Sometimes $20 makes all the difference

In the last month, guest bloggers from around the world share their good, bad, or ugly customer service experiences. It’s been a place to complain, rant, and highlight opportunities for companies to improve. But, this series has also been a place to celebrate when companies do well, processes work effectively, service representatives are our advocates, and we leave a situation as stronger believers in the product or service than we started.  I hope you’ve enjoyed these stories as  much as I have! 
My bestie and "third" sister.

My bestie and “third” sister.

Today’s post comes from Oregon and my best friend Meeka. She’s one of the funniest writers I know and I can always depend on her for her honesty, humor, support, and transparency. Meeka’s the mother of two beautiful boys and shares her adventures, mishaps, and daily life on her blog, Surprised by Joy


I’m not a big bargain hunter. As a mom of two little boys, I find a lot of my time {and money} dedicated to them, versus shopping for the best deal. And I’ll admit, sometimes, I see a small mistake on the receipt or a missed deal and I just let it go, because though it might cost me a couple dollars, seriously, the time spent explaining, haggling and waiting for the fix, while also wrangling my kids? Depending on the day, that might just cost me my sanity.

I should probably just build that into my budget.

This is why company customer service attributes that impress me as a consumer usually have to do with response time and accessibility.

Customer service line waits longer than five minutes? Or I can’t call you? There’s no email? No online chat? No response to the online chat? Done, man. I probably won’t be back. Because there are just too many companies that are ready and available.

And even if I do have to pay a few dollars more, well, as mentioned above, a few dollars is nothing compared to the fact that my kids just disassembled my washing machine while I was sitting on hold.

Which is why a recent interaction with home furnishings giant Williams-Sonoma hooked me as a loyal return customer, and it only cost them $20.

My in-laws had gifted me a generous $150 gift card to Williams-Sonoma and after looking around a bit, I’d decided to use some of it on a Cuisinart Griddler. It was already on sale for $70 when I ordered it. After I clicked purchase, I sort of forgot about it. That is, until I got an email three days later that they were now having a “20 percent off electrics” sale. Of course they were. And on the day my now overpriced griddler was set to arrive.

Photo Credi: William Sonoma

Photo Credi: William Sonoma

I opened the box and it was great {a panini maker and a griddle all in one!}, but the situation kept gnawing at me, I mean, seriously, if I’d only waited, I would have had $20 extra dollars to spend! So I decided to give them a call. I mean, it never hurts to ask, right?

While looking for the customer service number, I found a handy internet chat icon. Have you ever used those? I’ve had minimal success with them. The lag time {if they answer} can be really atrocious and in general, I find people are nicer on the phone than on the internet {as we all know from reading YouTube comments}.

But I thought I’d give it a try, and imagine my surprise, when right away, a nice customer service representative named “Justin” popped up. I explained my issue and after a few moments, he came back on and explained that though they do price adjustments for a

certain period of time after purchase, they do not honor email code promotions after the fact.

I have to admit, I wasn’t surprised. But I was disappointed. And a little annoyed.

Williams-Sonoma is high end and it’s not like their prices are the best around. In fact, if I didn’t have the gift card, I probably wouldn’t even have been on their site in the first place. However, that’s when Justin’s chat box popped up with the second half of his response. He went on to say that although they don’t usually honor email code promotions, for this time only, they were willing to and would be sending me a gift card in the mail for the refunded $20.

Well, let me tell you, that totally made my day. Williams-Sonoma is a billion dollar company, but the fact that they enable their employees to be generous with consumers over such a small amount, absolutely won my heart.

As my husband said, “Of course they did, what can you buy at Williams-Sonoma for 20 dollars? They just garnered themselves another way to get you to spend more money there.” And yes, he’s absolutely right. But I will happily be back and I’ll tell all my friends, because even though they are a large and often expensive store, they still treat their customers with respect.

And I have the $20 to show for it.


There’s no exchange of moolah behind these blog pages, pro-deals, or freebies with this series. What you see is what you get; real stories from real people who are sharing their experiences to challenge the status quo, inspire companies to take action, and ultimately build a life long customer. Be sure to check back this week!

July 28: Changing the world one white mocha at a time by Stacy Wong

July 18: A Stranger in a Strange Land by Sandra Boedecker

July 15: I have renamed my WiFi network “TimeWarnerisHorrible” by Chris Miller

July 13: Our love affair with the world’s most hated airline by Kayla Robertson

July 12: Treat others how you would want to be treated. by Kristin

July 10: Where’s the Line? by Kristin McGunnigle

July 8: Do customers dream of electric sheep? by Stephen Ellis

July 5: Nike earns an A+ by Jackie Ostlie

July 3: How to Please the Queen by Katrina Taylor

July 1: Are you kidding me? by Evelyn Wolf

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