Sunday, November 6, 2011

Does Customer Service Matter???

A few months ago I mentioned in my Yellowstone trip report that I made the dumb mistake of strapping my trekking poles to my pack without making sure that all of the locks on the poles were each tight and secure. Due to the fact that I strapped them right side up, two of the three sections of one pole unknowingly slid out. I'm pretty sure that I hiked for most of the day before my buddy first noticed that they were gone.

What can you do with one section of a trekking pole? Nothing. Think you can just go to REI and pay for a couple of replacements? Wrong. I reported to the NPS at Yellowstone that I lost them along the trail, and they gave me a form to fill out in case anyone finds them and brings them back to the backcountry office. I knew it was a long shot, but figured it would be worth it nonetheless.

I have really enjoyed my trekking poles since getting them. You can pick these up at REI for under $90.
I have no complaints at all so far.
After a couple of weeks I knew that they were a lost cause, and I decided to contact Black Diamond to see if I could purchase a couple of replacement sections instead of having to purchase a new set of trekking poles. I decided on my Yellowstone trip that I was no longer interested in using trekking poles unless it was for snowshoeing, so I knew that if I couldn't spend five or ten bucks on replacement parts, I was going to go a long time without having a complete set in my arsenal.

I wrote an e-mail to the customer service rep for Black Diamond, explaining how dumb I was, and asked what they could do for me. Here is the response I received the very next day:

My apologies for your troubles with your Trail back poles.  You are correct in that this is not a warranty situation but I appreciate you taking responsibility for the situation and it sounds like you know how to prevent it from happening again so I’d like to send you a pair of lowers at no charge. 
Just get me a good shipping address and I’ll get a set out to you.
Elmo-BD Warranty

Can you believe that? No charge for shipping. No charge for replacements. Not only did they help me out once, but another two times after that. There was some miscommunication when I told the rep what I needed, so when I got my package I only received two "lowers" instead of one middle section along with one lower section. Again, the rep apologized and sent a second package with the middle section. When I told him if he wanted me to ship back the extra lower he sent me, he told me to just hold onto it for a spare just in case I need it one day.

So here is the point of this e-mail: Does a company's customer service make a difference to you when deciding which company to purchase gear from? Does a return policy make a difference? Is it something you even look at before purchasing, or even look into after already having a product? I'll admit that I never look at a return policy until the poop hits the fan. Knowing how amazing Black Diamond treats their customers will forever make a difference for me. If I am ever debating between another product and a Black Diamond product, there is no doubt I will go for Black Diamond. I'll also admit that knowing that Black Diamond is based in Utah helps me want to buy from them as well...

Do you have any amazing, or less-than-impressive customer service stories? Share them with the rest of us!