Today I’m introducing the Elliott Award for Excellent Customer Service, a weekly shout-out to companies that go above and beyond the call of duty to help their customers. And I’m pleased to announce the first winner: luggage manufacturer Wenger.
Christopher Smith bought a Wenger Swiss Army Pegasus Backpack in 2009 from a Circuit City store that was about to be shuttered. The retailer had marked the bag, which lists for $99, down by 50 percent, making it a real bargain.
“It looked sturdy, and since I travel a lot, I needed to make sure my laptop was safe, in addition to external hard drives and various other electronic devices I needed to carry for my job,” he says. “Over the past four years, the bag has been dropped, manhandled by TSA and always handled superbly. Aside from some dirt and some scuff marks, the bag looks brand-new, still.”
But two weeks ago, while he tried to sling the bag over his shoulder at the airport, a buckle connecting the shoulder strap to the bottom strap snapped. Smith dropped the bag from about three feet to the ground, directly on its back where his laptop was stored. Fortunately, the PC was unharmed, “attesting to the superior protection the bag provides,” he says.
Since I rely on the bag, and figured the bag was well out of any warranty, I contacted Wenger customer service to inquire how much it would cost to fix the broken buckle.
A very friendly customer service person listened to my story and told me that she was going to send me a webform to fill out, which would require my original receipt (which I had kept since it was a business expense for me) and some pictures of the bag itself and the broken buckle.
I filled out the form, and e-mailed it back, as requested.
Unbelievably, Smith received response less than 24 hours later with some good news: His bag was still under warranty. But there was just one hitch. The buckle was really difficult to repair.
“Instead, they would be sending me a brand new bag, at their expense, and to dispose of the original bag if I wished,” he says. “Three days later, my brand new Wenger Pegasus bag was sitting on my doorstep.”
Wow. Not only did Wenger honor the warranty on a deeply-discounted purchase, but it went above and beyond what it needed to, sending Smith a new bag.
“If anyone is in the market for a new bag, I highly recommend Wenger, not only for their phenomenal craftsmanship, but because of their superior customer service,” he says.
Wenger, it’s an honor to give you a shout-out for excellent customer service. Nicely done.
By the way, if you have a story of a company going above and beyond the call of duty to help you, please share it with me.