I'm a loyal customer.

When it comes to my money, I'm pretty cautious.  I think long and hard before I spend it, usually try to talk myself out of it, and when I do part with it, I like to feel as though my money was well spent and is supporting good companies and people.

Over the years, there are a few companies that I've encountered that continue to impress me with their level of service, exceptional products and going above and beyond.  So often you hear about bad customer experiences, that I really wanted to take a time out, and write about some of the best customer experiences I've had, because quite frankly, some kudos are overdue.

My Five Favorite Businesses (in no particular order):
Please note none of these companies have any idea I am writing this- these are strictly my own personal opinions, based on my experiences and satisfaction.

1. 21st Century Auto Insurance (National) 
The hubs and I have been customers of 21st Century since the first year we were married.  (Almost 10 years now!)  About once every six months, out of my desire to be a good steward of our money, I hunt around and compare prices on auto policies, and for the coverage we receive, I've never been able to beat 21st.  Though they've been bought and sold a few times (AG? Farmers?) their customer service has always been exceptional.  Minimal wait times to reach a live person, live people available at a wide range of hours, and fast, friendly and efficient service.  They pretty much meet every expectation I could have for an auto insurance company.  Check them out for yourself, I highly recommend them!  Get your own quote here.

2. Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Markets (National)
If you follow me on Twitter, or have read my blog for awhile, you're probably not surprised to see Fresh and Easy on this list- but honestly, I am just so impressed with them!  They care. Like they ACTUALLY care.  What do they care about?
  • Their customers: By keeping operating costs low (using energy efficient building methods, not over-staffing, self-check outs, simple and basic store layouts) they keep prices low.  Simple touches like adding family parking spaces for parents carting around their munchkins and their groceries, hybrid parking help customers feel welcome.  Additionally, Fresh and Easy offers fresh, healthy foods at prices regular people making regular wages can afford to buy.  Even with their fair prices, they also offer tons of mail and grocery ad coupons, emailed coupons and their new "Friends of Fresh and Easy" rewards card that earns points for dollars spent that can be exchanged for store credit.  On average, with coupons and rewards, I can save $10-$20 off of my initial grocery total.  The stores also offer specialty foods like an increasing range of gluten-free products and healthful, low-fat prepared meals.  Fresh and Easy's store branded products do not contain artificial colors, sweeteners or additives and only utilize preservatives when absolutely necessary.  Their eggs are cage-free and a wide variety of their meats are free-range, organic and/or grass fed.  
  • The environment: All of the stores are built to be very green, packaging is minimal and made of recycled materials.  
  • Their communities: Fresh and Easy hires their teams from within the communities in which their stores are built, creating local jobs in tough economic times.  They offer a variety of health, retirement and other benefits at 20 hours per week.  Additionally, when Fresh and Easy builds a store, though their store layout is fairly standard the building itself is adapted to the surrounding neighborhood.  For example, our downtown store, is brick built with a tile mural on front and looks quite nice amongst downtown's mix of older, classic buildings and new construction.  Fresh and Easy stores also offer schools generous donations through their "Shop for Schools" program, and every time a new store is opening, a donation of $1,000 is contributed to a nominated neighborhood organization.  I got to be there during the presentation of one of these checks locally, it was quite enjoyable.  

3. Educational Employees Credit Union (Local)
I have done my banking with EECU since I was 18 and had my very first job in education, and I've never looked back at a retail bank once.  EECU offers hands down the BEST, most consistent customer service experience I've received anywhere.  The credit union is constantly taking in information from it's members and the community to serve people better and in new ways and continually improving their offerings.  Though they are a local credit union, they have many branches and also a multitude of free standing ATMs in smaller nearby areas as well (which is really helpful when I'm on the road for work).  I've never once had EECU make an error on my account.  There's been a couple of times where I've made an error, accidentally, but definitely my fault- and they've gone to bat and fixed it for me and given me the benefit of the doubt.  I've used so many financial products offered by EECU (everything from day to day banking, to auto loans, to setting up an IRA and doing future financial planning) and been very please every time.  Their interest rates on loan products are exceptional, they do not charge for checking accounts, and for the month of November, they are waiving their minimum $5 deposit to open a new account as more and more folks are joining the movement to move their money from large retail banks to local credit unions.   

4. Dutch Brothers Coffee (multi-state, locally at Bullard/West and Ashlan/Winery)
 Like the other companies listed here, Dutch Brothers is all about it's customers.  They offer delicious coffee (and non-coffee!) drinks in flavors I couldn't have dreamt up if I tried.  They also offer those drinks at a lower price than many of the "other coffee places" (not naming names here ;-)) and give you FREE drinks after you purchase 10.  Even if 5 of those 10 are reasonably priced kids' drinks at $1.25 a pop! (Which half of my orders usually are, since I go with munchkin in tow)  Dutch Brothers doesn't charge for syrups/flavors, they offer lots of sugar free drink options as well as non-fat and soy milk too.  Beyond the great drinks though, the baristas in Dutch Brothers' coffee stands are super nice people!  They get to know you and your favorite drinks and often have them ready and waiting when you pull up.  They ask about your day, give your four legged pals dog treats, your kiddos comic books and you, sweet Dutch Bros stickers to decorate with.  Icing on the cake?  Dutch Brothers donates sales multiple times a year to very worth causes including ALS research and awareness, the MDA and more.

5. Jason Farris- FresYes Realty (locally based)
Ok, where do I even begin here... Jason pretty much is the most kick booty realtor I've ever met.  The current housing market, well, I don't think I have to tell you- it is a crazy, crazy thing.  If you don't have a complete handle on what's happening and how, it's easy to find yourself overwhelmed and confused in the home buying/selling process.  If you want someone who is genuinely going to CARE about you, your family, your needs AND your wants when it comes to buying or selling a home (um, kind of a HUGE thing) and who KNOWS what he's doing every step of the way and can walk you through it all- you want to work with Jason.  Jason went so far above and beyond to help our family, and I can not possibly recommend him highly enough.


  1. I agree with you! Jason Farris is a great Realtor!

  2. I know you are a mac junkie, and you probable already know this, but Ulta has become my new fave for beauty needs. They have a points card that actually works. It doesn't take forever to get money back. And things that I would normally buy at Sephora I can get money off with their coupons and points card.


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