Friday, 10 December 2010

UK Customer Service – Rock Bottom

Those of you who know me will know that my patience has frayed considerably with time and that there is no better catalyst for my wrath than that of shoddy treatment at the hands of large organisations.

I’m no socialist. I am a capitalist. But by definition I am an advocate of the free market – free competition and the chance for companies to compete for business. Compete on price, on quality and…service. That’s right, service. And fuck me, if I haven’t had the need to scream on successive instances this year because of this.

Customer service is no longer a resource to help the customer. It is a set of self-righteous bullies who sit behind a desk and defend the actions of their pitiful organisation, only pausing to say “sorry” (and often this has to be extracted from them with seismic force) and that there is “nothing they can do.” Well, here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to name and shame them. I’m going to write to the papers about them. I’m going to stand outside their stores and instruct people not to go in. I’m going to continue trying to sabotage their efforts at bettering their businesses and I will not rest until they go bust…Mwah ha ha ha ha….

Okay, sorry, I’ll take my valium. But you see, it drives me mad…here are some examples for you…

1. Morrisons and their mis-leading promotions
There’s history between me and Morrisons. A long and potted history. However, this has not stopped me from continuing to place my custom with them – I dare say for convenience sake rather than anything else, but still, a customer is a customer and they should be grateful. Only they are not. They are extremely ungrateful. For instance, I recently visited the Rubery store. Oh yes – that’s right, I’m going to name and shame – so for anyone interested, this is the large superstore next to the Great Park cinema in Rubery, South Birmingham. Avoid it like the plague! On browsing through the wine section, I found a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape that was being sold for half price (£14 down to £7 or something similar). Great offer – tempting enough to place a bottle in my basket. The offer sign was very clear with no catches and was placed directly in front of the bottle. Owing to the multitude of thoughts buzzing through my mind, I failed to mentally calculate the total basket value prior to paying, but the pin machine was down anyway, which meant that I was only able to see a breakdown of the items once the payment had been made. And yes, you guessed it, they had charged me full price.

Naturally I questioned this with the cashier, but was told that I would have to raise it with Customer Services – located at the opposite end of the store. Trudging over to this counter, I found a spotty, specky, geeky wretch of an individual who reminded me of the cadet in Lindsey Anderson’s “If…?” When I plucked the bottle from my bag and explained the situation, he seized it and sprinted away, disappearing in the direction of the wine section. He returned minutes later and gave me his explanation:
“There are two bottles of this – the offer refers to the other bottle – this one is actually full price.”
“But this was the one on offer,’” I replied.
“No it was the other one,” he answered. “The offer label was next to it.”
“You mean you’ve just run down there and moved it,” I replied. “But it doesn’t matter as that was the bottle on offer – quite clearly.”
“Well you’re wrong. The other bottle had a green top.” He then proceeded to give me a very lengthy description of the mysterious other bottle.
“Look, I’m not interested,” I interjected, sighing. “This was the bottle on offer. If there is a mistake, then just give me the other bottle.” (I must be going soft)
“We’ve sold out of the other bottle.”
“Well that’s you problem. The offer was there – I’ve been enticed by it and you need to honour it. Now, give me my seven pound back.”
“I can’t do that.”
This conversation went on and on. I just hadn’t got the time.
“Right, I’ll have my money back,” I finally relented.
“Fine.” He reached into the till and selected fourteen grubby pound coins.
“What’s this?” I answered as he thrust them towards me. “I paid on my card. I want the money refunded on my card as it has come out of my bank account.”
“I can’t do that. You would have to go to the counter to do that.”
“But they’ve just sent me here,” I answered. “Are you taking the piss?”
On audible receipt of the word “piss” he decided to turn his attentions to the increasing line of disgruntled customers behind me. The change fell from his feeble, skeletal, Uriah Heap-like hand and onto the floor with a depressing metallic clatter.
“For fuck sake,” I mumbled, squatting down with my assortment of bags to gather up the mass of coins. Finally, as I gathered myself, I made a judgement that I still regret – that I hadn’t got time to pursue it further – this is of course what they want – to grind you down.
“Right,” I interrupted. “Have you forgotten one last thing?”
“What’s that?” he snapped.
“A magic word.”
“Sorry,” he hissed, with as much sincerity as a Snake Oil salesman.
“Right, I see.” Gathering my belongings, I turned to my audience and drew breath. “I wish you all the very best with this idiot – sorry seems to be the hardest word, but it beats having your money back. Who needs enemies when you have Morrisons?”
I tried to jut an elbow out as I strode away, desperate to “accidentally” knock the bottle off the counter, but to no avail…

My advice? Avoid this store and their cheating offers like the plague

2. Comet and their refusal to comply to consumer law
I’m going to keep this one simple. In February, we bought a TV from the Merry Hill branch of Comet – and if you’d like me to be specific, that is the Merry Hill, Dudley branch next door to Mothercare and it was from an arrogant, buck-toothed woman with a face like that of a horse being re-hooved. We bought it home. The cable was dodgy. It kept switching itself onto standby at random times. I took it back. They sent it to be repaired. It came back, it hadn’t been fixed. I took it back. She told me it would be fixed again. I told her that it wasn’t an old kitchen table but an electrical item that was fundamentally broken. She said there was nothing they could do. They took it back in to be repaired. The problem is still there. I went back and told them that I wanted my money back or a replacement under my guarantee. She said they couldn’t do that. I told her that I would take them to court for breach of my statutory rights. She said fine. I stormed out, threatening to have her hunted down…etc

You get the idea – Comet’s staff are a load of lying, arrogant arseholes who deserve for their miserable company to go bust. As bad as Argos are – at least they replace products if they go wrong. Comet have not heard the last of this…but if I can at least spare others from the pain of this shocking organisation then at least some good will have come from this experience.

3. Volkswagen and their crappy cars
I’m going back a few years now, but this one is so relevant that I simply have to get it in…
VW Listers – South Worcester. A guy called Andy Breakwell sold me a second hand polo. Complete lemon. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. Flat spot on the tyre, faulty handbrake, tracking problems, panel repairs done badly, electrical problems, dodgy engine, loose exhaust pipe, etc etc…

They just were not interested. Every step of the way was a hassle – I had to fight, argue, threaten, bring others in to fight my cause… it was a nightmare. The scary thing was that I wasn’t alone. There were numerous people with car problems – be it vans, Beetles, Golfs, Passats – they were all bloody lemons, bought in good faith my customers awed by the plush sales area only to be fobbed off by the aggressive “service” staff as soon as the wheels started to fall off. And they did literally start to fall off. I think the lowest point was eighteen months later when my electric windows started to wind themselves down spontaneously at random times – always when the car was parked with the engine off. Like in the middle of the fucking night in the rain. The best art was that when I finally made contact with VW head office to complain, they told me that they were “completely satisfied” with their level of service. Well what a surprise!

Never, never, never buy a Volkswagen – and certainly not from Listers, Worcester. They used to be reliable – not any longer. And when they do go wrong, you’re screwed…

To anyone from these miserable companies who might read this with annoyance, irritation or embarrassment, please take it as an opportunity to pull your finger out and start honouring and serving your customers, without whom you would be buggared.

1 comment:

  1. I sense that the Comet saga will continue!