Archive for the 'customer service' Category

On the other hand…

In pretty stark contrast to my experience with West Elm last week was the not-unexpected, but nonetheless outstanding, experience I had with Crate and Barrel, which seems intent on just killing it customer-service-wise. You see, it was the second night of Hanukkah when I realized that we didn’t have any candles to light the menorah. AO didn’t seem particularly troubled by this, but Bear likes that menorah so I thought I should at least try to remedy the situation. AO informed me that the candles are expensive, but I found these guys for under $8, which was even less than Amazon was charging. If it’s less than Amazon is charging it is de facto a good deal. Without doing the math, I assume 45 candles is what you need to get you through one Hanukkah season. But because I’m a sucker for free shipping, and I didn’t want to get caught candle-less in the future, I put in an order for seven boxes. That’s right. SEVEN BOXES. Because there’s a C&B in Milwaukee and the HQ is in Chicago, we usually get C&B orders within about two days. I figured we’d be lighting the menorah by Wednesday. Well, Wednesday came and went without a candle delivery and, when I checked in on the order on Thursday, C&B was telling me that they hadn’t even shipped yet. Eeks! So, I did what any good, non-Jew would do and I contacted the store by live chat to see if I could maybe go ahead and cancel the order because I really didn’t want 315 blue ombre candles to arrive after Hanukkah. But guess what C&B did? They said, “Hey weirdo, it’s a crazy time of year so you don’t always get your packages as soon as you normally would (except they didn’t say that part at all and instead just said the next part), but how would you like us to just upgrade you to overnight shipping? You’ll get those candles tomorrow.” And that’s just what they did. We got seven boxes of candles overnight-ed to us so that we could light that menorah for the three remaining nights of Hanukkah! And what did we do!?

We remembered to light it one of those three nights. But, now we have lots and lots of candles for several Hanukkahs to come. Thanks again, Crate and Barrel. It was a Hanukkah miracle.

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Nope. Wait, yes. And no.

As you know, Dear Reader, I spent a lot of time recently agonizing over the Great Sideboard Debate of 2015. While real issues plague the world, and the great state of Wisconsin continues to crumble, I thought I could do some good by brightening my dining room and bringing some control to the chaos of the house. While I valued all of the other opinions I got, I went with my gut and chose the Modern Buffet from West Elm in white. Unlike many of the other pieces I had debated buying, I had had been able to see the WE piece in person. But, if I’m honest, that’s not really what did it. I just found it swoon-worthy. I liked the nod to mid-century, but the white added the modern effect I wanted. And because I had some reward dollars, I figured I could bite the bullet on the delivery cost. It was in the mid-to-high range compared to the cost of the others I was considering, but I didn’t want to buy another ho-hum piece just to save money because I knew I’d end up selling it in a couple of years and buying something else, ultimately spending more. So, the Modern Buffet won out. And, I honestly love it.

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It’s got a great amount of storage while also being smaller than our last piece that was there (which took up too much room), it’s as sleek in person as it looks in the pictures and it’s simple. It’s probably not the highest quality, as I’ve noticed I sometimes have trouble getting the drawers to be flush when closed. But, it’s pretty. So. Pretty.

But then I noticed a funny thing. West Elm has now discounted the piece $240 from when I bought it a short three months ago. Two. Hundred. Forty. Dollars. That’s a lot of dollars. So, I contacted them to see what they may offer to do. I asked for a price adjustment or a discount or something. I honestly didn’t expect a lot, but I thought they might toss a coupon at me because, frankly, really?! That’s a pretty significant cut to a piece that people so recently forked over a lot for. Anyway, the first message I received was, “Nope. We don’t do that.” Or something along those lines. I wasn’t surprised, but I said that I was disappointed. In my first email, I’d sent a link to my blog and Instagram to show how into the piece I’d been. In this second email I said that I’d put their response up on the blog. I know that this wasn’t exactly a terrifying threat, but I like to blog about customer service, so I thought, why not just tell them? Well! I then got a response back that said that while they could no longer give me a price adjustment, they could send me a merchandise card for the difference. Darn it if that didn’t just sound like the bees’ knees! Suddenly I felt like I was dealing with Crate and Barrel!* I got so excited.

And then today? I open up my email and there is a great big, “J to the K” staring at me. This is what it says,

Hello Kate,

Thank you for contacting west elm.

It is always difficult when we must tell our customers we aren’t able to fulfill an offer another associate has offered. However, in this instance, we must. Our sales price adjustments cannot be extended beyond orders having been placed 30 days previously or orders that have already shipped. Unfortunately, as your order had been placed over 90 days ago, we are not able to honor a sales price adjustment. I sincerely apologize for the incorrect information previously offered and any inconvenience this may have caused.

If we may be of any further assistance, please contact us via email.  Alternatively, you may contact our Customer Service Department directly at 1(866) 937-8356 from 5:00am to 9:00pm (PST) Monday-Friday or 6:00am to 6:00pm (PST) Saturday-Sunday.

Kind regards,

Xxxx Xxxx

west elm

Customer Service

I have decided to redact this poor customer service rep’s name because I realize it is not her fault (I don’t think) that she doesn’t get to work for Crate and Barrel or Minted or Glasses.com or any of the other amazing companies out there that are killing it with their treatment of the consumer. But, WHAT?!?!? First, the second woman did not say she was giving a price adjustment. In fact, she specifically said she couldn’t do that, but she could do something else. But this email sure makes it sound like nothing else will be done. Second, argh.

No, yes, no.

I still love the sideboard, but this is just annoying.

UPDATE: And after much emailing back and forth in which I expressed my disappointment over WE not following through, they have agreed (for the moment) to send me an $80.20 gift card (how they arrived at that number, I have no idea). So, we’ll see what tomorrow’s email says.

*Crate and Barrel recently price-matched something that was selling for less on Amazon and it really couldn’t have been easier to have them do it. I mean, I suppose it took a little time on the phone, but the woman was super nice and the whole process was dreamy. C&B forever!

Excellent customer service – what the what?

It’s true! I’m hear to report that I have received amazingly awesome and outstanding customer service from two different companies in the last two months.

My first experience purchasing glasses from glasses.com has been crazy good. My glasses, purchased circa 2005, broke in two in November. I was wearing around my previous pair, which had been purchased in 1997. And had a decades-old prescription. And had been mauled by a Baby Gracie. But, buying glasses requires work, leaving my house and looking any mirrors. Kinda the trifecta of horror as far as I’m concerned. But unable to tolerate my heavy contact use or the metal digging into my brain from the dog-destroyed glasses, I knew I had to make a change. So I turned to the Google machine and quickly found glasses.com. The site advertised “free lenses” and “free shipping” so I was instantly intrigued. I will do a lot of things to avoid paying shipping costs. Including paying higher prices for the same products if the shipping is “free.” But what really sealed the deal was their awesome collection of kate spade glasses. I ordered this pair before I even realized that I could upgrade them to lighter lenses for “free.”* I think they came to the house in under a week and I was instantly smitten. After a day or so, though, I realized that they were just a little heavy so I decided to look at the website again. I found the free (I’m done with the marks – I think I’ve made my point) thinner lenses (which look like they’re not free right now) and chatted online with a customer service representative. I explained that I loved the glasses, but lighter would be nice. No problem, she said. She said to hang on to them until I received a new pair with a free return shipping label. Yowee! But I was kinda wondering where the hitch was going to be. I saw myself being overcharged down the road and having to spend hours on the phone straightening it out. I. Was. Wrong. My new glasses came even more quickly than the last ones. Hooray! I would just send the first pair back and be on my way to a new look. But, hold the phone on that. Before I could do much of anything, Phoebe found the newest pair, popped out a lens and broke the rest of them. Oy vey, this was embarrassing. But because chatting online is so much less petrifying than talking on the phone, I connected with another customer service agent and explained what had happened. Guess what? No problem, she said. Dogs love glasses, she laughed! [Just kidding. She could have been cringing for all I know.] What I do know, though, is that the third pair of glasses came two days later, I now have one awesome pair of glasses and have been charged the proper amount. I really can’t imagine buying glasses any other way again. Kudos to you, glasses.com!

My second fun (to me) story happened just yesterday. On Tuesday, I went to work in these cute shoes I bought from Banana Republic in March. Although they were cute, I realized too late that they were also too small. While I was wearing them this week, I had to take them off at work because they were just killing me in the toe box and in the heel. Ouch. As a former shoe salesperson, I know that it’s just not really a thing to be able to successfully return a worn shoe. But yesterday I thought, “If I have to have an EEG and an MRI in one day, I can email BR and beg for help. Plus, I’m 40 now. Time to take a chance. At least over email.” And guess what? They’re taking them back! Sure, I got a little bit of a lecture about their return policy, and was advised this is a one-time thing, but they are taking them back (and paying for shipping)! I mean, thank you Banana. Really, thank you.**

*I’m truly sorry about all of the quotation marks. No one hates unnecessary quotation marks more than I, but I don’t want you to think that I don’t understand that I’m really paying for all of these services in some way. Know what I mean?

**I also feel rather dumb about this entire post because I know that these products are made by people in horrible conditions who are criminally underpaid. And I know that any apology I make will sound hollow and be meaningless so I will just be quiet now and go.

The mundane and annoying

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the need to skewer a big company on this puny blog. I hadn’t really had much to complain about. Charter, while performing anemically at times and costing too much, was being relatively straightforward with us. We’ve successfully avoided a Hyatt since 2010. We sold a condo and bought a house with little argument in doing both. I’ve bought myriad new things for the house and those things have been delivered in a timely manner, and in tact. And I’ve also been charged correctly for them! Well, things changed this weekend, my friends.

I’m back to complain!

First up: IKEA. Now, as you know, I’m generally a big fan of the large blue Swedish store. I mean, how can you not be? Well, I’ll tell you how. You have your good friend pick you up a Besta Burs, which you already have one of, on her way back from Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Then you let it sit in your house, unopened, for weeks, but you let your new puppy chew on the box from time to time. Next step? You decide to put it together on Saturday with help from your two-year old. Things go swimmingly until you reach step 10. The piece of wood required for step 10 does not exist in your home. Instead, there is a piece of wood with no holes in it. You quickly realize that a large piece of wood with no holes has no business coming from Ikea. How on Earth would you attach it to anything?! Oy. So, then you decide to call the customer service number that isn’t so easy to find on the company’s website. 20 minutes later, you’re still waiting for a live person. When one finally comes on, you’re told you’re out of luck if you don’t have the receipt and, even if your friend still has the receipt (which she does because she’s awesome), you need to return the product to the store. What the what? I have to drive over two hours each way to get the product that should have been right the first time. You won’t send me the right part? This is ridiculous. I ask to speak to someone else. I am put on hold again. While on hold, I ask AO about the possibility of drilling our own holes. He thinks it’s possible. I hang up after thirty minutes on the phone. Annoying.

Second place: West Elm. Normally, I am a big fan of the midcentury-modernesque Pottery Barn counterpart. But not today! At the end of October, I decided to pull the trigger and order a new chandelier for the dining room. The one that I had bought from Barnlight Electric is cute, but it’s more of a task light than a dining room light. We decided it would work better over the sink in the kitchen. So, the quest for a new light began. My mom and Molly and I went to Madison Lighting, but nothing quite struck me. We went to Pottery Barn with the same result. I couldn’t stop seeing chandeliers everywhere. I became obsessed with light. I looked online at the usual suspects: Crate & Barrel, CB2, Overstock, All Modern, Joss & Main, One Kings Lane, Rejuvenation. I kept meaning to stop into Rubin’s, but I also kept forgetting. Finally, I settled on one from West Elm. I really loved it and it came with free shipping. Hooray! So, I clicked and clicked until enough clicking confirmed I had ordered it. Only it wasn’t supposed to arrive until the end of November. No problem, I thought, it’ll still be here in time for Thanksgiving and my family will all be able to see how truly talented I am at buying chandeliers. All that was left to do was wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Today I decided I needed to check to see which day this week it would be arriving. I went to my saved email and saw that the original email said November 26. Not ideal, but workable. I clicked through to the website to see if there was an update. Well, was there? There was! Oh, it’s not scheduled to ship until FEBRUARY!!! February!!! I’m. So. Annoyed. I get that things happen and that the manufacturer must have estimated the lead time incorrectly. Fine. But why did West Elm not tell me? Why did they not send me an update when I’m sitting here thinking my Thanksgiving lighting situation is all under control?! I know, I know: First World Problems. I understand that this is not Ebola or ISIS or world hunger or cancer. I do. But I’m annoyed.

And I’m thinking of walking to Rubin’s at lunch.

A very unhappy fathers’ day brunch

Ugh. What a disappointment.

Last December, I signed AO up for a sausage-making class in Chicago scheduled for the Saturday of Fathers’ Day weekend. I had thought we’d all make a weekend of it, but that was before we moved into the house that’s needed a lot of money spent on it, before the GAOOG generation set the date for her wedding and before we adopted a crazy dog. So, AO went it alone and trekked solo back & forth to Chicago on Saturday to make sausage. Of course Sunday, not Saturday, was Fathers’ Day, so I still felt we needed to do something to mark the occasion, but we’ve both been spent and overwhelmed by the house, the dog & the 2-year old, so I knew we weren’t up for much. Neighborhood brunch seemed doable and pleasant and something we’d been meaning to do for awhile. We decided on Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, which is just a few blocks away. Neither of us had been in years and while we both remembered the food being kinda meh, we decided to give it a go. Boy, were we wrong.

The food, once I got some, was fairly delicious. The service and organization? Just shy of a fiasco. When we walked in, we were greeted rather indifferently by a hostess who put us at a table with menus and crayons. Crayons are always a nice touch, so despite the laissez faire attitude, I was optimistic. But then we were left to ourselves for a significant amount of time. Tick, tock. No water, no coffee, no server. People around us were served, coffees were refilled, food was delivered, people were asked if everything was going ok. We were not spoken to. Tick. Tock. I decided I needed to go ask the indifferent hostess what was going on. I was so thirsty and needed coffee! While the place had lots of other patrons, there were also many empty tables so I didn’t feel like it was a “Argh, we’re overwhelmed, please be patient” situation. It felt like we were in no man’s land server-wise. It started to feel very weird. And with a 2-year old, I always feel like we’re on borrowed time, so I decided action needed to be taken. So, I went back up to the front and asked the indifferent hostess. She asked me where we were sitting. I told her we were in the other room, along the back wall. She needed me to be more specific. Honestly, it’s not that big of a place and everyone else in the room had a server. I wanted to say, “At the table with no food, water or a server,” but instead told her it was the middle table. A short time later, a very nice woman with red hair brought us two waters (sorry, Molly) and told us our server would be with us shortly. After that, our server came by – without explanation or apology – and asked us if we wanted anything to drink. We did. We also ordered breakfast. Huevos rancheros for AO, migas sans sour cream for me & an egg in a slice of Madison Sourdough toast with a slice of bacon for Bear. All three dishes are served with breakfast potatoes.

And then we waited. It took awhile to get our coffees because, apparently, the pot ran out and they needed to brew more. Ok, I thought, at least they explained themselves. But odd. I mean, they serve breakfast starting at 8. It was 10ish. Seemed like things should be well-oiled by that time. Anyway, we keep waiting. Eventually, a third server brought AO’s huevos rancheros, but with rice & beans instead of potatoes (no explanation given) and Bear’s egg in toast with a small bowl of potatoes and no bacon (no explanation given). The server asked me if I had ordered anything. I told her, why yes, I had. “Oh, the migas!” she said. She then left us and we never saw her again. I asked AO & Molly to start eating. Why wait? It’ll be here soon. Uh, no. More than five minutes go by when I realized no one is coming back. Our server isn’t the least bit interested in us and neither is anyone else. I trudge back to the front (again) and ask if I’m going to be served. I almost started to cry because this was getting so embarrassing and felt like it was deliberate. I’d recently heard a This American Life episode in which David Sedaris tells Ira that he observes people being treated badly or ignored in restaurants and then makes fun of them in his stories (he was talking about how it took him a very long time to go out to eat alone because he feared he’d be ignored and end up the subject of a David Sedaris-esque story in someone else’s life). I worried this was happening to me. I ask the redhead and the hostess – who were together – about my meal and Bear’s bacon. The hostess pretty much immediately left to go into the kitchen. The kind redhead asked what I ordered and after I tell her, says, strangely, “Well, this is embarrassing, but we ran out of breakfast potatoes. Would you like sweet potato fries?” What? Aside from the fact that I never want sweet potato fries, what does this have to do with my migas? At that point, I didn’t even remember potatoes were supposed to come with the migas. I. Just. Want. Eggs. And Molly’s bacon. She asked if rice & beans would be ok instead. Sure. I stumbled back to the table, confused. After I relayed the perplexing explanation to AO, he said, “So, for the huevos rancheros, they just automatically subbed out the potatoes for the rice and beans I got, but they were totally stumped on how to handle the migas?” Argh. A short time later, the nice redhead came over to tell me that they would comp the cost of the migas. Which still hadn’t arrived. We ask for more coffee, though at this point I notice the bottom of my cup is full of coffee grounds. This request, too, is a production because the coffee mugs apparently have to be taken elsewhere to be refilled. There’s no portable pot to bring around. Coffee is then returned to us.

And still we wait. Molly is done with her breakfast, and AO is pushing things around his plate so I will still have someone to eat with if those eggs ever do come. Eventually, they arrive. And a sour creamy thing is in abundance on my plate. AO swiftly grabs my plate to remove the offending white stuff. The eggs, though, they’re tasty, but I’m feeling rushed because we’ve been there over an hour and we have a two-year old with us. Thankfully, Molly’s bacon also arrived (and then some – three strips instead of one), which bought us a little more time out of her.

All in all, the food was great, but the service ruined the whole thing. You see, I’m pretty forgiving. Especially when it comes to service mix ups. All I need is a sincere apology. And maybe an explanation. I’ve waited tables. At a Food Fight restaurant, no less! And I made mistakes. And I apologized and did my best to make up for it. I make mistakes every day: at work, with Molly, with AO, with the dog, with strangers, with the universe. Heck, I’m probably making a mistake right now. I don’t think I ask too much. Yesterday, though, Tex Tubb’s asked too much of me. And it didn’t feel good.