Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Norman Rockwell Vacuum Cleaner Repair Shop

In an era when sites like have to exist so that you can sneak your way into a conversation with a live human customer service rep, it's tempting to wax effusive about the Lost Age of Customer Service. If you live in a small town or small city, you're fanned by the breezes of that lost age, so to speak, but it has its drawbacks.

Fred's Vacuum Cleaner Service (a pseudonym) is one of those places. Five years ago or so, you could take a vacuum cleaner in there and they'd warn you ahead of time: "This is going to cost you." And it did: $7.23, $11.65, and on in that range. They charge more now, but they still care, really care about vacuum cleaners. And that's not altogether a good thing.

You're picking up your ancient, wheezing Hoover upright from the shop, and the conversation's going swimmingly. You mention that you have another vacuum cleaner that needs to be fixed.

"Is it still under warranty?" Still jovial.

You mumble that it might be.

"What kind is it?"

A gift. A Dyson.

"A Dyson"--this with heavy scorn.

"Can you fix it?"

"A Dyson. They're very picky about what's under warranty." A sigh. "I hate to work on them, but yes, I can fix it."

"But it'll cost you."

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