Maybe I’m spoiled. But a few weeks ago I ordered a backpack from a reputable online retailer. I didn’t like it. But they had no packing slip or proof of purchase or anything in the box. I had to call them (have I mentioned how much I hate the phone? I even order pizza online) to get an RMA number. Then ship it back. Then wait forever for the refund, minus a 15% restocking fee. And though they provide a 30-day deadline to return the merchandise, there’s no indication of how long they’ll keep my money.
So not too much later I found a better item at another retailer. Two potential items, actually. I ordered both, because they were excellent prices and I couldn’t tell which one would work better.
The first problem was that even though the image was of the brown leather, the default color was black, and I didn’t notice until I’d finalized the sale. I called immediately and waited on hold forever. When someone finally answered, I explained my problem and asked if there was any way to change the color of one of the items. She said, “uuuuhhhhh….not until you get it” in this whiny, dumb-blonde voice (I’m not saying she was a dumb blonde, just that she sounded like one). I should have asked for the supervisor, but decided to see if the item was workable before I worried about it. If I liked it, I’d exchange it. If I didn’t, I’d just send it back.
Man, I should have talked to the supervisor.
It took nearly two weeks to get them, something else I’m not used to, but I didn’t gripe. One item just didn’t work for me. The other was perfect, but black when I wanted brown. So I went online for the return process. Because this company ALSO provided no purchase info in the box and requires authorization for return.
At least they have an online process. But when I went online, it only allowed me to select one item at a time. I wanted to return both. I had trouble getting labels. I couldn’t tell if I had authorization to return both or not, but I was to get an e-mail. I decided to wait.
And wait and wait and wait. Every two days I’d get a response to my communication. First they wanted to know why I wanted to return one item, because the system didn’t send the reason through. I explained why I wanted to return both. I got two separate return labels that incorporated the restocking fee and the postage I would pay if I sent both items separately.
I finally got authorization to return them and paid for the postage myself, which was half of what they were trying to charge me.
But that’s not all. I subscribed to LOST magazine way back in mid-September. The first issue was supposed to go on sale October 4. The web site said it could take up to 8 weeks for the next available issue to arrive, but I kind of discounted that because it’s a bimonthly magazine and the next available issue was only a couple of weeks away.
They took my money immediately. I did not get my magazine. It became November. I e-mailed them for the status. No response. I called them for a status and had to leave a message because they have “regular business hours” instead of the usual full customer service hours. I got no response.
Finally I got an e-mail back that my subscription had been processed and would start with the second issue. I immediately fired back that they had plenty of notice to send me the first issue and I wanted the first issue. I got an immediate response that I’d get a full subscription, five issues plus a yearbook. But starting with issue #2.
I almost let it go. But then I thought about it. The second issue isn’t until December, which meant I had to wait another four weeks, and they would have had my money for 12 weeks without supplying me with the product. That’s just unacceptable to me. I told her to cancel my subscription.
When did the customer become the enemy? I understand that companies need to protect themselves from idiots and scammers and general overexpense. And I've worked in customer service, so I'm not unsympathetic to the travails of the individual CSR.
But if the cable company can turn things around (the last two times I had to get the cable guy out, they admitted their own culpability in my problems, spent plenty of time and quality product fixing it, and didn’t charge me a dime), then these simple retailers should be able to get it together.
Needless to say, I don’t expect to buy from any of those companies again.