So about a year ago Terry goes to Brooks Brothers in New York City to have a suit made. He pays about $1,000 and waits two months for it. It's a huge disappointment. It doesn't fit right, the stitching is off, it's just poorly made. But he decides to live with it... until the cuffs start coming undone.
He moves to Tokyo and takes the bad suit with him. He writes an angry email to the company. He hears back from the Tokyo office, and they ask him to bring the suit in, that they will see what they can do. By now it is summer, and Terry suddenly finds himself with some free time on the weekends, what with his wife and children away. He takes the suit to the Brooks Brothers in Kitta Aoyama, off Omotesando Street, Tokyo's high-end shopping district. He doesn't know what to expect. Maybe they will fix the cuffs, he thinks. And if he's lucky, maybe they'll give him a credit to spend at the store, as a sort of penance.
He explains the situation to a very nice English-speaking Japanese woman who works there, and the store manager inspects to offending suit. He feels the fabric, checks the seams. Then he throws it back down on the counter and makes a noise, not a snort, exactly, but the kind of noise you make when you're disgusted, annoyed. Terry thinks they are going to politely ask him to leave. He feels silly. But then the manager says something to the woman in Japanese, and she translates: "Yes, this suit is terrible," she says. "We are going to make you a new one."
And they do. And it's ready in two weeks. I picked it up yesterday, and it's beautiful, and fits him perfectly. No charge. Special ex-pat treatment? Perhaps. But I believe that when it comes to customer service, the Japanese set the bar a helluva lot higher, whether you're getting a bowl of ramen or plane tickets or postage stamps. There's a very deliberate approach to all transactions here, big and small, so that mistakes are not made. And if something does go wrong, as in the case of the suit, well, then, it gets fixed. And that's a good thing, I think.