Now, the internet is full of posts, forums and people complaining about bad customer service. You can’t swing the metaphorical cat without hitting half a dozen livejournal communities dedicated to it… And this can be very useful - a quick google of a company’s name before you engage their services can save you headaches later.
What there is less of, it seems, is people writing in praise of companies and the service they have received. A search for “good customer service” will return loads of sites telling you why customer service is so important and how it can be improved, but very few specific examples of good companies. This is human nature though, I suppose; a level of good service is expected and when it isn’t achieved we moan about it. Because a certain standard of service is expected, it would take something really extraordinarily good to get most people to comment about it. And hence we finally get to the point!
I own a very nice Mark 4 Golf GTi (the 1.8 Turbo if that sort of detail floats your boat) and whilst it’s getting a bit long in the tooth it’s nice and reliable and fun to drive. However recently I noticed the exhaust was blowing a bit and was louder than it should be. As the car still has the original exhaust system on it, I was expecting a hefty bill to have the whole thing replaced. So, I took it along to a local branch of a nationwide chain that promises to quickly fit tyres and exhausts to your vehicle. Firstly, they kept me waiting for 15 minutes before anyone dealt with me, then there was a lot of the usual teeth sucking and “it’ll cost you” comments you expect from mechanics. Culminating in the manager telling me that they’d need to order in a new exhaust (before even looking at the car on a ramp) and that’d take a few days, but they can’t look at it now anyway as they’re too busy (despite having several mechanics sitting around idle) and to bring it back in a day or two. So much for a drop-in, while-you-wait service.
Instead, I decided to pop round the corner to a local firm called Plume Tyre Service, where the experience couldn’t have been more different. I was greeted as soon as I walked in by a friendly receptionist, told to take the car straight round to the service area where it was popped up on a ramp and someone looked at it immediately. 15 minutes later, in popped the mechanic to explain that there was a hole in the sleeve in the central section but that the rest of the exhaust was sound. Unfortunately they didn’t have one in stock but they would order one and have it in the next day. In the meantime they’d clamped a temporary sleeve over the hole so that I could still use my car in the meantime. I took out my wallet to pay only to be told there was no charge for this temporary repair!
This morning I took my car in again and they again greeted me immediately, stuck the car on the ramp and 20 minutes later, the new sleeve was fitted and my car was waiting for me outside. Total cost: £23.50 including VAT! The cheapest and quickest piece of work I’ve ever had done on a car.
Needless to say, I’m going to be taking my car to them for all future exhaust, suspension, MOT and tyre work. It’s just a shame that they don’t do servicing as well.
Sadly Plume don’t seem to have a website and I’m not sure how extensive their network is - it seems to just be Birmingham and some parts of the West Midlands but if you have one near to you I thoroughly recommend you pay them a visit.
Update: I’ve found their website! Plume Tyre Service would appear to be a family run business with 5 branches in the West Midlands, which probably accounts for their good service.