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listIt's so much easier to write a blog entry about a complaint than it is to share a good story, but when a company steps up to address a problem in a way that thoroughly satisfies a customer, they deserve to hear the kudos associated with that.  Today's story is about North Face.

I fought North Face for a long time.  It seemed everybody I knew or didn't know was wearing a North Face jacket.  For years, I was willing to stick it out with knock offs, figuring I was wiser and more financially responsible than anybody who would have wasted their money on those coats.

Then I tried one one.  My wife got me in a moment of weakness and handed me this ‘winter coat' that was half the thickness of the one I was used to wearing.  I wondered how this could keep anybody warm.  Then, I put it on and was instantly to the point where I almost passed out from the immediate warmth.

(Hey, we were indoors, after all)

I decided to give it a try and asked for one for Christmas last year.  I liked the coat I got but I actually wanted a warmer one, so I traded it for a ‘better' model using some gift money to cover the difference.

Loved it.

Earlier this year, my wife and I found a seasonal store that was selling everything they had at 40% before they closed for the year, including fall jackets.  We both found coats that we loved, and we both used gift money that we had not yet spent to pay for our coats.

All was well until a couple of weeks later when Mrs. Beagle called and said that one of the zippers on the pockets had broken.  She was disappointed.  I came home and took a look and sure enough, the zipper was only attached to one side and there was no way to reattach it.

My wife looked online and found that there was good news and bad news. The good news was that they would repair coats for the lifetime of the coat.  They did specify that the repairs would be within reason, meaning you couldn't trash the coat and then send it off to them expecting them to fix it.

The bad news was that you had to pay to send the coat in.  On top of that, they highly suggested that the shipment be insured and that you pay to have signature verification on the package.  When I looked at the USPS website for their pricing, I estimated that this would be roughly $15.  In fairness, they do pay for the costs associated with returning the coat to you.

Now, we saved $45 on the coat (give or take) with the great price we got, so I was not really excited to give up a third of that to pay for a repair on a coat that was less than a month old and had probably been worn less than half a dozen times.

So, I contacted their customer service department (via e-mail), explained the situation, and they agreed to send us a shipping label so that the cost would be covered.

It was easy as can be.  I printed the label, we packed the box, had FedEx grab it, and we had it back within a week and a half, with a repaired zipper.

I love when companies step up and take ownership in situations where it makes sense for them to do so.  All too often, you hear of stories where a company wants to argue their point, all for a little cost.  I see their point in that they just can't bend over backwards to address every complaint, but at the same time, they have to strike a balance between saving a buck and the lost sales that could result from turning a customer away.

North Face seems to have that down pat.  I'm very pleased to be a North Face customer.  Hats off for a great experience.

Have you had a great customer service experience lately?

In other news we're working on a local insurance list for visitors who have been asking about reducing insurance rates. We'll keep expanding on that list and give you updates.