Customer Service (Old-Fashioned Pleasures)

     The customer is always right.
Customer satisfaction.
Quality is job one.
Our customers come first.  

Are these advertising promises all a thing of the past?? Is there such a thing as really good customer service any more, or is it an old-fashioned pleasure gone forever??
Copper and I have had more opportunities than normal lately to answer this question.  What has been the most surprising thing to me is the fact that the tried and true, old-time companies are not necessarily the  best at customer service.  In fact, some of the newer internet based companies offer superior customer service.
 I’m not that hard to please, really.  If it’s broken and still under warranty, I want it fixed in a timely manner.  If parts need to be ordered, fine; but I do expect that the parts will be installed within a couple of days of their receipt.  If a service man’s carelessness or lack of diagnostic skills causes more damage or results in a delay in repair, then I expect the service company to make that right.
Let me offer just a couple of examples, all things we’ve run into in the last couple of weeks.  Like I said, we’ve had an unusual number of incidents here lately!
Copper took his car to Jiffy Lube for its periodic oil change. Shortly after leaving their facility his “Check Engine” light came on.  To my husband’s credit, he is quite handy about the house with repairs and even tackles a few auto repairs (brakes, thermostats, belts, etc.); but the “check engine” light, according to the owner’s manual of his 10 year old car, indicated an issue with the emissions system.  He made an appointment and took it to our independent local garage.  When the car was picked up the next day, the owner of the garage told us that a sensor had been unplugged, and charged us the $90.00 estimate for diagnosing this fact and re-plugging the sensor in.
When Copper mentioned the recent oil change, the mechanic said that it had most likely been done by Jiffy Lube during their oil change service.  Copper called Jiffy Lube, explained the situation to their manager and, upon presentation of his repair receipt, received a full refund of the $90.00 repair bill from Jiffy Lube.  Were we satisfied?  Of course!  Their service men had made the mistake which led to our shelling out $90.00 for an unnecessary repair, and they reimbursed us for it.  Jiffy Lube will continue to have our business.
If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you know that our dryer has been malfunctioning.  Sometimes it dries, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it won’t even turn on.  It’s a brand new, bought in April of this year, GE Dryer.  Not a top of the line dryer, but not a cheap model either.  A full featured, mid-range model.  Our contact with GE has been quite positive, and I do believe that they are going to help us resolve the issues.
But GE does not perform their own warranty work.  They sub-contract it out to other companies, and it is with one of these companies that we have been dealing for the last couple of weeks. 
Appointments have been made, but the wait is always about three business days.  Service men have been out and said nothing was wrong.  Appointments have then been re-booked and “dropped” by their computer, resulting in our having to wait several more days for an appointment.
GE is extending our warranty for an additional six months to compensate us for the inconvenience, and they are, even as I type this, contacting the service company on our behalf to expedite the repairs once the ordered parts have been delivered.  So far, I’m okay with what GE is doing for us, though I think they might be more careful in monitoring the companies they have doing their warranty work for them.
D
ealing with this service company brings me to another point. Respect. Courtesy. The man who came last week and declared that there was nothing wrong with the dryer, was, at best, condescending.  The young man who came to our home this morning was rude and very disrespectful.  Copper and I both were very displeased by his remarks toward us.  If nothing else, he should be courteous to his customers.
I was treated in a similarly disrespectful manner by their customer service staff on the phone last week when the second appointment had been dropped by their computers.  Since the error was on their end, I was asking that they honor their original appointment time, but they bluntly refused and scheduled an appointment for three business days away.  The lady on the phone that day was downright rude and when she called me, “M’am” her tone made it sound like a curse word rather than a term of respect.
Our refrigerator, an 11 1/2 month old LG, has some broken door clips.  The fridge over freezer model has dual refridgerator doors.  The clips enable you to open just one door at a time, without the suction pulling the second door open.  LG’s phone service was good, and they scheduled an appointment for the repair within a couple of days.  However, even though Copper told them, specifically, what was broken, the repairman did not come with the necessary parts.  He looked at the doors, confirmed that the clips were broken, and then ordered the parts.  LG, apparently, does not sell their parts to local distributors, so the part order will take about two weeks.  The repairman said we’d get a call the day they receive the parts.
Hmmmm……you know, it’s not like we didn’t tell them what was broken.  It’s sort of a no-brainer.  The clips are broken.  We know this because, well….we are holding the broken clips in our hand.  I think it would have been better if they’d called us back and told us that they had to order the parts and that it would be about two weeks rather than wasting a service call.  However, we’re okay with the service so far, and just glad that the clips broke in early August instead of September 7, the day after the warranty expired!!

Not wanting to end on a sour note, let me tell you about Amazon.com.  Yep, I’ve had customer service issues there as well, but all resolved to my complete satisfaction.  I placed a large order for books.  The order was broken up into several different shipments by Amazon, processed and shipped promptly.
Now,  you have to know, that one of our favorite things to do, the kids and I, is to greet our UPS man or our mail carrier. We lie in wait for them, as a matter of fact.  So, the fact that we had UPS tracking numbers for all our shipments was a plus.
Everything was delivered on time, except for one, lone book. We expected it Friday, but it didn’t come. When I went to the UPS web site to check on it I discovered that it had made it to our local distribution center, but that they had sent it back to a regional hub! Well, shoot!!!
Amazon.com has a very cool feature for customer service.  No need to dial their 1-800 number and then press 1 for English, 3 for help, 2 for a real voice, etc.  Instead, you can send them a brief e-mail from their help page, including your order number and phone number, and ask them to call you within the time frame you specify.  They did call within that time frame and the Amazon associate asked me to hold while she called UPS.  She returned to tell me that UPS had indeed blown it and would have my book to me on Monday.  She listened to my problem, understood that the shipping speed I’d requested should have resulted in a Friday delivery, and did what she could to make it right.  Immediately.  Had I not been happy with the Monday delivery, she offered to overnight a second copy of the book to me.  That wasn’t necessary, and I thanked her for their GREAT customer service.
So, the jury is still out.  Jiffy Lube and Amazon have provided excellent customer service.  GE is doing okay, but their warranty service providers are horrid.  We’re still working with the LG company on the repair to our fridge, but that’s looking good so far.  UPS is still on my A list, even given the recent incident of the misguided book.
What am I taking away from all of this?  I’m determined to redouble my efforts to raise my sons to be courteous, polite and respectful at all times.  No exceptions.  I’m also being careful in keeping my tone (and temper!) moderated while dealing with these companies on the phone and in person.  My home schooled children observe and hear everything that happens in our home during the day, and I want my example to model a meek and quiet spirit to them without allowing myself to be taken advantage of by disreputable companies.
God bless you as you look well to the ways of your households today.

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5 comments to Customer Service (Old-Fashioned Pleasures)

  • I’m sorry!

    We’ve had great experience with Amazon as well. In one case our package was delivered to a house the next street over. They actually called UPS and spoke specifically with OUR UPS guy to ask where at our house he had left it. He told them that he left it under a porch chair. Since we don’t have those, it was pretty easy to figure out where he had left it. The next street over has a house that looks very similar to ours with the same house number, but THEY have chairs on their porch!

  • I’m sorry!

    We’ve had great experience with Amazon as well. In one case our package was delivered to a house the next street over. They actually called UPS and spoke specifically with OUR UPS guy to ask where at our house he had left it. He told them that he left it under a porch chair. Since we don’t have those, it was pretty easy to figure out where he had left it. The next street over has a house that looks very similar to ours with the same house number, but THEY have chairs on their porch!

  • Just before I got online, I finished reading the book “Talk to the Hand” by Lynne Truss. She’s famous for her book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (or something to that order).

    The entire book is about the rudeness in English and American society today. One of her opening chapters is about rudeness among sales people and service providers.

  • You know, it has always baffled me that good customer service gets any attention at all. Shouldn’t that be the standard not the exception?? The world today makes me shake my head sometimes. I am happy that you got good service, and hope the other companies will address the issues and get better in the future. Wouldn’t it be lovely if they were all good, and the ones with bad service would be so ashamed that they would step up? Well I can dream anyway. 😉

    I have to share this story with you. I worked at Kmart back when I was first married. I worked in the jewelry dept and clothing areas. I got called to the jewelry counter one day to assist a customer who had called in. She had bought a watch for her son who was in the service and wanted to put it on 24 hr time. I had no idea how to do that. I asked what style watch she has bought and got another out of the case. We went step by step through the directions and were able to figure it out. She thanked me and hung up. I thought nothing more of the matter. Later that day I received an award for service because she had called back to the manager and told them about my assistance. I was dumbfounded. I was given an incentive award for doing what I understood was my job. I helped a customer.

    Have a blessed day

  • Mel – Loved your story!  I’m sure you deserved the award (and I’m sure that service man’s mama thought you did, too!!), but I do agree in theory.  Customer service is part of the job!