Goodwill hunting - which companies are the best?

5 August 2009

At Bitterwallet, we're not just about nit-picking, confused ranting and braying on about how shit everything in the world is. Most the time, yes, but not all of it.

Very occasionally we're struck by stories of good, such as that of the 96-year-old who received a cheque some 70 years after making a deposit in the Unilever Savings Bank. The Telegraph took up the cause of the nonagenarian (look it up):

The Unilever Savings Bank was wound up in October 1984. In line with standard procedures, the liquidators would have written to interested parties, including creditors, to notify them of the intended dissolution, and provide them with the opportunity to present their claims within a specified time.

From the records you have it seems the sum put aside may have been £10 to accrue interest at 3pc, although the capital may have been more. Purely as a gesture of goodwill, Unilever has sent a cheque for £100.

Unilever probably got the better end of the deal, since £10 in 1940 would be worth nearly £1,400 today when comparing average earnings. Nethertheless, it was a kind gesture of goodwill towards a lady who probably believes she'll be able to buy a new car with it

Sometimes such goodwill is merely a PR exercise or an attempt to head off bad publicity before it threatens to consume a business and the headlines. Occasionally the gesture is entirely altruistic with no hidden agenda. Either way it got us thinking - what's the best gesture of goodwill you've received from a company? It might have been for shoddy service, damaged goods or an accidental punch in the throat.

Which companies have looked after you when they needn't have done so? Are there any out there that don't mind spending a little time and money to take care of their customers?

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice


  • Alex W.
    John Lewis- ordered a massively reduced off cut of carpet, they didn't turn up for the allotted (free) delivery, so the rearranged the delivery and refunded me the price of the carpet. House of Fraser- our CRT packed up one month from the end of our free 5 year warranty. We had paid half price for it in a January sale but they refunded us the full RRP at the time because they didn't sell televisions any more.
  • Junkyard
    Once I rang up Virgin Media and, after several hours, an operator answered the call! This person was entirely unable to help me with my enquiry (due in part to being a total goddamn retard) but I thought the fact that they actually took the time to speak to me was a lovely gesture of goodwill on their part.
  • Ian
    Apple - Took my broken iMac in that was 2 years out of warranty. They told me the logic board was broken. I wasn't prepared to pay to fix it, and would have just bought a new one. Spoke to the manager, after a bit of discussion, they agreed to fix it (£500 repairs) for free. I was delighted. They then rung me up a week later saying it wasn't worth fixing as the screen had gone and gave me a brand new iMac freee! :)
  • Matt
    A few years ago i discovered £100 in my bank account that was not mine. As i wasa student i very nearly went to the pub and drank it but in a moment of sensibleness/madness i told HSBC. They thanked me for letting them know and then credited my acocunt with £10 as a thank you as well. Pretty sure they wouldnt do that nowadays!
  • Olly B.
    For all their faults, I've had some fantastic service from train companies. Ages ago (admittedly when they were still publicly owned) me and a couple of schoolfriends were doing a university visit up to Yorkshire. We were late back, and had to wait the best part of 45 minutes at Leicester station to change trains. The guard on the train into Leicester took pity on us, and arranged that the Intercity 125 make an additional stop at Bedford just for us. Having gone to uni in Bradford, I ended up working in Leeds. A couple of days after Christmas I was heading back north as I had to be at work early the next morning. The train was delayed, and we sat waiting. I walked up to the buffet, which was literally just being shut, and asked if I could get a tea. The lady said "If I serve you, I'll have to serve everyone", to which I pointed out that there were about 4 people on the train. I sat back down, and a few minutes later she came round and gave everyone beers. This didn't happen to me, but sat on a train going down south a few years ago and it was delayed. A lady on the train was going down to see her daughter who was expecting a child any moment. On the train she got the phone call saying she'd gone into labour. The guard found out, and arranged for a taxi from the next station to get her there asap.
  • cheapskate
    CD Wow gave hundreds of us a free box set of Starship Troopers on Blu Ray for no apparent reason. Fantastic.
  • Mike
    I opened a bank account several years ago when Zurich Insurance dip-toed into the online banking market. Before the account was setup in full, I received a nice letter to say words to the effect that upon reflection they had foreseen the future and that everyone would think bankers are wankers. And would be withdrawing from the banking market forthwith. And because we have never had any of your business before and feel like we have mucked you about here's a nice crisp cheque for £100 for the privilege.
  • Me
    My ipod died the day before the warranty was up. Went into Apple store the day it expired and it was tested and replaced without question!
  • tony
    Travelled to see relations in the Northeast of England at the w/e. En-route my car developed a serious vibration whenever I exceeded 60mph,so pulled off the motorway at Darlington to seek some explantion/advice. Pulled onto KWIKFIT's forecourt & went into office to explain my problem. I was told it sounded like my wheels wanted balanced. within 5 min my car was in a bay having the wheels done. I was told one of my wheels was slightly bent, caused by hitting the kerb or excessive speeding over speed ramps. (the dreaded things seem to sprout up overnight where I live ) Wheels were taken off the back & put on the front, offside front wheel was rotated to elsewhere on the car, weights taken off & on other tyres more weight added. Total cost of 2 engineers labours, NOTHING; as they couldn't ensure my problem was a complete cure. Talk about being shocked, this was not an experience that comes ones way on a frequent basis. I thanked them with a tenner for a drink & headed off back towards the motorway. Wound the car up to mid 80's & not a twitch. Thanks KWIKFIT

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