Many have knocked on Pam Jones’ front door in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. She’s pulled it open to find family, friends, fundraisers, strangers and salesmen. Like most of us, nothing surprises her anymore.
The evening of June 24 was no different. When the doorbell rang at 9:45 p.m., Pam wasn’t surprised.
No, she was shocked.
Earlier that day, Jones shopped at a Costco Warehouse in Frederick, Maryland. She’s been a member there 15 years and says she “dearly loves” that location. But several weeks earlier, she’d gotten all the way home before discovering the cheese she’d purchased was moldy. It was such a rare mistake, she let it go and chalked it up to just one stubbed toe in her long, satisfying dance with the warehouse giant.
Then on June 24 while putting away her Costco stash, Pam noticed she’d bought damaged, split bananas. Even though she accepted responsibility for not checking more closely, she was still irritated at the inconvenience. She hated to complain to her favorite store, but it was time for a phone call.
Jones punched in the number and explained her frustration to an employee on the other end. They soon paged manager Mike Shake, and the rest of the story is the stuff of customer service legend.
“He was the kindest manager I’ve ever spoken to,” Pam said of the man she’d not previously met. After sharing her story, Shake didn’t just apologize profusely, he refunded her for both purchases.
Surprising? Not really — isn’t this what any good manager would do?
Later that evening, feeling satisfied that her favorite retailer had treated her well and would retain her loyalty, Jones slipped on her pajamas and prepared to say goodnight to her productive day.
Then, the doorbell rang.
“I couldn’t believe it!” Jones said. “There was Mike Shake at my front door holding fresh cheese and bananas.”
After working a very long day, Shake had truly gone the extra mile on his way home to Berryville, Virginia to demonstrate that his apology wasn’t just about a hurried words on the phone. He didn’t just want to say Costco was sorry, he wanted to show it.
When I asked Jones what went through her head when she saw him at her front door, she described feeling like she was living in an episode of “Little House on The Prairie.”
“What a breath of fresh air! It was so refreshing that someone would care enough to stop by our home to make something right. It was so highly unexpected and greatly appreciated.”
Before calling it a night, Jones popped onto Facebook to share her experience. She believed that kind of service needed a spotlight bigger than just the one on her front porch. Her friends reacted with similar amazement and the post became one her most “liked” ever.
That’s not really surprising either, is it? We live in a contentious world saturated bad news and bad reviews. Everyone knows that social media can spread global fires from the tiniest of digital sparks.
As I’ve written before, we waste too much air shouting into angry bullhorns of dissatisfaction. Sometimes customer service isn’t so awful. Sometimes it’s good, other times it’s great, and on occasion, it’s downright extraordinary.
As it should be, this remarkable Costco manager has no idea he’s being highlighted in this column. When I reached out to him to confirm the experience and inform him Jones had shared it on social media, he said humbly, “Wasn’t that nice of her?” Then he changed the subject.
Despite his likely embarrassment and this warehouse-sized shoutout, Mike Shake deserves to know that he made a difference that night at 9:45 p.m. at a front door in West Virginia. Not just for Pam Jones and her family, but for all of us who want to believe there are still companies and managers who put people first and go out their way to lead by example.
Next time your doorbell rings and you’re in your PJs, check your bananas. You just never know who’s on the other side of the door.
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