Copywriting Codex: What A Plumbing Mishap Can Teach You About Customer Service

A couple of posts ago, I told you all I’d post the first pictures here at Fiction and Copy Decoded. Well (provided I can get the apparatus/tech here on WP to cooperate) that time is now.

But something prompted this—something you may have experienced in your own home (but hopefully not to the extent I did).

We were in a large cabin split into four smaller one-roomers, each with their own bathroom, at a woods-surrounded camp in Missouri, a couple weeks ago.

And on October 10th, the day started with a backed-up toilet. Oh, and rain. Like crazy.

We called maintenance. The guy came over to plunge the toilet. When he told us he heard it backing up into other spaces (and got a report that other mini-rooms in the cabin with us were noticing our toilet backing up into their area), things got a little frustrating.

But this isn’t to hate on the camp folks. The place was built in the 1950s or so, and not really renovated since then. The maintenance guy said he’d need $250,000 to remodel all the cabins in the camp (at about $8,000 each).

After more plunging (to zero avail), the handyman gave the drain-cleaner guy a buzz, and told us the guy had a tool that was basically a 8,000 psi water drill (“enough to take your arm off, and it’s just water.”)

He also mentioned that tree roots or something else had probably grown into the clay pipes and plumbing—which is what ended up giving us a problem.

The maintenance guy said he was going to get married that day—actually a reconciliation with his ex-wife. Kinda a rarity nowadays, but I could be wrong on that. And this guy spent a while trying to help us get the potty unstuck.

Did I mention the roof was dripping, too? Okay. Now I did. Because of all the rain we’d been getting over the past few days. But that was fine, until I felt a drip of water that I was sure had dripped past a ceiling light—while that light was turned on.

All right, maybe things weren’t fine.

So the drain guy was going to be there in several hours, and things would be taken care of. No big deal.

When we returned from the morning’s activities, we came home to the cabin and this:

Isn't that supposed to go inside?

Isn’t that supposed to go inside?

Well, I guess at night it still looks the same...

Well, I guess at night it still looks the same…

That is a toilet. And this is the second time I’ve seen a toilet without a house attached. Inside we found a hole where the toilet used to be—basically a giant rusty oval with bolt-holes here and there. And no, I didn’t take a closer look.

We also found a note from the camp personnel that said the plumberesque guy wouldn’t be in that day, and that we had three options from here:

1. Stay in the cabin until things were fixed, and get a full refund.

2. Move to another cabin (this one without a stove—something we’d actually wanted to have that led us to pick the current set-up in the first place).

3. Move to an upgraded cabin across the camp.

And they also gave us $10 in gift chips to spend at their on-site snack spot, no matter which option we picked.

We chose option 3—and based on what a friend later told us about sewer gases and replacing clay pipe down in Cuba when he was part of the Navy, I’m glad we did.

All right. First of all, we went to check the new place out (with the provided-in-advance keys). We found the situation was going to be practically similar (one big cabin, four separate rooms). The sleeping and shower/bathroom areas were totally separate. The single kitchen was in a common area, along with tables, chairs…and one stove, one freezer, and one fridge.

For way more than 4 people.

With their own food, drinks, and what-have-ya.

All right, so we ended up packing all our clothes, pots, pans, and all that jazz, and moving out (that’s the time I also captured the night shot, above).

This new set up worked great, because we were right down the path from a family we’d met last year at this camp.

But this is a Codex—with insights for copywriters and marketing folks.

I’d like to highlight how the camp staff handled this—not in the “customer is always right” way either.

They wanted to make sure we were satisfied, and tried to make the best of a bad situation.

Did they have control over what the trees and pipes were doing? No.

Also important—were we being unreasonable and trying to take advantage of them? No. Which is another thing you have to consider in how you deal with flubs in your business (or life, for that matter).

They suggested a good solution that we agreed to (which moved us—at no charge—into a place that rented for double the price of our original cabin).

I should probably post about the new room too—the design was ingenious. Maybe I can post every once in a while about my Missouri experience this year, and mix it in with everything else.

So if you find yourself facing a flub, take a deep breath, calm down, and remember a rusty oval and a tipped-on-its-side toilet out in front of a cabin door (or on second thought, don’t).

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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