Backwoods Equipment Company

It is nice to see that customer are treated right, even if not on the first try:

"To Whom It May Concern:

On Monday, my wife and I recently went into the Kansas City Backwoods to redeem my birthday postcard for the Osprey pack. We took a quick lap, looked at the new Chacos, and were heading to the front counter. An associate informed me that they were all out of the packs and offered to put us on the waiting list for ours. I asked if any other stores had any, and he asked which color I was interested in. He listed the colors, and showed us similar colors on the Osprey pack wall. We liked the orange/yellow color best, and he checked the computer for packs at other stores. He said that the Wichita store had several of each color, since we were going to Wichita on Tuesday (yesterday) for a business meeting. I also asked about the dates of the semi-annual sale. He said he wasn't entirely sure what dates, except for the end of August. He then explained the benefits of the Passport and offered to sign us up. We declined, but left the store feeling like valued customers.

Tuesday (yesterday) we went into the Wichita store on our way to the meeting. We took half a lap and stopped at the new Nalgenes with the flip top. There were 2 associates nearby talking and neither acknowledged us. We took a green Nalgene up to the counter and stood. The shorter associate (I don't know his name, it didn't look like he had a name tag) with dark receding hair and goatee stepped behind the counter, but instead of even looking at us, plugged something in next to the counter. I was sure he'd help us after a little task, but instead turned his back to us and started working on the fly gear. I had to say "I think we're ready here" to get his attention. He walked over and I asked about the birthday Osprey pack. He said they were out. I tried to explain that KC said that Wichita had them in stock, when he interrupted and said that KC had them in stock. I said that KC looked it up in their computer and it showed Wichita had stock. He said they did not. He did not offer to put us on a waiting list. I said we might wait to purchase our Nalgene until we could find the pack, and he made no objection.

I have walked by sales meetings in Target, and heard the leader stressing that if Team Members could add on just one item to every sale, it would increase revenue by several million dollars. Not only did the Wichita not try to add on a sale, he didn't even try to get THE sale. He let us walk out the door with not another word.

First, if you're going to send out birthday postcards, you should know exactly how many are sent out. You should know an approximate redemption rate from the several years of t-shirt birthday postcards. So why is the gift item unavailable? Its a little frustrating to have a free gift waiting, but you can't fulfill your offer. And when your computer system says they're available in one store (at least 6 in the yellow/orange color), when in actuality they're not, there's something terribly wrong with your inventory system. When will I get my Osprey pack??

Second, the variable nature of service is appalling. One store virtually bends over backwards to fulfill the birthday item, and another store acts completely annoyed by it, and missed a sale. I know that they must have several people a day coming in for a free item, and it must be a little annoying not to have actual paying customers, but each customer should be valued as an individual and not felt to feel like some freeloader who doesn't deserve service.

KC completely dominated this sales experience and I doubt I will ever return to the 'snobby' atmosphere of the Wichita store. In a world dominated by big box, which commonly has lower prices and ongoing sales than independent stores, the Wichita location gave no reason not to shop at Big 5, Bass Pro, or REI."

And response:

"Dear Jason –

First, thank you very much for your email. While I am obviously very upset by it, I appreciate that you care enough to contact me. Secondly, I certainly apologize for your experience. There is no excuse, and while I believe we generally receive high marks for our customer service, it clearly wasn’t executed appropriately in this case. I am embarrassed that you were made to feel as if you weren’t valued, as you most certainly are – as are all Backwoods customers. The staff people that were involved in this situation will be addressed and I assure you that Backwoods will learn from this experience.

In terms of the free bday gifts, we obviously have this program in place as a goodwill gesture and genuinely do want the program to continue to be the positive experience it has been in the past. As you mention, we do have a very good idea of redemption rate and I have no understanding why either store would be out of this product other than a shipping error from the warehouse.

In any event, I am sending this pack out to you personally today with a $25 gift certificate as a small token of my personal apology.

Jason, once again, I hope you will give us more opportunities to serve you in the future. I feel confident we will deliver the service you deserve and the service that I expect from my store personnel.

Best regards – Jennifer Mull"

We will definately be going back to the Overland Park store to do some shopping...we still want a new Nalgene and some new Smartwools might be in order as well...

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