Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Customer Service

Recently there was a post on another blog about a rude salesperson at 'Victoria's Secret'. The sales girl had been extremely insulting and when the victim of her behavior protested to the company she got a form letter with a lame apology offering her a 30% discount on her next purchase as compensation.

That did not solve the issue of the sales girl who should have been fired, and, additionally, it forced the victim to buy something else to get any kind of satisfaction. Not only was this adding insult to injury, but it was extremely poor customer relations.

Today I had the opposite treatment from 'Coldwater Creek' and I thought you should know about the difference in how they handled a complaint.

Several weeks ago I put some clothing items in my 'on line' shopping bag. Before placing the order I received a 30% off coupon in the mail. It wasn't good for several days so I waited to place my order for a few days when the coupon would be valid. Three items that I really wanted had been removed from my shopping bag and I assumed that was because they had sold out in the interim. Therefore, I did not place an order.

Today there was another Coldwater Creek sale in my In- Box and when I scanned the items I discovered that two of the items that had been removed from my shopping bag were still for sale. I really wanted them so I placed the order. However, I used their on line chat to complain about the situation. They gave me a one time 30% off on my entire order even though the coupon had expired.

I will never shop at Sear's again because of the way they handled a complaint. I had been a good customer for sixty years, (Back when they were Sears Roebuck). In the past five years I purchased a new refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and an over-the-stove microwave from them.

The installers of the microwave needed to buy a special part costing $120. Being sub-contractors they could not accept Visa and I had to put it on my Sear's account. I got a statement from Sears and remitted a check in the next mail. In that same mail I sent a check to a local company for a repair. Both checks got lost in the mail. I was unaware of that until the following month when I got a second statement from Sears and a $45 late fee plus interest was added to the amount I owed. That is usury by my definition. I complained and didn't even get a reply. They got my cut up Sears charge card in the next mail.

By the way, the local company removed their late charge fee when I explained the situation.

In this terrible economy stores should take notice. Locally owned stores are much better at resolving problems, but the big chain outlets are usually tone deaf to any complaint because they assume they have so many customers nationally that the loss of one isn't worth resolving the issue in a fair manner.
Perhaps if every one on the Internet publishes their bad experience with the company they might begin to pay attention.

I just did my part. Do you have any stories to tell - good and bad - about your experiences?


Maggie said...

I have four or five of those experiences, stores I no longer frequent, CC's I no longer use. With my mush brain, I easily remember not to go but not why I stopped using the store or card. :)

Nancy said...

Hi Darlene,

A friend of mine was on a United Airlines Flight from New York To San Francisco. During the flight he noticed a roach crawling along the floor.

He wrote a letter to UAL and told them about it. A week later he received a letter from the CEO of United and it said:

"Dear Mr. Brown,

I am sorry to hear about your seeing a roach on our flight #97 to SFO. Please be advised that the Pilot,Co Pilot, Flight Engineer,and All Flight Attendants have been dismissed from the employment of UAL. Please feel free to use our airline in the future in the knowledge that this will never happen again and we are sorry that it happened to you.

My friend was very happy with the apology until he began to slip the letter back into the envelope and he saw another small piece of paper that had accidently gotten into the envelope. It was an inter office memo from the CEO to his administrative assistant and it read:

Send this SOB the cockroach letter.

kenju said...

I have had good experiences with Coldwater Creek too. They are a good company.

20th Century Woman said...

I agree that good service is all important. Particularly in retail stores and restaurants. I do most of my shopping at Costco where I find the service fast and pleasant. They also have very good return policy.

Darlene said...

*Maggie - The important thing is that you remember not to go.

*Nancy - Thank you for, as always, adding some levity to the subject. Very funny.

*Kenju - I now buy all my clothing at Coldwater Creek

*20th Century Woman - I don't use
Costco because, living alone, I couldn't save enough to justify the annual fee. Also, the food quantities are too much for a single person. In addition, I do most of my shopping on line now since I quit driving.

Pete said...

I worked in an L.L. Bean call ceneter through a couple of holiday seasons. A huge part of the training involves handling customer complaints, which L.L. Bean takes very seriously. The "customer satisfaction" guarantee is real.

Here's one of my favorite customer relations stories:

Many, many years ago, a newly-married man bought a set of L.L. Bean dishes for his bride. The dishes had some sort of duck hunting picture on them, and the new wife hated them. Years went by, and the duck dishes stayed in the box on a closet shelf.

Some years after the husband died, the widow found it necessary to stop living on her own. One of her sons, helping her clean out the house, found the duck dishes and asked about them.

"I never liked those dishes and never used them," the widow explained.

The son took his mother, the dishes, and the story back to L.L. Bean where a customer rep calculated a refund and made it on the spot. The widow, you see, had never been satisfied with the purchase.

This guarantee doesn't really cost L.L. Bean much because they don't let people abuse it with repeated complaints. The small actual cost is factored into the price structure with the result that when you do have a problem, you can get it straightened out pretty easily.

It seems so obvious that you should treat your customers well. I don't understand why the idea remains elusive to so many retailers.

Sylvia K said...

Oh, yes, I guess many of us have had those kinds of experiences and it is disgusting. Glad Cold Water Creek did better by you. I don't have much trouble that way these days as I do all my shopping at Goodwill or Value Village! All that savings plus a senior discount! Ah, the joys of growing old!!
Have a great weekend, Darlene!

Darlene said...

*Pete - I have an L.L. Bean story for you. I bought some slipper sox from the catalog. They will not stay on my feet and the heel slides down forcing my heel to rest on the sock and not the sole. I cannot walk in them. When I decided to return them I discovered that it was going to cost half the price I paid for them to ship them back. It wasn't worth while so I still have them.

If there is an outlet here, I don't know about it and I couldn't drive there, anyhow. I washed them hoping that would help, but it didn't. So I wonder how they would handle this kind of situation.

* Sylvia - Thank you and a wonderful weekend to you, too.

Pete said...


The shipping cost is a problem. You might try calling the 800 number, however, since the slippers have proved useless. Maybe they would do something for you.

I'm pretty sure that if you walked into the store with those slippers, you'd walk out either with your money or with an item that you liked.