We were sitting on the porch last night and customer service stories came up. This was a conversation of “Can you beat this?” in a good way. (More)

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Here is the story I told from the early 1980s. It remains my best ever customer service story.

On Christmas Eve day I had gone grocery shopping at the Byerlys store near my parents home. I had two kids in tow, ages maybe two and five. I was buying the ingredients for dinner that evening as well as food gifts for my mom and dad.

Byerlys gave you placards with numbers corresponding to the bins they had put your purchases in. When I drove around to pick up my purchases, they were gone. This is Christmas Eve dinner plus Christmas gifts. In 1982 dollars I remember $224. I drove around, got two boys out of their cars seats and barely made it back into the store before they closed.

I had my receipt in my hand and said, “My groceries are not there in the bins. Hello. We are talking about tonight’s dinner as well as gifts of food for my mom and dad. Help me.”

By the time I got back into the store, they locked the doors. They were closed. What happened is still truly memorable. The manager asked people to stay and help me save Christmas. They cut my receipt into pieces and sent employees running through the store to find what I had bought. Occasionally someone would yell out, “Did you want x or y?” I didn’t really care.

The butcher shop was closed. A not-a-butcher guy was yelling out. “What kind of steak did you buy?” I yelled back that I thought it was T-bones but it didn’t matter. My parents would cook them to well done and that was a terrible thing to do to any steak. He agreed and brought back way more steak than I had originally bought.

They put my groceries into carts and escorted me to my car. They quite literally saved Christmas.

I have to hope that this could still happen today. For what it’s worth, I won the best customer service story last night.


Credit: Adobe Stock Images. Standard License.