Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Found: Customer Service

One more customer service story before I leave this topic and look for something else to write about. This time the focus is on fabric, not shoes. And this one has a positive outcome.

When we renovated our house in 2000 and I made the 4 cushions for the window seat in our family room, they looked straight out of Tuscany: sunflowers in yellow and blue. But with time and sun, the colors have faded. It doesn’t help that this is Jake’s favorite look-out post so he spends a lot of his time lying on those cushions.

Last year I had them dry-cleaned thinking maybe it was just dirt that had dulled those wonderful colors. But cleaning only confirmed that the fabric was indeed very faded.

One of the projects high on my list for post-retirement was to re-cover those cushions. I wanted similar fabric, with a look of Tuscany or Provence. So I contacted Boutique Vincenette, where I had purchased the fabric for the blue and yellow placemats and napkins. They wrote back to say their sunflower design is no longer being made.

Then I returned to G Street Fabrics, where I had bought the original fabric. There are endless numbers of things to look at there. But that is part of the problem. When I asked the sales clerks about fabrics with a sunflower design or a look of Tuscany or Provence, they simply pointed me to hundreds of books, never offering to show me any possibilities. I wasn’t about to sit there going through all those books. It was so obvious to me that they didn’t know anything about the fabrics they carried or care to help me in the least.

I called a few places from the Yellow Pages. One person suggested Calico Corners, which has a store in Old Town. I called last week and the woman I spoke to said they might have a sunflower design. When I went in yesterday, a clerk named Denise, who remembered my call, flipped through books until she found the single sunflower design in a 2003 book. Important information like the price had been ripped out of the book. The real question was whether or not the fabric was still available. They took my name and number and agreed to make some calls.

When I called back today, the older clerk Laura said her first call indicated that the fabric was no longer available, but she persisted and called customer service which was able to located 23 yards of it. She placed a hold on all of it until she talked to me. She agreed to help me figure out how much fabric I would need if I brought in one of the four cushions.

I went in today with my cushion in hand. I learned that the sunflower fabric was going to cost $30 per yard. The 8 yards I needed would mean some very expensive cushions. But on the way in, I had spied another print, floral but not sunflowers, that was on sale for 50% off, making it only $10 a yard. The fact that I liked it a lot and the price differential made up my mind.

Denise helped me make sure that 8 yards would be enough fabric. Then she carefully cut it and put it on a big roll.

I could tell that every person working in Calico Corners loves her job and wants to be of service to the customers. I seriously doubt they are paid on commission. Instead they are reminiscent of all the little old ladies I ever knew in the “dry goods” stores in the small town where I grew up. They obviously passed Customer Service 101 with flying colors.

This is a big project I am taking on, but I can’t wait to see how much bright, clean cushions will improve the appearance of the family room.


Blogger Ulysses said...

The cushion looks great, and comfortable (as did the shoes).

11:18 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

But will Mr. Jake be allowed to resume his position??

On the newly covered cushions.

Brave woman .... risking the wrath of the canine world.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a great project. It seems like one of those things that people tend to push off with a "wouldn't it be nice if" or "I should really get to that some day."

It's a lovely print.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ulysses, Kristin -- Unfortunately I have a lot of work to do to turn 8 yards of fabric into cushion covers with piping and zippers. But if I made them once, I can do it again, right?

Rise -- No one can ever deny Jake anything he wants. He thinks he owns that window seat, so of course he will get to perch up there and warn us of any squirrel who dares to enter the back yard.

11:53 AM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

Oooh! pretty- as much as I like the sunflower pattern, I think this is prettier.
Jake will have a lovely resting spot.
I think If you work in a store like Calico's you probably love tht sort of thing- and it shows in the service.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- I like the fabric a lot, especially the red in it.

Jake is like a king sitting on his throne up on that window seat.

I just have to get psyched to start this project when we return from NY, knowing that I will probably work on it until it is done, having a hard time stopping in the middle of a project like this. I once stayed up all night crocheting a poncho for the same reason.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I think it's a nice bright cheery change! You'll be glad you got this new fabric and that it didn't break you!

7:36 PM  

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