Customer advocacy or just smarting off without consequences

Don’t ever dare Murphy’s law.

I guess I did put the hit out on our washing machine by bragging how old it was.  Within weeks, it broke. We have children and cannot be without a wash machine for more than a few days.  The internet came to the rescue.

The internet is a great place, you can research and find the best deals all without changing out of your pajamas.  We went to the web site of a large home merchandise and it really didn’t take too long to find a replacement.  It was ordered and we were informed it could be delivered by the end of the week – awesome.

The company called and made an appointment for when we they could install it but it was when they showed up that things started to fall apart.  They delivered the washing machine but we needed a safety plate for the top of the machine as it was to be built under the counter in the kitchen.

No plate, no install.  This was a problem as we paid for the installation but also because we generate a lot of dirty laundry.  The delivery guys were professionals and they knew what could be safely done and what not.

It was looking like we would have a wash machine sitting in the middle of the room for days until we could sort this out.  I guess that created an extra load of stress as I could feel it over the phone line as I was explaining everything to her.  A short time later, my wife called back and reminded me that the old machine was the same brand and perhaps we could reuse that plate.

We were lucky.  I spoke with the installation guys who were game enough but while we were fooling around trying to install this my spouse called the support line. You really wouldn’t believe what happened – I didn’t.

The squeeky wheel gets the grease … kinda

Due to an amazing set of events I thought I would try and enlighten the suits in the C-suite with just how much glory they were covered in.  Who would be the best person to contact?  Store manager – nah, doesn’t really get the word out.  The CEO of the store chain – close, but I was upset and my wife couldn’t hardly string together words.  I finally found the correct person – I wrote to the CEO of the holding company for both that chain and another similarly large one.  I am not certain but I think those two chains is the majority of home items and electronics in all of Germany.

It was nice to receive a response from their public relations group but I don’t really believe that they are all that worried by a single dissatisfied customer.  The 30 Euros gift certificate that they sent was a nice gesture, small but nice.  It represented less than 4% of the total purchase, I am not sure that they were all that concerned.

The only silver lining was that I can work from home so in this particular case I didn’t have to worry about taking off more time from work to wait for a delivery of a wash machine.

My Letter

April 2017

Dear <big boss man>

I have just purchased a washing machine from Big Box Store and I am having a hard time trying to contain my dissatisfaction.

I have gone to your webpage which seemed to be well written and offered quite a bit of assistance when trying to compare the various models against each other. This machine was replacing one that was already built into our kitchen and so we selected that we wanted the old machine to be taken away and the new machine was to be installed by your firm or your designated workers.

Your web site did not bother to mention that additional hardware would be necessary to safely install this machine. We found this out when the machine was delivered to our house by which time it was too late to correct. The Hermes people who did the delivery were totally knowledgable, polite and helpful in this problem that was not of their making.

In my opinion this situation would have been bad luck if it were not for two factors. The lesser is that Big Box Store is a large multinational corporation earning hundreds of millions in yearly profits selling these types of devices for years – you should have known better. I was almost willing to consider this an oversight until my wife called up to discuss this with your support personnel.

How she was handled by your staff, Rude Customer Service Dude, is probably textbook reading. First discuss the problem and then when it starts to get hard to explain why you cannot fulfill your end of the purchase decide you won’t speak with the client. It turns out that my name was on the purchase order so your man decided he could stop speaking with my wife in the middle of the conversation. It is a rather curious type of customer service that your firm practices. Perhaps also some additional guidance would be helpful for your support staff who are currently only tarnishing your companies image.

You cannot imagine her surprise to find out your employee Rude Customer Service Dude not even willing to discuss this problem with her. The reason she was given is that she did not purchase the machine.

I guess this is part of new policy of Big Box Store is pursuing to convince people not to purchase things from their web site. This does make a small amount of sense if you are trying to limit your sales opportunities strictly to stores that must both display the merchandise and pay sales people to attempt to sell this merchandise.

It would be better to simply get your software developers to add an additional optional item that needs to be purchased when the user decides on “unterbaufähig” devices like washers as well as dealing with any similar situations.

I will most likely be telling this story for years. I would like to know if this was a simple oversight that is being corrected and how? Failing any feedback would force me to consider that either this is proof that your company cannot even write a simple web site or perhaps that Big Box Store is a good example of an old bricks and mortar company that will be replaced with by some cyber company in the coming years.


Max Mustermann

Their response

Dear Mr. Mustermann, 

We are very sorry to hear about your unsatisfactory purchasing experience.

First of all we want to ensure you that this does not correspond to our corporate philosophy.

We can understand your anger regarding the missing information about the necessary installation accessory. Of course we informed our specific department to find any solution for a better understanding regarding this products. Furthermore we want to apologize for the unfriendly and inappropriate behavior of the Hotline employee. We also will clarify this situation to prevent such customer experiences for the future.

As compensation for this inconveniences we will send you a gift card worth 30 €, which you can use in our Onlineshop as well as in our stores.

We’re looking forward to welcome you again and hope we can convince you of the contrary to your bad experience.

Yours sincerely

<big boss man>

The real response

I have had more than six months to cool down from this experience but I am feeling my blood pressure again going up.  It is not simply because I went back to the infamous website and this particular oversight does not seem to be fixed – but that is part of it.

No the real reason is that while speaking with my wife she reminded me of a very similar story.  The problem was not a washing machine but a dishwasher but it was the exact same issue.  This time it was the other large home and electronics store that made the mistake.

If that weren’t amazing enough, they made the mistake with my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I was at work about 10 years back.

I kinda wonder just how often this has happened in the last decade …

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