January 28, 2014

January 28, 2014

Many happy returns. Well, just one, really.

One good turn deserves another, so I’m going to mention a good customer service experience I had recently in hopes that the universe will laissez les bon temps roulez.

(Note: This gets weirdly erotic and focuses less on customer service than on my ability to improvise tools. Eh.)

The company in question is SkullCandy, makers of headphones and earbuds and other ephemera to improve your audio consumption experience. I’m not a big headphones person, having not yet evolved the ability to wear both glasses and headphones pain-free. Earbuds, though, I’m all for, as they keep my coworkers at Cabinet-Department-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named unaware that I spend all morning listening to BBC Radio Cornwall. Not that they’d mind, necessarily, but it would raise a lot of odd questions and needless social interaction.

Yes, even though I have an office with walls and a door and everything, the construction grade is such that normal conversation can be heard pretty much regardless. Every time I see government workers on a TV show or movie hunkered in some sort of dim concrete bunker, I’m a little jealous. (Then they get taken hostage or blown up or something and I realize I don’t have it so bad.)

Anyway, the earbuds are a must, for everyone’s sakes. And SkullCandy makes ones that are colorful, and fit my freakishly-tiny ear holes, and aren’t hundreds of dollars. So I got a pair a couple of years ago*and it was audial bliss until.

Until.

Until I pulled them out of the headphone jack and the little metal nubbin stayed in the jack. Lest the word “nubbin” send you down a long road of Chandler Bing-related reminiscence, here’s a handy diagram to get you back on track:


So yeah. I was stuck with a broken pair of earbuds, a clogged headphone jack, and a rising sense of panic. The last time something like this happened (my CD drive stopped working), they replaced the whole freaking computer. This time, I assumed they’d just tear down the entire building. Also, enough of the nubbin was poking out that a good yank with a needlenose pliers would have solved the problem in a jif. (That's what she said?)

Life lesson: Always carry a needlenose pliers.

As it was, I had: scissors, tweezers, paper clips, and a host of tools ideally suited for preparing lunch but worthless in this situation.

Cue the MacGuyver music.

I knew that using the scissors would end with me in the emergency room because those mofos are SHARP. I don’t know who bought them or when, but I suspect they were actually meant for the armed services. You could start a coup with those scissors.

Couldn’t get any purchase with the tweezers. Not enough nubbin, and the metal-on-metal was too slick anyway. Neither was there enough leverage for the paper clips; the nubbin was snugly in the jack and I couldn’t even get the paper clip in there.

Time to put that Mensa membership to work.

I grabbed the rubber jar grip I have to open difficult beverages and used it in combination with the tweezers to extricate the nubbin. At that moment, I knew how the caveman who discovered fire must have felt.

What remained, though, was a broken pair of SkullCandy earbuds. And here’s where the customer service bit comes in. SkullCandy offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products. You just have to register online for a return authorization number and send your broken product back to them. They’ll process it and send you a coupon code good for a replacement value. I assume that mailing headphones, which tend to be heavy and bulky and expensive, would be more of a risk, but two stamps later my earbuds (technically earbuds and a nubbin) were on their way. Shortly after that, I got the coupon code, and shortly after THAT, I got the earbuds.

It worked. It actually worked.

Your move, universe.

* I first typo’d “a couple of ears ago” and laughed at my unintended pun and that’s not okay.

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