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  Reader's letter | February 2003 | Clocks Magazine

Bad Customers

I'm sure we all sympathise with Gordon Morris when he tells us of his experiences with bad customers in Volume 23 No 11, although I can't help feeling that the way he records and remembers them so meticulously right back to 1964 is being a little over sensitive.

For myself, I find it puts me in a happier frame of mind if I forget the bad customers and think instead of the good ones who are, after all, in in the vast majority. At least mine are. For instance, I remember with affection Mrs Hales, 82 years old and very deaf, who took a taxi and came 15 miles on a very stormy night to view a longcase I had for sale. When I delivered it next day to the almshouses where she lived, the floor sloped badly and the wall plaster was so soft I was unable to get a fixing. I returned two days later to do the job properly and found my dust sheets had all been carefully washed and neatly ironed. Mrs Hales explained: 'It was the least I could do to make up for all the trouble I have put you to'. I remember Mrs Humphries, also 82, whose American dial clock set hight on the wall broke its suspension spring. I took the clock home and repaired the suspension spring but the movement was so badly worn with the escape wheel jumping about all over the place that I couldn't get it to run for more than four or five days without incurring a lot of extra expense which I knew she couldn't afford.

I took the clock back and told her it would need to be wound twice a week. 'Don't worry, Mr Haynes. Every night before I go to bed I climb up on this stool and give the key two and a half turns.' Her son told me years later that she had done that for as long as he could remember and despite his protestations, continued to do it every day for the remainder of her life.

Both ladies, incidentally, sent me a Christmas card every year until, sadly, they died. These are the customers I like to remember. Learn from the bad ones, Gordon, and then forget them: they are not worth bothering about.

It should also be remembered that very few of the so-called bad customers are motivated by malice; mostly it is lack of horological knowledge and perhaps an unfortunately choice of words.

Dennis Haynes, UK

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