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Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 08:37 AM   #1
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Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

I'll start off. Couldnt be more impressed with the edutainment manufacturer Leapfrog. I bought my son a toy (we call it 'the space station') its a round thing with a rotating seat in the middle with a bunch of buttons and levers and whatnot that play music or does numbers and alphabets. By the way, I have no expectation that this is going to teach him his numbers and letters by next month or anything, but its one of his favorite toys and keeps him busy fiddling with stuff. Now that he's a little big to sit in it, I took the seat out and he crawls under it and pops up and plays with it or just fiddles with the stuff from the side.

After 3 months, about half the stuff stopped working. I pulled out the control module and it had a burned resistor on it. No problem I figured, just solder in a new one. Of course, nobody in town had that resistor.

So I called the company to see if I could buy just the control module from them. "No problem", said the customer service lady who answered directly on the third ring without fifteen layers of "press 1 for this and 5 to go screw yourself", "you're almost still in warranty, so we'll just send you out a new one. It'll have a return UPS label in it, freight prepaid. When you have a chance, stick the old one back in the box we send and put it out for the UPS guy. We'll pay the UPS pickup fee if any, dont go to the trouble of taking it to a UPS store.".

WOW. Someone who actually "gets it". Their product went bad, they replaced the whole thing with a brand new product. I didnt have to pay for it. I didnt have to pay shipping. I didnt have to send the old one back first. I didnt have to pay to send mine back. I didnt even have to leave the house.

I checked in with some other folks on a 'hot deals site' and heard a lot of similar stuff. One woman's kid had worn out or lost some of the parts to an edutainment 'desk' and she wanted to donate it to a preschool, but wanted to buy the missing/worn parts to replace them first. Leapfrog sent them to her for free. On a three year old product.

Smart customer service: take care of the customer and they'll want to keep buying your stuff. When a customer wants to put one of your products in a place where it'll receive a lot of potential customer attention, make sure its going to be seen in its best light.

Guess which manufacturer has gotten almost all of our toy business since then?
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 10:18 AM   #2
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Ed's Roll of Honor...quality products/services, reasonable prices, excellent customer support, on-time shipping/service delivery, minimal hassle.

Cabela's
Grizzly
EasternBank (a Boston-area bank)
Amazon
Apple
Morgan Stanley (in my experience, anyway)
Discover (ditto)
REI

And since I can't complain in this note I won't mention DirecTV, BellSouth, Microsoft, or many other sterling examples of corporate bastardy.

Ed
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 10:40 AM   #3
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Little Tykes' brand of toys. Expensive but if a part breaks or a sticker fades, they're going to replace it for free. It was such a positive experience that I still remember it a decade later.

As a homeowner who buys copper fittings in four different sizes for the same project, just in case my measurements are wrong, I'm delighted by Home Depot's & Lowe's liberal return policy.

For you Hawaii residents, City Mill. This is an example of a family business (over 100 years old) that goes toe-to-toe with the aforementioned big-box companies and wins in every one of their niches. They don't compete on copper fittings, but you don't have to explain to them what kind of jalousy part you need.

USPS. How many companies have eliminated the need to visit their store and will even schedule a pickup or provide free delivery?

eBay. Their version of "customer service" is the fact that they're scaring the crap out of the big companies. One of the best ways to negotiate with the retail store clerk is to look at your spouse and ask "eBay?"

Seasonal Specialties. When our used fiber-optic Christmas tree was purchased without its power supply, they sent one for only $15. When it burned out, they sent the biggest darn transformer I've ever seen for free. Every phone call was answered on the third ring by the same woman who remembered us and personally went to the warehouse to pull the part.

Sun Electronics solar supplies in Miami. Cheap factory seconds but you're treated just as if you're paying full price for unblemished merchandise. Again a human being answers the phone and it's usually the same guy.

Gibson Research Corporation. Maybe not all of us would want to hang out with a guy who programs assembly language as an obsession profitable hobby, but I've never had a quibble with their products or their return service.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 10:46 AM   #4
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?


Bose, for same reasons you described.

Only one I can think of right now.

(I called Bose on a Friday afternoon about the machine that wasn't working for some reason.... They didn't send a UPS label. They sent a person.... and off my machine went that afternoon........, and the very next day, Saturday, they delivered a brand new one..... Nothing else has ever compared.)
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 10:49 AM   #5
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

I will have to say Fidelity. * I have been completely happy with the ability to quickly get an intelligent human on the line with very little if any waiting. * When I needed to do a somewhat unusual deal (Dutch Auction stock byback) they actually knew what I was talking about and how to make it happen.

They are very patient and helpful whenever I call, will sit there all day talking me thought anything I need help with, the website is very easy to use and informative, and I even got a free Paul McCartney CD for using a retirement tool I was going to use anyway. *
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 12:49 PM   #6
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Costco has also given me a perfect record. A good selection of products from low to high end at reasonable prices and a great return policy.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 12:58 PM   #7
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

My local credit union, my local electric cooperative, my local phone cooperative, and my local gas cooperative.

Who says socialism doenst pay
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 01:02 PM   #8
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Oh yeah, how can I forget Digital Credit Union?! More than 25 years of service without ever pissing me off once. Thats pretty dang good.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 03:05 PM   #9
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Ruger firearms. No matter how old, or how beat up or abused. You send it back, they fix it free. By the way, they have no written warranty.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 05:03 PM   #10
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

llbean.
yankee candle.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 05:13 PM   #11
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?



I'm chiming in about Fidelity -- forgot about them, always so helpful! -- and LLBean, very steady (but boring right now). Never had an issue with Yankee Candle, and don't have experience with Costco or Leapfrog. Sounds good though!
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-14-2006, 05:15 PM   #12
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

LLBean for sure, other than that nothing come to mind.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-16-2006, 07:25 PM   #13
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gratefuled
I won't mention DirecTV
I had then from ~1994 until ~2002, always great products and service. My recent reinstall, not so much. I'm not sure how hard they had to work at turning into giant suckballs in just 3 short years, but they did it. Two shots to get the install right and I still had to 'tweak' the dish to get the signal right. Havent gotten a single bill yet (5 so far) that was correct. None of the mistakes in my favor.
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Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 08:15 AM   #14
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Good:
Vanguard
Fidelity
Officemax


Bad:
Sam's Club Cafe (they don't make my pizza order ~50% of the time)
Bellsouth
Tracfone
AT&T
Dell
Edward Jones (consistently screwed up things re: my accounts)
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 09:31 AM   #15
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

I will add:

starbucks - They know what their customers want, and they deliver it. They are consistant, always friendly, the stores are clean and when I have to they let me work there for 5 hours (the only price of admission is $1.78 for a great cup of coffee)

I'm also a big fan of Amazon.com and Apple. Both of them have wonderful customer service, and I have always been treated well. Recently I had an iPod (out of warranty) replaced at the apple store because "it shouldn't have stopped working" according to their tech. I was impressed.

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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 09:39 AM   #16
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Put me doen for another for Costco.

I also have to put in a good word for Schwab. Since they decided to stop driving all their customers away by trying to go up-market, I've had nothing but good, cheerful service at good prices. If I get someone on the phone who can't help me, they either immediately patch in someone who can help, or call me back with the requested information.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 11:24 AM   #17
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Regarding fidelity and vanguard - when I call them with a complex problem, the CSR seems interested in helping me. The initial CSR will bring a specialist on the phone, explain the situation to them, and then let the specialist do their job. Infinitely better than the typical "let me transfer you" ten different times followed by ten times of me explaining my problem from the start.

Fidelity also does a good job of personalized service. Their reps are assigned a call, and they will follow up until the issue is resolved. They seem devoted to actually resolving customers' issues instead of getting the highest level of call throughput (like some call centers). Maybe it's because I have a sufficiently large six figure portfolio with them

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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 12:16 PM   #18
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

My experience with them has been the same Justin, and I only have a small-six-figure portolio with them.

Of course every time I have a good interaction with them I transfer another account from Morgan Satanly (fruedian slip there). Soon I will be out of that hell.
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 12:38 PM   #19
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

For what its worth, my vanguard service has been pretty good. I do have to say that having gone from a pedestrian investor to voyager to flagship, i've seen a marked improvement in service as we go.

In fact, the service is so good my personal flagship guy even has a funny rich-guy name. Weiland D. Tarpley. I've actually never spoken to Weiland D. Tarpley, as he was recently assigned to my account. But I am very much looking forward to it!

Two thumbs down on sams club too. Besides their cafe food sucking (they basically make the pizza and hotdogs and then leave them there for hours until someone finally buys them), they think its a good idea to cut open peoples product boxes to make sure you havent concealed anything in them. Probably a good strategy 5 years ago when their average customer was taking a break from the meth lab to go pick up a 50lb box of antihistamines, but given the average home in the neighborhood is selling for 400-500k a pop, they might want to reconsider that policy... :
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?
Old 01-17-2006, 04:12 PM   #20
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Re: Okay, enough complaining...who are the GOOD companies?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ()
Two thumbs down on sams club too. Besides their cafe food sucking (they basically make the pizza and hotdogs and then leave them there for hours until someone finally buys them), they think its a good idea to cut open peoples product boxes to make sure you havent concealed anything in them. Probably a good strategy 5 years ago when their average customer was taking a break from the meth lab to go pick up a 50lb box of antihistamines, but given the average home in the neighborhood is selling for 400-500k a pop, they might want to reconsider that policy... :
I love the Sam's Club cafe food - $8 for a humongous monster of a pizza loaded with toppings - can't beat it! Big 16 oz cup of ice cream (plenty for 2!) - $.97. Big 1/4 lb hot dog plus big guzzler drink - $1.50. My favorite is the pizza. The problem I have is when I call to place a to go order, I get there and literally half the time they deny that any to go orders were ever placed. I think they shuffle my order onto the "by-the-piece" rack and then lie to me (I caught them last time). Needless to say, I keep going back because they are the best source for good, cheap pizza (they are within walking distance too). The Cafe is always busy with long lines. They have good food for a good price, but their order management is pitiful.

I hate the rest of Sam's Club. First you have to pay annually for the privilege of shopping there. Prices are barely better than Super walmart for staple goods. Add that to the incredibly long lines at the checkout, the fact that they don't take my credit cards (no visa or MC), and you have to go from line 1 (the checkout) then queue in line 2 (the exit door line) and have your cart contents examined by an auditor before exiting the compound. Might be good for small business owners or provisioning large families/small armies.
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