Thursday, February 01, 2007

Local vs Big Box or online buying

Somewhere recently, I read about a father/son discussion about where to make a purchase (shoes?). Dad presented the son with the idea of price vs supporting local business and people. I was reminded this afternoon of another factor in the equation. Service. It almost seems automatic that local business provides better service, but that is NOT always the case. About a year ago, she who must be obeyed, decreed that we needed new, preferably granite counter tops. This would be a substantial investment, and I thought we should shop locally. We first went to a granite company just a few blocks from our house. We walked in the door which chimed, announcing our arrival. We walked past a door where there was a person on the phone. We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Eventually another person walked in without acknowledging us, rummaged around for a car part and left. We waited some more, looking at a few samples that were laying around. Finally the first person came in, and we explained our interest. He seemed bored, offered us a couple of samples and we were on our way. No one met us when we returned the samples. Another local company specializes in kitchen and bathroom remodels. As soon as we indicated that we only wanted a new counter top, they lost interest. Still wanting (for some reason, are we masochists?) to support local business, we thought we could buy the new sink and faucet. We were shuffled off to Jessica, a cheery young girl about 20. We explained the measurements of the counter which were custom made. We loved a Farm house sink and picked a faucet to go with it. The sink did not have holes for the faucet, it would have to be in the counter top. I explained several times the space limitations. I got a cheery "Oh, It'll be just fine" The sink is a special order, no return. There is (or I should say there WAS a 25% restocking fee) $1300 later the sink and faucet arrive. I start taking measurements, there is NO DAMN WAY this is going to work. Jessica cheerfully refunded the money for the faucet (minus 25%) and when I asked if they could at least help me try to sell the sink, "Oh NO, we couldn't do THAT"
We eventually sold the sink for half price on Craig's List, bought a sink that WOULD work from a local hardware store (which got bought out by Home Depot right after we got it) and had the counter done through Costco, where we had a personal rep who walked us through the whole thing, meeting with us at the granite company etc.
I can deal with surly teenaged help, but the attitude of some local business's is just beyond my understanding.

1 comment:

  1. A few years ago, my boyfriend wanted to buy a new ATV to use when certain private roads were so muddy that driving a pick-up on them was not a good idea.

    He decided on what he wanted, a $6500 vehicle, and went to a local dealer, who had several in stock. And he waited and waited and waited. Finally, after having a half dozen salesmen ignore him, one stopped. After explaining what he wanted, they came to an agreement and the guy told him he would hold the particular ATV while Sweets got the cashier's check for the purchase price.

    The next day, he went back and waited and waited and waited. Finally, he found someone to hand over the check to and pick up his ATV. But they told him that they had sold it to someone else an hour before.

    So, you'd think that since he was obviously interested and even had cash in hand that they'd try to please him? No, they acted like he was imposing on their time. No, it just was not possible to find another one for him. No, they didn't know when they'd get more in. No, they couldn't check.

    He left, drove 50 miles into the city, was immediately given friendly, courteous attention when he walked in the door, bought the same model and color ATV for almost $1000 less, was offered and took the extra options and went home happy less than 3 hours later.

    Now, whenever he is thinking of a new toy or the ones he has need servicing, he drives 50 miles just to avoid dealing with the local guys. He tells everyone he knows to do the same.

    The service made a huge difference.