Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Welcome To Customer Service Hell (There is no one here to assist you)

My blog post on January 9, 2012 included the following statements:

I am about to pay my lawn treatment bill for this year and I am also planning to purchase a new lawn tractor. If you combine these two purchasing decisions together, you should expect the “Great Drought of 2012”.

Northeast Ohio is experiencing the worst drought in 24 years and the fewest number of rainy days in 89 years.  It is indeed the “Great Drought of 2012”, so stick it Farmer’s Almanac, I am way more accurate than you!

And of course I did buy a new lawn tractor in April, but it was not easy.  In fact, it was a visit to customer service hell.    

Attempt #1 – The Specialty Equipment Store

When I arrived at the store that sells my preferred brand, I knew something special was up because of the many cars in the parking lot and streamers and balloons outside the entrance.  There was an open house!  But it was for the recreation equipment (ATV’s and Jet Skis) on the right side of the store, not for the lawn and garden equipment on the left, so I did not expect a problem.  They were even offering free barbeque sandwiches.  Unfortunately I had just eaten, so I was not in need of a sandwich.

But when I turned left, I saw two people already in the showroom obviously needing sales assistance.  The salesman was behind the counter totally engrossed in writing something (an ATV order perhaps).  Sitting across the counter from him was an older guy who I assume used to work there and probably conveniently stopped by for a free sandwich.  The old guy realized there was a customer service problem brewing and decided to try and assist the potential customer looking at the chain saws standing just   a few feet away.

Old Guy:  “Can I answer any questions for ya?”

Potential Customer: “Do these Stihl’s ever go on sale?”

Old Guy: (to Salesman) “Hey, do the Stihl’s ever go on sale?”

Salesman: (never looking up) “Not often”.

Old Guy: (to potential customer) “He said, not often.”

It was at that point that I realized I was hosed.  The store was going to close soon and due to their limited hours I would not be able to return for days. If I needed a free sandwich they could provide that, but if I wanted to actually spend money to buy something, tough luck.

Attempt #2 – The Farm and Tractor Supply Store

I then drove a few miles to this store.  I knew carried my second choice of brands at a decent price.  I was relieved to find the parking lot nearly empty. (Maybe they should give away free sandwiches).  It was my first time in the store so I ended up walking the entire perimeter before I found the lawn equipment section.    

I started looking at the equipment and expected to be waited on soon.   After all, there were more employees in the store than customers and there are few self-service items in this section.  After waiting several minutes, I decided to walk to the parts counter in the back to request assistance.  When the woman by the parts counter saw me walking towards her, she broke eye contact and actually started walking quickly away from me. 

Of course I could have run after her shouting, “Sell me a lawn tractor!  Sell me one now, or I’m going to shove my credit card and its large credit limit right up your wazoo!”  But I didn’t.  I was stunned.  I determined this store was not worthy of my business either and left.  I wondered if I had entered a parallel universe where the economy was so good that stores didn’t need $1,500 sales. 

Attempt #3 – The Home Behemoth 

I do not like shopping at the Home Behemoth because it is too big and you have trouble getting sales help (Ha! Ha! Double Ha!).  I wouldn’t even have stopped here except that it was on my way home and I still needed a lawn tractor. 

I was pleased to find that they also carried my second brand choice at a price $100 cheaper than the farm store.  However the salesperson assigned to that area walked past me three times without making eye contact.  I finally had to tell the old guy stationed by the door that I needed help.  He summoned the salesperson on his walkie-talkie and now, surprise, she was happy to help me. 

The good news is that I love my new Cub Cadet.  It works great and the company is a big supporter of the soccer program at The University Akron (my alma mater).  The bad news of course is that I haven’t mowed my lawn in weeks.  The experts say that the grass is not dead, only “dormant”.  I remember my mom saying the same thing about my goldfish when I was five years old.
This "grass" in my yard is not dead; just dormant.


  1. So I'm pretty sure I would have taken two sandwiches and left with them at that point.

  2. Don, their customer service is not dead. It is just dormant.