We’ve all experienced good and bad customer service. A retail clerk goes above and beyond the call of duty to replace a defective product, restoring your faith in humanity — which is only doomed to be damaged again when you go to dinner at the local burrito shop, and the guy behind the counter gets your order wrong, despite the fact that you repeated it three times.

In the fourth installment of “Looking Out My Window,” Brian shares two personal customer-service experiences he had — one good, one bad — and what it taught him as a business owner.

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One night, after returning from a trip, I checked the charges made to my Chase credit card and I indeed found some questionable charges made to it. So I called Chase’s customer service department and inquired about the charges.

“Can you tell me anything about these charges?” I asked the customer service representative on the line with me. “I don’t recall dealing with these merchants.”

“Does anybody else use your card?” she asked.

It was a work credit card. Our controller at I.D. Images occasionally uses it for work-related purchases. Several other people in the company also use it. But they always make me aware when they use it.

“I use it for work, and one or two other people have access to it. But these purchases don’t seem like something they’d make,” I said. “It’s late at night, I don’t want to call them and bother them at this hour.”

She asked me to hold, got a representative from the merchant on the phone and discovered that purchases had been made by several people I had never heard of.

“Well, it looks like someone got a hold of your card,” she told me. “We’ll block the card for you immediately. We’ll send you a statement, and you can tell us which purchases you made and which ones you didn’t. And we’ll FedEx a new card to you overnight.”

When I hung up the phone, I felt a lot better about the situation. It was a textbook example of how to provide great customer service. She quickly identified the problem, got to the bottom of it and delivered a thorough solution that minimized any additional inconvenience for me.

I was so impressed; I called her supervisor to express how pleased I was with her service …

… Yet while the folks at Chase were smoothing over an extraordinary situation for me, at the same time the folks at the new payroll company we were working with found a way to make an ordinary situation into a colossal headache.

As the majority owner of an LLC, I don’t technically take a salary. I take a draw. The difference is, payroll taxes aren’t withheld, among some other rules pertaining to the IRS. But because of that, the payroll company wasn’t supposed to charge a fee to process my paycheck. We had an email from
them clearly stating that my paycheck wasn’t supposed to incur a fee. But every month we’d get a statement from them and one line would show “Draw to Brian Gale fee.”

It wasn’t a big amount, about $15 a month. But it kept happening, no matter how many times we tried to resolve the issue. My payroll people tried to work with the payroll company; they eventually became so frustrated, I had to get involved directly.

“We never told you there wouldn’t be a fee,” one of their representatives
told me in an email.

I forwarded the email that said, clear as day, that we wouldn’t be charged a fee for processing my paycheck. Then I got on the phone with one of their managers.

“That’s not what we meant by the statement in the email,” I was told. “You’re misreading it.”

Now I was mad. Don’t call me a liar. I made up my mind, on the spot, that we were done working with that payroll company. If that’s indicative of how the company treats its customers, I didn’t want to stick around and find out how it would handle a real problem worth more than $15 a month.