I met a friend of mine in Mammoth this last November where we both had decided to try our hand at some colder weather camping. During the first evening of our adventure we had spent our mandatory hours around the campfire catching up, then decided to call it a night around midnight. The great sleep (it always seems better in the woods) lasted until 3am when we were woken up by something investigating our camp.
We were sleeping in the shelled bed of my truck in lieu of our tents as it was getting pretty chilly during the evenings. Popping open the back of the shell revealed a six-foot male bear sitting on top of my cooler. Headlamps and noise (from INSIDE the shell, naturally) seemed only to encourage him to continue treating my cooler as both a soccer ball and a chew toy.
We had correctly packed our stores in bear proof containers, and as he continued to aggressively gnaw on my cooler, I understood how necessary that rule is. My cooler is a Yeti Tundra 75, which is rated bear proof when locked as well as latched. Honestly, I had locked it more to avoid an angry ranger than a bear as I had camped for years without any serious run-ins. My cooler was packed to the max and weighed in at 100+ pounds, which I watched the bear pick up with one paw and toss around with little effort.
Then, after briefly acknowledging our presence with a snort and a stare, he then smartly chewed off all of the latches knowing that this generally opens coolers. I got suspicious that this bear regularly worked coolers in the area. Still not getting what he wanted, he attempted to claw the lid open and chewing on the pad locks. After another 5 minutes, he moved on to investigate lesser coolers and trash elsewhere.
Returning to Reno after the weekend, I attempted to find new latches which amazingly were really the only substantial damage to the cooler (completely destroyed, chewed in half). I called Yeti and explained my story to an energetic Scott J. in the customer service department. I simply wanted to know where in town to find the parts to put the cooler back together.
What I got from Scott was new T-Rex latches, instructions on installation (harder than it seems, but not by much), Yeti hats, stickers, bottle openers and patches all shipped directly to my door and free of charge. I sent them the photo of my cooler with a large paw print and scuffs on it for their Yeti wall of fame within their corporate offices.
I like to find amazing customer service in strange places, as well as acknowledging it as often as possible. Finding great public relations in un-expected areas proves that it should possible everywhere, and how important it is to keep customers loyal. Will I buy Yeti again, from a local retailer? You bet. To achieve this positive customer service loop, we need to find the right people for the job and get out of their way. Thank you, Scott, for a fantastic experience and the refresher course in customer service.