Customer Service

Customer Service

Today I took a trip out to the Pottstown Sewing & Crafts store with my late grandmother’s Singer Athena 2000 sewing machine (circa 1978).  It had started making this awful grinding noise when sewing and I knew something was really wrong.    I called the store the other day to check and see if they did repair on site which they did, so I hauled the machine into the store and was greeted immediately by a staff member.  The repair tech was on the phone, but the woman who greeted me started poking around, trying to see what was going on, finding the same unpleasant ‘clunk’ that I had found when turning the hand wheel.  The repair tech came over and, no joke, in a matter of seconds, had a solid hunch of what was going on which was confirmed when he brought the machine over to his work area and popped open the bottom to take a look.  He was right.  Incredible.  I just love seeing that kind of knowledge from any kind of technician or repair person.  The tech explained the costs involved in repairing the machine, pointed out the parts, showed me the 30 year old circuit boards, and advised a course of treatment.  Fixing the whole shebang would be $300.  Fixing what needs to be fixed to make it functional would be about $120.  His caveat was that even if I went the high road, the machine is so old that something else that’s not replaceable could break the day after I get it back home.  If I went the low road, it would  be funcional for light work, but wouldn’t be able to hem a pair of jeans (something my vertically challenged self does OFTEN).  He did encourage me to keep it regardless since it was the first computerized sewing machine and has historical value as well as the obvious sentimental value.  Still gabbing about the sewing machine, he smiled and said that the Athena was the first sewing machine he ever sold and even told me the exact year that particular color came on the market.  You could just tell that he loved his job and enjoyed knowing everything there was to know about sewing machines.

I was sort of ready for a grim diagnosis.  I know grandma used the machine a lot, and I put a good deal of time into it as well.  The $300 estimate is pretty close to a new machine anyway, and I immediately thought about the stack of pants sitting on the cabinet and the husband’s last set of patches that need to be applied.  Yeah, going without a sewing machine isn’t really an option.  The woman who initally greeted me took me around to a few machines and gave me demonstrations of the features I used often – button holes, straight sewing – and even a few of the new bells and whistles that have come about in the last thirty years.  (Dude, sewing machines cut the thread for you now and there’s no foot pedal!)  She was incredibly sweet and patient with me and I think she had more fun that I did, showing me all the neat features of each machine in my price range.

In the end, I walked out with a new sewing machine, left the old one for the basic repair (at half price since I bought the new one), and got two free classes with the machine on basic use and maintenance.  While I was checking out, in case I didn’t love these people enough already, another woman came in with a vacuum cleaner that she said was smoking when she used it.  The tech came over, flipped the vacuum over on the counter, replaced the belt, pulled some hair and fuzz off the beater bar, and tested the vacuum.  THEN, he showed the woman how to do the very same repair at home and only charged her for the belt he used.

I walked out with a smile on my face and feeling really spectacular.  I think all the big-box and chain stores have destroyed that good-customer-service ideal with their bureaucracy and metrics, but the little local mom-and-pop stores still get it.  The folks at the Pottstown Sewing & Crafts store were just doing what was right because it was the right thing to do – that’s just SO hard to find!  I know I look younger than I am and am sometimes treated like an idiot teenager (hi, I’m almost 30), but I didn’t feel like that at all today.  Their honesty and friendly attitude was really refreshing, and if you live in the area, I would suggest that you go pay them a visit.  I know I’m going to be a loyal customer from now on!

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