5 Business That Were Nice to Us Lately

5) Anata Jones at the Hilton in Fort Wayne, IN made us an awesome omelet. She talked to the eggs and coaxed the omelet into folding perfectly without breaking.

4) Tomato-And-Basil gave us a $2.25 slice when we only had $2. They’re worried they will have to raise prices in response to rising milk costs.

3) Gorilla Coffee told us that our punch card that we’ve been filling up was only good for drinks, even though we’ve been buying bags, and we really needed to have been filling up a “bean card.” But they were nice enough to let us talk them into transferring all the punches over.

2) A Starbucks barista gave us a venti-sized cup of free water, over her co-worker’s protests that they’re only supposed to give out tiny courtesy cups of water.

1) On the way to baggage claim in the Fort Wayne terminal, elderly ladies greeted us and pressed free airport sugar cookies into our hands. They were soft and good.



(Photos: Ben Popken)


Edit Your Comment

  1. SaveMeJeebus says:

    TimeWarner Cable credited me for a month of service when I had a week-long mystery outage (I was on vacation during most of it). Total savings: $125 for about $30 of missing service. I was shocked and dismayed.

  2. Benny Gesserit says:

    The cookie story reminded me of my favourite cookie story.

    When I was living in Saint John, NB, Canada I used to buy delicious lunch sandwiches at the Titus Bakery – run by the Titus sisters.

    Now and then, one of them would toss a cookie in with my sandwich because “You looked like you could use a cookie today.”

    Sweet people and bakers without peer, in my opinion. Homemade bread that would make an angel weep with delight.

  3. balthisar says:

    Comcast technicians took excellent care of me to fix my bought of “internet doesn’t work reliably in the summer” problem. They were about 10 minutes early; they didn’t laugh at all of the self-help I had previously tried; they replaced my outside line even though they were inside techs; and they added a new, direct line to my cable modem apart from the line going to my MythTV box. They were quick, professional, very well behaved, and in general just awesome! This was Comcast in SE Michigan servicing ZIP code 48036.

  4. Jim says:

    Good to see Hoosier Hospitality on the list twice!

    Dick’s Sporting Goods didn’t hassle me at all when returning an item without a receipt last night. When I went in, I tried to give it to the CS rep right away, she told me just to shop and they’d swap it out at the register. So I was skeptical – I had an item in my cart that I carried through the store that I didn’t have a receipt for so clearly they wouldn’t let me return it…but they did! Yay Dick’s for trusting your customer (maybe a little too much). Nice to not be a suspected thief when you go in a store!

  5. missdona says:

    The cashier in my company cafe gave me a piece of fruit for spotting the pennies on the prior customer.

    How awesome is that?

  6. alicetheowl says:

    LL Bean’s bending over backwards to fix a problem with their shipping department on a return/exchange. Yesterday I was annoyed; today I’m impressed.

  7. aparsons says:

    AMEX credited me $13.59 back to my card when costco refused to refund me the $13.59 for salmon that went bad 24 hours after opening. I’m upgrading my green card to a platinum card, and then canceling my costco membership.

  8. nightbird says:

    Ok Ben, I must know what in the hell you were doing in Ft. Wayne. I wouldn’t set foot in Indiana if you paid me (I’m from there so I know what I’m saying)

  9. VeryFancyBunny says:

    Yesterday, I got free cookies at the Subway near my office here in Atlanta. I don’t know why — maybe it’s because I smiled and said thank you to the cashier during a hectic lunch hour, maybe it’s just because I’m a very fancy bunny. In any case, being handed two chocolate chip cookies with no explanation made my day. Thanks, Subway cashier!

  10. itsgene says:

    You know what these little vignettes have in common? PEOPLE. Good, ordinary, nice people. Not big faceless call centers and corporate policies enforced by unthinking drones parroting what is on a computer screen in front of them.
    It’s so refreshing that there are still people out there who are just NICE — both behind the counter and in front of it.
    This is one reason that I’m always patient and smiling when dealing with people who are serving me. I may have had a bad day, but they have been on their feet all day dealing with probably hundreds of people who had a bad day.

  11. Matt says:

    I used to fly into Ft Wayne all the time. I love the cookie ladies. I went there for business with some co-workers and they didn’t believe my story about the cookies. We leave the terminal and there they are, smiles and cookies.

  12. Me. says:

    The lady at the Imaging Center (in Chandler, AZ) took pity on my uninsured body and only charged me $300 for the $650 CT scans I so desperately needed and had to pay cash for.

    Sidenote: Get health insurance, everyone! Now!!!!

  13. Ben, what we’re you doing in FW, if you don’t mind me shamelessly delving into your personal life? We could have hung out!

    And yes, the old ladies handing out cookies at our “international” airport is our hallmark. Hell, when you’ve only got 11 people coming through your terminal on a daily basis, you can splurge for some cookies.

  14. Hoss says:

    Congrats to Gorilla Coffee for the free name mention. Hope they didn’t hire a Gorilla suit on a day like today

  15. Thrust says:

    I bought my Matrix back in December, about a month later some unexpected parcel arrived for me from Toyota. It was a complete roadside kit. Medkit, tools, flashlight, and a bunch of other items including a real heavy-guage set of jumper cables. They never mentioned this was coming, and it was a no-strings attached gift which might one day really save my arse.

    Also, the server at the Humpty’s restaurant I frequent was nice enough to slap my roommate for me when I had my hands full.

  16. bdgbill says:

    From NightBird:
    “Ok Ben, I must know what in the hell you were doing in Ft. Wayne. I wouldn’t set foot in Indiana if you paid me (I’m from there so I know what I’m saying)”

    Have you been to Gary? It’s the “Mediterranean of the Midwest”.

    Why I was there just a few months ago and saw a young man maybe 19 years old driving a Bentley and wearing a fur coat. He also saved up enough money to have all of his front teeth covered in gold!

    They must have wonderful job oppurtunities for young people there.

  17. Kos says:

    Northface. They exchanged my 5 year-old backpack for a new one under warranty (the inside webbing disintergrated) and issued it as a credit, at my request, to their nearby store so I could go pick it up on time and in the color I want before travelling abroad.

    Oh yeah, it was the latest version of the same bag, the Bigshot, and it rocks.

    Go Northface.

  18. GirlGoneRiled says:

    1-800-Flowers recently ran out of the item that I had ordered to be sent to my dad for Father’s Day. They called me in advance to let me know, but I wasn’t able to return the call for a couple days. When I did finally call them back, the woman I spoke with said, “Oh, we have the item now and would have gone ahead and delivered, but we noticed that delivery address was a hotel and we weren’t sure your dad would still be there.”

    As it turns out, but the time I talked to 1800 Flowers, my dad had checked out of the hotel and had returned home. So the fact that someone had noticed the delivery address and deduced that the delay might have made it invalid really impresses me. In the end, they took a new address and made the delivery the day after we spoke – with a note enclosed letting my dad know what had happened and assuring him that the delay wasn’t my fault and that he has a “good daughter”, a detail I thought was cute.

  19. RandomHookup says:

    They were soft and good.

    The cookies or the elderly ladies?

  20. enm4r says:

    I recently had 4 packages sent to me via UPS. I called in after tracking them online (can’t expect the door stickies in Chicago) to arrange for same day will call. If you’ve been to the UPS will call in Chicago, you know it’s like the DMV at the end of the month.

    Finally I got 3 of my packages, but not the last. The main person in charge insisted to me that there were only 3, despite me having 4 tracking numbers and despite confirming all 4 tracking numbers were in the sorting facility on the phone. I could see the computer and the 4 entries, but she kept insisting I only had 3 packages. Keeping calm, and asking her how to explain why I had 4 tracking numbers got the attention of another back room worker who overheard my address, and asked me to wait. About 10 minutes later he came back and let me know it had fallen off the rollers.

    I appreciated the time he took, getting involved when he didn’t have to, and it stopped a situation from blowing up because of the few minutes he went ouf of his way.

  21. mermaidshoes says:

    @randomhookup: damn, you beat me to it.

    we had well over an hour wait for our food last night at a fancy restaurant (due to our waiter dropping our entire tray of food on his way out of the kitchen… le sigh), and the manager gave us 50% off the tab and a free dessert. the manager was pretty rad about it, but i wish our waiter would have at least acknowledged the monster wait (especially since it was his fault). but we had a similar 45+ minute wait at CPK a couple weeks ago and they didn’t give us a damn thing, even when we asked about a possible free dessert. fancy restaurants may be expensive, but they’ll take care of ya.

  22. skittlbrau says:

    @bdgbill: oh gary indiana – the sad part is, it has some of the nicest beaches in nwi… i would know, grew up about 10 min south of gary.

    @nightbird: i actually get excited to go back home, though i do live 30 min south of the loop. couldn’t pay me enough to go somewhere that isn’t a) the region b) bloomington c) indy.

  23. shertzerj says:

    I went to a Saturn dealership in Livonia, MI once because one of the plastic covers that goes over top of my wheel lugs fell off. The part should’ve been 50-something cents but the guy behind the counter in the parts department just gave it to me for free. He said he had a whole box of them in the back.

  24. sparks4516 says:

    State Farm just sent me a random refund check for $85 because their board approved some deduction in a fee they’d been charging me. Most companies would have waited till I contacted them for the refund. Nice job State Farm! $85 may not change my life, but it did make for a good Monday!

  25. valkin says:

    UPS damaged beyond recognition a perishible food package from Williams-Sonoma. WS re-sent the package but it was unable to arrive before Memorial Day as I needed it to. Their Customer Service team kept me in the loop on if the package would be able to arrive on time and credited me when it didn’t AND offered to send me another order free of charge whenever I wanted. They were apologetic, contacted ME instead of the other way around, and made any other company look like a bunch of amateurs when it comes to handling mistakes (and this one was out of their control).

  26. Mary says:

    I recently had a really bad experience where I went into the doctor’s office for a consultation only to be told they wouldn’t perform the procedure I wanted.

    So when I called another doctor for something else, I asked up front if they’d turn me away before I came in, fully expecting them to say “Well, you’ll have to talk to the doctor.”

    Instead the receptionist put down the phone, found the doctor, and came back to me with all the details I needed.

    I haven’t been shopping much lately, except at a Lane Bryant where the cashier realized she’d forgotten my coupon before I had to bring it up, which was nice.

  27. kidzmatter2me says:

    I live about an hour away from Fort Wayne. It has lots of big town amenities, but it is a pain to get around in a car. They have a wonderful airport though. Free wi-fi in the entire airport, and free cookies when you land. It’s earned them the title “The Cookie City”. It is more expensive to fly out of than Indianapolis, however.

    People are key. I want to make myself look like a real person at the restaurant, not just another employee. It works too. Be real.

  28. k8supergrover says:

    The girl at indigo gave me a $5 certificate the other day because I told her that since my boyfriend broke up with me I don’t get the 30% employee discount any more (he works for them).

    She also gave me 30% off the stuff I bought that day.

  29. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    This past Monday, I was seated with my dining companion at a local restaurant, the C&O. While we were perusing the menu, after having gotten comfy, a very worried waitress returned to explain that she hadn’t realized that our table was reserved for a soon-to-arrive party. Would we mind moving? Choose any other table. Not only did we end up in a very nice, quirky little booth (infinitely better than the standard table at which we’d originally been seated), but we each were given a free glass of very decent champagne, for our trouble. Everyone wins!

  30. rixatrix says:

    Sarkozy’s Bakery in Kalamazoo, MI (where I’ve been going since I was a toddler) let me walk out the door on a Sunday morning (early) with a fresh loaf of bread when I didn’t have cash. They didn’t take debit/credit cards, and I didn’t have checks on me. They said, “Just bring the money next time you’re in.”

    The trust and WAY above-and-beyond customer service (let’s face it, fresh bread on a Sunday morning is really a luxury) completely blew me away.

  31. QuirkyRachel says:

    ooh, that reminds me. Phoenix’s airport actually gives you the correct size baggies to put your liquids in for security. And they give you booties to put on when you take your shoes off. I didn’t need the booties, but the thought was nice.

  32. embean says:

    I work for Starbucks and there isn’t any policy regarding water limits. You can have as much water as you want. The only thing I can think of is that they might be trying to sell more bottles of water. But Starbucks policy is usually to bend over backwards to make customers happy, and water sure doesn’t inconvenience us that much. I’d be more disappointed than happy if someone suggested that I was only supposed to have a bit of water. People ask for venti-sized ice waters all the time and no one thinks twice about it, it’s always free.

  33. embean says:

    @k8supergrover- I also used to work for Indigo and I don’t know why they did this for you. It’s against policy to buy stuff with your employee discount for other people. I mean, it goes on, but it seems unlikely that they would accommodate this. Also, I was never authorized to give more than a 10% discount on anything, let alone being nice. Giving away gift cards is also unheard of, we didn’t have a budget for this. So it’s definitely super nice that they went way way above what they normally do for you.

  34. superlayne says:

    :3 I got Raspberry Syrup in my frappechino.

    It was a local coffee place, though, not a Starbucks.

  35. Landru says:

    Isn’t anyone else wondering what she said to the eggs?

  36. wintersfootsteps says:

    I spent 7 years working in theme parks in Orlando, Florida. One morning a nice family was visiting one of the parks during an extremely rainy day. They were soaking wet, cold, and hungry. Since I was in charge of the area for the day and it was extremely slow, I decided to “take care of them”. I went to the customer service area and explained that the family needed dry t-shirts, then I went to the employee lounge and got 2 large coffees and 2 hot chocolates for the kids. Needless to say they were very surprised, and their bad day had turned around. I still keep in contact with them to this day via email. They were good people, and I was happy to help.

  37. TVarmy says:

    This is a good post. Big faceless corporations almost never work in ones favor, but a lot of the people at the middle to bottom are really accommodating and good when it comes down to it. And if you’re determined enough to go to the top, they usually respect your perseverance and try to compromise with you.

    BTW, never ever take treats from strangers. The cookie-giving ladies were likely hitwomen from Jet Blue pissed about the bad press you gave them in January. I’d go to the doctor ASAP.

  38. yg17 says:

    I called US Bank at, like 11 PM on Saturday to get a replacement debit card since mine refuses to swipe anywhere. I called, expecting to get a “Customer service is 9-5, Monday-Friday, blah blah blah” recording, but sure enough, after about a minute on hold, a rep answered, was very friendly, and ordered me a replacement.

    Why I didn’t have anything better to do on a Saturday night…I don’t know.

  39. kaikhor says:

    We are having major problems with identity theft and our checking account. Due to this, I’ve held a negative balance in my checking for most of the month. Well a few weeks ago on my anniversary I went to take money out of my savings and my debit card didn’t work. I went into the Washington Mutual and went to find out why. It turns out that Corporate had stopped my card due to the problems we were having and did not inform me, nor did they reissue my card. The gentleman I worked with ordered it for me right there and gave me the money from my savings without hassles.

    Later, when the new card came, I went to activate it and both the automated system and the internet activation would not let me do so without my old debit card number (which I didn’t have, because the gentleman from the paragraph nicely tossed the dead card for me). Once I called Customer Service, they activated it right then without any hassles about the old card.

    Washington Mutual also has been really good at helping us clear up all the fraudlent charges, so I say yeah for them!

  40. mrmysterious says:

    It’s nice to see some fellow Hoosiers on here!

    As for recent kudos to businesses, Old Navy took back a pair of khakis with no receipt and no tag after they ripped. Good job!

  41. nikkilove says:

    My son has very mild CP…not noticable to regular folk, but it causes his right side to be slightly weaker. I have been hearing that the Wii was wonderful therapy for kids like mine, because it forces them to use their weaker side, plus it is a whole lot of fun. I couldn’t find a Wii for the life of me, so I emailed Nintendo for advice. The next day I recieved a phone call from Nintendo of America, saying they will ship me one immediately! I had to pay for it of course, but overnight shipping was just $5. I was so impressed, and really, it just was heartwarming that such a large company would go out and do something so awesome. This was 3 months ago, and I still can’t find Wii’s in the store!

  42. sadaye says:

    After having a terrible customer service experience with their phone reps, I called Adobe corporate. An hour later, I was getting my software faster than expected *and* the charge would be refunded on my card. Free software faster? Nice.

  43. RoscoP says:

    While in Fort Wayne, did you happen to visit Showgirl III? Talk about a business that goes above and beyond…

  44. BII says:

    Happens all the time, but might as well post it, the T-mobile at the Bella Terra center in Huntington Beach, CA will happily charge my phone for me, no problem.

    I asked once on a lark, because my phone was dying, and they said “sure, no problem,” and I’ve done it once or twice since.

    So while I really want an iPhone, I’d never leave T-mobile, they are so nice, not just in store, but also their reps on the phone.

  45. nffcnnr says:

    i sent my mother a bamboo plant thingy from ProFlowers for her birthday. i had it expedited for next-day delivery via FedEx. The bamboo thingy arrived on-time, but the decorative flowerpot that came with it was broken. When informed of this by my mom, i emailed customer service and suggested perhaps they could maybe think about considering sending a new flowerpot. Two days after the original shipment, a whole new bamboo thingy and new flowerpot arrived intact at my mom’s office. hooray! Thumbs up to ProFlowers for making the situation right, and then some. i will continue to use them for all of my plant/flower/bamboo thingy gift giving needs.

  46. SOhp101 says:

    @aparsons: I’m surprised that Costco refused to accept the return because their return policy states that they stand behind ANY product they sell and will accept a (non-electronic) return at any time. You should have asked for a refund on your membership right then and there.

  47. Chicago7 says:

    The people at gotfruit.com are awesome. I used to order from Harry and David’s, but I switched when they were nasty to my parents about a delivery.

    Everybody makes mistakes and the sure enough, a gotfruit.com delivery was screwed up, but they called my parents, straightened it out, had the correct items delivered the NEXT DAY and sent an additional “Sorry, we screwed up” package (and it was an expensive package! $75!).

    If Harry and David had only been 1/3 as nice, I never would discovered gotfruit.com.

  48. MFfan310 says:

    I’m a Fort Wayner, and I’m awfully surprised that you came here… and I have another good service story that’s Indiana-related (not Fort Wayne, but Indianapolis).

    At the Saks Fifth Avenue in Indy (at the Fashion Mall) back in March of 2005, I decided to buy some Violet Angel perfume by Thierry Mugler as a gift for my mom. Turns out I had arrived only 20 minutes before closing… but it was no problem. The department manager rang up the sale, gift wrapped it, and loaded me and my buddy up with a megaton of samples… all in less than 10 minutes.

    On the other hand, there’s Neiman Marcus. I could rant and rant about how sucktacular they are, even though I’ve only been in their stores three times and bought something from them once… never again!

  49. benchman says:

    The cookie story reminds me of Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado. It can get frustrating paying over $70/day for skiing and then to have to stand in long lift lines. To make the day better they have people wander the ski lodges giving out warm free cookies, and you can have as many as you want.

  50. wishlish says:

    A supervisor at Bank of America was very kind to my wife and I when a computer screw-up resulted in a high interest rate. She ended up getting us a lower rate than what we had before the screwup. She made us feel like we were her most important customer. I’m not happy about the computer screw-up, but I was very happy to find someone at BofA who cared about our business.

  51. markwm says:

    I have two, actually.
    First, I have a Braun electric toothbrush. I had had the toothbrush for maybe 2 months, when it started malfunctioning: it wouldn’t shut off, would shut off intermittently, etc. I figured a seal had leaked and water got in it. I couldn’t find my receipt or packaging, so I just went and bought another one. After a few months, the new one started behaving the same way. I called customer service and a very nice lady said, “Well, that is practically unheard of! I’m so sorry; our product is better than that. Give me the batch codes from those two, and your address and I’ll see if there’s an issue with a certain batch, plus send you the next model up so you can see our product is better than that.” I did so, and a week later, I had a package from Braun containing two of the original model I had purchased, plus one of the higher end model. I’ve been using the replacement for about 5 months now with no problems.

    Two weeks ago, I purchased a new deep freeze from Home Depot. I saw the one I wanted on clearance, so I asked the salesman if the floor model was the only one, or if they had more. He said he could pull it up in the system, but he wanted to check the back room, just to make sure they had one. They did, and I had him mark it for me (I had to go get my truck to haul it home, as I was in a car at the time.) I hadn’t been planning on actually buying one, but the deal was too good to pass up.
    Anyway, I went back later to get it and the same salesman brought up the unit and helped me load it in the truck. During the process of loading it, I must have dropped the receipt/claim ticket and did not notice it. A few days later, I got an envelope in the mail. It was from the salesman who had helped me load the freezer. He must have found the receipt after I had driven off, so he mailed it to me.

  52. chriscorbin says:

    Apple gave me a free video download on iTunes because they said a episode of a show on a season i bought might have been below acceptable quality, and it was fine, but why complain, i have a free video

  53. wintersfootsteps says:

    Another story…

    My mom had planned to visit me for the week, but her flight was cancelled. Instead of ariving in Orlando at 4:30, she arrived at the 11:50 pm. When we got to the hotel (I personally called ahead to make sure they held their reservation and told them why we were arriving so late) it took almost an hour to check in. The girl at the computer kept frowning at her screen and scratching her head. I asked her if there were any problems, and she promised me that the reservation was there in the system, she was just looking for a room…

    After about 20 minutes another employee came to her aid and had the same trouble. Then their computer system started freaking out and they had to call someone to guide them through fixing it.

    Finally after a long wait we were handed our room key. When mom and I walked in the room we were very disappointed. Turns out the only room they had left was a handicapped room, with only one bed and no bathtub. I ended up sleeping on the sofa (hard as a rock and too small) and my mom didn’t get the nice bubble bath she had been thinking about all those hours waiting for her new flight.

    The next morning before leaving for the theme parks we stopped at the front desk and asked them to move us to another room. The girl was very compassionate and apologized for the hotel. She assured me that when we returned later in the evening that we would have a better room.

    When we came back we were greeted by the guest service manager who helped move our luggage to our new room. When he opened the door we realized that we were given a suite. 2 seperate bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen and patio. The room was beautiful. He also gave us a gift card for the gift shop in case we needed anything.

    They totally turned our opinion of the hotel upside down.

  54. royceguy says:

    I want to play!
    Two weeks ago, after a year of saving and researching, I ordered a $699 set of clubs from Golfsmith. I had them sent 2-day in order to get them in time for my next game. When the package arrived, it turned out not to be my beloved clubs, but a scale used for custom club builders…incidentily looking nothing like clubs.
    I had to wait on the CS line for 15 minutes and by the time the rep came on I was a little thin on patience. Fortunately the CSR was great. Long story short–> Sent me out the clubs overnight, refunded all the shipping charges, sent a return label via email while on the phone with him and gamed his computer system so I didn’t have to double charge my card until the return was received. He followed up the next da to make SURE I got the right order and on top of that he managed to make some great jokes about mis-picking clubs by picking a scale…

    Customer Service ain’t dead, just endangered…

  55. synergy says:

    Yikes. I didn’t realize there were so many hoosiers lurking.

    I spent 6 years in Indiana. I went through Ft. Wayne once. That may have been one of the places I sped through.

    So, yeah, what WERE you doing in Fort Wayne??

  56. nardo218 says:

    I’ve never been charged for water in large and medium sized plastic cups at Starbucks. They let me stay for hours and write, tho I do usually buy something.

  57. chalicechick says:

    It was freezing cold one January morning when I was flying British Airways to London, so I was wearing a sweater. Unfortunately, it was very hot on the plane. When the stewardess came around to offer us drinks, I joked that what I really needed was a margarita.

    “Oh, you poor thing, you must be so hot. Do you have another shirt?”

    I said I didn’t and she said she would see what she could do.

    Which is how I ended up with a free pair of British Airways pajamas. Still have them. They’re comfy.

    And her name was “Pippa.”

    How cool is that?


  58. CoffeeAddict says:

    Woot for Starbucks!!!