Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Weekly Gripe: Don't Call Us, We'll Call You... Or Not

It seems that the latest trend in customer service is to pretend that your customers don't need service, and then get all grouchy with them when they demand some.

Case in point: Several weeks ago we called an appliance repairman to come out and look at our fridge. The fridge that came with this house has some problems with the hinges; the freezer doesn't close right so it's constantly defrosting, making puddles on our kitchen floor. The repair guy came out and looked at it, said he needed to order some parts and they'd be there by the end of the week. That was the last we heard from them. I called them a week after his service call to check on the status of the order, and they were a little annoyed at me for pressuring them into producing the parts, but assured me that when the parts came, they'd call me. Two more weeks went by without a call or a message, so I called them again. First, the lady expressed her extreme annoyance that I would call and pressure them into producing the parts. Then she asserted that she had in fact called me to give me the information she had given me the last time I called her, which was a bald-faced lie that a quick check of my caller ID verified. And finally she told me that the parts were back-ordered at the factory, but she wasn't going to bother to tell me this until they had an estimated arrival date on the parts.

And it's not just this one firm, either. I ordered some parts from Fastenal and they said they'd call me when they came in, but they didn't. I tried to call them, but for some reason they weren't listed in the phone book. (They said it's because their store just recently opened.) So I had to go in and see if my parts were in (thankfully, they were and I hadn't wasted my time). I also dropped off some used clothes to sell at a used clothing boutique. They were supposed to call me on Saturday to let me know how much store credit I'd have, once they'd sat down and figured it out. It's now Tuesday and I'm going to have to call them to find out if they've even gotten around to figuring it out. My guess, based entirely on my experiences during my visits to this boutique, is that the woman who runs the place has spent the last 48 hours surgically attached to her phone, bitching to her girlfriend about how horrible her husband is for not reacting properly to all her petty concerns.

In fact, out of all the firms I've dealt with in the last two months (and there are a considerable number of these with all the business I've been trying to transact), you can count on one hand the number that have EVER called me back. I've always had to call them and keep a fire lit under them to get them to do anything. You'd think they were all in business just to sit on their lazy @$$es and complain about how those lousy customers were pressuring them into actually doing work.

Is this the new trend in customer service-- to sit around ignoring your customers, wishing they would go away?

UPDATE: More outrage-- when I called the used clothing boutique, the lady claimed she had called and left a message on Saturday. I didn't get a message on Saturday. I'd gotten a message on Friday from her but it wasn't about the store credit, it was about some imaginary dirt she thought she saw on the clothes. I checked my caller ID and I received no call from her on Saturday, only the one call on Friday. So if she called someone about my account on Saturday, then it wasn't me. Is this part of this trend-- not only to not call your customers back, but to then turn around and claim that you DID call them?