Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Customer Service - Or a Lack Thereof

HP Pavilion G6 Laptop (NIB)
Usually, I try to find something clever to say as the opening line in a blog entry, but I'm going to just get straight to the point.  Customer service is a joke these days.  I mean, really, why is it so difficult to have something made right when you paid good money to receive something that either broke within a warranty period or arrived broken or with missing pieces?!

The latest fiasco we have found ourselves in is this new computer that my wife had ordered from QVC - a HP Pavilion G6 laptop.  My wife opened up the box only to find a gnarly dent in the laptop lid and a huge crack that went from the side of the screen frame up to the screen.  It's totally useless.

Here's where the shit starts getting deep.  Lindsay originally contacted HP about this to see if she could get it replaced under warranty or have repair parts shipped to her so she could replace them; my wife is handy with a screw driver.  HP said that they consider it an accident and would not cover it under warranty.  She'd have to return it and put a $200 deposit down to get it repaired.  What the fuck?!  She didn't even break it, and HP expects her to pay to fix something that arrived broken?

So, she decided to contact QVC.  Since my wife didn't actually purchase the item (my mother did for her), the QVC rep didn't even want to talk about their return/replacement policy, and she cited that it was "proprietary information," as if it was some secret document that could end the world if it was leaked to the public.  After arguing with the "customer service" rep, they changed their mind and told her the policy.  Basically, she'd have to send it back and put a new on on hold because the pink one my wife ordered might not be in stock and they don't know when it will be... yadda yadda yadda.  So, instead of making it easy and just saying "Please return it and we will replace it," they made it into some convoluted mess of bullshit that it really didn't have to be.  Of course, my mother had to call to get this rectified because my wife didn't actually buy it.  It could take weeks.  So instead of doing the right thing and making an attempt at customer service, the person on the other end basically told my wife there was nothing that could be done.  Too bad, so sad.

It seems that this crap is happening more and more these days.  Last year, we ordered an Amana portable air conditioner on wheels.  It has a hose that gets put into a window to blow the hot air out while cooling the room inside.  The hose get mounted to a panel that gets installed in the window frame.  The only problem was our unit didn't come with the damned panel!  Useless!  After calling the customer "service" number on the back of the literature, I had to jump through a ton of hoops in order to get a freaking panel.  I could have gone out to my garage in that time and just cut a new one out of a sheet of aluminum that I had!  But I'm a snob like that.  When I pay over $250 for an item, I expect... no, I DEMAND that it comes to me intact and ready to go!

We once bought a Coleman Northstar lantern from Fred Meyer.  We were on our way out to go camping, so we didn't unpackage it before taking it out.  When we got to the campsite and had everything else set up, it was starting to get dark, so I unboxed the lantern and assembled the propane tank onto the lantern portion.  I then noticed that the mantle in there looked burnt up and damaged.  Holy crap!  It doesn't work like that.  Fortunately, I was able to get by on another mantle that I had for an older lantern.  It worked in a pinch.  But that was the frigging problem!  I spent over $50 on that damned lantern!  I shouldn't have had to make it work in a pinch, especially brand new out of the box!  After our trip, we returned it to Fred Meyer and exchanged it for a new one.  Before taking the new one home, I unboxed it to make sure everything was there.  When I asked why Fred Meyer obviously doesn't inspect returned items, the lady said, "We implicitly trust our customers."  I told her that, "Perhaps it was time to modify that policy."  We didn't even get an apology for receiving damaged goods.

I know, white people problems.

This latest catastrophe had me thinking of a recent experience I had at a hardware store.  I couldn't remember at first, but as I was running on the treadmill at the gym, I had time to stew it over in my brain, and I remembered exactly what I was doing.  So, I was in a hardware store (Home Depot, if I recall correctly), and I was looking at a Milwaukee drill.  I took the box off the shelf and opened it up to inspect all the parts inside.  An employee came up to me and said, "Sir, you cannot open the box until you purchase it." I lit his ass up. "Do you know how many times I've bought something at the store and come home only to find it missing pieces or it was broken?!"  He had nothing to say and just walked away... probably to call security.  But in my mind, I was in the right.  You think that only mail order stuff comes to you damaged because UPS throws the parcels around in the distribution center before throwing them in the back of the big brown truck only to be bounced around and tossed on your doorstep by some 20-something wearing brown shorts and hiking boots?  Think again.  I've actually had more stuff broken or missing pieces from the store!  That makes sense since most of the stuff I buy is from a store.  The fact is that I didn't just want a damned drill; I needed that drill for a job I had to do that morning.  This was for work, and I was on the clock.  I wasn't about to take any chances of having a defective piece of equipment follow me to the jobsite.  Hell, if they had an outlet available, I would have plugged it in and function tested it too!

The only time I've actually had excellent customer service was when I returned my LCP to Ruger.  They not only emailed me a shipping label so I could ship it for free, but it was returned within 2 weeks with a full explanation of what they found and what they fixed.  When I called back to get some followup questions asked, the woman on the other end was very friendly, funny, and knowledgeable.  I never had as good a service experience prior, nor have I had one since.  Everyone else seems to suck.



  1. I agree with you that customer service has gone to shit. Sadly enough it is the same way with the company we work for. The upper managment won't allow the white shirts ( if they knew how) to provide good customer service and support to our customer base. You and me are left with this task after the customers have been pissed off and thats not right, but thats the way it is.
    Later, Darrell

  2. Recently our Kindle had an issue. We called customer service, they said it was a known problem, and shipped us out a new one, and all the labels and stuff the ship back the bad one. The Rep on the phone was Lovely! So that is at least ONE other.