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‘They went above and beyond’: Celebrating good customer service by Irish businesses

Pricewatch: A break from giving out to acknowledge the businesses who are sound

As keen readers will know, we spend much of our time on this page giving out. If we are not moaning about high prices we are complaining about terrible customer service. And we make no apologies for that.

But every now and then it is worth acknowledging that amidst all the horror stories and the let downs there are many thousands of businesses and people who do the right thing and look after their customers. often when it doesn’t benefit them at all. They just do the right thing because they are sound.

So, what with it being a bank holiday and all – and one which is always pretty depressing, heralding as it does the start of winter – we thought we would stand down our gripes for the day and hand the page over to those with good news stories to share. It’s time to celebrate the sound.

Stena Line

A reader by the name of John Daly was due to travel to UK with Stena Line earlier this month “I assumed that the ferry was departing at 20.55. Unfortunately that was the departure time for Irish Ferries crossing. Stena was departing at 20.30.”


Around 25 minutes before the boat was due to set sail Daly’s phone rang. “I was on the M50 when I received a call. The lady asked me where I was. I replied that I was on the M50, near the port tunnel. She replied saying that ‘We will wait for you. Put your foot down’. I couldn’t imagine our biggest airline doing that. So 10 /10 for Stena. I was the last to board.”

Maybe Daly was being a bit harsh on airlines when he said they’d not be so accommodating to dallying passengers. Because as it happens we also got a mail from a reader in connection with Aer Lingus, a company which has come in for its fair share of criticism on this page over recent years.

Aer Lingus

Shane Colton “felt compelled to send in my positive experience” with the airline because “there are so many examples nowadays of poor customer service so nice to be able to call out positives when possible!”

Colton was heading to London a few weeks ago and he admits that it had been so long since he’d been on a plane that he was out of practice. Aren’t we all?

“I decided there was no point going down to the gate too early and instead was relaxing over my pint in the bar. Needless to say I was cutting it a bit too ‘just in time’ and as I was strolling down to the gate, my name got called out over the intercom to go to the gate. Next thing the guy from the gate rang my mobile phone to check was I lost or if I was on my way (they could probably tell I had checked in),” he writes

So after “putting an inch to my final step and being mortified at being last to board the plane, I now learned to not only check which gate your flying from, but the time the gate closes. I was deeply grateful to them for the gentle nudge as I highly doubt the other low-cost airlines would have done the same. Having to sit around the airport all day, rearranging alternative flights and costing a fortune would have lost me day one of my weekend trip and ultimately soured my weekend. I’m a big believer in customer service not being all high and fancy, it can be very small simple acts of kindness.”

Irish Ferries

We also heard from an Irish Ferries customer. It’s another company which has featured on this page in a less positive fashion of late.

“Given the many problems that you have covered with refunds and vouchers for travel cancelled due to the pandemic, I wanted to report a recent, very positive experience with Irish Ferries,” says Bairbre Redmond.

“In early 2020 I had paid €1,500 for a return Dublin-Cherbourg trip for June 2020. I cancelled the trip in May 2020 and opted to take a voucher rather than a refund. This was partly because the voucher was going to be good for travel up to the end of 2021 (when travel in that period looked to be a lot more viable than it turned out to be). As I was lucky enough to afford it, I also wanted to try and support Irish Ferries by leaving the money with them; we’ve travelled with them annually to France for 12 years and have always had very good experiences with them.”

Fast forward to last spring when it became clear travel to France was not going to be a runner in the summer of 2021 either.

“I began to think that my magnanimous gesture of taking a voucher might have been a bit foolish,” Redmond says. “I wrote to Irish Ferries asking if they would allow us to book travel for 2022 using the €1,500 voucher. Their subsequent reply did not say that it would be possible, but asked me to “revert back to us near end of 2021 and we can favourably review for extension of the travel credit, taking into consideration the value of credit you currently have held”. While hopeful, I had been increasingly nervous that Irish Ferries could still limit or refuse to honour the voucher as we wouldn’t be using it for travel in 2021.”

The 2022 Ireland-France travel bookings opened last week and Redmond “prepared for a lengthy dispute to be able to use our voucher for a post-2021 booking.

“I phoned them this morning and, with no issue, was told that I could use the entire amount against a 2022 booking and was helpfully talked through how to draw down the credit on an online booking. An hour later the Irish Ferries agent (Paula) phoned me back to make sure I had been able to complete this as she was concerned that she might have misled me on using one aspect of their (new) booking system. Credit where it’s due, an extremely positive experience (and an excellent booking agent). Apart from being a long-time customer with Irish Ferries, I have no other connection with the company.”

Promise Gluten Free

Sorcha King wanted us to highlight what she said was “a small gesture but [one which] made me feel important as a customer. King’s husband and son are both coeliac so the family spend a lot on gluten-free foods.

“A few weeks ago I bought sandwich baps from Promise Gluten Free ( an Irish company based in Donegal). The baps were four days within the best-before date and still sealed but unfortunately had a patch of mould so I took a picture and emailed it to them,” she writes.

“I got a lovely email back,” she says.

The company accepted that there was an issue – it is one which is, King tells us much worse in warmer weather. “They apologised and asked for my address to send out a hamper in the post. A big box arrived a couple of days later filled with a large selection of their breads. I wasn’t expecting such a lovely hamper. It will stick with me the way they treated my complaint and I reach for their products when shopping.”

First Stop

Paul Doyle has not one but two good news stories he wanted us to share. First up was First Stop in the Omni Shopping Centre in Santry. “These guys always go further to make getting our three cars sorted. From tyres to batteries, full service to brakes, they are always friendly, search for best prices for parts. They keep you informed by phone and are apologetic when the bill is big because something needs to be done. The management and team always have time to explain and show you what needs to be done. And, they are friendly in a natural ‘Dub’ way. Every time for years now. Exceptional. And all of four of us have had the same individual experience.”


Doyle also had a shout out for Shouk, the restaurant in Drumcondra. “They had a problem one evening, we had to wait 25 minutes for our online takeaway pickup. The team were totally apologetic, kept us informed of the likely delay and were polite and calm. They said they would be in touch. Two days later I got a call from them, explaining what happened, apologising again and hoping it would not affect our custom. Then, I was asked if I would give my email as they would like to sent me a small voucher. They sent a €15 voucher with a further apology. Their approach was friendly, efficient and clearly made us feel we were important to them. In both cases there is clearly a customer ethos from management down. Rare and natural in both cases.”

Feeney’s of Dromore West

Catherine Sheridan mailed us because she wanted to share a good experience she had with Feeney’s of Dromore West in Co Sligo. “I was involved with a local government management agency conference this week. I was speaking about the economic opportunities arising from climate change. I had hoped to make it to a hotel in time to give my presentation but I got my timings wrong,” she says.

That makes her the third reader of this page this week to get their timings wrong.

“We stopped at Feeney’s and explained our predicament. They sorted me with WiFi and set me up in their coffee shop where I was able to deliver my presentation. I’d like to I say to rapturous applause but it really wasn’t that sort of an audience. However it was incredible that I could. It was because of the attitude of the team in Feeneys. They went above and beyond for me and it was so, so brilliant.”

Butternut Box

Melanie Morris signed up to Butternut Box recently. It is a home-cooked, human-grade dog food and she had heard the business story and liked how they conducted themselves on various public platforms.

“I ordered my first two-week batch late one evening using Apple Pay, which is connected to my Revolut card. I loved the service, Flumpy loved the food, I stayed on as a subscriber,” Morris says.

“My payment didn’t go through this week (I should have switched to my more regular visa debit card), and they emailed me to politely let me know…. And that they would be sending by out my delivery anyhow, in the meantime.”

She describes this attitude – rightly – as “really impressive. They also have a 24/7 vet nurse hotline for Butternutters, just like VHI for human members.”

CliffRun Media

Brigid Flanagan wanted to give a shout out to CliffRun Media. “My mother uses their Acorn, a tablet-like device for older people. She bought it during the first lockdown so she could keep in touch with people and watch mass/attend funerals virtually. It stopped working recently. We shipped it back to CliffRun Media. The long and short of it is that [the company] called today to let me know they can’t fix it but will provide her with a replacement, a refurbished one, at no charge.”

Connolly Hospital

Cian Conroy and a friend were knocked off their bicycles earlier this month – he chooses not to dwell on the driver’s role in the incident.

“The extent of our injuries meant we both had to be rushed to A&E by ambulance and to then receive extensive treatment from the medical staff in A&E and the wider facilities in Connolly Hospital,” he says.

“Everybody we encountered went out of their way not only to restore our bodies but also to lift our spirits. They were professional, attentive and courteous at every interaction. The staff were from every corner of the earth, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, England and closer to home. I couldn’t name them all, and probably due to Covid masks I may not recognise them if we meet again, but would hope a name check of Blanchardstown A&E might in some way convey my thanks.”



“A few weeks ago in Tower Records I sat down on the stairs to breastfeed the baby... one of the staff members was over in about five seconds to see if I wanted a chair.” – Liz O’Sullivan

“The staff at the checkout in Aldi Wexford are amazing when my husband, who has dementia, is trying to pay with pre-decimal coins.” – Patricia Stafford

“Hairy Baby have a girl called Dee who’s just exemplary. Bought a load of t-shirts for presents, one had tiny hole in it. I was expecting big rigmarole to get replacement but after an email, a new one arrived in two days – no hassle, no stress. Presents were all a great hit.” – Orlaith Read

“Dee from Hairy Baby also helped me out with a reprint of a t-shirt from over 10 years ago. So helpful and lovely.” – Aideen Nolan

“Hilary from The Mill Pharmacy, Coolaney went out of her way to help me get my medication on time last week when I got discharged from hospital. Don’t know what I would have done without her.” – Jennifer Devaney Gaughan

“We booked in for two nights in the Bloomfield Hotel with our two smallies in a family room. Had to leave after the first night (our own fault) and they refunded the second night. Amazing gesture, wasn’t expecting it at all. Fab hotel, fab pool, gorgeous location.” – Sara McGough.

“Myself and a friend in Glengarriff for a weekend, booked a taxi back to cottage after meal, realised we had no cash, taxi driver didn’t take card – no ATMs open. He brought us home anyway as he didn’t want to see us stranded and walking in the dark – gent.” – Hazel Nolan

“Sailed home on an overnight ferry with Stena Line. Noisy people in the lounge. Asked about paying to upgrade to the hygge lounge. Guy in customer service suggested an alternative and gave us a cabin free of charge. Was wowed by the service and totally not expecting that.” – Patricia Kirwan

“DAA and Ryanair were magnificent in providing special assistance for my two elderly parents travelling with me to Faro [at the] end of September.” – Deborah Martin

“My pharmacist from McCabes Pharmacy in Sandyford Hall in D18. She is nice anyway but this story is above all. I have apnoea and have to use purified water. It’s a five litre bottle. I ordered it during the week but was not well enough to collect it. I called this morning and asked if there was any chance the delivery van could drop it down. The delivery van must have been busy because my neighbour in the pitch dark ran into her, just now at 8pm, long after they closed, walking with the five litre bottle trying to find the number of my house. What a saint.” – Denis Crowley