I often use the Daily Fix to rant about my poor customer service experiences. But this time, I feel it's only fair to pay tribute to one company that rates high in my books -- the one that warrantied my laptop -- Assurant.

In 2004, before my son headed off to school out of town, we purchased a laptop computer for his dorm room. At that time, laptop prices in Canada were on the high side, and the bill rang up at around $1600 -- no small change. Worried that the LCD screen might fry before its use was up, I paid an additional $400 for an extended three-year warranty.
That proved to be a good thing.
We moved to the U.S. in the fall of that year and by the middle of 2006, the laptop's motherboard had bit the biscuit. My son brought the unit into Best Buy three blocks away, but soon discovered that the warranty is only covered by Best Buy Canada which contracts with a different warranty company. Several frustrating phone calls later, after an official diagnosis, the customer service rep indicated that it wasn't worth their while to repair the laptop, so they offered to "buy him out," for $600 in Canadian dollars.
After converting that amount into U.S. dollars, he wouldn't have enough to purchase another laptop with similar features. That's when I stepped in. I asked to speak with a manager and got a soft-spoken gentleman who listened and agreed to be flexible. After all, we had paid over $2000 (not including 15% in taxes), and fair is fair. That's what warranties are for, aren't they?
The bottom line -- after receiving caring and excellent customer service from that manager, we were reimbursed a fair amount, enough to purchase a new laptop in the U.S. that had comparable features to the old one.
But, that's not the end of the story.
A month after purchasing my son's laptop in 2004, I purchased a similar one for my move. Same store, same price, same warranty. And a similar problem happened to that unit, too. This time, I called Assurant and asked for that manager again without going through their front-line staff. And sure enough, I followed his direction, got the unit officially diagnosed by a third-party laptop specialist and they're going to buy me out for that computer, too. Now, I'm just waiting to see how much they'll offer so I can purchase another one with similar features.
Interesting though it may be, I never knew the name of the company until this week. The Best Buy Canada warranty simply provided a toll-free number to call for warranty information. This time I offered my e-mail address and received an e-mail from one of the staff. That's how I discovered the company's name.
Here's what I learned about them:
"We provide creditor-placed homeowners insurance; manufactured housing homeowners insurance; debt protection administration; credit insurance; warranties and extended services contracts; individual health and small employer group health insurance; group dental insurance; group disability insurance; group life insurance; and pre-funded funeral insurance. Assurant's strategy is to manage a select portfolio of specialty businesses that are leaders in their markets."
So, hurray for Assurant. I can finally rave about a positive customer service experience.
Now, I'll bet you'd like to know the brand name of those two laptops that failed before the three-year warranty was up. :)

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A Belated Customer Service Valentine

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel