As our bathroom renovation finishes up, I should share a story about one particular event that reaffirmed my faith in contractors and customer service.

Before I get to that, though, I should add that we purposefully made sure to completely avoid Home Depot during this project. We bought all of our materials through local merchants. I’m not some kind of crazy left-winger who boycotts retail stores or anything, either (although I will not shop at Wal-Mart. Ever). To the best of my knowledge, Home Depot doesn’t exploit underage children in third world countries or anything. My problem with Home Depot resides solely in two camps: their horrendous customer service and the fact that it’s a 20 minute ride vs. a 3 minute ride to the local, family-owned place.

Look no further than our kitchen renovation a couple of years ago when Steph and I went to Home Depot in Natick, MA to shop for kitchen fixtures. In examining a refrigerator we liked, we summoned an employee and asked a couple of questions and then we asked if we could see the back of the unit. His reply: “no.” Simple as that. He didn’t even give a reason and was unfriendly about it. It’s safe to say we will never forget that moment in our entire lives. We’ve had quite a few other horrifying experiences with their people, but that one sticks out.

Now, let’s swing the pendulum the other way. Since we have a pretty old house, whenever we do any kind of renovation, we have to bring the electricity up to code. Our old bathroom didn’t even have an outlet in it, so the only thing in there was an overhead fan and a mirror/light unit on the wall. The electrician’s job for this renovation was pretty simple and quick: add an outlet, add a light to the ceiling, remove the old mirror/light unit and replace it with two wall lights. All told, it took two visits, each taking about two hours of their time.

But here’s the kicker: on the first visit, they said they would be at our house by 8am. We had used them before and they were usually spot-on in terms of punctuality. However, it got to be 9am so I called and in a very friendly manner, checked in with them. They said they had me on the schedule for 1pm. Not a problem for me, really, since I have the option to work at home, so I just told them to come at 1pm.

At about 10:30 – an hour-and-a-half after I spoke with them – came a knock on my door. Standing on my front step is the electrician. Not the one who’s coming at 1pm, though. It’s the owner of the company and he’s begging for my forgiveness and apologizing profusely because of the scheduling error, saying they never like to inconvienence their customers like that and he wanted to personally come and apologize for it. He then came upstairs and took a look at the job and inspected the electrical box downstairs. Now that is service!

A few weeks later, I called to schedule the second part of the job (the finish) and had to leave a message. A few hours later I got a call back from the owner to schedule the job. Then he told me that he was in Disneyworld with his kids, but he wanted to get back to me quickly! How sad is it that this kind of customer service is now the exception to the norm these days?

So, kudos to Harland Electric. You’ve earned yourselves a customer for life.