Tag Archives: loyalty

Hit By the Bus—and Smiling

IPMI Blog bus imageBy David M. Feehan

I read with a smile Kim Fernandez’s story about her stupid furnace and brand loyalty. It made me recall an incident that occurred just before Christmas.

I was on my way to visit my son and his family in Brooklyn. It was a lousy night for driving from D.C.—rainy, foggy, and bone-chilling. I had just pulled off the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and onto the BQE (the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), exited at the Fort Hamilton off ramp, and was preparing to turn right on 65th Street. While waiting at stop light, I suddenly felt a bump. I looked to my left and there was an MTA city bus, trying to squeeze between my Jeep and another car.

I started honking and flashing my brights and the bus driver pulled over to the curb. The young driver got out, came around to my driver’s side window, and asked if anyone was injured. I told him I thought it was a minor collision and he looked at the side of my Jeep and then told me he would call his supervisor but it might be awhile before anyone would come. Wanting to make sure I had a record of the accident, I called New York City Police, who promised to send a squad.

Within about 20 minutes, two MTA supervisors arrived. They were very friendly and courteous. One, noticing my Maryland plates, remarked about the Nationals winning the World Series. Before long, we were discussing the 1969 Amazin’ Mets and the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. After the supervisor took a number of photos with his cell phone, he explained how I could file a claim and gave me a form with instructions and a number to call. By the time police arrived, we had pretty well settled the issue.

When I returned to Maryland, I found I already had two mailings from MTA with the forms I needed and the instructions for filing a claim. I then received a call from Dominick, a representative of MTA’s legal department, who wanted to check and see if I received the forms and again walked me through the process of filing a claim.

All’s well that ends well. I took the Jeep to my neighborhood body shop, where the owner rubbed out the scratches with some rubbing compound. No harm, no foul.

Who said transit agencies are by nature rude and impossible to deal with? New York’s MTA set an example for other transit and parking systems. There is a lesson here for any public agency, whether transit or parking. Encounters like these can build loyalty or animosity. Your choice.

David M. Feehan is president of Civitas Consultants, LLC.

My Stupid Furnace and Brand Loyalty

Repairman at a home's door.By Kim Fernandez

Three weeks ago, I realized mid-day that I was colder than usual. That was because my furnace wouldn’t kick in. I said some not-very-nice words, tromped downstairs, took the whole system down starting at the thermostat and finishing at the power source, waited a minute, brought it all back up in reverse fashion (I might have threatened the big silver box, too), and breathed a sign of relief when it fired to life. And then I called my HVAC guy, because my furnace is only three years old.

The HVAC expert couldn’t find a problem but suspected the high-efficiency heater was starving for air and overheating itself. He suggested I call a duct company to see if something was weird between the walls of my 80-year-old house. Which I quite unhappily did, after checking Yelp to find a good fit.

The duct company sent two guys out the next day. After a half-hour of poking around down in the vents, they told me some of the return ducts were blocked up for reasons they couldn’t explain, and that’s probably why the furnace threw a tantrum.

Here’s the good part: While one guy explained the issue to me, the other went out to their truck for a shop vac and cleaned up every speck of dust that had poofed out during their exploration. He grabbed a bunch of extra stuff out of the ducts and put that in a trash bag and pushed my furniture back where it was when they started. His colleague, meantime, told me he thought we could unblock the ducts ourselves, gave me a few suggestions of what to try, and gave me a very reasonable estimate to have the ducts cleaned after all that, just in case we’d want that done. No hard sell and no charge. Have a lovely day.

Long story short, my handy husband spent the following Saturday morning successfully unblocking the ducts. My furnace has run beautifully ever since (cross your fingers), and guess who I’m going to call to have the ductwork cleaned when the time comes? You bet it’ll be those guys–and I’ll recommend them to neighbors, too.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when I tried to exit a parking garage and the machine wouldn’t take my ticket. I sighed and hit the call button, anticipating waiting for an attendant and earning the ire of the drivers behind me. Instead, someone answered my call virtually, told me to have a nice day, and opened the gate arm. Five seconds. Beautiful.

Loyalty, they say, is a hard thing to earn. I don’t think that’s true. It’s all about the people.

Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications and editor of Parking & Mobility.