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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Great Customer Service at West Marine

While we are in Seattle, we have been busy running errands and taking care of various business that is hard if not impossible to do in Mexico.  Believe it or not, one of the challenges in Mexico was finding Dave a pair of shorts he liked.  You would think that would be no problem but alas since it is winter in Mexico most of the stores (no kidding) were stocking down vests and sweaters not shorts.  And the tourist shops were filled with bathing suits and colorful Bermuda shorts.  So Melissa ordered Dave three pairs from West Marine figuring she would return whichever ones didn't fit.  Dave hates shopping for clothes - so this is by far the easiest way.  So Dave decided to return one of the three pairs, so off to West Marine Melissa goes.

When she gets to the Bellevue store, the clerk (who happened to be the store manager) tries to look up the purchase.  In theory, you don't need the receipt to return an on-line purchase because you can just give them your phone number, they then look up your account, and can get the receipt in their system.  Alas, there are five different accounts with either Dave or Melissa's phone number on them.  The manager explains that this is a know system problem where various actions such as creating an online account will create a duplicate record in the system even though when you registered you tied it to your West Marine Advantage account.  But worse yet, the on-line purchase isn't showing up under any of the accounts.  The manager explains that this is also a known issue.

Meanwhile, Melissa has logged onto the on-line account on her phone and can show the guy the receipt.  So he calls their back end support people and figures out how to do the return even though there is no receipt.  He points out to the back end people who are telling him to just process a "return without receipt" that corporate just sent a memo telling the stores not to do that.  This of course is a catch 22 - corporate can't tell the stores not to take on-line purchase returns because they advertise that as a feature.  But there is no way to do it without violating corporate traceability auditing standards.  Melissa is super impressed at this point that a store manager even understands the issues - both financial and technical.  And he is obviously busting his ass to get her the return but trying to do it in the right way.  He keeps apologizing for the wait (which all in all was only maybe 10 minutes total).

So when he finishes the return, he says he wants to work on merging all our duplicate accounts on the back end so that next time we go into the store all our purchases show up on one account.  So Melissa leaves him the info he needs to do that.  About 30 minutes later he calls her to tell her that he's successfully merged all the accounts.  Moreover while he was looking at the accounts he found some expired reward coupons.  West Marine gives customers a small % of their purchases back in reward coupons.  These are like cash in the store - you can use them for anything and they can be combined.  So he tells Melissa that next month we will have $90 in coupons to use on our next purchase.  He can see that we are great customers and have bought a lot of stuff recently and he wants to make sure that we get all the coupons we are due.  And he again apologizes for the wait in the store.

Wow.  Ok, Verizon, Expedia, Bank of America, Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears - you guys paying attention here?  This is how you do customer service.

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