stadium for Andy Roddick-Jack Sock match, we stopped at a concessions stand for two $9.50 Heinekens. As was the case when I went on Monday, the worker was having trouble getting a decent pour without too much foam, no matter which tap he tried. He did what he could, but for $9.50, I want a full beer. Undeterred, I stopped at a second concession stand and asked a worker there to top off my beer, which he did after half-jokingly asking me for a tip.
(As far as the match, it was a laugher. Young American hopeful Jack Sock may be a star some day, but on Friday night he was a punchline. My two best Sock jokes, which drew groans from my girlfriend and pity laughs from my mom: “Sock has the makings of a complete player, but right now there are a few holes in his game” and “Roddick is running him all over the court; it’ll take a pair of Socks to cover all that ground.” Thanks, I’ll be here all week!)
Saturday was a great beach day, maybe the last of the summer season. And for the roving ice cream salesmen on the beach, it means getting rid of their inventory while the beaches are still full.
I always wonder whether these guys make any money, and if they do, if it’s worth lugging a cooler up and down the beach bellowing, “Ice cream, Chipwiches!” a few hundred times.
But as the first ice cream man passed our blanket, we saw a second ice cream man make his way across the beach, proclaiming “$2 ice cream!”, ostensibly undercutting the first guy’s $3 ice cream.
When the first guy caught wind of the lower price, he stormed over to the second guy. “Hey buddy, don’t do that. You know the price.” He walked away for a minute, then walked back to protest some more. “It’s bad for business, don’t do that.” The second guy waited until the first guy walked a little farther down the beach, then continued selling his product.
Yes, I suppose it is bad for business if beachgoers know that they don’t have to pay $3 to the first guy when the second guy is selling for $2. But it’s the end of the summer and I would guess they’re both looking to get rid of their remaining ice cream. Also, if this is in fact the last big beach weekend, are beachgoers in the summer of 2012 really going to remember that they paid $2, not $3, for ice cream in 2011?
We went back to the beach the following day and as the two vendors crossed paths again, I assumed there would be yet another argument. But they left each other alone and I bought a Chipwich from the second guy—for $3. (I guess the strong arm tactics worked.)
Later, the first ice cream guy was chased off the beach by his wife, who was apparently annoyed that she was not allowed to help him sell the ice cream. I’m really sure how that fits into the story. It was just really awkward.
In the last few weeks, my mom has returned an iPad and an iPhone. She found the iPad overwhelming; she found the iPhone 4 “beautiful,” not as functional, particularly in terms of the notification screen, as her old phone or some of the newer Droids she had researched.
She spent Sunday afternoon at the store—not an official Verizon store but a “Verizon dealer”—trying to purchase the HTC Incredible.
She had been there before and was familiar with the store manager who was helping her on Sunday. Usually he was helpful and patient, but today he was distracted with angry phone calls from his uncle, the store owner, and having to juggle his staff’s lunch breaks.
When he handed her a new Incredible, it didn’t have the protective plastic on the screen that out-of-the-box phones usually include. When she asked about it, the manager insisted the phone was new and the plastic was “around here somewhere.” My mom, who once got a “new” phone from this location only to find someone else’s family pictures on it, was not satisfied with his explanation.
After some back and forth, my mom told the manager that she is typically satisfied with his level of customer service, but in this case he seemed too busy for her and she would rather come back another day when he could give her his full attention. At this point, as my mom tells it, the manager went to the back and got her a new Incredible—still in the box—and threw in a $20 discount and a free car charger.
I’m proud of my mom on this one. Rather than becoming confrontational, or threatening to call Verizon corporate headquarters (or tweeting about it like I would), she was willing to walk away if she couldn’t get the level of service she deserved as a paying customer.
Even on the verge of 30, I’m still learning from her.