Just this week I had to order new checks and did so through the local branch of my bank. It was only after I submitted the order, which amounted to a little over $13, that I noticed the shipping charges were more than the actual product. Almost $14 for one little box of checks!
I immediately wrote an email which may or may not have include the terms "highway robbery" and "never in my born days". I also explained that I mail out products (my oilcloth aprons ) to customers frequently and am familiar with shipping rates.
Less than two hours later I got a phone call from an employee of the bank apologizing for the high shipping charges and offering to reduce the charge to a flat $5 rate.
That is what I call customer service! I have to wonder if I would have gotten the same response from a huge banking chain in a large city thousands of miles away. I don't think so.
We like to do business locally whenever we can for this very reason. Any time we have a need for customer service for a locally purchased product, we have a MUCH better experience than if the product was purchased from a national chain.
One example of this happened when our three year old Sears dryer decided to take the week off. If you are a family of nine, or even if you aren't, you can imagine that we create a LOT of dirty laundry  around here that we like to wear in the clean and DRY state.
When I called the national 1-800 number for repairs, I was told that the soonest appointment I could get for repairs to be made was 3 weeks later! At that point, I sort of started sweating heavily and hyperventilating and I may have whined and begged, but the lady on the other end of the phone was unconcerned with my plight.
After I hung up from her, I breathed into a paper bag and talked myself down from the top of the refrigerator. Then I called our locally owned Sears appliance store. I spoke to the owner and explained my desperate situation. Even though we had purchased our appliances from a Sears store in our last town , the owner was willing to help me. He checked his repair schedule and said he could fit me in THE NEXT DAY!
I danced a jig and told him I loved him. And then I told our dirty laundry not to worry because Mama was making everything better.
In both of the instances above, the businesses wanted to go the extra mile to keep our loyalty. They realized that good customer service will make a difference when we are deciding to buy additional services or products.
We try to do business locally whenever we can because we know the customer service will be more satisfactory than any we have received from huge national chains.
What are your best/worst customer service stories?