Six days after my central heating boiler started leaking, today an engineer is at last attending casa Strachan to (hopefully) repair the dripping box. Consequential of warranty red tape, ie the installer not sending it to the appliance manufacturer, the progress of securing a gas fitters service has been sloth like.

Sadly, the swiftness companies take your ‘care plan’ dollar isn’t always reciprocated with a similar haste when calling upon customer support under the aforementioned contract. ‘The customer is king’ a much uttered corporate soundbite; however, on occasion it doesn’t feel like I’ve received treatment fit for a sovereign.

I find it hard to countenance that a monarch ringing a heating care plan team with the inquiry “My heating’s knackered, t’old lad…. Any chance you can send a fitter round t’palace and sort it out, love?“, they’d be gaslighted about its warranty not being up to date.

Clearly, not all customer service is shoddy. My local butcher Archie Treadmore is a lovely fella who greets his patrons with a smile, whimsical quip and sight of him juggling seven sausages at once. As they are still linked, though, his brag about juggling a septet of bangers is somewhat flawed.

Local baker Dusty Diamond is similarly affable with purchasers of his wares, from the small shop he runs with wife Donna….. Or is his wife called Joy and she’s a Donna to visit? I forget now….. Anyhow, the welcoming couple extend regular customers the courtesy of calling them by name when entering their store.

It’s rarely the correct name, but they at least endeavour to make you welcome. If their bread didn’t taste like glued together sawdust, and the crumpets didn’t include fingernails, I’d possibly shop there a great deal more frequently.

I enjoy the personal service bestowed from local shopkeepers. Their fare maybe more expensive and contain fingernails, however, Dusty Diamond aside, their products ordinarily usurp the quality of supermarket fodder.

A venture into a local store evokes memories of childhood odysseys along Low Fell high street as a kid. Starting at Chowdene post office where my mum would collect her family allowance and a book of stamps for the plethora of cards and letters she’d send weekly. Incidentally, the frequent sending of cards remains a habitual courtesy my mother affords many, even in her 80’s.

From the post office, we’d meander north along Durham Road, maybe stopping off next at Bert’s pie shop where a wonderful redolence of baked savouries aroused emotions like nothing else pre-puberty.

The staff polite, affable and occasionally bearing what looked like remnants of pie crust around their mouths while serving……. However, who could blame the staff if they did tuck into a pie, pasty or sausage roll. Even God would’ve stolen one of Bert’s savoury smorgasbord; or maybe put it on his tab.

After departing Bert’s, my siblings and I would attempt to persuade mum of the familial bonding qualities of buying a 1/4 lb bag of cola cubes from Reeds confectioners. Our success depending on her mood on the day. Although if, within the last 24 hours, our Ian or me had broken an ornament playing football in the house we’d not bother asking……. If that’d occurred we weren’t even afforded the high of licking the stamps prior to the cards being posted.

A odyssey along Durham Road coming to an end with a call into Fine Fare supermarket, followed by a tarry into the butchers. As with my current Leeds butcher, Archie Treadmore, the 1970’s Low Fell equivalent greeted his patrons with a smile and a whimsical quip. I have to say, though, unlike Archie I never saw him juggling seven sausages at once.

Incidentally, as I conclude this commentary on what I believe constitutes good and questionable customer service, the boiler engineer has been and gone. The leak issue no longer darkening my door, or rotting the chipboard at the base of the appliance’s cupboard housing.

To balance out my earlier diatribe about poor warranty support, I thought it only fair to announce this guy was very personable, punctual and resolved the issue swiftly…… All’s well that ends well.

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