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What happened to customer service?

While training employees at Sears Roebuck I recall the instruction manual. When there’s a complaint employees are told to apologize first, determine the problem and satisfy the customer’s complaint.

Bill York

At York Furs a client justifiably complained about a restyle I did on her mother’s old fur coat. I quickly returned her money than suggested I make pillows and hats so she could be near her mother’s favorite mink, and at no cost.

After three strokes I gave my Ithaca 20 gauge shotgun to a son. I bought it in 1953. With abundant wildlife on the farm, we rarely had to go to the meat market.

To provide my son and his wife with a training session I could not recall some vital facts about the gun so I called a nearby sporting company and asked for the gun department.

For several minutes I heard a voice telling me what a superb company it is, and how many charities in which they are involved. Every few minutes a voice informed me that someone would be with me shortly. Impatiently after too many rings I hung up and called another of that store only to be annoyed by the same promotional pitch.

The experience reminded me of trying to get the price on a lawn-mower from a major retailer.

I was told often that someone would be with me shortly. I was curious as to how long the connection would take and since I’m retired I have some available time to be a complete nuisance.

After many un-answered rings to their mower department, interrupted by a voice saying someone would be with me shortly I erupted with some incendiary naval vernacular and considered buying some cows and goats.

Instead, I called their main competitor only to discover that they also had no employees to answer an inquiry by a person ready to buy a lawnmower.

Hoping to accomplish my objec-tives I telephoned another store and asked for their gun department.

A man answered on the second ring.

I asked him how many shells I could load in an Ithaca model 37 20 gauge pump gun.

“We don’t sell the Ithaca but the Browning is about the same,” the man said. “It holds one shell in the chamber and four in the breech.”

What a difference employee training makes.

With the most professional customer service program in retail, I can’t understand why Sears is closing so many stores. If I still had my fur shop I would try to hire the guy. He’d be a super mink salesman.

Bill is a 92-year old WW II Navy veteran and retired President of York Furs in Buckhead. You can contact him by email at