Friday, October 13, 2006

Customer Service MIA

What has happened to the concept of good customer service? Where did it go? I vaguely remember it.

This has been a week of annoyingly bad customer service. I just got home from my local coffee place and am still a bit steamed, so you are going to hear about it :-)

A few days ago my mom & I took the afternoon off and drove to Jordan to one of the well known apple orchards. She wanted apples for eating & pies. I wanted apples for crabapple jelly. Where do you get apples fresh from the tree? An apple orchard, of course. Well, I got my 5 pound bag of crab apples home and opened it up to make jelly. Much to my surprise of the 5 pounds in that bag, 4 of them were rotten. We are talking covered in mold and mushy rotten. I emailed the company and told them of my problem. They agreed to send me a bag of replacement apples. The apples arrived. Can you believe it - they were rotten too! Now I can understand an occassional bag going bad, but if you were going to spend the money to overnight a bag of apples to someone that had already been disappointed, wouldn't you check out the bag you were going to send?

On Wednesday I brought my car in for an oil change. I had a coupon, so I brought it to a dealer. They told me it would take 30 minutes. About 45 minutes later they called my first name. I went up and they handed me an invoice, which I paid. I went out to pick up my car and they pointed me to the wrong car. Long story short, they got invoices confused. It took another 15 mintues to straighten it all out. They gave me a coupon for a free oil change and then let me loose on the highway during rush hour.

Yesterday I made trip to Home Depot to pick up some soffit vent covers. The 16 yrs old in the orange vest had no idea what I was talking about. He was sure they were in plumbing. Enough said.

Moments ago I stopped at my local coffee shop. I make an effort to support the local stores instead of, say, Starbucks. I plunked down my $3.50 for a latte. I was the only customer in the store and there were three men (one, the owner) working behind the counter. I went to the "pick up" counter to pick up my drink and there I stood and watched a group of other customers come & go. When the three men were standing behind the counter chatting, I finally asked if my latte was coming. Good grief. They forgot. I was standing there. And they forgot. I was the only freakin customer in there. Did I get a nice apology? No, they told me their computer was down and I got a mumbled "have a nice weekend" and they went back to chatting. Screw that, next time I'm going to Starbucks.

And the sad thing is that it has become so common place that we accept it. When we actually get adequate service we are astounded. And only rarely does non-stop bad service send us over the edge and into a meltdown (which obviously happened to me today). I think we have become immune.
[Rant done]


Patricia W said...

That sucks. I definitely would have told the local coffee shop owners what I thought about their crummy service and that next time I'm going to Starbucks. In Jackson we have a couple local coffee houses and they do back-flips to serve in hopes you come back and ignore Starbucks which I happily do.

More and more often we are given no recourse when it comes to lodging complaints. The way the system has shifted, everything is done to benefit and protect the corporation, not the consumer.

Greg said...

I was going to write that everyone has become a cog in the cooperate wheel and no longer cares because it doesn’t matter. Then I read the coffee shop story. I can deal with the occasional bored and inattentive cashier, but an owner? That’s too much. I would search for another non-Starbucks coffee shop. Friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks.

ejk361 said...

at least you got it all in one day. you can hope that might be it for a while... :) sometimes it just pays to ask to speak to someone in charge, and watch the eyes perk up... just a reminder that they have to report to someone. Most times when complaints aren't logged those in charge never hear about it, and the problem persists. I'd boycott the coffee shop, but agree with Greg, and give another independent one a try.

StuccoHouse said...

Lol...friends don't let friends go to Starbucks. Thanks for the chuckle. I do know another coffee indie that I will go to - I think I just used Starbucks for dramatic effect ;-)

The thing that is starting to wear on me on this whole customer service topic is that you could spend your life writing letters, asking for the manager, etc. Its just everywhere.

On a brighter note, my customer services woes did turn around a bit this afternoon. This is a mixed bag. My main sewer is gone - or going fast (boo). However, the guys who came out to put the camera down my sewer were great (yeah)! Full story on this shortly....

Jocelyn said...

One of the "perks" (NOT!) of my current job is I spend alot of time on the phone coordinating various travel arrangements and scheduling. If you think customer service is bad in person, try the phone. My favorite is when someone from India answers, says their name is John McMahon, and asks me to spell a really easy name like Bill.

After dealing with bad service on the phone day in and day out, I can honestly say I'm not as kind and gentle of a person as I used to be. Temper temper.

Your coffee shop story reminds me of a place we have in our neighborhood called "ennui" , which means boredom in french. They used to seem too bored to smile or say thank you. They have since sold the business and the new staff was equally surly when I went in once a few months ago. Maybe it's the name...:)

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Ack. I hate that. (I just started reading your blog, from the beginning, and this is the first time I actually have anything constructive to say.)

One company whose customer service I love is Lie-Nielsen. I've had one minor problem with one of their tools, and they sent out a new part immediately, no questions asked, even though, in hindsight, I've realized the problem was probably due to, erm, "user error". When I had trouble with the results I was getting using one of their planes, I called them up, and they were able to help me through it.

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