Thursday, June 23, 2005

Customer service gone horribly wrong...and then fixed, just like that

This week I said goodbye to my wonderful, sexy Audi (which would have cost me way too much to keep and has gotten more and more expensive to maintain as gas prices have gone up and up) and said hello to a more practical and affordable car.

There are really only two must-have features a car needs to have to make me happy: it's gotta be zippy, good for merging onto freeways, and it's got to have no leather. It's just part of my vegetarian thing...I don't buy leather, just like I don't eat meat. After those two things, how the salesperson treats me is probably the biggest deciding factor for me. (Back 3 years ago when buying my Audi, I looked at all the sport sedans. And except for the Audi salesperson and the Volvo salesperson, every salesperson I talked to treated me like I was some kind of kook to be looking for a luxury type car without leather.)

7 years ago the first new car I ever bought was a Saturn, and I was always happy with it, so my natural inclination was to check out Saturn again. Which I did and found a nice sedan that was certainly not as luxe as my Audi, but had some zip and had the basic features I require.

And I told my salesperson about 5 different ways that I wouldn't accept any leather inside. No Sport Package, because it includes leather. I told him how rude the BMW salesperson was when I asked about it. I even showed him my Audi's pleather interior and clarified that fake leather would be fine or cloth, just no real leather.

Well, getting a car can turn into an endless process. We went through the color and package options I wanted, and it took them some time, but they finally located a car in inventory that seemed to have what I wanted. By the time I actually got to see the car I was leasing I had been there three hours. They went through the car features with me, and that was it.

Until 5:45AM the next morning, when my eyes popped open, and I thought, "I didn't confirm there was no leather."

I went out to the car at 6AM and looked in the glove compartment for the window sticker that had already been removed by the time I saw the car. Sure enough, a "Leather Option Package" was listed there. I was distraught. I have gone 16 years without compromising on this. And I was doubly upset because the financing office at Saturn has a big "No Cooling Off Period" warning on the wall. I was upset with myself for not even noticing. And I was upset because I was sure they purposely weren't mentioning the leather to make the sale.

I had to wait 3 hours for the dealership to open, and when it did I called ready to have a fight on my hands.

Before I got out my whole story the sales manager on the phone said, "Well, we have a 30-day exchange policy here, so we'll just find you another car." And then he apologized about 2 dozen times over the next day while we were arranging the exchange.

I wasted 2-3 hours of my life having to make extra trips to the dealership, sign more paperwork etc. And I'll never get back those 3 hours when I was horrified thinking I was going to be stuck with the car with leather. And I still think what while salesperson may not have known he was doing something really terrible to me, he did figure it wasn't really that important.

But a simple policy that states that Saturn wants its customers to be satisfied and will do what it takes to ensure turned what could have been very very ugly into a piece of cake.

What day...and what a relief!

I have seen this customer service problem quite a bit in restaurants. (side note: I am not a vegan.)

If I eat foods containing Onions or Garlic, I can become violently ill about six to nine hours later. When I place an order I will request that no onions or garlic be included. Many preparers simply ignore this request.

A relative used to work as a waiter. He said, without any sign of repentance, that if the decaffinated coffepot ran low and they were pressed for time, they would pour regular coffee into the decaf pot.

It is my opinion that such actions endanger the health of the customers and should be grounds for criminal prosecution rather than simply tort litigation.
Wow, I'm shocked that if you mention it is a food allergy that they are still so lackadaisical.I wold think restaurant owners would be pounding it into their heads to pay attention to such things...not because they care about the customer so much, but because they don't want to get SUED.
I am tired of what they call "customer service". Today they did it again. Different company same result: NO SERVICE AT ALL

Home Depot customer service people only know how to LIE. Today, I was told, my special order 6/25/05, had just arrived, by one person, the other said they had attempted to contact me on 7/27/05 and again on 8/11/05. Interesting that they contacted me when the order wasn't even there ??????? IF YOU CAN'T get your story straight, don't bother, to lie when you contact me. 6/25/05 to 8/16/05, on an order that was to have been in in 2 weeks. Now I have 2 calls, because I complained to corporate, but the story is not the same. It just made me more upset with them.

Gees, It was a special order, I just need a simple phone call to tell me it's in; so I can pick it up. The order is paid in full, so I guess it doesn't matter if I ever pick it up. Is a phone call really to much to ask? I am tired of just taking this. I am fighting mad that when you spend your hard earned dollars, in a store, they can't even call, to let you know it is in.
Customer service isn't about being perfect. Customer service is about making things right, not just the immediate problem, but the root cause. And it is totally about listening to the customer.

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