Pricewatch: More good news to get 2022 off to a positive start

From easy exchanges to community spirit, tales of stellar customer service

Have you heard the good news? Of course you have. Only a couple of weeks ago we devoted an entire page to stories of good – and stellar – customer service. It is still the season to be jolly – although you might not feel like that – and it is another bank holiday so we have another bank of good news stories to get the new year off to a positive start. Don't worry though, normal service will resume next week so if you have any problems or issues that you think we might be able to help with in the year ahead give us a shout.

First up we heard from a reader who asked us to change some of the key names in her story for reasons which will become apparent. With that in mind we are going to call her Daisy.

While Santa is well able to look after the presents for all the children of the world, he sometimes needs a bit of a dig out for the more complicated requests.

Daisy wanted to tell us about an experience she had last Christmas involving the good will of so many people “to make sure that my daughter Virginia [also not her real name] got what she had asked for”.

"Virginia had read one of the books in Cora Harrison's Drumshee historical series and asked for the rest of the books for Christmas," Daisy writes.

"I Googled and saw that Tara Book Company in Kilcolgan, Co Galway, had some so I got in touch. Patricia explained that she had eight of the 12 books in stock but four were now out of print and only available second-hand. She said she'd do her best to source them in time."

It turns out that Patricia knew the author personally, so that was her first port of call. “No success with the books there but Cora Harrison said she would send some signed labels for the books. Patricia found a supplier in the UK who had all four books and ordered them immediately.”

So far so good. But it gets better.

"Trish, the An Post delivery person in Kilcolgan, became involved, arriving daily with the same question, 'Is this it?' But as the days ticked by only one book was delivered, there was worldwide chaos in the postal service with delays everywhere. Plan B was put into action."

And what was that?

Well, two of the books were sourced this time in Red Jet in Northern Ireland, and one in Tall Stories, Kilkenny. "Their help was enlisted and both companies went out of their way to get them in the fastest post to Galway. The book from Tall Stories arrived on December 20th, as Patricia was picking up her son at Dublin Airport on December 22nd I arranged to meet with her and took delivery of 10 of the 12 books Santa promised, now all signed by the author. But we were still short two. My mother, who is from Galway, reassured me that this would work out because a 'Galway Girl' was looking after it."

Trish from An Post continued to check daily. The guys from Red Jet checked in repeatedly too. Finally, on December 23rd the last two arrived in Galway but they still had to get to Dublin.

"The tension was building. Patricia came through again, she had a friend travelling to Dublin on Christmas Eve and so my husband went to meet Pat on the Long Mile Road. With only hours to go before Santa was due [with all his other presents for Virginia in the sleigh], the full consignment of 12 books were now delivered. Patricia from Tara Book Company sent word, went back to Trish at An Post, Red Jet, Tall Stories and Cora Harrison that, against the odds, [Santa and his many, many helpers] had come through."

There is even more.

“Oh yes, I hadn’t yet paid for any of the books, and didn’t get my bill until the new year. Now that was super service from Tara Book Company, [they] went way above and beyond the call, all to make Christmas special for a wonderful little reader. This is the real joy of Christmas, such a deeply satisfying feeling spreading to everyone involved, a true Christmas spirit. And one very happy little girl will someday be told the real story behind her precious series of Drumshee novels.”

And when Virginia reads that she will know that yes indeed there IS a Santa Claus, and whole lot of people – none more than her parents – who were looking out for her over one Christmas past.

*****

Pat O'Riordan lives in Co Limerick and last year in the post she got a Christmas gift from one of her daughters. It was a cap and scarf set which she had ordered online from Fia Clothing in Killiney, Co Dublin.

“The styles and colours in both cases were very much to my liking, but the cap seemed a bit tight on my head,” Pat writes.

Pat had other things to think about and returned the hat and scarf to the box in which they had been delivered.

“I placed the box on the top shelf of my wardrobe, with the intention of resolving the issue of the cap size at a later time, and promptly forgot about it.”

On a Tuesday just before Christmas while searching for something else she "came across the box with the hat and scarf. I tried the cap on again and it was still a bit tight. I wondered if the cap might stretch a little with use and I sent an email to Fia asking if someone there could please call my mobile and answer a question that I had. Within a couple of hours, I had a call from Fiona Sheehan and I explained my dilemma to her and I asked her if the cap might stretch with use. I thought that she would dismiss me with some general advice on the care of the cap and remind me that I now had possession of the cap for almost a year."

That is not what happened.

“Instead she told me that Fia had made some minor design changes to the interior of their caps, which might alter the size of the bands, and she was putting a medium and a large cap of the new design in the post for me that evening. She asked me to try on the three caps, choose the one which fitted me best and return the other two to her. I was amazed. I told her that her proposal was way above and beyond what could be expected of any company in terms of consumer service.”

Pat offered to pay the cost of sending the two caps to me but she “wouldn’t hear of it. All she wanted me to pay was the cost of sending the two remaining caps back to her. On Wednesday morning a package was delivered here containing the two new caps. I tried on the three caps and it was clear that the ‘new’ medium cap was the best fit. I put a package, with the two other caps in it, in the post to her that afternoon. I have to say that I was most impressed by the whole experience. Not only did [Fiona] provide the service summarised above, she was also most positive, pleasant and helpful to deal with.”

*****

Michelle Cosgrove asked us to shine a light on Shine Boutique in Claremorris, Co Mayo. It is, she tells us, owned and run by Nina Warde. "A young, vibrant, positive, motivated and wonderful business woman."

“During lockdown she was brilliant especially around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas. You just messaged her with what you wanted and roughly what you wanted to spend and she went to the shop and picked out several options and sent you photos of each option and let you choose. She had a great sense of what would make the perfect gift. Then wrapped and left it for collection.”

Cosgrove continues: “She also supported local small start-up business like [a] small soap company or candle company and stocked them in her shop and included them in little customer appreciation bags she gave out also. She organised orders to be sent abroad and couldn’t do enough to make it easy both now and during the lockdown. Tea and coffee are served even if you are just in for a look.”

There is more for the soundness meter.

“During lockdown she asked for children to drop in their art and filled her windows with it, and the joy of the kids seeing their art displayed was great. She has a great community spirit and a real kindness and she is in business 15 years since November and her well-deserved success is down to going above and beyond for all her customers and community. She really does deserve recognition and praise.”

And we are happy to give it.

*****

"I can't speak highly enough of Discovery Playtime," writes Sinead O Reilly. "I've ordered at 7am and items are shipped at 8.30am on the same day. She sells amazing creative toys to help children learn through discovery and fun. She also runs play sessions for tiny humans which had been an incredible experience as my tiny human hasn't had the chance to mix due to Covid. You can tell how much she loves her job and she deserves everything that she achieves."

*****

And finally, we have two very sobering stories about companies helping people out when they are trying to cope in the worst of times.

The first from a reader who asked to be identified only by her first name, Maria, and it has to do with Ryanair.

“As a critic of Ryanair over the years, I now want to praise them,” the mail begins. “My daughter died tragically on November 3rd last and as you can imagine it is a terrible time for us. I had a return flight booked for Dublin to Malaga going out on November 23rd last. The Ryanair bereavement application was very user-friendly and they processed the full refund in a very quick time. I am grateful for that, and I wonder if you could mention it in your paper.”

*****

We also heard from Diane Burke. "I felt compelled to let you know about a local boutique owner who showed such kindness to me at very challenging time," she says.

"My mum was diagnosed with cancer just shortly after my middle son was born, with her prognosis being unfortunately very short. We arranged my son's christening so that she would be able to attend. As she had lost so much weight she was unable to wear any of her wardrobe. She was quite frail at that stage and really didn't have the energy to be traipsing around clothes shops, so I explained this to the owner, Sheena, of a local boutique called Treasures in Gort, Co Galway, when I went in search of an elegant outfit, with a baby and toddler in tow."

Diane says she is not “accustomed to shopping in boutiques and also for someone else. Sheena listened to my descriptions of her style which she always loved and helped me pick out a lovely outfit. She told me to bring the couple of sizes home, charging for just one and return whichever didn’t suit. Mum wouldn’t have had the opportunity for a while until travelling up for the ceremony to try them on. But Sheena understood this. Such trust and compassion she showed that day meant so much to us in our difficult situation. Even though mum is now gone, I still treasure and hold that gesture dear. We buried my mum in that glamorous outfit. Thank you.”

And here are just a selection of the responses we got on social media.

White Gables in Galway consistently excel in customer service. Multiple or heavy bags are carried to the car, and if you ask the chef to make a special order he obliges. Ann adds a surprise to your order too. Best customer service in Ireland. Mary Sweeney

Zwilling, the knife people; a set of their knives dissolved in the dishwasher, they replaced them for me with zero hassle. Lovely people. Anton Savage

Anne at Lidl, Pottery Road, is the kindest most, helpful person. Always insists on helping me pack my shopping and even wheels it to car and unloads if it's not too busy in the shop. I walk on sticks so this is much appreciated. Thank you, Anne. Lucille Luluone

Dunnes Stores grocery delivery service is excellent from start to finish. Easy online ordering, brilliant delivery people and they always ring in advance of your two-hour slot to tell you exactly when they'll be there. Bravo. Nicola Corbet

Chris at Table Top in Cork went above and beyond helping to organise a big box of novel boardgames for family Christmas presents. And made great recommendations based on age and emailed back and forth after hours to organise. Elizabeth O'Reilly

The petrol station in Boyle – my pit stop on the way to see mum in a nursing home. There were no mini cartons of milk (to make a cuppa with mum), so a staff member (about 18 years old) wanted to fill a takeout cup of milk for me to bring. She was so sweet. The journey ahead was a bit long to accept. But such a kind gesture. Barbara Edwards

The young guy who works in Julianstown North is the friendliest, most helpful chap, he has red hair and glasses, I don't know his name, but he is always smiling and chatty. Helen Dunne

I ordered baubles with names for a recent grandmother. Three arrived intact and one was broken. Lily Lavender Creations replaced it within 48 hours. No charge whatsoever. Superb service. Treasa Kenny

Our postman, Brian Murphy, provides a fantastic service. Someone sent important medical details to me recently with the wrong address. Brian spotted the error and delivered the package to the right house. Only one example of how he goes out of his way to help. Paula Hickey

Every person my daughter and I interacted with today at the HSE test centre in Croke Park was delightful. Lorraine was our tester and put us completely at ease. It's some operation and they make you feel you're the first person they've seen that day. Amy Dawson