Readers Respond

Is the customer always right?

(The following letters were in response to an item about the now-famous JetBlue flight attendant incident and its lessons for customer service.)

“The customer may not always be right, but he/she is always the customer.”—Tony Calistro, Ring’s End Lumber, Stratford, Conn.

“Is the customer always right? Not always. But most companies will never tell customers they’re wrong, even when they are. You are never too willing to let the almighty dollar walk out the front door [too] easily. Most of the time, we keep our cool and, through some savvy dialogue, educate the customer on the particular item or issue at hand, and guide them in what we feel is the right direction. If they end up being forever resistant or argumentative, we smile and graciously apologize.

“In extremely rare instances, we have asked a customer or two to not come back. Some people are just extremely negative in general.

“I have noticed that sometimes the older people handle these situations better than the younger. In these instances, when management sees the situation is not going well for the employee, they need to step up and ask, ‘How may I be of service?’ as opposed to give a glance and mutter: ‘Boy, I’m glad I don’t have that customer.’”—Mark Rezak, Millard Lumber, Omaha, Neb.

“No employee should have to tolerate abuse, verbal or physical…nor should they engage in actions that encourage emotions to escalate.

“If abuse happens, the appropriate reaction is to calmly advise the customer they will not be abused, back away, and call for a supervisor or other staff to get in the picture.

“From the moment I saw the JetBlue incident, I wasn’t buying what was being reported…My opinion is, this guy was looking and had planned to take this action. We will see what is found out.

“Flying the past 30 years, the airlines have developed/retained a small but significant number of people who obviously dislike interacting with the public unless they do just…exactly as they want them to. In the Army I had drill instructors who were friendlier.”—John M. McGraw

Aging in place: A trend for the future?

“I can speak from experience that aging at home is preferable to anything else. The elderly should stay in their homes for as long as they possibly can. The comfort one has from staying in his/her own environment is important. I feel that this category is poised for tremendous growth, and not much attention (or products) is aimed toward this department. Who knows who will come out with the innovations that are needed to extend the home experience for the elderly?”—Richard Freund

“With the U.S. population aging—the age factor growing every year—how can hardware and home center retailers and distributors ignore this important market segment? They can be assured—The Home Depot and Lowe’s certainly won’t.”—Paul Siegel, GoPro Construction Solutions

Crackdown on luxury shower heads

“I guess the government wants us to dry clean.”—Richard Deitrich, Wrightsville, Ga.

“I stand for water conservation. Build different designs of the water-conserving shower heads, and consumers will still have a choice. There are many consumers, (I’ve been one) who will ‘piss away’ water just because they can afford the cost. There are still an amazing number of consumers who have no clue regarding water conservation and how to conserve. ”—Bill Sarbaugh

“Consumer choice should always trump bureaucratic policy.”—Jim Madsen, Castle Rock, Colo.

Internet sales tax

“Whether the store is online, in a catalog or has a store front, all must pay the sales tax. If you sell your car online, when you go to register it, you need to pay the tax.”—George Polony, Heieck Supply

“While I agree that online retailers should need to charge, collect and pay sales tax, implementing it will put a serious burden on any company conducting an online business. Most states require sales tax calculated based on point-of-possession, and this is what they’re all after—to collect the sales tax due on products shipped into their state. This means that every online retailer now will need to find a way to be able to accurately calculate and report on sales for every possible tax jurisdiction in the U.S. For larger companies, this may not be unmanageable, but for smaller, niche companies operating out of their home, this could be too much burden.”—Patrick O’Neil, IT manager, Bellevue Builders Supply


In an article on HD Supply in the Aug. 9 issue, the size of Crown Bolt’s market share was misstated. The overall U.S. market in fasteners and builders hardware is $725 million and $350 million, respectively. Crown Bolt owns a portion of that market through its sales to Home Depot and other retailers.

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