A Customer Service Rant

Seth Godin points us to a positive customer service story regarding a flat tire. I’d like to tell you my story…the exact opposite experience at my local big chaintire shop. My tire went flat while I was out. Luckily I happened to be next to a gas station. I managed to fill it up enough to get me to shop where I bought them. They offer free flat repair.

I strolled on in to shop at 3:35 PM on Saturday and said, “I’ve got a flat that needs repair.” Three employees were sitting at the front desk chatting when I walked in. The manager said, “Sorry we just closed at 3:30. There’s nothing I can do.” Another employee added, “You can come back at 8 AM Monday morning.” I said, “But I have a flat right now!” She repeated, “We’re open again at 8 AM Monday morning.”

I walked out of there perplexed at their complete lack of care for my situation. Sure they had just closed, and they wanted to get home. I understand that completely. What bothered me most isn’t that they wouldn’t fix the tire because they were closed, it was the attitude the second employee gave me. She was basically telling me that I wasn’t her problem, and wouldn’t be until they opened again. Where was the compassion to help someone in need?

I have always been a fan of this tire chain. For years I have bought my tires there. And I have always recommended them to others. This is the first time they completely disrespected me as a customer.

I drove around calling other places looking for help. I ended up at Firestone. I waited patiently in a small line in the front office to inquire if they had room to squeeze me in. The employee said, “We can help you today, but not until about 6 PM.” I explained that I really needed to get it fixed sooner than that. He responded, “You might want to go over to AutoZone just down the street. Buy a Fix-a-Flat repair kit and see if that will tie you over until you can bring it in.”

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I did just that. I pulled the nail myself, filled it with the Fix-a-Flat repair can and the tire was ready to go. The Firestone employee offered an alternate solution. He truly helped me. The employees at the chain storecould have done the same thing, but no, I wasn’t their problem because I walked into the store six minutes late. I haven’t been back theresince then, and don’t plan to. A hundred positive customer experiences can’t make up for just one act of disregard towards a customer.

Yes, brands can be built by simple acts of kindness just asthey canbe destroyed by uncaring off-the-clock employees. You decide; is kindness towards customers a good policy?

Comments 3

  1. Meikah

    Definitely, it is, Mike! And providing good customer service experience all the time brings in repeat business. Too bad for that tire company that treated you unfairly. They just lost a loyal customer, and to win you back won’t be easy. :) This points us to having a service philosophy and service standards.

  2. victor

    What kind of work do you do, will you come back into the office and fire up the mack after you punch out ? Hell no you wont and just take into consideration some companies only will pay you 8 hours on overtime … that would have been a freebee. Nothings free.Remember its saturday and otherpeople are off work these guys want to go home. Ever heard of a spare tire or friends.

  3. Michael Marx


    Thanks for your comment, even three and a half years later, your voice is heard. But I believe you missed the point of my rant. It was the attitude I got from the employees that turned me off. Not that they would not fix my tire after they were closed.

    I was late, I wouldn’t expect them to stay late just for me. If they had, they would have absolutely delighted me, I would have told at least 10 people how great they were and I would have been back for my next three sets of tires. But they were rude. And there are plenty of other shops that are not rude.

    Keeping customers satisfied is hard enough, delighting them puts them in a league of their own far above the rest.

    One word. Zappos. They know how to delight customers.

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