The Remaining .1%

A few weeks ago (OK, 6) I raved about the calibre of 99.9% of our customers, gushing about how kind, understanding, polite, reasonable and generally upstanding you all are. While this continues to be the case, I did promise to let you in on the remaining .1%. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT I AM WRITING THIS IN FUN and the real percentage is .004%, but I will never forget the person who continues to occupy the top spot on our Customer Hall of Fame plaque, and I will try to aquaint you with that person without divulging a name or address.

You might think that our Customer Hall of Fame bears names of our favorite customers. You would be very wrong. The Customer Hall of Fame contains names of customers from Hell. In twenty years, only eight names have been voted in because it is not easy to be elected into the Customer Hall of Fame. The vote must be unanimous among the office staff and the electee must have made each staff member furious on multiple occasions (though the staff member could never show it).

The Customer Hall of Fame election procedure is a very sacred ceremony- even more so than the Tribal Council on Survivor.

The Customer Hall of Fame plaque used to hang in the hallway just outside the office among the many photos sent in by you, the good customers. It was moved several years ago when someone who was visiting our factory asked why their name was posted on the wall.

But I digress.

It all begins when this particular customer phones our 800 number (at our expense) and reguests a FREE catalog (which we paid to have printed) and we mail it to him first class (another $1.00) and he receives it and apparently reads it and then sits down to a very old Underwood and writes us a letter. This is an actual scan of the first few paragraphs. The black slash mark in the 2nd paragraph was probably the result of some involuntary muscle spasm I experienced while reading.

Not so bad you say? There’s more.

I’m really steamed now because the Aleut is my favorite boat to paddle, but it gets better…

I have a game I play when confronted by angry customers and the object of the game is to win the customers over and make them our friends. The challenge is quite rewarding in the end. But usually when a customer is angry with us, we have done something a bit more egregious than mail out a requested free catalog.

I gave up on this individual at the outset and my reply was not pretty. But I did want you to see why we love the remaining 99.996% of you so much!



6 thoughts on “The Remaining .1%

  1. Ha! I read your note. I read his note(what there was of it). I got nothin’. My advice? Just put him on the “wall” and forget about him. I managed a marina for the last 5 years and you CAN’T please everyone, no matter what you try. Although, you could reccommend a $5600 85 lb. Klepper Aerious II to him. If this turkey thinks an Aleut is too complicated, the Aerious II would blow his mind!

  2. Now I feel guilty. I laughed when I read this fellow’s letter. I know it wasn’t funny to you, but I laughed anyway. And I know it was wrong to laugh at him as he obviously leads such a miserable, pathetic life. But if letting off steam helped, then I’m glad you told us about this.

  3. I sent the link for this essay to a buddy who had a one-man sewing machine repair and sales shop for fifteen years or so. He got a kick out of it.

    And he tried to do what Phil does: educate and not offend. He said he only had one or two problem customers he could not educate, over his tenure … and those he had to ban from the shop.

    Retail … not the easiest way to earn a living.

  4. Sometimes you have to fire a customer. Walk them to the door and end the dialogue. People that elaborately portrait themselves as victims generally continue to see it that way. And there are plenty of attorneys willing to help. Better that this “customer” take up a nice sport like kite flying. He’s not cut from Folbot cloth.

  5. I originally read this article a couple of days ago and wanted to make a comment, but could not come up with just what I wanted to say. So, days later, here it is.

    The gentleman in question seems scared and (I believe) elderly and somewhat lazy. In the letter he is confused and contradictory and wants to go to someone and get all the answers in one place (without asking) rather than doing personally what is necessary to educate himself to a self reliant level. Folbot happens to be the place he picked, and at some distance away, thus not allowing for a face to face encounter, which is an easier situation than being somewhere distant stewing in his own juices. I feel a bit sorry for him as he probably has no one to help him in his quest.

    That does not give him the right for the unprovoked and venomous comments though.

    There is and always will be that .1% that can’t be satisfied with anything. Boats, toothpaste taste, color of shoelaces. I’m afraid we don’t make those people our friends.

    His greater loss.

  6. What a relief, I was fearful of finding a likeness of myself in your .1% list.

    It could have been worse though. Had he actully bought a folbot you’d, still have to be dealing with him.

    John Miller
    Cheyenne, WY

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