Customer service

My three good harmonicas are the Lee Oskar brand, manufactured by Tombo. They’re great harps, and they come in really nifty interlocking plastic cases. You can slide together as many or as few of the cases as you want and carry them as a unit.

A few years ago, about the time I fell off the harmonica wagon, I broke the case for my “G” harmonica. (The reason I have three is that each is a different key.) The end popped out of it. I still kept the harmonica in what was left of the case, but it wasn’t completely enclosed.

Now that I’m playing again, with trips to Mountain T.O.P. and Kenya on the horizon, I wanted a good case for the harmonica. Lee Oskar does have a web site, but they don’t really do business online because they don’t want to compete with their network of retailers (both brick-and-mortar and online stores). If you have no other option, however, they do have a downloadable order form which you can print, fill out and mail in — with a check or cashier’s check, no credit cards. As I say, this isn’t because they don’t want to serve the customer; it’s because they want the customer to go through the retailers.

Anyway, I looked and looked and could not find an online retailer that sold the cases on their own. So I happily wrote a check and mailed in my order to the Lee Oskar folks. It was a small order — the shipping was almost as much as the cost of the little plastic case.

Today, I got my order — not one but two of the plastic carrying cases, plus a larger cloth carrying case with room for seven harmonicas. (They normally sell the cloth case for considerably more than the little plastic cases.) They even included a little car air freshener shaped like a harmonica and a Lee Oskar bumper sticker. I thought it was some kind of mistake, but I e-mailed the company and it was just a courtesy gift.

I debated about whether to identify them by name — I don’t know what their normal policy is, and I don’t want people writing in and demanding free gifts just because I got one. But I just thought it was great customer service, and as much as bloggers like me use this forum to complain, I wanted to give someone a well-deserved pat on the back.

Of course, now I’m looking forward to filling up the other four spaces in that cloth case, so maybe they knew what they were doing. :)

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