By way of background, when our sofa was delivered, before Christmas., the different feet that we had ordered and paid extra for, were missing. After leaving at least five telephone messages and with no one returning them, I was getting a bit fed up and so, in desperation, I fired off the following email -
Subject: Ref order 70215 - missing chrome feet
I have left a number of messages none of which anyone has had the courtesy to return.
If this continues, I will have no option but to contact my credit card company and report non- delivery of goods.
A less than impressed customer
I admit that I could have spent a bit more time and care with my email but don't think it was that hostile. So I was a little surprised to receive the following response :-
Sent: 13 January 2010 12:29 (Just 15 minutes after I sent my email, not bad considering their failure to return any of my phone calls)
To: Black, Niel
Subject: RE: Ref order 70215 - missing chrome feet
Thank you for your email.
I am sorry to read that you are less than impressed but our salesman distinctly remembers advising you and your wife in store that the feet would have to be especially ordered from another supplier and may indeed arrive later than the sofas. Your wife replied that it would not be a problem as obviously you would be able to use the wood feet in the interim. (My god, did they record our conversations? I would struggle to tell you what I just wrote, let alone a conversation I was purported to have had from three months ago.)
Further, we did not ever promise delivery before Christmas of any part of the order but thought that you would have been delighted that we were indeed able to have delivered the suite earlier than we expected. Judging from the tone of your email may be we should have waited for the chrome feet to have arrived from Italy and delivered all at once but were genuinely trying to please a valued customer. (Where did that come from? I don't remember saying that we were ungrateful about them delivering the sofa...)
I find it quite shocking that you are intending to contact your Credit card for non delivery of goods in an effort to claim monies back from them for your beautiful sofas but should they contact us we will honestly advise of the circumstances of the delivery of your sofas. (Fat chance of the credit card company ever getting a reply from this company - unless they threaten to withhold money.)
The chrome feet have been ordered and we expect them in the UK during the next three weeks. (That is all I wanted to know)
Should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
As a customer I felt like I had been taken back to school and hauled in front of the headmaster. Is it just me or as a customer would you be happy with a response from customer disservice? Being me I did not let it go
Sent: 13 January 2010 13:17
The frustration has been not knowing what is happening - let me explain.
- When we went to the design show and looked at the sofa we were approached by someone who told us that we should not deal with your company (they had had a bad experience and we were told that part of their order from the previous year was never delivered) - We liked the product and decided to take a chance, but admittedly this left us uneasy. If someone in your company had taken the time to return one of my phone calls I would not have taken the tone that I did. All I was looking for was assurances that the rest of the order had not gone astray and an indication as to when it was likely to be available. This you have now done and I am satisfied.
For the record the money that I would have claimed would have been the cost of the chrome feet not the cost of the sofa and, in my defence, it has actually produced a response. From a customer service point of view :-
- The phone not being answered during office hours or, when it is, someone taking a message that is never returned lets your company down badly.
- Yes we appreciate that we got the sofa before Christmas and for that we thank you - Please note that at no time did we ever expect or demand this. However not knowing till the last moment when the product was going to be delivered was a frustrating experience. Rather than just dump our old furniture we had planned to donate it to a charity. However trying to co-ordinate the pickup by a charity of our old sofa proved too difficult, as we did not want to find that we had given our old sofa away without having a definite delivery before Christmas. In the end, the charity lost out as we did not have the room to store the items and so they ended up being dumped.
- We are delighted with the sofa - your products are excellent;
- Your delivery men did a fantastic job, as the corner unit would not go through the front door, and they took the time and trouble to work out a route through the back of the house.
Having not threatened them with anything I really did not expect a second reply
Sent: 13 January 2010 13:52
To: Black, Niel
Subject: RE: Ref order 70215 - missing chrome feet
I am so sorry that you feel that way about our customer service – we try so hard to please all of our customers (I would hate to think what they would be like when they are not trying ) and it is unfortunate that you are unhappy with us because we delivered the sofas early (How many more times can I say it? I never indicated that getting the sofa early was a problem) without the extra feet.
We thought that by ringing our customers just before Christmas advising that it may be possible to deliver their sofas earlier than expected would have been a positive aspect of our service and am most upset (Excuse me, they are upset? Was I missing something? Was I in fact providing them a service -other than paying them a fortune.) that you have implied that we as a Company has caused a worthy charity to lose out. (How do they know I was going to choose a worth charity, very presumptuous of them……I was just giving them feedback. I didn't expect the Spanish inquisition).
Indeed, other customers seemed positively elated that although we had not promised delivery before Christmas that we had managed to bring in a substantial amount of orders earlier than expected. (Yes, Yes I know you did a great job in getting the order in time for Christmas. Please just read my shoddy email. Do I have to spell it out to them? "I Never had a problem with getting the sofa before Christmas")
We are indeed extremely honourable and trustworthy people (I'm sorry but as soon as someone says something like this I just think "scam artist") who keep to their word (it just screams "Scam") which is why our salesman was careful to explain exactly word for word (I'm guessing this is the equivalent of spoken small print and was whispered to us once we were 100 metres up the road) what was said and agreed both at the Show and in store on the following Monday.
Unfortunately, with the volume of customers that we have served over the years by being the largest retailer of furniture at all the major shows in the UK we may have the odd ‘crank’ (Are they calling me a crank now?) who has nothing better to do than anonymously create trouble for a hard working family business (Hmm, did I mention they are an Italian family? This is getting to sound more like the Mafia. Am I really messing with these people?) and it is indeed a shame that this mysterious person (Oh, so I'm not this week's crank. That hurts. No worries I'll probably be next week's crank) did not have the decency or the courage to discuss the alleged missing item with any members of staff face to face (I think the point was that the anonymous crank did try and discuss the problem with the company but with the customer service element also missing, they got nowhere) because the complaint would have been able to be resolved immediately (as long as they threatened them with talking to the credit card company) because at present we have no idea who these people are (They should try answering their phone messages) – we have never not delivered goods that a customer has paid us for!! (I hope that is still their proud boast in three week's time.)
Further, as you are aware we advise all of our customers to pay by Credit Card for anything that they buy at an exhibition (If that is the case why do they offer interest free loans at their exhibitions? Anonymous crank used this facility which is probably why she remains anonymous and without her goods) because whilst we know we as a Company always deliver (Time will tell on that one) it is reassuring that the Consumer Credit Act 1974 is there to protect consumers who have a ‘valid’ complaint regarding non delivery. (Could this be why they came back to me so quickly after I threatened to talk to my credit card company?)
However, I sincerely thank you for not taking notice of whoever these people are and for judging us on the quality of our product and the sales people that you spoke with personally. (I think it was more to do with the fact that paying on a credit card gives us a certain amount of protection from honourable Italian families)
As soon as the feet arrive from Italy we will be contacting you to arrange delivery which may indeed be easier by Interlink direct to your office to save you taking time off work. (What's this - are they starting to offer a customer service?)
Once again, thank you for your valued order and am delighted that you are pleased with the quality of the product.
I thought I was making some headway with my impromptu Customer Service training so sent the following further encouragement
Sent: 13 January 2010 14:50To: firstname.lastname@example.org.Customer.service
Subject: RE: Ref order 70215 - missing chrome feet
I am not and never was upset that the sofa was delivered early (as you have implied) or indeed because the feet were not included - my issue is with the customer service aspect of your business, namely:
The non-response to a number of phone calls. I wanted to make sure that the additional feet order had not been forgotten or lost. These things can happen in even the best run businesses.
Not knowing for definite when the sofa was going to be delivered (This was no free delivery we had to pay £95 for the privilege of not knowing when the sofa was going to be delivered) , was difficult to manage. When I spoke to your office, after I had been informed that there was a good chance that the sofa could be delivered before Christmas, the details of when exactly were, to say the least, sketchy. This left us with three Christmas scenarios :-
One suite - big smiles all around
Two suites - not good as we had no room to store a second suiteZero suites - If we had arranged for the charity to take the old sofa away, without the confirmation of the delivery and you had not been able to deliver, it would have made for an interesting Christmas, with guests and nowhere for them to sit (OK it's not the same as no room at the Inn but we did not have the sofa version of a stable to fall back on).
My point was that the charity lost out as we were unable to sort out a date with a reasonable time frame - that happens to be a fact - I'm sorry if that upsets you, I was just giving you feedback as a customer. (Perhaps I should not have reminded them that I was a customer, after all dealing with "customers" other than taking our money seems to upset them more than anything.)
Looking forward to the completion of the order
.I feel like I've been called before a judge and reprimanded for unreasonable behaviour....
The two written responses that I received make it clear that as a company they have absolutely no understanding of "Customer Service". They seem to employ a more, "let's get all uppity with anyone who contacts us" rather than listen to the issue and see if they can give better service in the future.
After my last email I got a phone call from the sales guy (It was some relief to me to discover that their phones did actually work, I was feeling a bit guilty that perhaps thay had been cut off) which started off on the same tact that we were being unreasonable and questioning the integrity of their family and business. They should employ me for their customer service as I had to calm him down and explain once again the issue is to do with the customer service aspect of the company (hmmm, phoning up and having a pop at your customer hardly improves your customer service rating).
I fear they are so full of themselves and think they are so wonderful that they are unable to see the problems that they cause for their customers. They are the sort of company who would be much happier if they did not have to deal with the horrible public. This might leave a bit of a issue as to how they would make any money. Perhaps people would be willing to just send them cash not to have to deal with them (actually better make that a credit card donation just in case the firm accidently call someone who donated.....)
I did discover that as a company they give a lot to charity and the sales guy is in fact running a marathon for zzzzzzzzzz......... On balance I decided not to sponsor him.....I'm sorry to say going on about charity and saying how honourable and trustworthy they are has the opposite effect on me - what an old cynic I am...
Mrs B said that we would probably find a horse's head in our bed tonight (the firm is Italian and clearly has connections. We did actually find McG's head in the bed but the rest of him was still attached and fortunately he was just sleeping) My response - I don't mind as long as it is delivered with 4 silver feet.....
Would I recommend them? Yes but only to people who have a good sense of humour, who can cope with what they laughably call a customer service and who uses a credit card....
Good Customer serviceFor those of you who think that all I can do is complain, we had our shutters fitted this week by the New England Shutter Company.
The fitter came over and spent a whole day measuring and working out the angles etc. He took his time to explain where he thought there might be problems with the look and gave us options.
We had a phone call a couple of days before the fitting date saying that they were a bit concerned about the bad weather conditions and so had booked us in for some provisional dates the following week in case they could not make the agreed day. As it was the fitter braved the conditions and arrived on the agreed day.
Not only did he do a great job fitting the shutters, he spent an hour longer than I would have expected going around making sure they were all clean and working properly. He even fixed a couple of our doors that were not shutting properly.
My only complaint is that such good service makes for pretty dull reading in a blog but sure is a nice to experience …
Our latest remodelling of the house is almost complete .
The huge TV, 58" (my contribution to the whole refit) has arrived – and it almost fits (the stand extends a couple of inches over the unit we had built*. Aaaarrrggghhh!!!! So I will have to get a wall bracket for it). Obviously Mrs. B much preferred the loan set 46" that they provided while we waited for our TV to be delivered. Perhaps I should have refused the option of a loan set and stuck with our old cathode ray. (See? I am an ungrateful git when it comes down to it.)
We now just have the whole fire stove fiasco to be resolved. They are due this week and seem confident that they can resolve the issue.
* None of the documentation that we could find or even Panasonic, the makers of the TV, were able to let us know the footprint of the stand. If the stand had been oval, like the pictures in the brochures, everything would have been OK, but the oval stands only seem to be supplied with the smaller sets…..Doh!
I'll leave you with this weeks photo's including shots from our trip to the Natural History Museum,. Have a good week.