Monday, August 22, 2011

Tenth Time is a Charm

Happy birthday to me! I spent the first hour of it having the traditional conversation with Suburban Propane, some variation of which I have every single time I call for a delivery:

Me: Good morning, could I get a propane delivery?
Lady at Suburban Propane company: We just delivered to you two weeks ago.
Me: Yes, well. Thanks. But I need another delivery.
Lady at Suburban Propane: It's August.
Me: I know. I use propane to fire my kiln, not to heat my house.
Lady at Suburban Propane: What does the gauge read?
Me: The gauge doesn't work.
Lady at Suburban Propane: Have you been using the kiln alot?
Me: I only need to use it three times, and if it runs out in the middle of a firing, all the propane that's gone towards that firing is wasted. So I prefer not to run out.
Lady, dubiously: Alllll-right, I'll let the driver know....

What's worse, I guarantee I will have to call at least once more, and probably twice, because the driver will look at the order and say, "Nah, she's nuts. I just delivered there." It's almost like Suburban doesn't want me as a customer, because I use too much propane, necessitating a lot of pesky deliveries and stuff.

If it didn't cost hundreds of dollars to install tanks I would have switched companies months ago. As it is I am considering becoming cranky. So far I have been relentlessly pleasant and polite, but maybe the problem is pleasant, polite conversations are less memorable than cranky ones.

I'm not that good at cranky, though, and it ruins my day as well as perhaps the person on the other end, who has lots of customers to remember, not just me. Still, I am losing patience. They presumably utilize a computer to store information; there must be some way to make a note on my file that if I call for propane, it's because I need it.


Mesnic said...

I don't know if you have "Thrifty Propane" in your area, but I have been EXTREMELY pleased with them, I only use propane for heating but on one delivery they cost $300 less than the local company I was using, and their gas burns longer. Just thinking that a couple of deliveries would pay off new tanks for you and their customer service is amazing. Also if suburban owns your tanks they should replace your gauges free and quickly. They are hard to find but some companies actually respect and appreciate their customers.

Sue Pariseau Pottery said...

Had similar conversation with the local saw mill when calling to order bundles of slab wood. Fortunately, the driver was more familiar with wood fired kilns than those in the office (apparently I'm not their only client wood firing pottery). The driver is really good about choosing the best bundles for my needs and placing them in a way easier for us to use when he unloads. A nice coffee cup as a gift to the driver goes a long way. :)

Anonymous said...

If you need a delivery every two weeks, and you have less than a 1,000 gallon tank,your tank is too small. If your use is sporratic, then ask that the clerk make a note for your account. As noted earlier, I also suggest taking the time to develop a relationship with the driver. He might even give you a way to contact him directly.

Lori Watts said...

Hi "Anonymous" -- Thanks for your thoughts. I already asked them to make a note on my account regarding my sporadic use. I ask them this every time I talk to them; that's why i mentioned in the last paragraph that there MUST be a way for them to preserve this information for the next time. As far as the tank goes, they were very resistant even to giving me a second 100-gallon tank, so I think a 1000 gallon tank is out of the question.
I "take the time" to chat with the driver every time he delivers, which is fine; but I don't think customer service should be dependent upon my charm. I'm trying to purchase their product!

-Rob, Simple Circle Studios said...

Isn't there some saying about the customer and whether or not they are right? You are buying their product; they should not question why you are using it when you are or why you are using as much as you are. I say throw a fit. If they still have a problem selling so much of their propane, take you business elsewhere.