What Value Can You Place On Good Advice?

While on the surface the basis of good retail is rooted in great merchandise at reasonable prices, sometimes price does not enter the equation. And sometimes you get surprised when someone tries to ‘down sell’ you to something less expensive. But the reality is that when this happens, the emotion that drives the customer is pure joy and appreciation.

This happened to me several years ago and then again recently at my local hardware store. I was attempting to replace my old tub faucets and stripped out the large bolt with vice grips (Yeah, I know, they should not be used on anything you want to keep in good shape…). So, when I called a plumber to look at it, he said he was going to have to replace my old style faucets, which caused me to shudder. Then, we decided we needed to also do the same on the lavatory. Using the vice grips was going to cost me about $2500.

That weekend I was dinking around at my favorite store – Ace Hardware, and I told the guy there my story. He said, “Oh, we have a tool you can rent to pull the faucet – it’s $1 a day. ” 30 minutes later I was back with the old faucet, and he showed me how to replace the packing and seals. $12 dollars later, I was back in business. He could have sold me a whole new faucet assembly for $30.

So I was back a couple years later, and the same guy said they did not have the same selection of seals and washers they used to because ‘corporate’ was not giving them the flexibility to deviate from their mass ordering and buying. What a shame I thought. But, then he did something most retailers would avoid – he told me where I could find them. He told me to go to Edge Supply. So I went there.

These guys know how to treat customers. They are mainly a supply house to plumbing and HVAC companies, but they have retired plumbers that just hang out there on Saturday afternoons and dispense advice – some of which I got. I had replaced washers on them several times and I was thinking I was going to have to replace the stems on my 1950’s faucets. The guy behind the counter said, “No, no, no – probably just the seats.” “The seats? What are those?” I asked. The old plumber standing there showed me what they were. I bought a $12 ‘seat extractor’ tool and went home.

The first seat would not come out. I called and Mike said, “Just tap it with a hammer.” I was told never to use hammers on plumbing, but I followed his instructions, and it worked like magic. For another $8.50 I replaced all the seats and washers. And then Mike told me not to worry about future replacement of the stems. There are a couple of companies making them as customers need them. Gave me some advice, sold me a few dollars in parts instead of hundreds and told me not to worry. “Just come back.” they said.

And that I will.