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Bill Farquharson

The Sales Challenge

By Bill Farquharson

About Bill

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."


Crazy Good, Bad Customer Service

I was in Best Buy recently and had a technical question. The receiver I’d bought back in August was acting strangely, so I walked over to the Home Theater department and explained the situation. The blue-shirted lackey had no idea what I was, like, um, like, talking about, so he referred me to “that guy over there” and walked away. “That guy” turned out to be on the store’s Geek Squad. OK, I thought, now we’re getting somewhere.

As I explained the problem again, he listened carefully and waited patiently for me to finish before explaining that the receiver was acting that way (it was defaulting to ‘Mute’ every time I hit the volume button) as a failsafe to protect my speakers. Some sensor told the receiver not to allow additional volume because it believed the speakers would blow.

Makes sense. So, what’s the fix? His reply: “You’ll have to get into the system and shut off the calibration regulator.”


My receiver’s remote control has 946 buttons and while I am tech-savvy, I sensed that I’d be back the next day asking the same question. Looking over at the bank of televisions, I asked if he could walk me over and show me while I was there. His reply, word for word:

“I can’t. If I do, I might lose my job.”

At this point, I did my best Scooby imitation. You know the one when he cocks his head to the side and makes that noise? Returning to reality, I asked for clarification. He continued...

“We sell that solution as a part of a $149 service where a technician comes to your house and sets up the receiver. If I tell you how to do it instead of selling you the service and my manager finds out, I will get fired.”

That’s crazy customer service! Why Best Buy thinks like that is beyond me. I was left with the classic, “Never shopping here again!” reaction that all irritated consumers get.

Then, I got a call from my daughter who was experiencing a computer meltdown. The laptop she was using at college was four years old and out of warranty. The Apple Store wasn’t sure if it was a recently replaced logic board gone bad or something more serious, so they’d sent it off to one of their regional repair centers. Once there, it was determined that a small dent in the corner of the computer indicated that the cause of the problem could be neglect and not a faulty part.

Kati was panicking because of the very real possibility that she’d lose her data. Not only that, but she needed a computer to do her work and asked that I call the repair center for her. Daddy to the rescue. I was panicking because the repair bill estimate suddenly went from $400 to $1,300 due to the dent. One ringy-dingy. Two ringy-dingies...

The customer service rep at Apple quickly called up my repair order and explained the situation. I took a deep inhale and was about to let loose my best plea for leniency when he added, “Can I put you on hold for two or three minutes while I look something up?” OK, sure...

When he returned to the line, he apologized for the delay and said, “Mr. Farquharson, I took a look at your records and you have been an Apple customer for many years and currently own a number of our products. We’ll take care of the problem.” Did that mean it would only be $400? “No. We’ll take care of the repair at no cost.”

Out came my inner Shaggy: “Zoinks!”

That’s crazy customer service! Why Apple thinks like that is beyond me. I was left with the classic, “Never shopping anywhere else!” reaction that all happy consumers get.

Oh, one more thing. The next day I was pulled out of a meeting to hear my breathless daughter say over the phone, “THEY FEDEX’ED IT! AND YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT, BUT THEY REPLACED THE SKIN AND GOT RID OF THE DENT, TOO!”

Crazy. Simply crazy!

Are you watching Bill’s “Short Attention Span” webinars each Friday? They are FREE and available at

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