Brennan: Admirable customer service

By Tom Brennan |

Those who struggle to keep barbecued meat on the table through the Alaskan winter will appreciate an experience I had the other day.

It was the most interesting and welcome example of customer service that I’ve ever encountered.

I am one of those fanatics who fell in love with a Traeger grill years ago and never wavered. For the uninitiated, a Traeger burns wood pellets that are fed into the grill by an electronic gadget that can run online if desired. That allows you to monitor your grill remotely — I once cooked a roast while I was at a meeting — and it can allow the company to monitor what’s happening with your grill.

Since this column is about unusual customer service and not a specific product, I won’t mention a price, but let’s just say they are expensive.

Ordinarily I cook on my grill four or five nights a week all year-round. Even on the coldest nights I can usually handle the meat part of dinner by doing the preparation before venturing outdoors and limiting my activities to filling the pellet bin, flipping a switch and retreating indoors.

Even quality products wear out some of their parts and that happened to me recently. The heating element in my grill burned out and — as an English major whose mechanical skills are sorely limited — I had to call my handyman to fix it.

My guy came on a very cold day and managed to get the burned-out element out of the grill and into my house. We got the identifying information off the gadget, though not without multiple trips to the backyard by my warm-blooded handyman.

Then the two of us sat down with my iPad and went looking for a heating element. That was the hard part. The local dealer doesn’t carry parts or do service and we couldn’t find the right heating element even after hours of searching the Web. 

We did find a few that claimed to fit all Traegers and I ordered one, but I had my doubts. Finally my handyman went back into the yard, made one more attempt at a solution and came back in.

He gave me a phone number for the corporate headquarters of Traeger grills in Salt Lake City. He told me to call there and ask them how to locate the right heating element for my now-frozen grill.

“Sure,” I thought. “Traeger is a very large company. That’s going to get me a cold shoulder that will make the experiences in my sub-Arctic backyard look like a trip to Miami.” 

I couldn’t be more wrong. I called on my cell phone, which I’ve only had for about a year. Somehow I found my way to the company’s customer service office.

It would only be a slight exaggeration to say the woman who answered said: “Hi Tom.” Before I could get beyond explaining my problem, she knew exactly who I was and that I have been using their products for more than three years. She got all that from my telephone number and Traeger’s online records.

Among other things she knew what model Traeger grill I currently had and that I used my grill through the winter. When I told her I needed a new heating element, she said: “We have one of those in Seattle and will get it to you.”

And then she added that there would be no charge for the heating element, the shipping or anything else from their end. The element, complete with a new fire pot and a web of wiring to accompany it, arrived about four days later.

At this writing I’m still waiting for my handyman to return and install the stuff sent me by the company. I will be amazed if it doesn’t start right up and launch me on the makings of a new barbecued dinner.

And because my experience with the company headquarters in Salt Lake was so positive, I can’t resist citing it as a good example of customer service.

It’s the way things should be. 

One Response to Brennan: Admirable customer service

  1. Angry Viking February 16, 2021 at 9:47 am

    What a great story. Remember when small businesses here in town had the same customer service? You could walk into Brown’s Electric and they knew about your recessed lighting, or walk into Tom’s Plumbing and they knew about your ongoing trouble with your well. Then stop in the Lucky Wishbone and the lady walks by and asks “Do you want your usual?”

    Those businesses are still here, some of them. If you find a good one, it pays to throw some business their way.


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