Above And Beyond: Eddie Bauer Won't Leave You Out In The Rain

An Eddie Bauer in downtown State College, Pennsylvania replaced Anne’s pricey old umbrella without any charge or hassle. Anne purchased the umbrella several years ago, and was assured Eddie Bauer would “take care of it” if anything went wrong. In accordance with Murphy’s law, the umbrella broke one rainy day.

When I get to the desk, I proffer it and say that it’s broken, and that I was told that they’d deal with it, but I don’t know if that means that they’ll fix it, or send a replacement, or what. The girl checks with her manager, who’s standing right next to her, but is on the phone. The manager interrupts her phone call to tell me to go pick out another one. They don’t even look at it to see if it’s actually broken.

I do so and bring it back to the counter. Exact same model; the only one left. The person helping me again checks with the manager, who again interrupts her phone call (it sounded like she was calling corporate). She tells her staff person to just snip off the tag and they’ll do the return later. The girl snips off the tag and hands me the umbrella. I leave the store, new umbrella in hand.

We love easy exchanges almost as much as we hate the rain.

Anne’s email, inside…


File this one under the “happy customer” heading.

A few years ago, I bought an Eddie Bauer umbrella. It seemed a bit pricey to me for an umbrella, but what sold me was the staff member pointing out that if anything goes wrong with it, they’ll take care of it. I don’t remember the exact wording, but that was the gist of it.

Yesterday (a very rainy day here) I note that it had stopped expanding all the way, and figure out that it had lost a screw somehow. I happen to be near the store I bought it in, so I stop by.

When I get to the desk, I proffer it and say that it’s broken, and that I was told that they’d deal with it, but I don’t know if that means that they’ll fix it, or send a replacement, or what. The girl checks with her manager, who’s standing right next to her, but is on the phone. The manager interrupts her phone call to tell me to go pick out another one. They don’t even look at it to see if it’s actually broken.

I do so and bring it back to the counter. Exact same model; the only one left. The person helping me again checks with the manager, who again interrupts her phone call (it sounded like she was calling corporate). She tells her staff person to just snip off the tag and they’ll do the return later. The girl snips off the tag and hands me the umbrella. I leave the store, new umbrella in hand.

In and out in less than five minutes. Probably less than three. I’ve got a brand new umbrella, everything’s taken care of, and I’m a happy customer. Now that, my friends, is how a company earns brand loyalty. That’s how to do it right.

Though the manager may have been distracted, we’re still impressed by the hassle-free exchange. Well done, Eddie Bauer. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Comments

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  1. Falconfire says:

    I used EB backpacks all through Elementary School. Whenever one broke my mom would take it and get it replaced with a new one and never had a hassle when we went.

  2. Zach Everson says:

    Too bad I don’t like their clothing anymore; I had great luck returning clothes there.

  3. snoldak924 says:

    Sounds just like L.L.Bean. I replaced a 5-year old back pack because a zipper broke, and got a brand new one with no hassle.

  4. a says:

    As Falconfire said, all my friends with EB backpacks were immensely happy with their backpacks’ lifetime guarantee. I’ve always known them to have great customer service.

  5. jtw79 says:

    Of course the umbrella broke on a rainy day. Rainy days are the only days umbrellas are used …

  6. Scazza says:

    EB seems to be a real quality make too. They make some of the best car seats and kids lines around. Dunno if you want to, but the original story writer may want to tell us which store this actually was that did the great deed…

  7. kbmsg says:

    I love EB too since they have replaced 2 shirts my wife destroyed in the laundry(ok one I did in a bit before it hit the laundry, but thats another story).
    EB was great since they didn’t make the same shirts they let me order the closest of 2 choices. I try to buy everythign I can from t hem since it is always “returnable”.

  8. Anne says:

    It was the downtown store in State College, Pennsylvania, for the record.

  9. deltasleep says:

    I once called eddie bauer regarding a backpack with a “lifetime guarantee” and was told that “lifetime” referred to the lifetime of the backpack, not my lifetime. They said that the lifetime of a backpack is 18 months. This was infuriating, but I DID get a voucher for another backpack, which I noticed did not have a lifetime guarantee patch on it!

    I thought that their service was horrendous, and I thought that claim was ridiculous! I told them that the “lifetime” of nylon was something like a thousand years…

  10. Promethean says:

    Of course the Umbrella is going to break on a rainy day. No need to invoke Murphy here. When else do you use an umbrella? And how could the ubrella break when not being used, sitting in a closet?

  11. Antediluvian says:

    What Promethean said. If you only use something under a specific set of circumstances, it is almost certain that if it breaks, it will also be under those circumstances.

    It’s not Murphy’s Law, it’s math.

  12. kimsama says:

    I’ve found the State College area to have good customer service overall. If you’re not an obnoxious and drunk, the retailers are very accommodating (and usually they’re pretty cool even when you’re drunk). And the private, small retail stores are even better, because they want to make their businesses stand out from the chains.

  13. SexCpotatoes says:

    Sometimes umbrellas break because you try to Mary Poppins off the roof of a building…

  14. jeremynyc says:

    I had a similar experience at REI about ten years ago. I’d bought a bunch of stuff for an upcoming motorcycle trip, including a pair of Merrel boots (back when they were the only store selling them). I wore the boots for a few days to break them in.

    The day before I left for the trip, a friend who knew how broke I was brought over a pair of boots she’d found in a house she owned, after a tenant had moved out. They fit perfectly, so I thought to return the boots, even though it would have to wait until I got back from my trip two weeks later.

    While I was on the trip I called my housemate just to say hi. She told a harrowing story of having come home the night before and found the front door unlocked. She made some noise as she went in and she heard someone leave through the back window, the same way he’d broken in. After calling the cops and waiting for them to arrive, she checked out the scene. They had already made one trip out of the house, with her vcr, her camera, and a few other things. Stacked up by the front door, waiting to be the next load out, were my CD player, my camera, and the boots I was planning to return!

    When I got home from the trip, I promptly waited another three weeks to go to REI to return the boots. I walked in sort of sheepishly, not knowing whether or not they would take them back five or six weeks after purchase, and after they’d been worn on city streets for a few days.

    The woman at the counter asked what she could help me with. I told her I wanted to return the boots. She asked for the receipt, and I gave it to her. She ran up the return.

    Without opening the box.

    That was, now that I think about it, 1994. You can bet I prefer them to any other outdoor store.

    Jeremy

  15. bravo says:

    I bought a huge eddie bauer parka once that did not have gore-tex lining. when a button ripped, i took it back and they were out of stock of my particular coat so they replaced it with a gore-tex parka that cost a LOT more than mine.

  16. karmaghost says:

    Well, it is Happy Valley, after all. I didn’t think anyone actually went into that particular Eddie Bauer, it’s always empty when I walk by it.