Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS A PAIN IN THE ASS -- August 10

So there we are sitting in our living room. The hills reflect the evening sunlight in bright gold. The many hues of gray and light blue are like in a watercolor painting. Though we could sit for hours with nothing but that sky for companionship, today we decided to watch a movie. Until the TV screen went blank. We could hear the sound, but not a flicker showed on that plasma screen. We struggled with every button but nothing. Nada.

We've owned the tube for two and a half weeks, so it seemed straight forward to return it to Comet, our local equivalent of Circuit City. Amber was soon talking to the lady in customer service who tried to sound sympathetic. "Oh, I'm sorry you've had bad luck. Most tellies last for more than two weeks." The way the woman washed her hands of the television sent Amber's blood pressure through the roof. But the woman had a solution. In a week's time a technician would visit the house, look at the television and certify: "This television has expired. It has gone to meet its maker." He'd write us a ticket and armed with that, we'd drive to the store and hope the store had a TV to give us in exchange.

Amber called me and blasted my ear off, so I asked around the office. Is this how it works here? Can't you take the thing back to the store, like in the US? Most said, yes -- but customer service as in the US is a bit of a novelty here. I repeated this to Amber and suggested she talk to a manager and insist on our right to return the TV within our 28 days. The manager she reached listened, then in a low voice asked if she knew of "the Beach store." That's where all the technicians are. No, you can't just return a broken TV. We won't accept it unless a technician certifies that it is broken. In an even lower voice he whispered to her the phone number. Upon calling "the Beach store" she reaches a man who demands -- "How did you get this number?" "Have I reached MI5 or the CIA by mistake?" she asks. "Who gave you this number? I want his name?" She says something about the Comet store where she learned the number. After fifteen more minutes on the phone, the man suddenly pauses. "Did you say two and a half weeks?" "Yes, three times."
"Oh, that washed over me. I'll call you back and see if I can get someone to you quickly."

He calls back. "Yes, we'll get someone to the house in two days. By the way, that man who divulged this phone number had been taken care of." No -- this is MI5 and they sent out James Bond to bump off the squealer.

In between these calls Amber is waiting for a new bed to be delivered from the Bed Shed. She calls the store in Aberdeen for an ETA. After five rings the phone rolls over to a fax machine. Calls again: "This phone is busy. Please call later." So she calls another store in the same chain. After three rings the voice says, "This number does not accept calls." Perhaps the store discourages phone calls since most are from disgruntled customers. Real customers don't phone but show up at the store to spend their money.

The bed arrives. The men lift out various cartons and pieces of wood, and park them at the door. "They go upstairs," Amber says, trying to look imposing. "Ma'm," the delivery lead man says. "We're not authorized to enter your house." "But I can't carry all this, and my husband has a bad back. Do you expect us carry all this upstairs AND to screw it together. I'm not a furniture maker. You are." He looks crestfallen. "Ma'm, I drive the truck. That is my truck. I'm not from the furniture store. The only people I assemble beds for are the elderly or invalids. But we'll bring it in for you." He really didn't want to, but Amber, steeled by her TV experience must have looked like a thunderstorm about to strike him dead.

So the pieces end up in our bedroom. After draining a bottle of champagne, Amber and I tackled the bed. Searching a while we found screws and four lines of assembly instructions taped to the inside of a long, seemingly empty carton. I assembled the bed, but had seven screws left over. The instructions ran out of lines before they mentioned them, so I tossed the screws into my tool chest and lay down on the bed.

We slept well last night.

Comments:
I howled when I read this. Experiencing the same things in this hemisphere. Why does the rest of the world know about customer service in the U.S., and feel okay about not even trying to live up to it? Cheers... Sue
 
champagne + putting together a bed ... memories of Amber passing a wrench instead of the requested set of pliers Love it !
 
I don't know how it works in Scotland but at"Costco" anything purchased there can be returned. I believe you have a Costco in Aberdeen.
Til October. .
Shirley
 
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