Great customer service – back from the brink of extinction?

So, over the last ~6 weeks, I’ve had what I would consider to be amazing customer service from  Yes, it was for nothing more than a garage door opener remote, but still.

The initial part I bought was the cheapest one they had for my garage door opener – it goes on your keychain, and has 2 buttons (I only need 1).  When I got it, after 4 or 5 tries I could eventually get it to program, but it would only keep the programming for a day or two, and then lose it.  So, I thought it was just a loose battery connection – opened it up, checked it out (it looked fine), tightened the battery clip just in case, then closed it up again.  Same problem again.

Now, I knew there was a return policy on the thing of 30 days, so I, unfortunately, procrastinated.  I ended up finally digging into trying to find an RMA number for the thing like 28 days after having received it.  Unfortunately, when I looked up the confirmation email for the order, I then noticed the terms said that the 30 days was from order date, not receive date.  It had been 35 days since order date.  Doh!

Well, this was the day after Thanksgiving, and I didn’t expect much from it, but since I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot, I went ahead and both called their service number and sent an email (just responded to the confirmation email, since it didn’t have any “do not respond to this” kind of name/username/whatever).  Much to my surprise (again, this is Black Friday), I get a response about 90 minutes later from Amy in their customer service. I didn’t even expect to get a response on what is effectively a holiday, especially so fast.

She’s sorry to hear that it hasn’t been working, and even though it’s been over 30 days, she happily sends out a replacement one for free, including a pre-paid package for sending the busted one back.  They’re eating 2 shipping costs, *and* risking that I won’t send back the initial one (after all, I could easily have been lying about it being broken).  I’m impressed with any company that will send out a replacement before getting back the busted one (I’ve only actually dealt with hard drive companies willing to do that, and even though it was only under the very specific terms that if the original didn’t show up after 30 days, the credit card was getting charged for a second drive).

At this point, I’m pretty happy.  I ended up with a bum opener and had wasted the time window I had for getting it officially RMA’d.  However, thanks to Amy, I’m still getting a replacement opener on the way and not even having to 1) send my busted one back first or 2) having to pay any shipping.

So, based on how I phrased that previous paragraph (“At this point”), it’s likely clear… the second one didn’t work either.  It failed in similar, but not identical, ways to the first one.  When the button was pressed (and held) for programming, it just never (the first one would eventually, if you tried a dozen times) flashed after holding it down for 10 seconds.

I felt bad at this point.  Amy had already been nice enough to send me the replacement opener even though I was past their terms, but it still wasn’t working.  So, rather than ask her to send out a third of the same type, I looked up the next-cheapest remote for my garage door opener on their web site.  It was $2.96 more than the one I had bought.  So, I shoved both of the non-working ones in the pre-paid return packaging, sent it off in the mail, and sent an email back to Amy. 

In this email, I explain how I had tried (extensively) to get both of the remotes to work, but to no avail. I explain how I’ve found another remote for the same opener that is almost the same price.  I ask her if she’s ok with sending me this remote, and the charging my credit card (still on file) with the $2.96 plus shipping to send it out to me.

To try and make sure I was ordering the right part, Amy responds asking me about the color of the wire coming out of the opener.  I’m totally fine with that, since I had done enough research before deciding on the original remote to figure out that different colored wires only worked with certain remotes.  I tell her it’s blue and send her some pictures.  (Strictly speaking, Julie took the pictures since I was at work, and called home to have Julie take the pics and then attach the camera to the Vista box, then I TS’d in over a ssh tunnel and fetched them off).

Amy says she thinks it’s more blue-green but does agree that the remotes that were ordered were correct.  She asks whether I have any other remotes for the same opener that work fine.  I tell her about the 2 that came with it that are still working fine (and have been for the 4+ years since we built this house).  The part number for that remote is 297132, and it isn’t even listed on their web site as being available.

Well, now, I don’t actually know how much effort it was for Amy to get hold of one of these remotes, but I think it is worth noting that it wasn’t available on their web site, so even best-case I think it’s easy to say that they didn’t have a ready enough supply to put the part up on their web site as an available product.

Rather than send me out the next-cheapest remote, Amy tells me she’s sending me a 297132 remote.  Oh, and for free.  No extra cost, no shipping, nothing.  Amazing.  Even picking up one of these on eBay (which is about the only way to get one, at least on a cursory search) would have cost the same or more than the cheap-o remote I had ordered.

Sure enough, a few days later (today, in fact!), the 297132 shows up.  The programming instructions are exactly like the other two remotes were.  It programs perfectly, and is working flawlessly.

I emailed her as such about an hour ago, and her response, still nice as ever, “I’m so happy that the remote finally worked for you James.  I really appreciate your patience!  Thanks for being a great customer.”

Now, I’m sure some people would say “Hey, they sent you defective parts, of course they should act this way!” but you and I both know how rare it is to find places going out of their way like this these days.

Anyway, this is certainly a long, rambling description, but hopefully it helps give hope to some others out there that good customer service still exists.  It’s not dead yet.  It might even be getting better.  Let’s hope no one gets turned into a newt.