There are certain professions that I believe are utterly benevolent.  Unfortunately, mine isn’t one of them. On the benevolence scale, doctors and teachers score a 10; PR professionals are around a 3.  When my kids ask me what I do, I tell them that I get people in the newspaper and give them suggestions on what to say so that other people will listen to them.  I do good work; I work for honorable people.  But I have always considered my ability to help anyone outside the little corner of my world to be fairly limited.

Until this past weekend when justice prevailed for the little guy with a little PR help from yours truly.

The story:  A few weeks ago my Dad purchased a Sharp flat screen TV from Sixth Avenue Electronics in Delaware.  He got it home, but when he hooked it up the picture was not as bright as he remembered it.  He went to return it only to be told that the store does not grant refunds for televisions, even though his receipt did not specify such a provision.  Apparently this policy is listed on their web site, a place my 72 year old father is unlikely to visit.  He asked if he could exchange it for Samsung, but the store did not have any Samsungs.  He asked for store credit and their response was that their sales guy already received his commission so if Dad could convince the sales guy to return the commission, he could get store credit.  The sales guys didn’t want to return his commission (duh). So my father was stuck with a TV he didn’t want from a store that treated him very poorly.  That made him angry.

Do you know the only thing more dangerous than an angry 72 year old man?   It’s his angry 41 year old daughter who feels like some store just schnookered her Dad.  If Sixth Avenue Electronics was going to mess with my family, they were going to mess with me. 

I put on the PR cape and goggles and got busy using my superhuman media relations skills.  I put in a call to Philly Inquirer consumer business reporter Jeff Gelles, who I did not know (I work with some of his colleagues) but turned out to be a mensch of a guy.  I relayed the story, and in the course of the last several weeks he spoke with my father, did the necessary reporting, and wrote a sizable story in this Sunday’s business section.  The story comes with a HUGE picture of Dad, which I snapped for him on Friday so that he wouldn’t have to submit a vacation snapshot (which he was fully prepared to do).


Along the way, Jeff counseled my father to try to resolve the issue, which I was concerned and angry 72 year old Jewish man might not do.  (These guys know how to hold a grudge).  But to Dad’s credit, he followed Jeff’s advice and really tried to find some middle ground with Sixth Avenue.  Unfortunately, the store would not budge… until they received a call from Jeff Gelles asking for their side of the story.  Miraculously, they had a change of heart and offered my Dad store credit which he received on Saturday in exchange for the TV.

I may not be a teacher or a doctor but I think Dad and I (with the help of Jeff Gelles) taught Sixth Avenue a few things about customer service this week, and the refund was just the right medicine for an angry 72 year old man.  I think I just bumped PR up a few points on the benevolence scale – to about a 5.

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