Quality assurance is job #1

I’ve spoken – many times, actually – on the value I place on a good customer experience. I’ve railed on about Radio Shack and their somewhat misleading sales practices, and I’ve confronted the demons of subscription land, only to be brought back with a few well-timed and well-intentioned gifts.

When it comes to consumer matters, I usually just complain about things. I don’t show the positive side. But today I will. Today, I present to you – the blog reading public – a short statement of true customer service. You know – the kind that is rarely found today.

And it came from the most unsuspecting of sources: a used car salesman.

As was mentioned a few months back, our loyal Ford Contour decided to give up the ghost. We figured the repair cost in fixing a cracked head on a car worth less than $1000 was not worth investing in. Instead, we used this opportunity to purchase a “dream car” of sorts – Kerrie’s first Subaru Outback.

We searched for Subaru Outbacks online and in the paper. Kerrie’s mother suggested Diede’s Used Cars in Canistota, a town 30 minutes outside of town. She had purchased a Subaru of her own from the owner, Don, and had a great experience. This helped quell any fears I had going into our used car purchase. I don’t usually trust sales people, at least not until I’ve done business with them before, and I wasn’t quickly changing my mind about car salespeople, so the vote of confidence was helpful.

Don agreed to take the Contour off of our hands for a hefty trade-in price (much more than we could have hoped for) and sold us the Subaru for a good amount. I suspect he could feel our trepidation. He told us that if we had any problems with the car, to call him and let him know.

With a majority of the used car dealers in Sioux Falls, the car is your problem as soon as you drive off the lot. With Diede’s, we were still being protected, negating the “buyer beware” aspect of used car shopping. We were at ease. We felt as if we had just dealt with a respectable business and an accommodating owner.

The true test, however, came a few months later. We took the Subaru in for an oil change. The head gaskets needed to be replaced. To the tune of $750.

Kerrie called Don at Diede’s. Don remembered the agreement he had made when we bought the car: if there are any problems, just call. This wasn’t in writing. This wasn’t a store policy. This was just one man’s word.

Three months after purchasing this car, we had a major repair; something that we were sure was ready to be done when we bought the car. Don, in a way, agreed. He offered to either pay for half of the repair or to have his mechanic do the repair at a discounted cost. We took him up on his offer to pay half. He did. He came through. We sent him a copy of the bill, and he sent a check to cover half of it.

As consumers, when we compare a big-time company with a locally owned “mom and pop” shop, we’re often led astray by slightly lower prices and flashier facilities. But these features are commonly used at the expense of true customer service. Don at Diede’s didn’t have to help us out. But he stood behind his word – a concept that has been long forgotten in these days of legally binding contracts and carefully worded exceptions.

Quality customer service is still alive. Just ask Don at Diede’s Used Cars in Canistota, SD. He’ll show you first hand.

This was lovingly handwritten on October 24th, 2006