Customer Service, NOT

I’ve had this happen to me several times in the past several years, and I become more and more incredulous as 1. the internet takes over an ever increasing portion of retail sales and 2. “local” business complain about #1.

What is “this” you ask?

It’s a situation where I require a minimum of service and/or fair dealing, and am rebuffed.

Some of these situations have been quite minor; for example, the personnel at “my” local yarn store can’t seem to be bothered to help me find a pattern or the appropriate-weight yarn in my desired color. Sometimes they start out helping me, but after just a couple of minutes wander away to tend to their other tasks such as re-organizing the sock-weight, which is apparently much more important than selling something.

Other situations might reflect a worthwhile and carefully thought-out store policy, such as, “Pay no attention to that woman with $1100 of computer equipment in her cart and a questioning look on her face. If she can’t figure out what she needs from the self-serving, enigmatic statements on the box she’s probably not qualified to purchase or properly use the equipment anyway.” (Best Buy, 2001)

One circumstance seemed particularly self-destructive. Local toy store, not part of a chain, has a wooden kitchen sink-and-stove set that I would like to purchase for my daughter for Christmas. I am told by the woman at the cash register that they would be happy to hold it for me for an hour while I investigate one other option. I call, in less than an hour, and ask if I can purchase the sink-and-stove over the phone, promptly giving her my visa number and telling her that someone will be there to pick up the said sink-and-stove promptly at 5:15. A couple of hours later, the owner (yes, really) calls to inform me that it is “against store policy to ‘hold’ items,” despite the fact that I’ve already paid for it. The sink-and-stove has now been resold to a present customer, and I am s.o.l.  (Sandcastle, 2004)

And, again, today. I bought over $200 of trees, hanging baskets, perennials, and vegetable plants at a greenhouse (Flowerland) on Saturday (2 days ago). When I got into my car today, I noticed the receipt was still on the front seat, so I opened it up and looked at it, only to realize that I had been overcharged by $20 for the Japanese Maple I had bought. I know how this mistake happened: there were 3 varieties of Japanese Maples in a row, the Queen (becomes quite tall, wide, draping branches), the Prince (a little less tall, but with more of a shrub-y habit) and the Princess (smaller, umbrella-shaped, more narrow). I bought the Princess, with the help and advice of a very friendly employee. When I was putting the tree onto my cart, I noticed there wasn’t a tag, and the helpful, friendly employee bent over and picked one up off the ground, saying “this must be it.”  Well, it wasn’t. And yes, I guess this is partially my fault, because I didn’t stand there after receiving my receipt (!) and read each line. In any case, when I stated my case to the woman at Flowerland today, as I stood there with $35 worth of hanging strawberry baskets, she looked at me suspiciously, and then went over and whispered to the nursery manager. Upon her return I was informed that I would need to drive all the way home, take a picture with my cell phone to guarantee that this was in fact the other tree, and return with the corroborating evidence to the store.

Okay, first of all, this tree right now doesn’t look all that different from the other tree. The difference is in what will happen when they grow. They are merely requiring this because they don’t believe that I will bother. Second of all, it was THEIR mistake, so if they want documentation, I think THEY should drive over HERE and take a picture with THEIR phone. The fact remains that I was a satisfied customer of theirs, and now I’m not; they would have earned that $20 back with the plants I was going to purchase today, and didn’t. I was treated with suspicion, which I resent, since I’m the kind of person to take something back to the store that I was not charged for and insist on paying. Now, rather than their greenhouse being the first place I would go, it will be the last.

Wonder what THAT was worth to them. Apparently not much.

2 Responses to “Customer Service, NOT”

  1. May 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Followup: Since posting the link to this blog post on Flowerland’s Customer-Feedback Survey form, someone from the governing office of Flowerland has contacted me, apologized for the poor response I got from the store, and has offered to send me a refund of the overcharge via snail mail. No corroborating cell-phone pictures were requested. I will post when/if I receive the check.

    Maybe I should send the link to Best Buy and Sandcastle as well. Nothing like a little publicity to get your voice heard.

  2. May 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Have received the check from Flowerland. That’s that, then, kind of, although I’m still not all that inclined to go back. We’ll see. . .

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