We made our decision to move to the Philippines in 2008. Since then, I’ve read everything I could find in order to learn more about what it’s like to live there.
One thing that is often mentioned in things I’ve read is customer service. Nearly all the writers warn that customer service in the Philippines is not up to Western standards. They mention store workers who do not seem to care if they make a sale or not, or sullen sales clerks who are not willing to help solve simple problems. I’ve experienced some of this myself to some small extent, but not enough to become so frustrated as some expats seem to be. However, the topic does come up rather frequently. So, when I encountered a business that consistently practices very good customer service, I wanted to know more about them.
I first did business with Cosmos Lumber and Hardware in 2011. We were doing some fencing work on our ranch outside of Solano. We went to Cosmos for our supplies. All the sales clerks spoke good English, which made things easy for me. I found that they were also very knowledgeable about their merchandise. In the years since then, I have not heard “sorry sir, out of stock”, even once. On the very few occasions they did not have what I was looking for they offered a workable alternative.
Click on any of the images below to see the full sized version.
During our last visit, in September of 2013, I wanted to know more about the place. I asked the owners if I could interview them for an article. They agreed, but asked that I publish only the business name, and not theirs.
Just before we left to return to the US, the owners took the time to answer a few questions from me, and graciously allowed us to photograph their store.
What is the name of your store, and where are you located?
We are Cosmos Lumber and Hardware at 186 J.P. Rizal Street, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.
How long have you been in business?
My grandparents started the store in this same location in 1957.
What services do you offer?
We have supplies for plumbing, hardware, electrical, paints, aluminum, steel bars, GI sheets, GI pipes, lumber, hollow blocks, cement, gravel and sand.
I noticed that you have included free delivery with all of our orders. Is there a minimum order to qualify for free delivery?
We have free delivery for the Solano area. There is a fee for outside the area.
I have learned that Cosmos was my late Father-in-Laws favorite hardware store. He would travel from Dupax (about 25 kilometers away) to buy the things he needed. What are some of the places that your customers travel from in order to buy from you?
People come from all over Vizcaya. From Mountain Province, Quirino, and Isabella.
Those places are, on average, about 130 or more kilometers away. That tells you something about the good reputation of Cosmos Lumber and Hardware!
I sometimes see other foreigners here. Do you have many foreign customers? Where do they come from?
Yes, Some are British, German, Bombay (Indian), Korean, American, and Australian. Several are missionaries from the SLI. (Formerly the Summer Language Institute). Some of those have stayed in contact with us after they returned to the US. We speak with them in English.
I hear some foreigners say that customer service all over the Philippines is rather bad. Customer service here is always very good. Everyone who comes in is greeted and waited on promptly. Do you do anything differently from other businesses?
We give them what they need. We listen!
I’ve noticed that you’re not treating me any differently from any other customers. Everyone is greeted and helped with the same standard of service.
Yes, we treat everyone like a local.
Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Those last few answers sound so simple. “We give them what they want.” “We listen!” “We treat everyone like a local.” But I believe that philosophy is one of the reasons Cosmos has been successful. They are a long time family business with a well-stocked inventory, and a noticeably superior customer service style. There’s no question that I will continue to buy my repair, hardware, and construction items from Cosmos Lumber and Hardware.