Good Service

One thing we’re not short on is anecdotes about poor service.

Telephoning “Customer Service” and receiving the soothing recording that assures, “Your call is very important . . . “ only prompts one of several replies including: “Really? Then pick up the &*@#%ing phone!”

Old people are particularly eager to point out the poor service afforded by younger ones. This, of course, is due to genetics. Theirs. Not the old people’s.

Since old people were never young, the criticism never applied to them.

Except for when it did.

But, because they’re old, they’ve forgotten this. Another genetic trait.

A recent impulsive act unexpectedly yielded one of the very best examples of good service. And from a member of a cohort “naturally” predisposed to its alternative.

The decision to attend an auction in New Jersey was spontaneous. The five and a half-hour drive less so.

If haste makes waste, then spontaneity also means not only not making a hotel reservation, it also means not searching the World Wide Whatdoyacallit for options and rates.

Following inspection of the goods to be sold at auction, the search for a hotel room began.

The first stop was to a hotel patronized on numerous previous visits. A very uninterested proprietor quoted an astronomical rate for a room equipped with sandpaper towels that serve dual purposes of drying and exfoliating. I didn’t jump at it.

Customers who balk are to be dismissed. You snooze, you lose is the apparent and appropriate hotel industry motto.

Further, in a final act of irritation at the unwarranted intrusion of business while at work, the proprietor noted they were full.

Right. As evidenced by a complete absence of cars in the parking lot. Full of what?

Maybe he was just practicing driving away customers. Call it “IT,” Irritation Training. (I, too, possess this but acquired it organically.)


Ten minutes later, arriving at the second hotel as unexpectedly and unannounced as the first, the young woman at the registration desk offered a pleasant greeting. As though she understood what her job entailed.

I made the identical request as at the first venue: a one-night, single occupancy rate. She quoted it and I remarked that a lower rate had been available on the Web. (Which, of course, I made up.)

“Give me one minute,” she asked and stated. Gladly.

After a certain, but very brief, amount of fiddling at the keyboard, she looked up from the screen at me earnestly and reported a lower rate saying, “It’s the best I can get you.”

And then, “Would you like to think about that?”

Yeah. For about a nano-second.

Though glad to get the modestly reduced rate, I was far more pleased by someone’s genuine effort on behalf of a stranger, albeit a potential customer.

Poised, professional, polite and eager to serve the interest of a customer, the hotel representative was no older than a first-year college student. Maybe she had just finished high school.

Some people understand customer service. Maybe that’s genetic, too.

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