Good customer service, and a reason to hoard paperwork

About two years ago, we went on an organizational shopping spree at The Container Store. We got all kinds of great storage items, most of which we still use after two moves in as many years. At the time, the store was rolling out its new ‘buy online, pick up in store’ service and offered additional discounts if you used it. We went to the store and picked out our items, then went home to order everything for much less online. As a bonus, we got Upromise points, too. Upromise.com, for those who aren’t in the know, is a service through which you can save for a child’s college tuition when you shop.  Or in our case, you can use it to pay off student loans. So in short, it was a fruitful shopping experience.

Among the smaller impulse items we purchased was a glass pickle jar. It had an aluminum lid, and when we got home we noticed that it was hard to get the lid on correctly. We’d gotten the last jar, so we figured we could just deal with the difficult lid instead of finding a location that had another jar in stock for exchange. Over time, the lid has become increasingly difficult to close. After our most recent pickle-making experiment (hot pepper and lemon pickled cucumbers–they were…bracing), we noticed that the lid had begun to rust and was nearly impossible to remove.

Never one to just give up and let an item go to waste, I contacted The Container Store to see if I could purchase a replacement lid. I emailed them in the morning, and by afternoon I’d received a reply. While they don’t offer lids for sale, they would be glad to send me a replacement at no charge. They asked for my receipt and my shipping info. That seemed perfectly reasonable a request. But might I remind you that I purchased the jar two years ago, in 2009? That’s where my obsessive hoarding of paperwork comes in handy!

I save paper receipts for all big purchases. I also keep a folder of just about every online purchase I make, so I was able to search my email to find the email receipt for my online order from The Container Store in 2009. I replied to the customer service rep with my 2009 order number and gave her my new shipping address. The jars are on back order, but I should get my lid when they replenish them in September. I’m glad to wait. After all, I don’t really think that the store owed me a replacement lid after two years of making pickles in the jar. Having to wait is just fine.

This instance not only made me a fan of The Container Store and their customer service team, but it also reinforced my belief that you should hang on to receipts and warranty info. Since email receipts don’t fill any physical space in my home, why ever delete them? And the warranty info? It’s all in a small box in my closet. I keep every manual for every item I buy. I have the assembly instructions for every piece of IKEA crap I own. I have the manuals for every phone, camera, blender, pepper mill…you name it. Washing instructions for the IKEA comforter? I got that. Information about the shower rack assembly? Not a problem.

In the last year, those manuals and warranty info sheets came in handy for more than just a pickle jar lid. When the enamel on my Wolfgang Puck cast iron skillet bubbled, I called in the warranty, referenced the online purchase receipt that was in my email, and got a free replacement shipped to me at no charge. When every single plant we bought at Lowe’s died on our porch, we brought the sticks and roots (of the tomato plant and two fruit trees–we didn’t bother with the nearly disintegrated herbs) back to Lowe’s for a refund. Lowe’s offers a replacement for any plant that dies within a year of purchase; ours lasted a month.

There are probably one or two other examples of my receipt-hoarding leading to money back or replacement items, but I can’t recall just now. But I’m encouraged that my one obsessive behavior isn’t so unhealthy. In fact, it’s saved us a lot of money in the last few years.

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