Customer Service Battle #1: Kragen v. Wal-Mart

January 17, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

Before we drove through a storm in the Lake Tahoe mountains, my friends and I faced a storm down in the Bay Area. We were trying to buy snow chains prior to hitting the mountains and arrived at our friendly Kragen, no relation to Noah Kagan, at 9:07pm. Unfortunately, they closed at 9pm and the cashier came to the front door and answered my question if the had the snow tire chains we were looking for. Yes they did but he couldn’t even take cash as the registers were closed. I pleaded with him and asked for his manager but he said the manager would not come to the front door. With tears in my eyes I walked back to the car and drove off with my homies.

We left and continued our drive through Pinole, Ca. We called a Wal-Mart near Roseville and to our surprise they were open till 11pm and had our chains in stock. Sadly, we were more than 2 hours away and did not expect to arrive before the store closed. Luckily, the store manager said he would stay late and open the door when we arrived and sell us the chains. Holy shit, can you imagine the feeling knowing the manager of a super large store will stay late and help us get the chains we so desperately needed.

I took a picture with the manager (Jerry) above because I was so flattered at the extent he would go to help us out. It made me wonder whether it is company culture that dictates the way he acted or just individual circumstances? Does Wal-Mart realize they make money from customers and treat them well or was Jerry just the man.

This is another one of those business book stories talking about how bad customer service will spread and affect your business. Even though it was only a $30 transaction I am now much more attached to buying at Wal-Mart for my auto supplies and would avoid Kragen at all costs.

Anybody else have similar stories?

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9 responses to “Customer Service Battle #1: Kragen v. Wal-Mart

  1. jack yoest Reply

    Noah, great testimonial. I hear them all the time in my WM/Sams research. WM should retain you as a spokesman.

    To help with the unfortunate negative preception.

    The pr team they are using isn’t quite working.

    Great post,

  2. goneaway Reply

    I think that many are more concerned with what happens on the other side of the counter at Wal-Mart. Despite individual stellar experiences with a store manager (read: probably the most highly paid employee in the store) individual stores are usually set up to exploit cheap local labor, holes in zoning (free water!), and other goodies they might grab from strapped local economies. Nonetheless, it was a good story and I’m glad people are addressing the dichotomy between perception and experience with a many tentacled beast with a thousand different faces, all of them human.

  3. John Moore Reply

    Right on – telling it like it is. Even if that means giving props to the giant homogenizing super store WM. Life is funny, but truth is always good.

  4. David Herold Reply

    This is true to the customer service world. Currently I am taking a “Customer Service” class at Sullivan University. I am studying Hospitality Management and had a question I needed to answer on perceptions. This is a case that will not only help out Wal Mart but those who study perceptions in the business world. There are alot of things people can do with their business but do not want to because they are there for the money and not for the business. It is these simple things in life that not only for the business world but in the personal world that can dramatically change someones thought or opinion.