Well, what service am I talking about and who is this provider? I will tell you up front that I don't like to give out names in a blog when the service is bad, for it can be seen as sour grapes and can, if one isn't careful, lead to personal consequences, but in the case of a positive report it is certainly justified. So, the product is auto insurance and service and the company is United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a provider of services to active military, former military and their eligible dependents. They aren't the cheapest but they meet Clark's guidelines due to their excellence in service. To pull it off, it takes dedicated employees and smart allocation of assets as well as having an employee force which loves what they do. USAA treats their employees well and it shows and the story below about my most recent experience with them yesterday truly amazed even old me.
The story began Thursday evening when my wife arrived home from work. She came in the door saying that something was wrong with her truck, that it had been running fine all the way home, but once she turned into our private lane back to our homestead, it stalled. She had to restart the engine six times to make it down the lane to our gate. It repeatedly stalled along the way. Well, obviously there was a problem, so I went out to look and check what could, which with all the engine gadgetry and computer modules today made it difficult. The oil was normal, it wasn't overheated, and there was no sign under the hood of anything out of order, so I tried to start it and had a similar response. It started up find but wouldn't hold an idle and died. It was obviously something caused by lack of fuel flowing, perhaps a bad fuel filter, but it was not something I could get to due to the modern engineering. It makes me wonder sometimes if the automotive engineers have an idea what they've done to make sometimes simple problems impossible, or perhaps it is by design. In any event, I came back into the house, told her that she likely wouldn't be able to get to work in the morning and I would start the ball rolling to get help.
When you live rural and are over fifteen miles from town, a vehicle problem is often quite difficult to deal with. My old clunker, now just used around the farm, is not something I put on the highway and, frankly, with my limited needs for a separate vehicle, I've opted not to replace it. It just doesn't make good financial sense, so I called USAA to confirm that my roadside assistance coverage was good. I opted out of the motor club option when late at night they failed to respond to a call years back and my wife had to pay cash to a local firm near her work to help her out. I found out the good news about my policy and was told to call them back when I needed the service which would be first thing in the morning. Then I called our AAA-endorsed care repair shop, left the message that the truck would be towed first thing in the morning and asked them to confirm.
Here's is where the excellent customer service comes in. I received a call back from the repair shop shortly after my call, telling me to have it brought in and they would get on it first thing after morning opening. So at six a.m., I called USAA's roadside assistance and they patched me directly through to their servicing agent, a contractor firm that specializes in roadside service. The agent was very professional and cheerful, English was her native language and she said I would soon start receiving voice mail messages (I don't have texting on my cell, as I said I am frugal) and for a moment I thought that maybe this would turn out like the auto club where the wait is forever. But no, within less than a minute a voice mail came in telling me the name of the towing company and that my next call would be that they were arriving. I was further adviced that they would be there within the hour, something which raised my skepticism based upon the distance from town. Imagine my surprise when they pulled in after fifty seven minutes, had the truck hooked up and out the gate within five minutes (all I had to do was identify myself, there was no paperwork needed). Thirty minutes later the next message told me the truck had been delivered to the repair shop and I was told to look on my email where a picture would be up showing the truck at the service bay door. Wow! So, I quickly confirmed that all was complete, gave them a five star rating, including for the excellent driver who was sharp as a tack, and the work would begin. Later, I received a call from the garage telling me that the entire problem had been caused by a very small piece of trash debris that had blocked the sensor that monitors the fuel and air mix and that was the culprit. They did a few other minor things with my approval and this morning I will pick up the truck thanks to a neighbor who will give me a lift.
Now this might all seem very blah as a subject for a blog to many, but after some of the disasters I've been through in recent years in the customer service department, I just find it something special. And the old adage of you get what you pay for stands out as the truth that it is and my thanks to USAA for truly being there when they are needed. Now, about that old farm vehicle, what will I do? Probably just procrastinate as I always do. In any event, have a great day, folks, it's going to be a glorious weekend. Every single weekend always is in my book.