Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is the Customer Always Right? Depends on the Company

Messy Messy Fail - let's just say the potty-training toddler presented me with a handful of poop and a handful of poopy underwear, I don't think any more description is needed.

Tidy Victory - the basement has returned to normal - AKA my Christmas vacation goal #4  has been accomplished!!  Nothing like having out-of-town family stay over to enforce a mandated clean up.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received from someone was "All they can say is no!".  I find it infuriating when I've purchased a product from a company only to find that the item I (we) have paid good money for is cheaply made and barely lasted a few months.  So what do I do?  I contact the company to see what they will do to help me.  All they can do is say no, right?

Some people say I'm good at doing this, but I lend it to my sheer determination and threatening tone (ha!).  I am one of the crazies who will post/email/call a company when I have a faulty product. 

May I present exhibit A:

I (we) was (were) given an OXO silicone spatula as a wedding shower gift in June of '09.  Loved that spatula - helped with my obsession of keeping my non-stick pans unscathed, cleaned up quite nicely, too.  In the fall of '14, I happened to be washing it in the sink when I noticed a corner of it had ripped off.  I immediately deemed that completed NOT COOL and proceeded to email OXO.  I wrote a polite yet disappointed email to the company, explaining clearly when I received the item, how long I had used it for, HOW MUCH I LIKED IT AND HOW I TOLD ALL MY FRIENDS HOW MUCH I LIKED IT, my displeasure in the poor quality of the product that I liked so much, and if they were able to offer any assistance.  I received a reply a day or so later asking for a picture of the damage (which unfortunately is on my old cell phone DROID), so I sent a quick picture from my old cell phone (DROID), and I kid you not about two weeks later look what appeared on my (our) front stoop.....

Voila!  Not another question, no form to fill out, just a brand-spankin' new even-larger-than-my-ripped-one silicone spatula!  No shipping and handling to pay, no service charge, just a brand new product to REPLACE THE ONE THAT FAILED!  Holy cow, I thought, now that is a company I will continue to invest in by purchasing their products because I KNOW FOR A FACT they stand behind their merchandise.  What a concept!  Therefore, I would give the company OXO 5 out of 5 stars for customer service!

And now a tale of disappointment & satisfaction from the same company - I now present exhibit B.

We have purchased at least two Evenflo baby gates to block the bottom of the stairs and to keep the toddler in his room.  The gate has a different kind of locking mechanism - I can only explain it as "press the buttons on either side and push down on the palm of your hand".  These gates can be found here and typically run about $40.00 at stores such as Target.  They seem to have updated the locking mechanism since we've purchased ours (of course!).  However in the mean time, the mechanism on the gate that blocks the stairs suddenly broke.  As in the gate will no longer lock and the toddler can now push his way right through it, which renders the gate useless.  

I immediately emailed the company explaining what happened, received an email back wanting the purchase date, serial number, etc. at which point I provided all the necessary information.  The reply I received was less than thrilling - "We are sorry for the inconvenience.".  I responded by asking if there was a replacement part or coupon they could offer to purchase another gate, and I received the same email back again - "We are sorry for the inconvenience.".

I found this overall response EXTREMELY disappointing in that a few months prior, one of my Evenflo glass baby bottles literally SHATTERED in the bottle warmer (which I thought was not supposed to happen), I emailed the company and they immediately sent me a replacement bottle.  

Now OBVIOUSLY there is a large price-point difference between a glass baby bottle and a safety gate.  However, in this case, the common factor is me, THE CUSTOMER, being made quite happy with a new bottle and quite disappointed with a useless safety gate.  Clearly this company does not feel that losing the profit of a baby gate is worth keeping me as a customer, therefore,  SEE YA EVENFLO!  Side note - the baby (Wreck-It Ralph) grabbed a bottle out of my hand one day, tossed it on the ground, and it too shattered, so I no longer recommend these bottles.

As a consumer who does proper research (on most items) before purchasing, I am loyal to companies who provide the proper support and stand behind their products when they do not perform as promised.  I REFUSE to invest my (our) hard-earned paychecks on items that do not stand the test of time because they are cheaply/poorly made.  If you believe in your product, provide your consumers with a decent warranty and FOLLOW THOUGH with it!  Loyalty is where your profit will be!

The following is a list of companies that I have experienced excellent customer service with:

OXO - replaced ripped silicone spatula
Kiwi - full value coupon for replacement boot spray (nozzel broke and wasted half of a can)
Best Buy - has refunded me (us) SEVERAL times when large appliances we purchased went on sale at other retailers and we called to see if BB would refund us the difference, gave us an even exchange on a brand new plasma TV after the first TV we purchased died after a year and a half and we FORGOT (yup, we forgot) we had purchased the warranty and went ahead and bought a new TV before checking (that's for another post :)
Wegmans - will always refund forgotten coupons or exchange/return bad items, sometimes even without a receipt
Playtex -  sent me several coupons, even a full value coupon, when I emailed complaining about a diaper genie refill that did not come out of the casing properly and ended up wasting half of it
Emerilware - fully replaced my non-stick smooth bottom (for glass stove top) glass lid pan when the non-stick finish was wearing off after only a year

A list of companies I have had mixed customer service with:
DirecTV - sometimes they credit our bill, sometimes they don't
Evenflo - see above
Cloud B - replaced the sound machine device that would turn off by itself in one of our sound machine stuffed animals but not the other

And here is a list of companies I have had poor customer service with:
Verizon - I don't even need to explain that one
Urban Decay - bottle of eye primer dried up, product stuck in poorly designed vessel
Sony - when our original TV died after a year and a half and we THOUGHT we had not purchased a warranty (see Best Buy comments above) they would do absolutely NOTHING to help us

So remember, when you purchase a product and it fails, all they can say is no!  Take a few minutes from your day and make the call, send the email - who knows what it may or may not get you!

Care to share a little rant about poor or great service?