I have finally decided to name a type of customer service that unfortunately seems prevalent in the marine industry. I've found that naming things like this usually makes them easier to deal with and accept–the giant spider named Anthony that once lived in my bedroom or the scary and educational plastic skeleton named Steve I keep in the supply closet at work.
I'm naming it Alpha Dog Customer Service. I'm sure you've dealt with it. It goes like this.
I've started a boat project. I'm new at this. I'm not particularly handy, I'm into sailing and I own a boat to go boating. I have a full-time job and a part-time one. It's not that I don't respect handiness or people that are handy, I'm from the sticks of Missouri after all, it's that a person only has so many hours in the day. I don't really enjoy boat projects that much, but hey, I'm not rich so D.I.Y. comes with the territory. Moral of the story? When I'm doing a project I want it done well, and as quickly and cheaply as possible.
I'm lucky enough to have friends that know what they're talking about. They sometimes agree to help me with my projects (awesome!). Kevin says, "Can you head down to Mallard Hardware Store (real store name protected) and pick up a flap wheel drill bit?" Sure Kev, no problemo.
Laughter. Like, they're almost crying behind the desk at the hardware store kinda laughter. Why? Because I don't know what grit size of flap wheel I need. "We've got hundreds of grit sizes!" they say as they roll around on the floor chuckling. Chuckling is part of the Alpha Dog Customer Service technique. It's usually preceded or followed by stern looks, sassiness, or my favorite, the occasional silent treatment.
Luckily I sent a quick text to Kev and resolved the situation. Imagine the look on my face later when I found out that although flap wheel grit sizes go up to 600 or so, there's not actually "hundreds of sizes". The numbers jump like sandpaper - 280, 320, 360, etc. Which makes there just over 20 sizes. Bleh.
I hate to pick on only hardware stores because some marine store customer service reps practice Alpha Dog Customer Service to near perfection. Last summer, however, they didn't see me coming. I had a secret weapon this time–my stepdad Jon.
Jon's from Missouri. He's built houses, rebuilt trucks, driven semis. This guy is handy. The boat project this time involved my Force 10 stove. We had what we thought was a malfunctioning boat stove part. Jon was excited to go to the store and help me get to the bottom of this.
We walked in, side-by-side. Jon had the part in a ziplock bag. The customer service rep greeted us as we approached the counter. Jon didn't say a word. I didn't either–I was scared (why isn't Jon talking?). It was just like car shopping back when I was 15. I went with my Dad and Grandpa. They played hardball. I remember thinking, why are they being so mean to the car salesman?
Jon set the part on the counter. He remained silent. After 45 seconds or so (which felt like an hour) the rep, with a little sweat building on his brow, broke the Alpha Dog chicken contest and asked, "I'm not so sure what this is, I think Steve upstairs will know, let me get him for you". Jon grinned and said, "Thank you". I gave Jon an imaginary high-five knowing that if I had gone in there to ask about the part I would have definitely talked too much, said the wrong things, and received a little something now known as...Alpha Dog Customer Service. Bleh.
~Paul & Jon ETC
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