Customer service. In today's age, with today's economic climate (thanks, Bush!), it isn't an option--it's essential.

Two local stories for you regarding customer service in Imperial Beach.

The first:

The Blockbuster worker yesterday informed me that my account had a balance of $1.10, due to the fact that I returned a rented DVD eleven days late. Now I had been informed by Blockbuster that I could hold a movie for thirty days before being charged for it. But it was clear the woman ringing me up was not going to listen to any counterarguments. I ponied up the extra cash and left. Later I wrote the corporation and threatened them to credit it back or I was going to take my business elsewhere. Blockbuster--the corporation--is hurting, losing millions of dollars to Netflix and other competitors. I've written them before. They've been only moderately helpful.

Poor customer service at the desk of the local outlet at 16th and Palm; only moderate service from the corporation. And generally poor selection overall. It's only a matter of time before I do leave, regardless.

Customer service story number two:

This one involves a local franchise, Giant Pizza King. The one I go to is on 13th and IB Boulevard. The workers there greet me heartily every time I pop in (about twice a month). Some even remember my name and use it in their greeting. Their food is excellent and well priced. I never have to overwait. When I leave, they bid me farewell.

I always smile when I leave. A business cares about one of its patrons--actually cares!

It isn't a mistake, in my opinion, that said business is strictly local (as opposed to a corporate franchise like Blockbuster) and has a massive stake in keeping its loyal base satisfied. Contrast that with Blockbuster, who feels, apparently, that overcharging customers, or indifference--as is written on the face of their workers, or poor selection, is okay.

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