Grandma

As several of you may know, I just had a birthday. Every year I take a step back to reflect on my (long) list of failures and my short list of accomplishments. Following that evening of bourbon-fueled navel gazing, I started looking through my desk drawers and my Facebook page and I found a certain story that the readers of TTAG may find interesting . . .

Does anyone remember the recall that wasn’t really a recall because Springfield Armory recalled all the XD-S pistols without an actual way of fixing them? At the time, I had a metric ton of the guns in stock. In fact, Nick Leghorn actually helped me crate them up and send them all back to the factory one fine fall evening after a lovely dinner at the Olive Garden. I still can’t go to that restaurant without the hostess thinking I’m one half of a gay marriage. Anyhow…

At the time, Springfield had no clue how to fix them and couldn’t provide estimated turnaround. As this was a large chunk of my inventory, I got creative.

I hand wrote on a legal pad the following message:

Dear Springfield,

My name is FC. I own (name of business here) and due to the recall I have a massive stack of guns that need to be fixed.

I’m going on vacation to see my grandma. Grandma loves to see me. When I tell her business is good, it makes her very happy. She was also born in 1911 – good year, right?

(I taped a photo of me and grandma taken a few months prior just below this line)

When I don’t make money, she is less happy.

Is there any way to get these fixed in less than a week? You know, to make everyone happy again?

For America?

For my balance sheet?

For my 102-year-old grandma?

Thanks for reading, FC

About a week later, all the guns came back fixed and ready to resell. I had a chat with the Springfield factory rep at SHOT show a few months later and he told me the staff there got a kick out of it and they put my stuff at the top of the pile.

Moral of the story: be reasonable and people will be realistic back. If you’re the guy who is screaming bloody murder with a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth, nobody’s going to want to help you. If you want to be cheeky, fun and use your 102-year-old grandma in a vain attempt to make money – well, I’m not one to argue with success.

I really didn’t think it would work but after talking with several other dealers, I did manage to get all my stuff back a lot sooner than anyone else did. As a consumer if given a choice between angry and funny, I highly suggest you go the funny route.

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61 Responses to Against All Odds, Funny Frequently Works Best

  1. Having worked the customer service business for a few years, funny and pleasant always got my best effort. The guy screaming and cussing usually got handed off to the people who didn’t give a rip about the job.
    Love the approach you used! It’s a classic… and classy too!

    • “Moral of the story: be reasonable and people will be realistic back. If you’re the guy who is screaming bloody murder with a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth, nobody’s going to want to help you…..
      As a consumer if given a choice between angry and funny, I highly suggest you go the funny route.”

      I can’t believe this is the same FC we normally read here. You’d do well to remember your own advice when you
      get an ill-informed, non-dedicated, didn’t grow up around guns, type of “Can you help me” customer…your fave, LOL.

  2. I too have found that a smile and a joke usually works a LOT better than a curse word and a raised finger when negotiating anything with anyone.

    • Well he’ll that’s how we say hello up here in the GREAT NORTH EAST part of this great land of ours. My point being how they going to know at SMITH & WESON for example. We don’t use words like FIXIN UNLESS IT IS BROKEN. WHEN YOU SAY HELLO IT GOES LLIKE THIS : What the F___ is going on you F___in A__Hole. So now you know that the words you think are offending are just part of everyday language. Strange to you normal for millions up here. To us that is funny.

  3. This is a great example of the cliche’ “You usually catch more bee’s with honey” or something like that. I manage a youth football league with about 500 parents and players. Nearly every day of the season I have an adrenaline, testosterone filled parent who is unhappy about something. Being logical, reasonable and even humorous really helps me communicate and often the parent to communicate as well.

    In the end, there is a goal for both you and the other person and how you get there can really be up to YOU.

  4. FC,
    That’s funny, and instructive.

    I too have found that a sense of humor and personal communication is effective in “greasing the wheels” and lightening a memorable interaction producing positive results for all concerned.

    Works every time and people really appreciate it.

  5. LOL.

    Nice.

    I sent a “thank you” card to an employee of the Illinois State Police’s Concealed Carry Licensing unit for helping me unscramble an issue with my course application approval. I had heard they wanted “X” on the applications, which wasn’t how I read the law, so I submitted two sets of applications. All were approved and he was just wanting to put them all under the same number.

    Anyway, he calls me again about a month later, asking about some other instructors using my address for their registration work and so forth. We got that all ironed out and I asked him if he had received the thank you card.

    I could hear a pause, then a chuckle. It was as if he put his pen down and leaned back in his chair.

    “Yeah, I did. Thank you. I have to say, I’ve gotten a lot of crap from my co-workers about it,” he said.

    Of course, I asked him why.

    “Your note was the only ‘thanks’ ANYONE has given any of us. I hung it on my door and they’re all just jealous that I got the only ‘attaboy’.”

    I chuckled.

    I don’t know that he gave me any special treatment on subsequent issues, but I know my requests were all met very rapidly from that point forward.

    He’s since left the CCW unit.

    It’s amazing what a thank you card can do for you.

    John

  6. Good advice. It helps when debating gun-control advocates who foam at the mouth as well. Especially for anyone watching the debate and trying to decide which side of the fence they want to be on.

    • I tend to use things like facts in a humorous way.

      “If we get rid of guns it’ll save lives.”
      “You’re so right. I mean nobody died before the gun was invented. It’s not like they had things like crossbows, arrows, spears, or swords to kill people before the gun was invented. Nobody can be strangled to death, or hanged without guns. I mean Jack the Ripper did all his killing with guns, right?”

    • Nope, those guys are supes serious.

      I got some puzzled/stern looks from the SWAT guys in Sarajevo at the airport (we have SWAT guys at airports) when I asked one what load they used in their MP5s.

      Sheesh, how am I supposed to know that they don’t like talking. I mean, the black clothes, armor, mask and MP5 is somehow not international clothing code for friendly and talkative.

      • I went to London in 2007. I had not been in country 1 hour and I thought I was going to be kicked out. The Story – After we landed and got our luggage we hopped on the subway to head to the hotel. I had my back to the train doors when Dog and Master boarded the train. Dog and Master where heading to the front of the compartment and when the Dog (cutest Brittany Spaniel ever) goes past me and I immediately said “Hey Puppy!” Then I saw the Master…decked out in full SWAT gear, with some kind of automatic rifle over his shoulder and a pistol on hip and then three buddies dressed in the same fashion. Master looked down at me with an expression that clearly said ‘Don’t talk to my dog that way.’ I thought I was about to die and my final thought would be ‘I am in Britain. Cops do not have guns here. Where the heck am I?’

    • “Except in airports. Funny never works there.” Probably depends on what kind of funny. Any joke that has to do with guns, bombs, terrorists, etc. probably does not go over well at airports.

  7. So, this is the 2nd FC article, although the other one just appealed to my human “feelz” about the tragic loss of your friend, that I did not regret reading.
    Now tell me how you do that funny thing with your customers? /trollface Theres hope for even you FC 🙂

    I really like the idea of the yearly list, I imagine mine will go hand in hand with some Rebecca Creek this year mmm

  8. As readers of this blog know, I like to joke around a bit. I belonged to a health clinic which was my primary. There was a nice young lady who was one of the receptionists and I usually checked in with her once a month.
    Once, as I was leaving, I told her a very short, not off color joke. I believe she was of Latin culture, and she some how got the joke mixed up and thought I wanted to “pick her up”, even though I was maybe 50+ years her senior.
    She smiled and I left. Two days later I got a letter from the clinic administrator, saying that services would no longer be given to me because of a misappropriate remark told to the receptionist. I was told I needed to find a new provider.
    Moral of this story: Run your words through a filter before they leave your mouth, AND, make sure the recipient of said words, has a an excellent working knowledge of the English language!

  9. Whenever I call AT&T for refunds, more minutes etc.,
    By the time I’m done with the call I know how many children they have, what a pain in the ass those kids can be ,that their grandmother went in for surgery, and charges reversed.
    They are not the company, they are just people too.

  10. After numerous rants on TTAG from FC about how the gun business sucks and customers are a PITA, it’s ironic and refreshing to see a more light-hearted approach from FC.

    Tip for FC. Exercise the following with your own customers.

    “Moral of the story: be reasonable and people will be realistic back. If you’re the guy who is screaming bloody murder with a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth, nobody’s going to want to help you.”

  11. I once had a Surefire weapons light come off a carbine and fall, unnoticed, into an inaccessible corner of a storage area in my basement. Unfortunately, it landed in an (also unnoticed) puddle of cat pee – my wife was breeding and showing Persian cats at the time, and they kind of swarmed the place.

    When I found the light, the cat pee had corroded all the way through the anodized aluminum and into the battery compartment. That stuff is like Alien blood!

    I sent the light back, along with a humorous explanation and a photo of the fluffy culprit. I acknowledged that this was likely outside any warranty protection, and I just wanted to see what it would cost to replace the battery compartment. I did mention, however, that a light that was extolled to be operator-tough and used in the harshest climates on earth, had succumbed to this fluffy little feline (and referred to the photo).

    I had a spanking new Surefire within a week.

  12. I have a small business on the side. When customers respond with humor, understanding, or kindness; there issues move to the front of my priorities. When they are rude, humorless, or blunt; the part needed to make their repair is made by artisan craftsmen in a remote village that only allows contact with the outside world once a year.

  13. I blew out the extractor, spring and ball bearing on a savage bolt gun due to a primer blowout.
    I sent them an email and a picture of a 5 shot group and told how we were shooting milk jugs at 500 yards when it happened.
    I just got a package in the mail with free parts.

  14. “Be nice. Be nice until it’s time not to be nice”

    If you start out screaming, you have no place to escalate to.

    Anyone know what movie the quote is from?

  15. I use a chain saw a lot
    I own 3 of them, a main battle saw and 2 back-ups. Recently my MBS was in the shop for a simple repair. When I got it back to the job site the starter rope was seized and broke after 5 pulls the pull rope snapped leaving me only one of 2 back-up saws to finish dropping some very large trees.
    When I returned to the shop, a large and very successful brick and mortar business, I was treated like a liar, as if a liar would drive 40 miles to complain about such a thing. You can guess where my customer loyalty now lies.

    • “the starter rope was seized and broke after 5 pulls the pull rope snapped leaving me only one of 2 back-up saws” Could have been a coincidence if they did not work on that part of the saw. But, regardless, they should have treated you with respect and looked over the saw without making rude remarks. Might have been another job for them if they would have treated you right.

  16. Well I was very polite, followed all the protocols and mailing instruction, waited 4 and a half months and got back a piece of shit that can’t feed a round without jamming and/or failing to reset the trigger. Perhaps I need a photo of a centenarian to get my gun ACTUALLY fixed?

    Edit: I should like to point out that the gun worked flawlessly before it was “repaired”.

    • To what end? What could you possibly hope to gain from that statement? Moreover, what makes you think FC (or anyone else reading, for that matter) gives a rip what you think?

      • Wow–lighten up Brother! This story was so out of character from EVERY other story or post I’ve read from him, I jumped to that conclusion. I really don’t care if anyone gives a rip what I think, just posting my opinion. Like everyone else on this forum. I didn’t hope to gain anything, BTW, and usually don’t get an ass chewing for adding my 2 cents. I’ve railed on him many times in the past without blowback. Evidently, my post didn’t mean as much to him as it did you.

      • My attitude is great. I should feel honored you replied to a fairly harmless post when you completely ignored me in the past when I hammered you on your “Customer Service” stories. Wow, it’s easy to offend people with usually thick skin who resort to name calling.

  17. it was near shoesberry road in xaymaca on the roaring river that i was told “better to make joke than trouble”. that seamlessly blended with the notion from my boss at the time who said “you can say anything you want to, if you say it right”.

  18. I take the time to thank the customer service folks, when they did a good job, and ask for their bosses name. When they hesitate I say, “to tell him/her what a great job you just did for me”- and ask if they can stay on the line, when they connect- even if its voice mail. I then leave a sincere, fact based comment about what they did for me and why I appreciate them and the company- and by the way, Mr Manager, I know this good service doesnt happen without good leadership and training- so thank you too.

    Amazing how many people tell me this is rare.

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