Posted by: Marty Fahncke | September 28, 2007

Customer Service winners and losers

It’s been a while since I’ve had an installment of “Customer Service winners and losers”. (Click “Customer service” in the categories to the right to see other postings on the subject)

I try to balance each post with examples of both positive and negative experience, along with lessons learned.

Frankly, it’s been months since I’ve had a really good customer service experience. For the most part, I’ve been treated terribly by everything McDonalds to dentist offices to attorneys.

It’s a sad state of affairs.

However, I do finally have two examples of good and poor customer service to tell you about.

Customer service winner

Carmax logo
I’m as shocked as you are to see a car dealer listed in the customer service “winner” category, but they do in fact deserve it.

I recently purchased a car through Carmax, and it was the one of the most simple processes I’ve ever seen.

1. I saw the car I wanted on their website, The non-negotiable price was listed.
2. I researched the price on Kelly Blue Book and NADA, and determined it was a good deal.
3. I went to the dealership, where the (non-commissioned) sales person showed me the car.
4. I took it for a test drive, and knew it was what I wanted
5. We went inside the office, where I was dreading the high-pressure part of the deal. But that didn’t happen. The price was the price.
6. I had already arranged financing before I went, but they offered to see if they could beat it. Again, no pressure, just a simple offer. I said yes, and they actually did beat my prearranged bank rate.
7. While I finalized paperwork, there was a very nice, enclosed play room full of toys to keep my little ones occupied.
8. The entire transaction, from walking onto the lot, to driving away in my new car was LESS THAN AN HOUR!

There was never any pressure. No negotiation on the price. No back-and-forth with a “sales manager”. It was just a simple, clean transaction.

Lessons learned:
#1 – Carmax is growing by leaps and bounds by breaking the rules of “used car dealers”
#2 – By providing great service, not only will I be back, but I’ve told many others about my experience
#3 – Good service = more profits. The price I got on the car was GOOD, but not GREAT. I probably could have purchased the same car slightly cheaper somewhere else. That’s ok though, because I was willing to trade a little bit of price for a lot of service. Carmax makes more money in the short term and the long term.

Customer service loser

Microsoft Windows Live OneCare:
This is a software that provides firewall, virus protection, hard drive backup, etc for your computer.

Recently, I had a computer crash. It’s never a fun thing, and the time and energy it takes to recover is a pain.

Having been through a couple of computer crashes in my life, I’m fairly good about backing up. I’m not obsessive, but unlike most people, I do manage to get it done fairly regularly anyway. So when my computer crashed, I wasn’t too worried.

I should have been.

Even though I have been creating back-up disks of my hard drive with OneCare, I’ve never actually tried to RESTORE from those back-up disks. When I tried to restore after my crash, fully 60% of my data would not restore.

To top it off, the Microsoft tech support was TERRIBLE!!!!!

On average, it took them 2-3 days to respond to any messages, and when they did respond, it was usually to ask a question that I had already provided an answer on.

After 13 days of back and forth with them, I finally gave up, and manually moved as many files and I could by simply cutting and pasting from the CD’s.

I spent hours manually moving 3 GIGABYTES of data, and I still don’t have my email restored. At this point, I don’t think I ever will.

Let this experience serve as a warning:
#1 Always back up your computer
#2 Make sure you can actually RESTORE from the backups you make
#3 Don’t use Windows Live OneCare if you want any kind of decent customer service


  1. My name is Chris and I am the social media PR guy at the CarMax home office. Google Alerts notified me of your posting and I wanted to say thanks for your comments. CarMax strives to offer excellent customer service and I am happy to see your post.

    Chris Wilmore
    CarMax New Media

  2. Hey! I just would like to give a huge thumbs
    up for the good info you may have here on this post.

    I might be coming again to your blog for more soon.

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