goodwill toward man (that’s generic man, as in mankind, which includes
women and children).
So how is that working for us out there in the world at large — or
even in our own little community and parts of the world not too far
away? Let’s just review how we might be feeling that jolliness and
goodwill in our own community and from the hands of a few of those we
might be having business dealings with who are in a position to pass
around some of that so-desired and so-appreciated goodwill, shall we?
Right now I am in Pahrump (Nevada), visiting my daughter for a
somewhat extended stay this holiday season. Since my work follows me
wherever I go, sometimes my daughter wants to know what I am working
on. Well, she really stirred up my “goodwill toward man” juices when
she started telling me about her coffeepot situation.
All my daughter wanted was a good coffeepot. It was to be a gift from
me. She did her research among the pot manufacturers for what they had
to offer, found one that seemed just right, and — although she did not
see any reviews on that particular pot — ordered it anyway, based on
her conclusion that it would meet her requirements and offer the best
The percolator showed up a few days later. She was so happy to get it
and started using it right away. She called to tell me that it made
the best coffee she ever tasted. I was so happy for her.
Shortly after that call, she called me again to tell me that her
percolator wouldn’t stop perking. She couldn’t imagine what was wrong.
Naturally, she thought to call the company that sent it to her, told
customer service what was wrong, and rather than even acknowledging her
unhappy dilemma as possibly being due to something wrong with the pot,
they suggested that she (my daughter) might be doing something wrong.
However, they reluctantly agreed to send her another one, provided she
return the original to them, at her expense of course. She really
liked the pot, and missed her coffee, so she packed up the pot and
returned it asap.
Came the second pot — oh happy day! But unfortunately, happiness
lasted barely one day. Pot number two did the exact same thing. This
time, customer service thought it would be useful to give my daughter
instructions on how to make coffee; and with carefully restrained
sounds of mild annoyance in the CS representative’s voice, agreed to
send yet another pot.
You probably can guess what happened when pot number three was pressed
into service. You’re right! It did the exact same thing. This time my
daughter was prepared for their lack of belief. She told the CS rep
that she was going to plug in the pot and let her listen. She told the
rep to stay on the line and JUST LISTEN. The pot carried on as usual,
which anyone could hear, since the perking sound was not your mild and
enjoyable “ptt-a-ptt-a-ptt-ptt” perking sound that we might remember
from some former time; it sounded more like five or six Hell’s Angels
down the street revving up their Harleys for a hard drive into town.
Well, from what I can gather about what the customer service person
then said to my daughter, all I can say is that they must really train
those people to deal with customer complaints in such a way as to make
the complainer just give up. My daughter was now told it must be the
water she’s using, her own particular electrical system, or that she
just plain doesn’t know how to follow instructions. She was also told
about the pot’s sensitivities and the need for extreme care — and on
Okay, now she’s in a battle of wits (by the way, that would be one
person with common sense on the one side, and one person who can’t
even smell the coffee on the other side) with someone who is trying to
say, “So who are you going to believe — me, or your own eyes and
ears?” After a very professionally-worded demand for a WORKING coffee
pot — coupled with the statement that she would happily send back the
dreadfully deficient pots upon receiving prepaid postage for their
return, the last comments out of the customer SERVICE rep’s mouth were
something to the effect of, “I’m getting pretty darn tired of all your
She got her pot number four. I’m here, at her house, listening to the
ongoing perc sounds and wondering how the governor of Wisconsin, the
state in which West Bend resides, hasn’t been informed by now of all
the complaints against that particular percolator! I would imagine
that if the president or CEO of that company really doesn’t care about
their customers, then they really won’t have to care about the quality
of their percolators — because they won’t be selling many to the
customers who won’t be buying!
Somehow I always felt that not only was customer satisfaction
important, it was VITAL to keep one’s business going. Heaven only
knows how this West Bend company managed to last 100 years.
But on to other examples of “goodwill” toward man. The other day my
daughter and I were out shopping. We started out while it was light,
but were still inside a particular store after it turned dark. We paid
for our purchases and walked out the same door through which we
entered. There was no light at all out there and consequently neither
I nor my daughter saw the two steps down to the level ground. We both
stumbled, but caught ourselves before falling. Having the same
thought, we took ourselves back into the store and asked to speak to
the manager. Upon hearing about our mishap, along with the reminder
that their store could well be in for an expensive and very
reputation-damaging lawsuit from someone who stumbles and falls, the
manager said, “I have spoken to corporate about that several times.
You are not the only ones who had that experience. Apparently they
just don’t want to spend the extra money to keep the lights on every
Wow! Imagine how good that makes the customers feel! But to the
manager’s credit — as everyone knows, you can’t go against corporate
and still expect to keep your job — he said he would simply lock any
door that did not have a light (until and if they get lighting) and
“force” customers to use the only one lighted entry/exit way.
Before I leave this little commentary on goodwill toward man, I must
tell you about USAA insurance and CMA cable company. In light of the
hard times many of us in this country are having, they somehow managed
to create goodwill among their customers by granting a grace period to
help alleviate their customers’ overwhelming financial stress. Some
customers have been with them for many years, never missing a payment,
and then suddenly found themselves in a bind to meet those payment
dates as usual. Rather than fuss and fume at them and make their
customers feel worse than they already do about not making their
payment on time, the granted leeway, with whatever payment plans could
be worked out, not only “saved the day,” but increased the likelihood
that those customers would stick with them and tell their friends,
increasing business and goodwill all around.
Goodwill! It’s not just for Christmas any more!
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.