Don't Bother Asking Lee Valley To Match Their Newer, Cheaper Prices – They Issue Refunds Automatically

Satisfied consumers have banded together over at the Sawmill Creek woodworker’s forums to praise Lee Valley’s excellent customer service. One poster, Graham, received an unexpected refund after purchasing a Kreg bandsaw fence. Lee Valley issued the unsolicited refund after cutting the fence’s price in their latest catalog. Graham posted:

Hi All.

I just got home from work and found a cheque from Lee Valley in my post, apparently I bought a Kreg bandsaw fence from them, that has now had a price reduction in their new catalog and they have refunded the difference.

I must say that I have never before experienced such an extraordinarily good service (I had to sit down and think about it for a minute, because to me it’s pretty unbelievable that a store I bought a product from, at a price I was happy to pay, had decided that I was due a refund and sent it without me even having to ask for it).

Anyway, a big thanks to Rob Lee and Lee Valley for their exceptional service to their customers.

Thanks for reading this…Graham

It gets better. Rob Lee, the president of Lee Valley and an active forum poster, wrote back:

Hi Graham –

Thanks for buying from us in the first place…

Cheers –

Rob

Proactive consumer-oriented customer service? Down-to-earth company president? Maybe this whole shop thing isn’t so bad after all.

Lee Valley A Very Pleasant Surprise [Sawmill Creek Forums]

Comments

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  1. Bay State Darren says:

    Reunds?

  2. Buran says:

    Whereas, if this were Apple, he would have sued them for it even though they issued a refund.

    I love my Apple stuff (and I have a lot of it), but I can’t stand the attitude of the fanboys.

  3. newlywed says:

    I’m all about above and beyond….but….I think this is kind of silly of the company. I wouldn’t turn the check down, of course, but I wonder what good this would do the company in the long run…how many bandsaw fences can people buy?

  4. strathmeyer says:

    The fact that Sawmill Creek had their addresses is an obvious invasion of privacy….

  5. Buran says:

    @strathmeyer: Perhaps they ordered directly from the mfr.

  6. Major-General says:

    @strathmeyer: Warranty card? Don’t tell me you never fill those out.

  7. bongoherbert says:

    In my experience, Lee Valley really does have exceptional customer service.

  8. aNGryPsycHo says:

    @strathmeyer:
    The article clearly states the man bought the goods from Lee Valley and received the refund from same. All companies selling goods or services by mail keeps record of their customers’ addresses and it’s in no way an invasion of privacy, obvious or otherwise. If this bothers you, I suggest you shop locally.

  9. XTC46 says:

    @newlywed: I partially agree. It is very cool of them, and it got them some good press, but it seems like a very niche market so I can’t imagine the publicity out weighs the cost of the refunds. Oh well, as long as the company is happy, its all good I suppose.

  10. Chicago7 says:

    @newlywed:

    Word of mouth reputation.

    The neighbor might buy one, his cousin might buy one. Good reputation by word of mouth travels farther than you might think.

  11. lockdog says:

    @Chicago7: Especially in this industry. I’d never heard of Lee Valley / Veritas before I was given a brass plumb bob as a wedding present. I was amazed by the quality and thoughtfulness of design that went into such a simple tool and have since bought several items from them and referred many others to Lee Valley Tools. Their stuff is amazing. Latest on my wishlist : a blind nailer.

  12. veronykah says:

    @xtc46: Actually if you go to the Lee Valley website they have quite a bit of products, not really niche at all. From screwdriver sets and kitchen scales to musical instruments.
    Hearing great things like this will definitely put them on my list as a place I will recommend and perhaps buy from in the future.

  13. Jean Naimard says:

    In their store(s) sits a huge sign stating that they will never sell/give/rent their customer list to anyone else.

    In addition to their tremenduous selection of ingenious/beautiful/interesting products you can’t find anywhere else, they do have stellar customer service in my experience. However, the retroactive rebate beats that even more.

  14. robotprom says:

    I’ve been slowly building my woodworking shop, and I’ve found the customer service from many of these vendors to be top notch. The folks who own these places or work there aren’t some high school kid or other disinterested person like you find at Home Depot or Lowes. They’re nearly always veteran hobbyists or (semi) retired professionals and know what they sell inside and out.

    Even the chains like Rockler or Woodcraft are awesome, customer service wise.

  15. revmatty says:

    Speaking as a woodworker, the lifetime value of a customer is very very high indeed. Woodworking is a very expensive avocation. Blades need regular replacing, that project you’re starting up requires a specialty bit or jig, sharpening supplies, sandpaper, etc etc.

    This was a very classy move on the part of Lee Valley, and if I wasn’t already a fan of theirs, I would be now.

  16. XTC46 says:

    @veronykah: Even better then. I think ill be checking them out, I don’t do wood work but my family owns a construction company so maybe they can find some use.

  17. moorie679 says:

    Keep up the good work…. It is nice to see companies like this, if I was into woodworking this post alone would make me check out their products…. two thumbs up…..

  18. O'Bunny says:

    I got an envelope from Lee Valley a while back with a check in it. The accompanying note said something to the effect of “You bought a book from us and we mistakenly charged tax on it. Here’s a refund for that. Our apologies.”

    And having met Rob Lee, yes, he’s very down-to-earth. Smart businessman, sure, but a fine human being as well.

  19. quail says:

    Just wait for some hostile take over or some incredible offer is given to the private owners of Lee Valley. Once the big, ‘we must answer to the shareholders’, company takes over they’ll erode away any good will and destroy the company. Seems to happen to any of the good businesses anymore.

  20. Chicago7 says:

    @revmatty:

    Yes, it is very expensive. Yes, indeed.

    I was ready to start up again and the prices of EVERYTHING woodworking are about 20 times what they were 25 years ago. YIKES!

  21. snidelywhiplash says:

    For those who don’t make sawdust as a hobby, or build stuff, Lee Valley also sells lots of really cool gardening stuff.

    Can’t say enough good things about them folks.

    SW

  22. Chicago7 says:

    But can we trust somebody named Snidely Whiplash? HMMMM??

    :D

  23. Chicago7 says:

    BTW, Snidely, I hear they have a big sale on buzzsaws!!

    Hahahaha! Leave poor Nell alone!

  24. n8srq says:

    I once purchased a product from Lee Valley that seemed to have a problem. Upon calling them, they sent me a replacement, no questions asked, and then allowed me to examine both units and send the defective one back at my leisure. The replacement did not have the same problem.

  25. BobbyMike says:

    Lee Valley is privately owned (good luck with a hostile takeover).

    Great company to do business with. Great quality products at reasonable prices coupled with great service and fast, fairly priced shipping. One of my favorite companies to do business with.

    From their “About Us” page:

    “Lee Valley is a family-owned business that has been serving users of woodworking and gardening tools since 1978. Our reputation is based on three principles:

    1. Customer satisfaction: Any product may be returned within 3 months at no cost to the customer; we return every penny you paid us, plus, for shipments within North America, we will refund your return parcel post costs.

    2. Integrity: Our product descriptions are truly what we think of the product; sometimes this means saying such things as: “…handle with hardwood scales complete with spots of wood filler. A tough, ugly tool that is perfect for the person whose usual solution is to use a larger hammer.” We let you make good decisions by giving you accurate descriptions.

    3. We treat the customer like a friend. We do everything for you that we would do for a friend, including, where necessary, telling you if you are being unreasonable. Nobody is on commission here and there are no minimum sales targets built into anybody’s job description. We have found them to be in conflict with good advice. Besides, most of you will spend as much money with us as you can afford so we want to give you good advice, to give you the best value and thereby guarantee ourselves a low rate of product returns. It is best for both of us if we get it right the first time around.

    We listen. If you want us to change something or to carry another product, let us know; we may not end up doing what you want but we won’t ignore your comments. We have had a lot of good advice from customers over the years and appreciate it. We also get some bad advice; the trick always is in being able to tell which is which, something we are still working on.

    About one third of our total sales volume is in products of our own design. The vast majority of these are Veritas® brand products made by Veritas Tools Inc., our manufacturing arm. We have a research and development team of 11 people and 40 more in manufacturing. And, to reinforce the part about listening to customers, we have a number of customers earning royalties on products that we manufacture based on designs received from them.

    Whether a tool from Lee Valley is one made by Veritas Tools or is one of the 5000 or so we get from around the world, it will always have our full guarantee. That means it costs you nothing to try us out. We’re confident that the quality and service we provide will be to your liking. Just give us the opportunity.”

    …and they mean every word.

  26. jstimson says:

    At the risk of coming across as impartial, my Dad works for Lee Valley doing customer email support from the main Ottawa office. He can’t stop saying good things about this company (almost to the point of driving the rest of us nuts).

    Lee Valley is a Canadian company that has done very well for itself over the years. It is one of the few Canadian companies that has managed to also do a brisk business within the United States due, most likely, to their quality of service, products, and ethics.

    With the sronger Canadian dollar they will face a bit of a battle now since it is now more expensive for them to export their goods south of our border. This is where their strong customer loyalty will pay them back.

  27. lyndyn29 says:

    This is really impressive, but not unique. I’ve had the happy surprise a number of times of ordering something online and getting an adjusted invoice back in an email, with a message saying “the item you ordered just went off sale yesterday/goes on sale tomorrow, so we decided to give you the sale price anyway. Thanks!”

    The only corporation that this has ever come from is Godiva; in every other occurrence, it’s been a small, privately owned company – like Lee Valley. eQuilter in Boulder, Colorado and Dan’s Chocolates in Burlington, VT are two that I can think of offhand.

  28. Geekly says:

    Lee Valley has been one of my favorite places to shop online for over five years now. Not only is their customer service superior, but they manufacture their own brand of tools (Veritas) that is of very high quality and extremely affordable. How’s that for word of mouth?