Last week I prepped and dressed for a major event at my college. Deans and various important people would be in attendance. My energy was waning from a long week, and I needed a coffee first. I ran up the block to the Starbucks and grabbed my regular “short” coffee. That’s when some serious trouble started.
When I left the store, I noticed the cup was leaking. Drips were landing all over the concrete, and despite attempts to avoid my clothes, the coffee stained what I was wearing. I thought, “Great! Nothing better than being around everyone in the college with big stains.”
I decided to snap a shot of the cup and tweet @Starbucks. And surprisingly, customer service asked me to email them. I emailed them last week and did not hear anything for a couple days.
— frugaling (@frugalingorg) September 26, 2014
Today, I received a response:
I am so sorry the lid was leaking. I want to thank you for bringing this issue to our attention, and assure you that your feedback has been forwarded to our manufacturing department for further review. This is definitely an issue we need to get fixed. I would like to invite to participate in our bring your own cup promotion that will give you a $0.10 discount on your beverage purchase. I would like to send you a Starbucks Card that you may use towards the purchase of your own personal tumbler. If you would please be so kind to reply to this email with your name and mailing address and I will send it right out. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to fix something that went wrong. [emphasis added]
My head goes in two separate directions regarding large, multinational corporations. On one side, I think about their effects on local communities. Starbucks is notorious for ousting local coffee shops and destroying competition. Many companies (here’s looking at you Wal-Mart) exterminate mom-and-pop stores that can’t buy large enough quantities to lessen consumer prices and maintain margins. On the other side, there are companies that actually try to make things right when your experience is negative. Starbucks is one of them.
Large companies have arsenals of social networking and customer service individuals. Some recognize that an awful social media presence and negative comments can weigh on profits. While motivated to quiet negativity, some actually reach out to correct experiences and leave you happy to come back.
Starbucks isn’t alone. My favorite companies know how to make things right. For example, I’m a big fan of Zappos, the online shoe retailer, because of their customer service. I’ve received incorrect sizes, colors, and flawed objects. Each time that’s happened, I’ve been able to receive next-day replacements and refunds. There was even a time when they accepted a return on running shoes, which had given trouble on my feet but had already been broken in. That secured my loyalty with the company.
As a frugal person, it’s important to consider where I make my purchases. Not every item will work out. When those occasions arise, I want to be able to trust that my goodwill can be returned in kind. Frugality is about more than low prices. It requires an active role in consuming goods — aiming to find long-term value.
Here are some tips for finding companies that respect your choice to shop with them:
- Do they accept returns without receipts?
- Will they allow you to return, exchange, or replace without question?
- How easily can you reach customer service? Are they just a tweet away?
- How do your favorite companies make things right?
What are some of your favorite companies? How do they make things right?