Monday, 23 September 2013

Fitness of tools, companies and people

It was a couple of years ago now I was in the USA on a holiday trip, and the hotel where I was staying had an exercise treadmill.  So I gave it a go.  I walked on it rather than ran, since I don't really have the body for running.  I did an hour at 4mph on a 15 degree slope, and got really hot and tired without being useless for the rest of the day.  I was impressed not only by the work you can do, but I was still burning up for an hour or so afterwards, and I like the idea of using up calories while I'm lazing about.

The fact that I couldn't walk the next day is entirely down to the fact that I used it barefoot, which for some reason seemed like a good idea at the time.

So anyway I got one the other day for the little gym space in the gîte, since it's a plus for the guests and I can use it too.  The main criteria were that it had to be able to reproduce the experience I had in the USA, i.e. a 4mph walk on a 15 degree slope, and be suitably robust for the occasional use it would get from the clients. At the end of this link is the one I chose.  It does the slope and speed, up to a decent run too.

You have to smile at the company name: Tool-Fitness.  You get the drift; it's about tools for keeping people fit, but that's not the first thing that I think of, at any rate.

So off goes the order, and in the fullness of time the the machine arrives, the package weighs 105 kilos, so we unpack it on the ground floor, inspect it, sign off the delivery, and then we recruit some help to get it up the stairs later in the day.  Dismay!  The plastic cover for the motor is cracked; a replacement is needed.

We did get, via email, some pretty fierce instructions about inspecting the package on arrival, and what to do if it was broken.  Our bad. We probably invalidated any damage insurance that might have been in place, so we were prepared for some negotiation to take place over this.

But the problem is that it took 5 phone calls (and an e-mail that got an automatic acknowledgement and nothing else) over a 10-day period to get a promise of a replacement part.  The first promised shipment date was missed and no warning was given.  The replacement part arrived today and is in place, three and a half weeks after delivery.

Now in the end, I got what I needed: my machine fixed and all is well.  They didn't charge for the part nor for shipping it, which is great.  But still, it leaves a bad feeling.  A buyer over the internet from a distant supplier feels more vulnerable than one who buys from a local shop, for all the obvious reasons.   A customer with a problem is an opportunity to win great loyalty.  Didn't happen.

Here is the beast in the gym.  I've used it five times already and it works well.  Should keep me busy for a while.

1 comment:

James Higham said...

Things never seem straightforward, do they? Something which should just go like clockwork almost invariably doesn't.

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