Customer Service

Whenever we have a dead battery around this place, the afflicted vehicle always seems to be wedged in some far corner of the shed or nose-first inside the garage, and no amount of fancy driving will put another battery within jumper cable distance.  The battery charger works, of course, but one of the sheds where we keep equipment has no electricity, so that’s out (one can only string so many extension cords together).  When it is 20 below, these issues are compounded by my tendency to view all dead batteries as a personal affront to my life goals and dreams.  This sense of psychic injury often precipitates unfortunate tantrums.

So last January I bought a portable power unit from Sears.  I was in the store getting a new battery for the van at the time, and was thus emotionally ragged and vulnerable.  Now rather than fearing my next dead battery I was quite looking forward to it…couldn’t wait to trot over with my new little toy, attach the cables, crank the starter, and jet off to achieve my dreams.  You will imagine my teeth-gnashing fury, then, when the first time I used it, the thing flat-refused to impart even the mildest spark.  Thus commenced cussing, extension cords, barked knuckles (battery removal at 20 below is grim duty), and so on.

My mechanical incompetence is legendary, and only compounded when mechanics and electricity meet, so I assumed I was doing something wrong and didn’t take the unit straight back, even after a second wintry failure.  But a couple of days ago I left the truck door open overnight.  I took the power unit (at full charge – I checked) out one more time.  Hooked it to the battery terminals.  Tried the starter.  Nothing.  And this on a sunny, 70-degree day.  More curses, although thanks to the weather they lacked a certain desperate edge.

Yesterday I took the unit back to Sears.  The woman at the counter took it and disappeared into the service bay area.  I prepared myself for the “I’m sorry sir, we can’t find anything wrong with it…” speech.  I admit I fantasized about the effect I would have when I pitched it through the plate glass windows before kicking over the tire display.  The woman reappeared.  “Looks like there is a short in it,” she said.  “It goes straight from full charge to no charge.  Do you have your receipt?”  I hadn’t brought my receipt (buried in a box in … the pole barn).  “Can you give me your phone number?”  I did.  She entered it, and the record of sale popped up.  She fetched a brand new unit from the shelf, printed another receipt, and sent me on my way.

It all went so smoothly and quickly that I stood blinking in the sunlight for a moment, not sure what to do with the assortment of righteous speeches I had prepared in anticipation of being fobbed off with some company line.

So.  That’s where the story ends.  Haven’t tried the new unit yet.  Will keep the receipt handy.  But I have such a perverse affection for telling customer service horror stories that it seems only fair I report that in this case, the folks at Sears Automotive in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, treated me terrifically fine.

Want to be the first to know when Mike has a new book, or is coming to your area? Please sign up for the email list.