|1927 Ticker Tape Parade for Charles Lindbergh's Transatlantic flight, photo from NPR|
Well, I dropped my sickly 750 QE sewing machine off at my Bernina dealer yesterday morning, and told him that she was looping and could not get past the startup screen. I asked him to go ahead and do the annual cleaning/maintenance and firmware update at the same time, and he indicated that it might be the end of the week before I got my machine back, which sounded more than reasonable to me.
Imagine my surprise today when the shop called to tell me that my machine was already finished and ready for pickup! When I got to the store, my dealer explained that he ended up staying late last night to work on a number of machines and mine was one of them. He also DID NOT CHARGE ME A DIME -- not even for the routine maintenance and cleaning, which I had been expecting to pay for, because it's the first one for this machine and he said the first "well-baby" visit is always on the house.
I know that he won't always be able to service my machine and get it back to me within 24 hours, and not every service call will be free, but still -- how I feel about that big purchase, and how calmly I'm able to handle it when things go wrong with the machine, has so much to do with what a great dealer I have. I don't have to panic because I know that whatever it is, he is going to take my problem seriously and resolve it fairly and as quickly as possible. This dealer is conveniently located about 5 minutes from my home, in a busy upscale shopping center that I know for a fact charges hefty rents (so it costs my dealer more to do business there).
There is another Bernina dealer located in the middle of nowhere, about 45 minutes away, and I know that her prices are lower than my just-around-the-corner dealer, but that initial purchase price isn't everything. Some people on the Bernina 7 Series Yahoo users' group have reported that their dealers are charging them $100 or more just to do their firmware updates, which my dealer does at no charge. Some dealers tell customers that their problems are all "user error," or that they are just too picky, or they are using the "wrong" thread, etc. Some dealers honestly don't seem to know what they are doing and seem not just unwilling but UNABLE to diagnose and correct the issues that can crop up with high-tech machines.
I would like to remind those who are in the market for a new sewing machine that you should evaluate the dealer as thoroughly as the machine under consideration, whether you're looking at a Bernina or at another brand. Sewing machine dealerships are independent businesses and they are not all the same. Some just sell you a machine, while others throw in a tremendous amount of service, education, and knowledge as a value-add. The difference between an outstanding, knowledgeable dealer with great customer service versus an inexperienced or indifferent dealer can make all the difference in the world in whether you love your new machine for years to come or end up feeling like a fool for getting suckered into buying it.
We all have a tendency to tell everyone when we have had unsatisfactory shopping experiences. I think it's just as important to spread the word and let others know when you receive outstanding customer service. So, for those of you in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, my wonderful dealer is Berry at Creative Sewing & Vacuum in the Stonecrest shopping center, Ballantyne area. He also has locations in Shelby and in Hickory. :-)
Thanks, Berry, and happy stitching, everyone!