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December, 2007

  1. Taken to the Cleaners

    December 31, 2007 by Ryan

    Following is an actual letter I sent to my local dry cleaners. It happened a couple years ago, but I ran across this saved file on my hard drive and thought it was a good “customer service” story to retell.

    I’ve wondered since then, what ever happened to it? Did some employee receive it, read it, and throw it away? Did the management ever see it, and bring it up in an employee huddle meeting? I may never know.

    Dear Management,

    I am an occasional customer of your business – once or twice a year I stop in to clean a suit – and as such you probably would not miss my business if I were to choose to go somewhere else. Now don’t worry about that introduction – I’ll still come back. But I was concerned by something that happened last time I was in, and wanted to make sure you and your employees are aware of it and stay in the mind frame of considering the customer first. I don’t intend to get any specific employees in trouble in any way, and I do want to clarify that some time has passed since this occurred, so those involved may not even be working the same positions now.

    I dropped my suit off in the morning, pre-paid for the cleaning, and was told it would be ready the next evening. That was fine and expected. I noted that the store hours said they’d be open ‘til seven. I knew it could potentially be a tight race against time, but I felt I could make it to pick up my suit. The following morning I would be leaving town to go to a wedding in Las Vegas, and wanted to make an early start of the trip.

    The evening came, and I left my workplace just about 6:40. Traffic was awful as I tried to wend my way to the store to pick up my suit. I had my radio tuned to KSL (a local station that deals with accuracy in news, weather, traffic reports, etc), and was closely following their cues as they told me what time it was. By the time I made it to your shop, KSL told me I had three minutes left until seven o’clock. I was anxious about the time crunch – I’ve worked retail before, and so I hate to inconvenience anyone when they are getting ready to go home. I was confident in that I had prepaid, so all I would have to do it walk in, show my ticket, take my clothes, and be on my way. I was relieved to see the neon “Open” sign still lit in the window. I jumped out of my car, hurried up to the door, and gave a tug. Locked.

    I stood confused. The sign says open, the radio says I am three minutes early, and the door is locked. I looked at my wrist-watch, which was not quite as accurate as KSL’s time, but still showed a minute to seven. I stood at the window, gaping in like a standard retail customer does, looking for a sign of anyone inside who will have mercy on me. After a minute and a half of that, the “Open” sign was extinguished. I returned to my car, and waited even another minute there, watching for signs of life inside, while I also listened to the top of the hour news begin on my radio. I saw the hours on the door said the store would reopen at 7:30 in the morning. I drove home, planning out how I would rearrange my morning to come first thing. Though I admit, I thought to myself “I hope the opening crew is more on time than the closing crew.”

    I’ll pause my story here to let you know that I understand what was going on within the store. It was almost closing time, and the employees (who I presume were somewhere inside) just wanted to go home. They probably hadn’t seen any customers in a stretch of time right before closing, and decided no one else was coming, so they began packing things up a little bit ahead of time. I know this, because I’ve been there and done that. I’m sure the employees inside had things to do after the door was closed and locked before they could go home, such as some inventory count, cleaning, etc. I can appreciate that, because I’ve been in that position too.

    The next morning, I came bright and early to pick up my suit. A nice young lady was there, and helped me. I casually remarked, and I don’t believe with any sarcasm or resentment, that the evening crew had closed up shop a couple minutes early last night, so I had to come this morning to pick up my suit. I was astonished by the reply I received. This warm, kind young lady instantly turned very cold, and with a very snappy, defensive tone she said, “We set our clocks to time / temp” (I presume she referred to the service where you can call a local bank and hear the recorded time and temperature). I was taken back. I had not meant any ill will in my statement, yet her reply suggested to me she did not care one iota. I got the feeling she had heard this before, and had built up a defensive reply to the question, yet I didn’t even think I was accusatory in my tone. I kept my composure, and with a smile on my face I replied with a tone of thoughtful contemplation, “Oh. I guess KSL must have had the time wrong then. Oh well. Thank you.” I took my suit and left.

    I tell you my story hoping that your stores will benefit from the reminder and seek to excel in customer service, because I want your business to stay around to serve me for a long time. From my perspective, I believe I was right. I had been snarled in traffic trying to get to your place on time, and I had been listening to the time reported over the radio and knew I had arrived early. Your closing shift employee(s) felt they were right, because it was near closing time and “time/temp” said it was time to close. Your morning shift employee(s) felt a need to defend what the evening shift had done, rather than offer the customer an apology, or offer to look into it, or talk to them, or leave a note for them, or adjust the clocks, etc. Any of those responses would have been far better than snapping at the customer. Because, while it is true that the customer is not always right, it is a better business practice not to let the customer know that.

    Like I say, I’ll be back to give you another try. I’m not asking for or expecting anything in “compensation.” I just wanted to inform you of what happened and I hope this will help to remind everyone to think in a more customer service friendly mindset.
    (signed)

    J. Ryan Beardall
    Customer


  2. Dis-Order in the Court

    December 29, 2007 by Ryan

    An item in the news (click for the link) explains that Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Tweety Bird were called to be witnesses in court-of-law. I was just imagining how part of that trial might go…


    Judge: “We first call ‘Donald’ to the stand”

    Donald: “Baaa Baa Baa Baaaaa Baaaa”

    Judge: “We dismiss this witness on grounds that we have no idea what he is saying. We now call ‘Bugs’ to the stand.”

    Bugs: “Na, what’s up doc?”

    Judge: “I’ll do the questioning, thank you”

    Bugs: “I will”

    Judge: “I will”

    Bugs: “I will”

    Judge: “I will”

    Bugs: “I will”

    Judge: “I will”

    Bugs: “You will”

    Judge: “You will”

    Bugs: “You will”

    Judge: “No, you will, and that’s an order!”

    Bugs: “OK then, where were you on the night of the 31st of February, 1978?”

    Judge: “I… I… Hey, wait a minute!”

    Bugs: “Naa…” (chomps on carrot) “Ain’t I a stinker?”

    Judge (exasperated): “Witness Dismissed!”


  3. Disney Character Warehouse and The Disney Store

    December 24, 2007 by Ryan

    Disney Character Warehouse and The Disney Store

    Two separate topics today – first, the Disney Character Warehouse

    A company by the name of AMS Liquidation runs some outlet stores under the name Disney Character Warehouse. I’ve mentioned them in the Beardall’s Guide to the Disneyland Resort (see pages link), but not in great detail. The best I’ve been able to determine, the way these folks operate is this: Imagine that a retail store at Disneyland or Disneyworld has extra stock. That store sells off boxes of their stuff to the AMS folks. This company then distributes that among their several stores. Most of the time, that merchandise ends up being the old stock – such as a stuffed animal or t-shirt that has “2006” on it, or a holiday themed item that’s time has past. Sometimes though, it seems that one store might have overstock, and sell to the AMS people. So they end up receiving current merchandise that is still available in other Disneyland stores — just not at the particular store that gave up their extra stock. Recently at the Salt Lake City location they had recently received a huge Christmas themed shipment, and I picked up some current merchandise of that nature that I later saw on our winter pilgrimage to the park.

    If you are interested in a deal, they are worth keeping an eye on, and if one comes to your town, check them out. Keep in mind that if you spend $100, they will give you a card that is good for 10% off at future visits ($250 gets you 15%). We have combined purchases for several family members, and easily obtained that discount card.

    Second, the Disney Store

    We used to have a couple of Disney Stores around here. During the 90’s, they were especially big and did a lot of business. Then the merchandise line started changing to more kids, and more generic items; less for adults or collectors. Business started falling, and the Disney company began closing them until they finally sold out the few remaining stores and the brand name to The Children’s Place. In the closing of the stores, we lost all the locations near us. In fact, the closest one we could find was in Arvada Colorado, a good eight-hour drive.

    I was recently on a business trip to San Francisco, and was ecstatic to find that my company trade show coordinator had put me in the St Francis hotel, which unbeknownst to me until I got there, was directly across the street from The Disney Store (a special thanks and shout out to Christy! Though in actuality, I don’t think she knew it was there either).

    It was one of the classic stores, decorated when the Disney company was in charge and was building them with real pixie-dust. I was so excited (and such a Disney nerd), that half of the photos I took of that trip were just of the inside and outside of that store.

    Now yes, the actual content of the products they were selling were nothing special. I could buy most of it here at home at Target or one of the “-Mart” stores. The rest of the products I could buy online at disneyshopping.com. But this store at least had the feeling and brought the excitement to me momentarily! And getting lost in the feeling and excitement is a big part of what the Disney magic feeling is all about.

    So a few weeks ago, they finished building a new Disney Store in the mall here. It will be sandwiched in-between “The Children’s Place” and “Build-a-Bear” so it has good company. In fact, that little corner of the mall will kind of seem like a part of “Downtown Disney” with that combination of businesses together. They have just opened, and from the looks of the crowds inside have been very well received! But the decor is not as magical. In fact, it is only a slight notch above the standard retail look, in my opinion. It misses the magic a bit.

    But no matter, the Disney company knows they have me and my family hooked. We’ll spend a few dollars here and there, and enough others like us will spend some to, that we’ll keep the place open and make business worthwhile.


  4. Site Up Again

    December 22, 2007 by Ryan

    As the three people who follow this site regularly know, this site went down for a couple weeks. It is back and strong now, hosted by Landon’s new web serving company. There had been some behind-the-scenes issues, but those should be resolved by this move.

    Get your web site hosted here too:
    Intermountain Web Design

    Now, I hope to get posting a little more frequently.


  5. Ken Jennings Post

    December 22, 2007 by Ryan

    Ken Jennings, the guy we all cheered for on Jeopardy! in 2004, then promptly stopped watching the show after he lost, has written an editorial piece about the Mormon church being in the news so much. It’s a pretty good piece. Click here for a link to it.