I was in a panic on Thursday morning. I had been anal about packing all of Julie’s and my running gear for the trip – even packing it in a special bin separate from the rest of our belongings. Being paranoid (and an engineer!), I was taking inventory of the items on Thursday and realized that I did not have the tops to the bottles in my running fluid belt. I know that I had stuck them in my pocket before we left but I think I aimlessly threw them away somewhere along the journey to Vermont. The irony is that I had lectured Julie multiple times prior to leaving to make sure she had everything she needed – since we were in a small town, we wouldn’t have access to many stores.
I know this would not be a big deal to some – but being my first race, I want to use the products that I am used to from my training runs – my own gels, my own electolytes, my own fuel belt. During the months leading up to the race, I had tried multiple fuel belts but had settled on the Amphipod Run Lite belt with multiple bottles. I liked the fact that I could move and adjust the bottles and it was what I was comfortable with. However, the bottles are uniquely shaped and take a certain type of top (see picture) and it wasn’t something you can find at your local store (Amphipod products are usually only sold at specialty athletic stores).
So I put in a paniced call to Amphipod’s customer service line. The customer service rep calmly asked what type of running pack I had, where I was located, when the race was, etc. I kept trying to explain that I was in the middle of no-where (sorry Waitsfield!) and didn’t have alot of options. She asked for my phone number and said she would call me back in a few minutes. She then proceeded to call the closest dealers and convinced one of them to sell me the tops of one of their in-store fuel belts. In exchange for doing this, Amphipod would send the store a replacement set of bottle tops. She told me to go to the Ski Rack in Burlington and talk to Lucy. She was almost apologetic to me that they were going to charge me a nominal fee of $3.50 for the tops and that I was going to have to drive an hour (at that point, I was willing to do anything!). I was blown away and thanked her profusely and called her my “HERO” She just kept telling me to have a good race!
We made the trek to Burlington to go to the Ski Rack to get my bottle tops. I walked into the store and was directed to Lucy. As I walked up (with bottle in hand), she said “You must be Mike – I’ll get your tops”. She takes the tops of their belt (which makes their belt temporarily unsellable) and then refuses to let me pay for them! She wishes me well in the race and tells me to have fun! Wow!
I know many of you reading this are thinking two things – Mike is a bit OCD (I won’t deny that) and what’s the big deal? You see, I have worked in some form of “customer service” for most of my career at Cummins so I am extra sensitive to good or bad support. I know I make Julie cringe when I get frustrated by lack of customer service that you tend to see at many stores and restaurants nowadays. It just seems in general that most people don’t care anymore – don’t get me wrong – I realize that sometimes these are crappy jobs but try to make the best of it.
So yes, I forced everyone to drive for an hour to get some simple plastic bottle tops..but it was worth it to me to have one less thing stressing me for the race! We got to experience more great people (and even get Ben and Jerry’s to boot!). And if you want a great running fuel belt, check out www.amphipod.com.