Post #518 Two Stories About Customer Service

December 14, 2016 at 1:38 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I just went through one of the worst Mondays I’ve endured in many years.  It started a few weeks ago with a cold/flu something, segued into a back spasm that won’t go away, and ended on Monday with a broken computer, misdirected online order, and a spilled glass of wine.  All put together, Monday was an impossibly ridiculous day where I ended up in giggles rather than tears.  However, there were two incidents that stand out, both of them involving customer service.

Partner/Spouse is one of those unfortunate people whose birthday is treacherously close to Christmas.  He spent his life trying to determine which event to open that single present for.  His family always made a point of celebrating both events independently of each other.  It’s a tradition we carried on as well.  This year, we chose not to do the Christmas gift exchange for personal reasons (work issues, energy levels, etc.), but I wanted to make certain we did his birthday right.  On Dec 5, I went online and ordered some gifts for him, but I used my personal Amazon account so he wouldn’t see what I’d done.  I haven’t used that account in years because with his account we have the Amazon Prime free shipping set up.  I was supposed to receive the gifts this past weekend, but I didn’t.  I wasn’t too worried, assuming I’d see them soon due to the holiday rush.

Monday morning I get up and get on my computer only to discover that there is a major mechanical problem with it.  For the first time in decades, I contacted tech support for a computer issue.  I did an IM chat with a very nice woman and we determined that direct contact with tech support was in order.  By the time this was decided, it was pretty late in the afternoon, and I needed to find proof of purchase to see if the computer was still in warranty (it is.)  When Partner/Spouse woke up, I had to have him find the original emails.  During this, I had wanted to make a cake, but that didn’t happen since my focus was somewhere else.

I was working on my desktop, which was sitting idle since I switched over to the laptop.  During some point in the tech support process, I noticed something that caught my attention.  When I had a couple of minutes I went and looked.

I’d sent all of the gifts I’d ordered to the wrong address!  They went to an address we’d lived at six years ago.  I felt sick to my stomach.  The one day a year I tried to make him feel special and I’d chucked it all up.  After about 45 minutes of beating myself up, I sent emails to each of three vendors explaining what happened and asking what my options were.  Almost immediately, Amazon answered back and credited my order back on a gift card so I could reorder immediately “due to the unusual circumstances of the situation.”  An hour later, another vendor emailed back with basically the same response.  Ta da!!  90% of the gifts have been corrected in moments.  I felt great and went to make dinner for myself, Partner/Spouse already having left for work.

I poured a glass of wine which I promptly spilled all over the couch, and mismanaged the homemade fries which didn’t turn out too terribly bad, and spent the rest of the evening cleaning the couch, etc.

Tuesday I got up and made a cake!  A close friend had a birthday on Sunday, and his favorite cake is my Boiled Chocolate Cake which I’ve written about in this here blog before.  Every year, I wish him a happy birthday and tease him about the fact that he didn’t get a cake this year either.  So I made the cake with every intention of taking a picture of me eating it and sending it to him.  A light, moist, densely chocolatey cake with a fudge frosting.  Yum!

boiled-chocolate-cake

I always make this in a sheet cake, but I think my next time, I’ll make it as a layer cake and see what happens.

Then I followed up on my tech call for the computer.  I got a wonderful, intelligent, charming young lady whose name I cannot spell who spent the next 75 minutes with me fixing the problem on the computer and getting back up to blazing fast speed.  So by 1pm, my well ordered world was restored, and there was cake!

That was the customer service success part of the day.

Then I received an email from the final vendor basically saying since the error was my fault, they were under no obligation of any kind to recompense me so I should suck it up and get on with my life.  Basically.

I thought about it for a few minutes and replied.  I said, “I understand completely your response and the reason for it.  As a business, you must watch your profit margin and bottom line.  Just a heads up, all the other vendors involved in this mix up have replaced the items at little or no cost to me.  I’m disappointed in the decision and will likely not use your company in the future.”

To be honest, their response was what I expected to hear from all of the companies involved.  I was fully prepared to be disappointed in all of them and figure out some other way to make Partner/Spouse’s birthday special.  (Mind out of the gutter, Audra!)

They wrote back and said Thank you for your understanding, yada yada yada, then said God Bless.

And I saw red.

I’m not against anyone being religious, or wish me a good God Bless, or Merry Christmas.  But don’t hide behind your sanctimony when you’re making a purely business decision.  But I didn’t reply to that email.

Later, I was doing my reviews and rating of the other companies, and I rated them a 1 star.  If I could have done zero, I would have.  Then I gave an honest assessment of why taking full responsibility for the initial error, but also letting people know that they chose not to work with me in any way when many others had.

Here’s where things get fun and interesting.

They emailed me back asking me to re-evaluate my review and rate them higher.  I sat back and thought long and hard about it.  Then reviewed my review.  So I wrote back and said it was an honest assessment of what I considered had happened.  Just as I had to take responsibility for my actions that led to the situation, so must they take responsibility for their decisions afterward, and my opinion is just as valid as theirs.

So they emailed back and agreed that it was an honest assessment, and they had discussed their response among themselves, and if I agreed to take down my review, they would give me a refund for the full amount.

Buy my silence?  I’m a writer.  I don’t like censorship.  Of any kind.  Any.  Kind.

So I wrote back and said no, a refund wasn’t necessary.  They’d made their position quite clear, and while I was disappointed, I certainly did understand and accept their original decision.

And I left the review alone.

A little later, the head of the company emailed me and said if I’d give them the correct shipping information (which was in the original email), they would send out the item immediately at no cost.  He said he realized they’d failed at customer service in this case, and had mandated that all future situations of this kind would err on the side of the customer, not the company.

I told him I appreciated his efforts but a refund or reshipment wasn’t necessary.  And I left the review alone.  It reminded me of the time a bar manager at a restaurant brought me “free” glass of wine filled to near overflowing (so full I would have spilled it if I’d tried to pick it up, or looked like a fool trying to sip it to the point where I could pick it up.  I didn’t let him get away with it either) when I’d complained about the amount of wine originally served to me.

Here’s what the whole fuss was about:

salt-and-pepper

Salt and pepper shakers worth less than $5.  I wonder how much goodwill they lost?

So, all in all, three examples of phenomenal customer service, and one example of not so great customer service.

And I got cake!

Enjoy

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