Customer Service - has this ever happened to you?

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 03-19-2009 08:52 PM 2106 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve actually heard other’s speak of similar experience, but as I’ve never had it first hand, I had always spoke in favor of the stores, and tried to bring a second side to each story.

This time – I was on an unfamiliar side of the story… maybe this has happened to you?

I’m in the market for a new table saw, I had sold mine (maybe a bit prematurely, as I am without one for the time being – although with not too much time to be had in the shop, it still psychologically feels like I’m missing something). And so, I went to a couple of place to see what they have on display and get a hands on experience with the machines.

I will not name names, nor point fingers, as this is more on the humorous side of things, but I’m pretty sure people can guess the names involved.

I walk to the register, and tell the guy “hello, I’m interested in table saws”, he says “let me show you what we’ve got” and he gets behind the register and walks me to the table saw section of the store -so far I’m happy – I’m getting responsive and positive service- just like I would expect. and with a friendly smile !

on the way I tell the guy “I’m looking for something that will run on 110v as I dont have 220, nor will I have that in the near future. It is also important for me to have a riving knife on the saw as personal requirement. AND , my budget is up to $1K” – 3 points that kinda limit saw selection, and not necessarily in a bad way – less saws = easier to select.

so, he shows me what saws they have that are 110v, with and without riving knives (ok I think to myself, I guess this is what they’ve got, so might as well see and compare) – ” And… ” he says ” there’s also the powermatic. “

At that point I was almost jumping for joy – did powermatic come out with a hybrid/new saw that is 110v with riving knife that is in the $1K range? that is awesome… I’m so glad I came to check this out.

And he continues “that one is about $2xxx ….”

bummers… no hybrid powermatic for me then…apparently he was referring to the PM2000 – thats a 220v , a little (correct me if I’m wrong) over my $1K budget… (slightly)... not quite sure how it got into ‘our’ selection of tables saw… but , I guess it’s a benchmark to compare to.

we continue to discuss what’s available, and then he says “well, actually all new saws that are made in 09 will have riving knives in them by default” .... I had thought that only NEW MODELS will have that, but he insisted that ALL saws MADE in 09 will have that, regardless of the model (really? wouldn’t that make an ‘older’ model not really ‘that’ model anymore if it’s changed to includee riving knife?”) but I like the idea…. so , I close my eyes, and listen to the story – I always liked bedtime stories.

he says “let me go to the register and make a list of what saws will be available to order now with riving knifes” ... I say “ok” and he goes about… I’m all excited- I’m going to be able to pick any saw I really want , and still have a riving knife with it…

when he comes back, it appears that I knew more than him, as no new saws will have riving knifes except those that already have them … bummer again… but oh well, I wasnt surprised – just disappointed again.

“But …” he goes, “there’s the powermatic with a riving knife”

is the guy serious?

it actually went through another similar cycle, but I dont want to bore you all…

I went out of the store with all the money burning a hole in my pocket… gonna have to look elsewhere I guess.. lol

It’s one thing to know more than the guy at Home Depot, but I don’t like to know more than the guy at the specialty woodworking store… esp. when they are the distributer :o|

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

8 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4333 days

#1 posted 03-19-2009 09:25 PM

Sounds like he was working on commission or a used car salesman in a former life. It would have been nice just to show you the lines that they had available that met your criteria but I don’t blame you for walking. There is no doubt that the Powermatic is a wonderful saw but, if it is not in your budget, then the guy really should have shown you what you wanted. I am sure he would have made a sale, if he had.

You might want to look at Grizzley. They have a 2HP model with a riving knife for under $1K.

I hope you find one soon because being w/o a saw really dampens your initiative to get something going in the shop.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Lenny's profile


1639 posts in 4038 days

#2 posted 03-19-2009 11:28 PM

Purplev, come on down to Little Rhody; I have just what you want for under $1K. It’s a 30 year old Craftsman, oops wait a minute, it doesn’t have a riving knife. But it runs on 110V. Oh wait a minute, it’s a Radialarm saw not a table saw. Sorry.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4636 days

#3 posted 03-20-2009 03:18 AM

Had this experience numerous times. The last time I listened to a guy solely on the basis of his being behind the counter I ended up attaching some very expensive veneer with contact cement. Whoops.

I think the overall issue is that we don’t pay people in retail enough to be knowledgeable any more. Rare is the person who’s selling power tools because they’re making more doing that than they would be applying the knowledge to actually building stuff. And how many of us go to the store with the great salespeople for everything, rather than picking and choosing and getting the high profit margin stuff at a steeper discount elsewhere, thereby encouraging the run to the bottom? I know I’m guilty sometimes.

Not saying competence in retail never happens, there’ s one person at that same store that sent me wrong on the veneer whose word I’ll take fairly strongly, but I’ve come to expect them to be the exception.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 4184 days

#4 posted 03-20-2009 03:42 PM

I try to not talk to people at my local wood store. Ever since the guy was trying to sell me the Inline pulley kit and told me it was supposed to up the RPM of the blade as it was a “Performance Booster”

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4160 days

#5 posted 03-20-2009 03:56 PM

marcb – at least he didn’t tell you it’ll make your blade sharper

Barry – the customer is ALWAYS RIGHT! seriously. and being a salesperson does not have any special characteristics to it compared to ANY other profession – you need to be good at what you do to excel and make a profit – period.

a good saleperson in my opinion is not the one that sell the most at the end of the month – but the one that gets the most repeat clients at the end of the month. I’ve had my share of experience with both types of sellers, those that try to get by me and just get me to buy (I will NOT buy from those – so – energy wasted), and those that told me up front, we know you have other options, but we’ll do whatever we can to help you make the right choice, spend time with me, educate me, be nice to me, courtesy goes a long way – I will most definitely come back to those, and tell everyone I know to check them out as well – this is a pro.

it seems that many people think that being a salesperson is just a part time job that you can do to get by… no need to learn, no need to become an expert… just to pay the bill – I find these are the salespeople that are hurting the store/supplier the most (depending on the store of course).

like I said – I expect little from the local HD guy (and some actually WILL surprise me in a positive way – which is great), but when I come to the local distributer for a certain brand – meaning -they are the ONLY one that carry that brand in the area- at least know more than I do about that brand and what it has, and what it doesnt have.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4636 days

#6 posted 03-20-2009 04:00 PM

Barry, one of the reasons I don’t begrudge Festool and other high end brands their fixed pricing is that it gives the retailer the profit necessary to actually hire competent staff.

Marc, yeah, we went car shopping recently, high end dealership, personable salesman who we actually ended up ordering from, but woefully misinformed on ”#2 diesel”, among other things.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4160 days

#7 posted 03-20-2009 05:30 PM

Barry – I was using that for the sake of argument – of course it’s not literally always true that the customer is always right ;o)

and you just proved my point – you guys are chosen in the industry because you DO practice differently your sales approach. more power to you!

I know there are customers what will come to the store and waste the salesperson time, just like a bad salesperson can waste a good customer’s time. but it is not by these cases that good service is measured. it is measured by how you can excel EVEN THOUGH you have to work through some harder cases. seems like you guys have the right ideas how to coop with the market and your customers to get as close to a win-win situation for everyone. thats all I wish to see more often, and in more places – I know it’s a stretch as different people have different ideas, but you can clearly see how many places that don’t practice good service are forced to close shop lately with the economy changes.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4636 days

#8 posted 03-20-2009 07:15 PM

So Barry’s talk about bike shops brings up another issue about customer service that I’ve had. We’ve got 5 bikes in this family, including 2 tandems, but I’ve got a mountain bike and a road bike, and before we moved I ended up using two different bike shops for them.

The reason was that the bike shop I bought several mountain bikes from, and to whom I took my mountain bikes when I needed repairs I couldn’t do myself, or new parts ‘cause I’d sheared ‘em off on a rock somewhere, wouldn’t see me as the customer who also had a super babied high-end road bike.

I can’t say that I blame them, when I brought my mountain bike in if the derailleur got somewhere in the ballpark of the gear that was fine, ‘cause it was gonna get bashed out of alignment on my next ride anyway, and if I needed to replace parts I wasn’t going to get the ultra high-end bits because there were good odds it was going to get sheared off, but what I really wanted was to have two identities with the shop, one related to each of my bicycles.

So I ended up taking the road bike to a different shop where they knew me as the effete perfectionist who chamoised my bike and fussed over grams on tires.

With tools this isn’t a problem because I don’t buy Festool from the same place I get the Craftsman “I’m gonna get drywall and tile dust in this” circular saw, but it can be an issue with any supplier with whom I’m building a relationship.

On “wasting the salesperson’s time”, a few years ago I mostly stopped drinking, but I still hung out with friends or went to shows in bars. I learned to ask the bartender for a glass of water or seltzer water, and then tip as though I’d bought a mixed drink, especially if the seltzer was free. I’m not quite sure how I, as a customer, can extend this to sense of establishing a relationship which says “I’m going to treat you fairly if you treat me fairly” to woodworking vendors, but maybe there’s a lesson there about buying consumables from the same people you buy the big fixed machines from.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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