Friday, March 02, 2007

I said They Were Awesome

Back in the summer of 2006, I wrote in "The Family Room," which was featured in the Windsor Trib, an editorial about Windsor Auto. I praised them for their amazing and beyond-the-norm customer service.

And boy, did I catch hell for it.

From Tom Fasano at the Trib, because some reader (who turned out to be a friend of the owner or something like that of Pike's Auto) complained that what I wrote was an "advertorial." What a joke. My column is an op-ed piece...I'm allowed to say what I think. I wrote that column to share with readers in town the fact that there is a place to go for capable and trustworthy car repair. And Fasano ran that piece without changing a word of it.

But he apparently couldn't take the heat, and that's when he demanded that I consult with him before writing my columns so that he could approve whatever topic I chose. Another joke.

Windsor Chamber of Commerce just awarded Windsor Auto the annual Outstanding Customer Service Award.

Need I say more?

Well, yeah, I need. I had my van in to Windsor Auto recently and they gave me one of those free loaner cars while the work was being done. I accidentally left my digital camera in the front seat of the car but didn't realize it until the shop was closed on a Wednesday night. That Wednesday just happened to be Tuck's birthday, and when I went to pull out the camera to photograph the event, I realized what I had done.

I called Windsor Auto and left a message that my camera was probably in car number 3 and asked them to please check before loaning it out to someone else. After hanging up, I got worried that they might not listen to the messages first thing in the morning, so I had the audacity to call Scott Crowe, one of the shop's owners, at home. I wasn't looking for anything other than to ask him to please check the car in the morning (I figured he went in early).

Instead of letting me sit at home and worry all night, Scott insisted he meet me at the shop in five minutes so that we could look for my camera together. As much as I hated imposing upon him, I took him up on his offer; I was really worried that I'd lost the camera. And equally worried that if I did leave it in the car, someone might take it.

Sure enough, the camera was in the front seat. My mind was put at ease, and I was able to take my annual birthday photo with Tucker. But I ask: How many business owners would go so far out of their way for a customer? Especially at night, especially when he's already in his pajamas? The answer is not many, and if that sort of treatment doesn't bring them business, I don't know what would.

And I'm thankful I can share this sort of thing with you and not have to answer to a pander-to-my-advertisers editor. Life is good!


Anonymous said...

We use Windsor Auto also and have had nothing but positive experiences with them; unlike Champion Chevy and Pike where we will NEVER set foot again!! Another great place in Windsor is T & T Tire. We have bought 3 sets of tires there and they change the oil on our vehicles too. Very customer-friendly and as a woman, I have never felt "taken advantage" of!

Anonymous said...

I find it funny you failed to mention here that both local newspapers were awarded business of the year awards at that same banquet.
And both local newspapers decided your columns crossed ethical boundaries and decided not to publish them anymore.


Rebecca Valentine said...

How does a column sharing good news about a company constitute the crossing of any ethical boundaries? I left the Trib when Fasano declared his need to control and approve what I wrote. In 3 years, the editor had never done that. In fact, I've never had an editor do that before him. And I left the Beacon voluntarily when I was given the ultimatum to write about inane topics that don't have the possibility of ruffling feathers. Because although my column is often just a "daily life" essay, there are times it isn't, and I did not feel I wanted to compromise on that.

So give it some more thought and perhaps next time get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Talk about ethical boundry crossing. Isn't the chamber president the same man as the winner of your customer service award.

Does that mean he awarded himself as great customer service??

Rebecca Valentine said...

I'm not sure how it works, but I imagine any awards are voted upon. Plus, Pete Hyland is not the sole owner of Windsor Auto, but co-owner.

I see your point, though.