Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quality...hard to find

Since quality products and quality customer service is so hard to come by these days, I thought I'd give some credit where credit is due. After all, sloppiness and apathy has become prevalent in current society, leaving us with inferior merchandise and frustrating encounters with customer service reps. And I say "service" with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

So let me toss a few bouquets to some folks and products who deserve our plaudits...and our business:

1. The Honda Corporation. I started buying Honda lawnmowers in the 80's and my sons and I wore out 6 or 7 of them by mowing 25-30 yards a week, year after year. (That's how we got the funds to put our kids in Dallas Christian.) The mowers were fabulously reliable and produced great-looking yards. Then, in 1990, I bought my first Honda Accord. Since then, Accords have been a mainstay in our lives, never failing (never, I said!), and getting excellent mpg. Now, I'm driving my first Honda Ridgeline pickup, and it's a marvelous vehicle.

2. Tul pens. I'm extremely picky about writing instruments. Put the proper pen in my right hand and I can toss out some superb penmanship, a rapidly disappearing art these days. I found Tul pens at Office Max and decided to give them a try. Excellent. They come in colors and have a very narrow felt tip that gives a smooth, even stroke. My former employer, Dallas Independent School District, should have provided them to my students to counter the chicken-scratching homework that used to cross my eyes.

3. Lowes. Every suburb has matching sets of Home Depot and Lowes stores. Here's a hint: avoid Home Depot. I imagine that their merchandise and pricing policies are quite comparable. The difference boils down to how the customer is treated. At the Depot, it often seems the customer is an afterthought, someone to be avoided. At Lowes, the word has apparently come down from corporate suits that the customer needs to be treated with respect and friendliness. Employees actually seem to seek out puzzled-looking patrons to offer assistance. After the sale, Lowes is rock-solid in standing by their products and if the customer is dissatisfied, will bend over backwards to make sure the experience becomes a happy one. I'm sure there are occasional exceptions, but in the main, Lowes stomps Depot handily.

4. Walgreens. Since I've been a chronic-pain patient for decades, I've purchased many a prescription in my time. The decade of the '80's was a horrible one, because I was almost forced to use a now-defunct chain known as Eckerd's. Their pharmacies were staffed by highly-qualified pharmacists and highly-acned high school dropouts. Since the dropouts answered the phones and dealt with the customers, mistakes were as common as wobbly wheels on Wal-Mart grocery carts. Fortunately, Walgreens and CVS came along and filled the void when Eckerd's disappeared. The folks behind the counter at Walgreens are unfailingly cheerful and competent. And they don't screw up the prescriptions. Makes life worth living, eh?

5. Cotton Patch restaurants. For those of you who aren't in Texas, this is a home-cooking chain that tries to cook food like Aunt Bee. They succeed. The food is flawless every time. The wait staff is friendly but not smothering. The managers are great about wandering by and checking on customer satisfaction. And they know how to put a mean batter on chicken-fried steak and chicken-fried chicken, two mandatory Southern food groups.

Got any places or things you'd like to laud?


Jeff S. said...

I agree with everything you have, although I have never tried Tul pens. And I agree that penmanship is a lost art. I am Exhibit A in that regard.

The only thing I would add is El Fenix. This Dallas inistitution has lasted for almost a century becasue of great food and great service. I was afraid when the Martinez family sold it last year that things would change for the worse. Thankfully, that has not happened.

Lynn Leaming said...

Have only eaten at one Cotton Patch in Cleburne (I think) and it was not good at all. Steve and I can do nothing but sing the praises of our CVS on Beltline and Jupiter. We have been eating at our neighborhood Chinese place Oriental Express for 10 years. It is family owned and we have had the same cooks and wait staff all that time. It is a great meal for a great price.