How Far Should Customer Service Go?

Posted on September 1, 2010 by - Also by this author

Recently I was asked by a client to provide two pillows and a blanket. This is the second time that the same client wanted the same thing. Because the first request came on short notice last time, I simply brought them from home and cringed at the fact that some stranger would be using the pillow from my guest bedroom. Fortunately for me the client never touched the pillows or the blanket. 
 
On the second request, I decided I don’t want a stranger using my blanket or pillows and if a client wants a blanket and a pillow they have two options. They can bring it from home or I can go out and buy them for the client and add the cost to the total bill after adding a mark-up for the inconvenience of having to go to Walmart.
 
I know that my friend Christine Bennett from Showcase Limousine in Boise, Idaho just went through the same thing when one of her celebrity clients complained that the pillows at his hotel were not comfortable and asked her to get him some other ones. I don’t know whether she charged her client or not, but I am certainly not going to go out and buy pillows for a total stranger anymore than I would buy pillows and blankets for the guy standing at on the freeway off-ramp with a sign that says, "Will Work For Food.”
 
This request was relatively tame compared to requests to locate marijuana, cocaine, prostitutes, or get a comp admission into a strip club. Going to Walmart to pickup pillows and blankets is completely legal. Getting the admission to the strip club is legal and requires very little effort. Obtaining or helping a client obtain the illegal stuff is…..well…….illegal. I suppose one would have to make a moral judgment on how far they are willing to go in pursuit of the tip. Being in California, obtaining marijuana is a phone call for most people. But, what is the ultimate benefit and cost? If you score for the client, there is no doubt you will probably be greased with a Benjamin. If you get caught, you could lose your job as a chauffeur, lose your company as an owner, and face public disgrace in the media. To me, it doesn’t really seem worth the money.
 
I would suppose in a gambling town such as Reno, Las Vegas or Atlantic City, the requests for hookers would be an everyday occurrence. Does the chauffeur then get a cut from the hooker and a tip from the client for arranging the service? Again, it seems there would be a moral dilemma about how to comply with the request.
 
Over the years, I have gotten requests ranging from concert tickets to admission to nightclubs without paying the cover charge or moving to the front of the line. I have had requests for Kleenex brand tissues, Constant Comment brand tea, Jelly Belly brand jelly beans, and a host of others requests that seem bizarre to me. But if someone is willing to pay, I am willing to deliver these requests. 
 
I can’t say that I am able to deliver the other requests although I did deliver in a big way for a client that had a failed marriage proposal in my car. I called a group of waitresses that were all roommates and asked them if they wanted to cheer the jilted lover up and go for ride in a limousine. I got the Benjamin and he was left smiling with his new “friends,” but no money was exchanged between the client and my friends. However, I did deliver above and beyond.
 

So how about you? How do you handle unique requests?

-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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