Friday, December 30, 2011

Ramblings, Reviews and Reflections.

All to often, given my background in retail and wholesale, I would say consumers are more likely to complain about bad service rather than commend good service. In the past week, I have had two very solid experiences with strong customer service.

I had previously reviewed a wading jacket from LL Bean that, at the end of the day, I really wasn't pleased with how the product performed. Following the simple instructions for easy return, on their website, I returned the jacket and received word that I would be credited the full amount. The shipping was also pre-paid via the label printed from their site. The process could not have gone any better and I was refreshed at how they stood behind their policy of 100% satisfaction. Hopefully, this is not something I will need to take advantage of again but this policy does give one a level of comfort...kudos to LL.

A trip to Orvis, to return a gift, led to the same result. I've been shopping my local Orvis store for about 2 years and the most pleasant thing is the fact the the staff has remained the same over that time. In retail, that's the exception, not the norm. I often wonder if Corporate understands how important consistency of sales staff is to the consumer...it's like the bartenders from "Cheers". I exchanged my item with no hassle and nothing but smiles and nice conversation from the staff.

The flip side of my recent shopping excursions has also reinforced how hard it has become to buy American. I am not hard core when it comes to buying local however, I have tried over the last year to become more aware of the selection available and but American if it's feasible. I still have a preference for foreign cars and hope US automakers can step up the quality of their vehicles. I was surprised to walk around the Manchester VT based company and see how many products are made overseas. Are you really telling me that a magnetic net holder can't be produced in the United States at a competitive enough price or is Corporate that motivated by the bottom line? ( rhetorical, as, sadly, I know the answer already )

Which leads me to the review of the Orvis Magnetic Net holder...

Normally, I wouldn't review a product until I have had some time to use it on the water and gauge its performance for myself. Sadly, this item didn't even make it the the river. On the positive side, the magnetic connection is fantastic however, someone in procurement should have been concerned with quality over price. I was optimistic that the welded loop on the plastic coil would be sufficient...I was wrong...yes, I did tug at the coil to check the weld and it popped immediately. In fairness to me, I pulled with the smallest amount of force, even less than how my net has been pulled in the Farmington in the past. Had I been on the river, my net would now be a floating memory. The other bug in my craw concerns the disconnect between the internet price and the store price. This item is on sale on the Orvis website however, it's $5 more in the store. I see this happen quite often and while stores will make the adjustment if this situation is brought to their attention, I am left to wonder how many times I did not catch such a mismatch.

I grew up in Waterbury, The Brass City. My first job was at the old Howland-Hughes department store...the Grand Dame of all businesses located downtown.
Exchange Place, downtown Waterbury CT
The Waterbury Clock Company
In its heyday, Waterbury was the leading producer of brass products in the world. Now, this city is a shell of its former self and I am left to watch it continue to decline a little more each time I return to visit my parents. Gone are the manufacturers and factories that were once fanning the flames of growth. Gone is the bustling downtown that was full of hope and promise. Vacant buildings now dominate the landscape. Given our present course, I can only wonder what the town will look like when my kids are old enough to make the drive on their own...

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