Volume 41, Issue 8 - August 2006


Broken Promises
by Deb Levy

“Hello.” The voice at the other end of the phone sounded like its owner had been awoken from a dead sleep. The odds of this were extremely high as it was 3:10 a.m. on a hot Saturday morning in July. As a result of an attempted burglary, one of our office windows had been smashed and I was looking for a glass company to board it up until new glass could be installed. I was using the yellow pages and Internet simultaneously and started with companies closest to the office that advertised “24-hour board-ups” in their ads.

“I’m sorry, but we just don’t do them anymore,” said the lady on the other end of the phone. 

“But your yellow-page ad says 24-hour board-ups,” I protested. 

“Well, I am sorry,” she answered. “I told him to take that out of there. We don’t do them.”

No problem, I thought, there’s plenty more ads for glass shops close by that do. I dialed again. “I can take your name and number and they will call you back in the morning,” said the voice on the line this time. “But your online ad says 24-hour service,” I said again. “I don’t know what it says, ma’am, I just work for the answering service and the owner doesn’t want me calling him in the middle of night. I can get the message to him first thing in the morning, though.”

“Do you actually work for the glass shop?” I asked the voice that answered my next call.

“Oh, yes, ma’am, it’s my company.” 

“Great, and you do emergency board-ups, right? That’s what your ad says,” I added.

“Well ... uh ... sure ... sure, we do it sometimes. Where are you located?” he asked. I told him about our location approximately 14 miles away. “No, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” was his response. Very nicely I asked if he “kinda sorta” picked and chose the board-ups he wanted to do. “Yup,” he answered, “that’s right. For me to do that job isn’t worth it.”

Now I have no quarrel with that. Glass shops shouldn’t have to do work they don’t want to do. But glass shops should not advertise that they provide certain services when they don’t. And they shouldn’t be cherry-picking which jobs they want to do with a lady who has just had her office broken into and who has been up half the night. Believe me, she knows what you’re doing.

You see, to a consumer like me at that moment you, Mr. Glass Shop Owner, are as important as the police or fire and rescue. You are, for me, a first responder in the middle of the night. And, when you let me down, it’s almost the equivalent of not answering my call to 911. It’s demoralizing, defeating and it leaves me feeling desperate. It’s something I’ll never forget and something that I (according to consumer research) will tell 12 other people before I stop. It will also keep me from using your services for anything, ever again, because I already know your word is no good.

After six calls, I was beginning to think I’d be sitting in my office until Home Depot opened and then be trying to board up the window myself. I was exhausted and—since the intruders got away—not too anxious to stay there until daylight. But that is what I would have done, had I not called Woodbridge Glass in Woodbridge, Va. The owner answered the phone, asked me a few questions and told me he’d call me back in ten minutes. I’ll admit, I was skeptical, but eight minutes later, I got a call back telling me their “board-up guy” was on the way. 

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.