Thursday, November 29, 2012

Woman In Pink Hair Who Saved The Day

In the past month, I’ve spent 60 hours dealing with Customer Service as a Customer.

10 hours with a friend trying to get a $56.48 refund from a furniture store.  50 hours with a bank trying to get bank statements for my Dad's Estate (after 6 months of trying). 

The hotel charging my dead father 13 days posthumously was no saint too. No one was authorized to remove his bag, they said, so we had to pay for the room after he died. The vacant hotel didn't have to charge a dead person of course. But they did. 

This wasn’t the first time we’d been screwed.

* * *

A cell phone company charged my daughter nearly $500 (includes hidden fees) because of a download she didn’t order. Cell phone companies later got sued by the government $31 million for misleading advertising and  hidden fees.  The cell phone company  had the nerve to lecture me on being a bad parent for 1 hour and how I should supervise my daughter better after I told them they couldn’t sell an under-aged minor this 18+ product in the first place. 

When I called another number they gave me to get my refund finally, they too read the same company line! How I should be a better parent (ad verbatim). This is after I'd been a loyal customer for 13 years on record. 

The thing is…I’d been charged nearly $500 by the same company for things I didn’t order too – and suddenly $2/month for the paper the phone bill was printed on.  So I believed my daughter. I'd already received $1500 in credit for bad charges in my lifetime with this company.  And the $500 hidden-fee pricing for 1 download was so outrageous, it smacked of dishonesty.  

This was the ad.  Anyone could enter my kid's phone number. If she'd clicked link for "10 Bonus Ringtones," I get billed $10/month up front, plus $30 invisible carrier download fees/mo.  $10/mo fee was advertised in grey font, fine print. The $30/mo cost was not advertised. 

No one works for an honest living here! 

* * *

A home renovations company sold me 2 sinks they didn’t actually have, delivered a broken one of a different color and forgot to deliver two sinks. This is after they didn’t show up the first time leaving me to wait hours, elevator booked. No one on the delivery service phone would answer me.  I had to drive to the store to get service and they had no customers there and more than a dozen staff! 

The frequency of incidents and people waiting hours for Customer Service made me realize, they should really change their name to No Service.  

 I was forced to accept wrong color sink (or wait months for the sink we paid for to be in stock) and this in turn caused me to pay for a different color paint to match. They recommended I not use their unreliable delivery service. Without a trolley, I carried the sink many floors up.    

After they delivered a carpet that wouldn't fit the elevator and were also missing carpet for one room, management gave me $260 credit for my troubles. This is after waiting 6 weeks for the carpet to be ordered in. 

My Dad passed away before he could see his apartment finished. 

* * * 

You could write a book on why the Western economy is tanking.

When they sell you something, they are so fast – they even have hidden ways of charging you. They've automated technology to charge you instantly. 

But when you want your points redeemed for loyalty, they will be the first to be unloyal. Wait one hour. When you want a refund, you can wait hours. 

I have a few thousand dollars in car points and air miles they are clawing back.  This of course was not what they promised me for loyalty.  I had $500+ in cell phone points, but had to buy an iPhone full price. Apparently, I was locked in a contract for 2-years for a  $20/mo discount (credit) they gave me for bad service. Points can't be redeemed while under contract for iPhone. . 

"Never Again."  We've said that often.  Don't "Dear Customer" me. We are not "Dear" to you. 

When you want false charges removed, they will make you feel like a criminal. When you want a store credit for your troubles – well, good luck with that. 

The days of honest retail relationships are over.

Sure, Mr Customer Service you can worry about your what your boss says at the store, worry about your job. Sure, it’s not a legal obligation for you to be a hero. Sure, it’s not even a moral obligation for you to be a hero. Your company does not order you to be a hero.

But as my old boss once said in situations where people didn’t do the right thing to solve the problem and are only focused on blocking people or complaints, “you’re no hero.”

* * * 

I thought about writing about how this all happened, but there wouldn’t be enough space. So I thought I’d focus on the one hero we did meet yesterday.

I had driven my friend who didn't have a car to a furniture store and a refund was then needed.

Collectively, my friend and I had already spent 10 hrs unsuccessfully, and more than $50 in gas and transit, now on our 3rd trip just to get a $56.48 refund. The goods were already returned two trips ago to get a refund card (I didn't have my friend's credit card). A trip ago, the call-center spent 2 hrs trying to remove credit card charges (failed).   A trip ago, the store had refused to accept this gift/refund card with its receipt because she was missing a receipt for the original purchase (they didn’t tell anyone to bring).  Some gift card! This trip was a disaster – 1 hour line up, 87-year-old mother randomly injured and hospitalized, all on my friend’s birthday. Ya, it was a long day.

Gift card and this receipt were invalid without receipt of original store purchase for this refund. 

We almost gave up yesterday. I said, “one more try.”  This was no longer for the money. We’d already spent so much  time and more money than the refund to try and get it. It would be easy to say, “cut our losses.” To complicate matters, we now had the original store receipt, but one new problem. The gift card was lost in the chaos of the emergency room situation of my friend’s 87-year-old mother. We did have a picture of the gift card with all the numbers and its receipt (above). But in this world, there’s every excuse to say no.

We went in together – I had a car, my friend didn’t. This furniture store was only accessible by car. Ya, you know the one.  I saw a woman with pink hair. Like picking a border agent, I said, “She’s the one we want.”  By lucky draw, we managed to get her  (1 in 3 chance).

She knew how hard it was to get to the store by subway (which requires crossing train tracks and hopping  a 7-foot fence to get onto the property from the station). She knew the long line ups. 

She knew our problem. She listened. She didn’t talk down to us. She didn’t treat us as if every customer is wrong, so the company can keep our money. She didn’t make us wait one hour. She got the refund done.

Her kindness was payment enough for me to blurt, “We don’t want the store credit you offered (for our troubles).” We then went to my friend’s birthday dinner and had a wonderful time. Thank you Ace, and thank you Gabby’s. 

We appreciate.

It made me feel better after some nauseous mornings waking up after spending 6 months trying to get bank statements for my Dad’s estate from a bank where my Dad was a loyal customer all his life. We have had properties and charities financed through them. I am now at the stage where my lawyer is on standby with a legal notice just to get a bank statement and payment due dates. Why did it have to come down to this for something so simple. “You’re no hero.” 

If I hear the word, “policy” chanted by them, I don’t hear the words, “Customer Service.”

But the woman in pink hair, you just erased all of these fumes from my head. Because that’s what heroes do. You are Customer Service, just like I knew it when it was good.  You treated us like community citizens.

I wake up today, thinking of a hero.  The woman in pink hair who saved the day.

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