Let’s establish something: I attract bad customer service. I have bad customer service mojo. I am the customer service equivalent of two broken mirrors, an upside-down horseshoe, a sack full of black cats and roughly fourteen ladders standing in front of your front door. The Irish have lucky leprechauns, the Scottish have, well, unlucky me.
Normally, it doesn’t actually directly affect me, it affects those who are in my proximity. I cannot count the number of times that I’ve gone out to eat with someone, only to have them say at the end of the meal: “I don’t know what happened! The service here is normally great! I don’t get it.” It isn’t exclusive to others, though. I do receive my fair share of bad service myself. The class or reputation of an institution is immaterial; I’ve had bad service in lobster bars in Maine, Mexican restaurants in Jersey, auto dealerships in PA, hotels in California and reception halls in Texas. That list, while impressive, is by no means exhaustive.
I say all of this by way of introducing what could possibly be the worst (or second worst, if we don’t count the incident at the Starter Grille in Bethlehem, PA) customer service experience of my life. It involves Best Buy, a receiver and a significant amount of heartburn. May I illustrate it by means of a comic strip (with apologies to Penny Arcade)?:
(Original strip is available here, click the image for a bigger version.)
Perhaps further exposition is in order. Below is a copy of the letter that I sent to Best Buy via email and am in the process of sending via snail mail:
To whom it may concern:
I would like to express my disappointment in my most recent experience with the service department at Best Buy store #576 in Willow Grove, PA.
I recently brought my three year old Sony receiver, having purchased it at Best Buy, to my local store in order to have some repair work done to it. The staff at the service desk was rude and inattentive, to me as well as other customers. They did not acknowledge that I was waiting, nor did they give anyone waiting an indication of how long it might take, even though there were multiple employees in the service department at the time. All told, I spent roughly one hour waiting for a service representative and another half hour with the service representatives dealing with my issue during my first visit.
After taking my receiver, recording the service needed, and taking my initial service deposit, the representatives assured me that I would be called by the service center and given an estimate for the repairs before any repair work was begun. I then saw the employee who took my receiver drop the remote onto the floor and hurriedly pick it up.
Two weeks passed and the next contact I received from _any_ Best Buy representative was a call from a store #576 employee informing me that my receiver had been repaired and was ready to be picked up. I was NEVER contacted by the service center and I NEVER authorized the full repairs.
I picked my receiver up a few days later and noted that my repair bill was an additional $27 and the battery cover on the back of my stereo remote was broken and had been covered with a purple service sticker in order to try to hide the damage. I can only assume that it was the employee who dropped my remote that attempted to cover up that fact with a sticker.
After taking my receiver home, I found that it had not been completely repaired, so I took it back to the store on March 27th. I complained to the service employees about not receiving a confirmation call, the repairs not being completed and the fact that my remote had been broken and that they had attempted to cover it up. I was assured that, due to a 90 day warranty on all repairs, the repairs would be completed for free, that my remote would be repaired or replaced and that I would be given a confirmation call by the service center.
The next contact I had from Best Buy was a message from the service department informing me that my receiver was again ready to be picked up at the Willow Grove store. When I went to pick up my receiver, I was forced to wait for another hour while the service employees looked for it. They discussed my missing receiver within earshot and finally determined that it had been placed on the sales floor as an open box item. They had another employee bring it up to the service counter and then claimed that it had been in the back stock, not on the floor, despite what had been said within my earshot. I immediately asked to speak to a manager.
I explained the situation in detail to the manager, who proceeded to offer me a $20 gift card and an inferior remote from the floor stock in order to pacify me, but no apology or response to the incidents. Needless to say, I found this offer to be unreasonable and, frankly, a bit insulting.
I was upset by the repair service I received, but I was far more troubled by the atrocious service that I received from the service department and the manager. Having shopped at Best Buy for many years, I have come to expect more from your organization. None of the employees greeted me, made eye contact with me or bothered to have an attentive and respectful attitude throughout my visits. This series of events has made me reconsider my ongoing patronage of Best Buy. I sincerely hope that you will take the steps necessary to remedy this situation, both for my own benefit and for the sake of the other customers I saw receiving similar mistreatment.
Signed, sincerely, yadda yadda, etc.
Let’s run this down, shall we?
- Rude, inattentive service personnel who refuse to acknowledge my presence for an insane amount of time? Check.
- First “solution” entails me spending $300-$400 instead of just fixing the problem? Check.
- Dropping my equipment, then trying to conceal that fact from me? Check.
- Charging me without authorization? Check.
- Failing to fix my problem the first time? Check.
- Placing my item on the sales floor and then trying to conceal that fact from me? Check.
- Insulting me by offering me a piddling $20 gift card? Check.
I think that just about covers it.
Now, their response:
Thank you for contacting Best Buy about your recent experience with our Willow Grove location. I’m Kathy with Customer Care.
We realize it can be frustrating when we do not receive the service we expect, and we are disappointed we did not meet your expectations when you had your receiver repaired. Best Buy takes great pride in providing a fun and easy shopping experience for our customers, and we have shared your comments with the management teams from the appropriate departments who will review the situation for improvement opportunities. Please be certain Best Buy will continue to focus on satisfying our customers every chance we get.
Thank you for sharing your comments with Best Buy. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions or concerns.
Best wishes from Best Buy,
Kathy and the Customer Care Team
When “we” don’t get the service “we” expect? “Continue” to focus on satisfying their customers “every chance” they get?
It’s safe to say that, for the time being, “we’re” going to be taking “our” business “elsewhere” and “we’re” going to recommend that “you” do so as well.