The importance of customer service

So it’s been a wee while.  I know, I say that a lot.  I guess I’m a busy person.  2010 has been a very busy year so far.  And now it’s practically Thanksgiving!  Where did the time go?  A few weeks ago, I was obsessing over Halloween.  Now I’m frantically trying to get organized for Xmas (NZ post Xmas cutoff date for air mail is Nov 29th)!!  Eek!

Speaking of NZ post, I’ve been having some issues with Customer Service.  It’s like the great Customer Service God has shat on my head or something.  Honestly.  My dear friend Emily sent me my annual Halloween parcel and NZ post honestly totally stuffed up the delivery (see below, an excerpt from my letter to them):

It was brought to my attention about mid-week last week (tentatively Wed Oct 13) by my flatmate that the postal carrier had delivered a parcel for me to our neighbor (the carrier told her upon realizing his mistake and seeing my name on another piece of mail).  Upon inquiring with our neighbor, I found out it had been returned to the Moray Place post shop in Dunedin CBD.  I have only been residing at this property for 2 weeks by that time, and had officially registered the address as my official address (through a change of address with NZ post).  Upon ringing the post shop, I was informed that it was not “in the cupboard” most likely returned to sender.

It was an unexpected parcel from a friend in the USA, so I am extremely disappointed to find out via tracking the item today online that my international parcel has been returned all the way back and no inquiry was made as to its correct destination.  As far as I am aware, only 1 delivery attempt was made at my residence, no card was left, my address was crossed off and the neighbor’s was written in (as reported by flatmate/neighbor).  Some very large mistakes have been made here.

And did anyone take responsibility for this parcel gone missing?  Nope.  Not NZ post (who’s fault it clearly was – oh no!  Claims must be made in the country the item was sent from).  Not USPS (oh no!  We can’t make a claim because it was sent letter post – whatever the heck that means).  Both Em and I spent hours trying to achieve something, we both contacted NZ post and USPS and…  nothing.  Em’s out of pocket for two shippings!  : (  I know, I need to send her an extra nice Xmas parcel.  I don’t blame USPS as much as NZ post.  The crappy thing is that we can’t actually live without the post office.  I can’t decide simply to ban them – they’ve got a monopoly on international parcels and letters (unless I want to pay a fortune and send stuff with DHL.  Not.  going.  to.  happen.).  Going up against the big kahuna/authority is not a pleasant experience.

Moving on to other crappy customer service companies.  Yep, stay away from them.  It took 2.5 months for them to issue me a refund!  I sent it back new, within the terms of trade, and they were just real slack in issuing my refund of over $100 thank-you-very-much (I know, I know who spends over $100 on a swimsuit?!).  After ringing them about half a dozen times, leaving nasty messages, getting the runaround about how it was the “accounting department” just being slow – I finally got a refund from someone on the 6th call.  It didn’t take the accounting department?  You just issued my refund right there, over the phone?  So why didn’t you just issue my refund the first 5 times I called?!? So buyer beware – sucks!

AND my most recent crappy experience (aside from my horrible landlord – but I’m waiting for my lease to be completely 100% over before I rake them over the coals.  You know, don’t burn the bridge until you know the enemy is on the other side of the river sort of thing).  I bought some boots on Sunday. Cute, eh? I had been oogling them, literally for weeks.  I had tried them on in another colour.  And I took them home.  And felt a little guilty.  I’m trying to save money.  And they weren’t really that comfortable.  And would they really match that much else?  So yesterday, Wednesday,  I brought them back and wanted a refund.  They were brand new, nothing wrong and it’s only been 3 days.  No problem right?  So turns out the store, Street Legal, doesn’t give refunds if you change your mind.  Defective items only.  How can that possibly even be legal??  Oh yes.  Consumer guarantees act.  The retailer in NZ doesn’t have to give you a refund if you “change your mind.”

I guess this is a prime example of my Americanism.  I had assumed (I know, so bad!) that because they were new, unworn and it had been all of two point five days that I could have a refund.  Oh no!  The staff at the store were actually hostile (and it was 2 against 1!) and said the store policy is store credit only to protect them from customers. There was a heated argument.  The two saleswoman were extremely rude, defensive and aggressive.  I got shitty (I’ve worked in customer service long enough to know that if you get shitty, you get what you want).  I simply kept saying “I want a refund”.  They finally agreed to ring the director later and ask if maybe I could get sent a check, and said that this was going “above and beyond”.  I received a text today, calling my Amber (F***!  I am not Amber and I am not Rachel <—- The most common 2 mistaken names I get called), saying I would be issued a check.

There are several issues here.  Honestly, do you call that customer service?  Clearly I am wayyyyy to used to the US where consumer is king!  But that was absolutely shocking.  Oh yes, I sent a llooonnnnnggggg email to the company (who doesn’t even have a website) explaining how I would not be shopping there again after the rude treatment, and that in fact if their goal is to “protect themselves from customers” (their words, not mine!), perhaps they are in the wrong business.  I guess if they treat people like that, they won’t be in business much longer.  ALSO, if you only accept defective returns and you have a sneaky consumer, they may intentionally damage the item in order to get a refund.  In which case you have to send it back  to the distributor, who will credit you at wholesale, so you won’t actually make a sale, and therefore lose your profit margin.  It is actually in your best interest to accept reasonable returns of new undamaged items (c’mon people – 3 days?!) because you can sell that item to someone else, make your profit, AND maintain customer relations and goodwill.  Sorry, Street Legal Dunedin, you f***ed big time.  Yes, I will be telling everyone how badly you suck.  Too bad too, for you, as I have an obsession with shoes, and a fair amount of disposable income.

Ahhhhh such relief after that vent.  So I’d like to hear from YOU – what companies have mistreated you?  Are you sick of feeling like the powerless little guy?  And how crap is the Consumer guarantees act?  I am pretty sure it doesn’t guarantee much aside from pissed off consumers!

As a consumer, I simply want the authority to take responsibility for mistakes, and issue compensation if they happen.  Clearly I’ve got a warped expectation because at my job (where I am customer service) we absolutely go above and beyond, we literally bend over backward for our customers.  But I guess I work for a small company, and clearly I can’t expect the type of service that I give from absolutely anyone else.  Sad really, because an unhappy customer is not going to be a repeat customer.





2 thoughts on “The importance of customer service

  1. I can recall 2 bouts with customer service that are worth noting.

    1) Delta. They changed our flight times without notifying us. I found out the day before and called customer service. They claimed they did call us to let us know. But they didn’t. No notice whatsoever. This flight time change wasn’t small either. It was changed to the NEXT day! It was also a connecting flight, so we were forced to get a hotel room to stay overnight in the connecting city (Hot-lanta). Delta did not comp this room or provided any sort of mea culpa. I vowed to not fly Delta again. Although I’m not sure if I can keep that vow now that they purchased Northwest.

    2) Dick’s Sporting Goods/Reebok. This past spring I bought a pair of Reebok’s EasyTone shoes (my attempt to get in shape without much effort). The shoes are great (although results are negligible). But the destabilizing “pod” (pocket full of air in the sole) on one shoe broke open about 5 months later. I do not wear these shoes every day. I do not run in them. So this didn’t make sense to me how they could have worn down that quickly. I figured I should be able to return them. I contacted Reebok’s customer service and they assured me I could get a new pair by contacting my retailer that I bought it from. They told me they have an agreement with Dick’s that would allow me to exchange them. So I go to Dick’s. They proceed to tell me that this agreement does not exist and that the only way I could have exchanged them is if I bought a warranty. So I call up Dick’s sporting goods customer service. They too tell me that there’s an agreement and I should be able to exchange them at the store. They told me they’d be faxing this info to the store I was going to. So I go back to that store later that day. The guy that helped me told me that this agreement does not exist, that Dick’s actually owns Reebok, and so Dick’s can do whatever they want. I told him that was not how it was explained to me and after not much further conversation, he just decided to exchange them for me anyway! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t even have to start crying! He said for all the hassle I went through, he will do it for me. He suggested to buy their warranty for $12 so I did…because I doubt these shoes will last a year. 🙂 so it ended up with a good scenario.

  2. What is it about shoes, eh? Dicks said they own Reebok??? I kinda doubt that but maybe… See at least in that case, in NZ, by law the retailer or manufacturer would be required to replace, repair or refund. So there is a lot of protection for the consumer in terms of faulty goods. But apparently not faulty customer service.

    And Delta as well absolutely should have comped your hotel room! That is shocking! Maybe travel insurance would have covered it as well, but again that depends whether you purchased travel insurance or not (as an international student I am always on travel insurance… which is a good thing, I guess!).

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