Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RIP, Customer Service. Because apparently you're dead.

Last I checked, "Fool" wasn't stamped on my forehead. So why someone would think I'm dumb enough to fall for this trick is beyond me.

I'm talking about my local furniture store. They obviously have lost their ability to provide customer service.

Let me back up and bring you up to speed.

Several months ago, I ordered a headboard for my daughter's bed. Apparently the trees needed to be cut down for the lumber and the paint needed a month to cure, because it wasn't scheduled to arrive for 6-8 weeks.

So when it finally arrives, I make my way to the store to pick it up (saving myself $50 on shipping).

I'm told to "go to door #2 at the warehouse." So I motor on over and wander through a door with a big "2" on it, into a dusty old building packed from floor to ceiling with boxes and furniture.

Nobody's there. Hmmm.

I call out, "Hello?"


I wander in a little further, feeling like I'm completely violating the space.

"Hello?" I call a little louder this time.

I'm a little annoyed at this point, but I wait.

Finally, a frizzy-haired gentleman with a dirt-smudged forehead and greasy fingernails appears from seemingly nowhere.

He seems to know exactly what I'm there for though, and pulls out a large box.

I ask him to take it out of the box so I can inspect it (I've had way too many instances of broken or beat up furniture delivered to me to take a chance with not checking it out before I load it into my vehicle).

Much to my dismay, it has several bumps and bruises. The guy gets out his little paint wand and proceeds to attempt some patch-work. I'm not impressed, and I'm feeling a little uncomfortable with accepting this headboard with all the nicks in it. Then I walk around to the side and notice one of the posts is completely a mess. It looks like the wood is beginning to split.

I show him and he admits it is shotty craftsmanship. So I refuse the order and he tells me to head back to the store and have them ship out a new one to me.

My personal sales rep isn't working that day, so I get the first perky furniture salesman to come to the counter. I explain the situation, he assures me, "We'll do whatever it takes to make it right, Mrs. Herr."

Very nice words. I think that is appropriate having waited so long for the headboard to arrive in the first place. But I discover...

They are JUST words.

A few weeks later, I get a call from the warehouse guy.

I found it odd that I wasn't receiving this call from my sales guy, or any sales guy for that matter.

"Your headboard is in and you can come pick it up at Door #2 again."

Wow, that was pretty quick delivery. They told me it would be another 6-8 weeks. But for some crazy reason I thought maybe they rushed it for me in an attempt "to make it right."

I did push the envelope a bit and called my sales rep and asked him if, in their attempt to 'do whatever it takes to make it right,' they would consider delivering the headboard to my home, free of charge.

Answer? Nope.

I was disappointed, but not terribly surprised. Customer service seems to be on its way out in our society.

So yesterday morning I drove down to Door #2 to see my new headboard. Again, not a soul to be found. All I could think was, This place is a piece of cake for a thief! A guy could lift enough stuff to furnish an entire house by the time anyone showed up! I find it ridiculous.

After my attempts again to shout "Hello?" and get no response, I walked into the little office that should be staffed with an employee of some kind and I looked at the phone.

Hmmm. A page button. Let's try it.

So I paged someone to come to Door #2.

I wait.

Still nothing.

Oh, good grief, I could have driven off with a dinette set and six barstools by now.

I decide to use the guy's phone to call the store to see if they can reach someone, but just as I reach for the phone book, a young man appears looking like a deer in headlights.

Feeling a little foolish for being caught with his phone in my hand, I said, "Hi. I was just about to call the store to see if they could get someone here to help me."

I explain why I'm there and he asks me for a sales slip. I have none because, again, it was the warehouse guy that called me to come to Door #2 - not the salesperson, so I didn't go to the store first. I did see my old headboard leaning against some boxes and I told him that was what I refused before and there should be a new one in a box somewhere.

I was a little baffled as to why it was still sitting there after all this time. I would have thought they'd have taken it to their clearance center by now and tried to sell it 'as is.'

He looks confused but grabs the paper off the old headboard and walks off.

When he returns he says, "Yeah, that's it right here (pointing to the old one). I can help you get it in your vehicle."

Uh, I don't think so, Pal.

I stop him and say, "If it is new, where is the box?"

"Oh, my boss probably took it out to check it."

Yeah, right. Looking around at that place I know full well that no one is "checking" anything.

So I inspect it. And guess what?

It has all the bumps and nicks in it - in the exact same spots - as the "first" one. I look at him and say, "This is the same headboard I refused before. It isn't new."

He fidgets and shrugs.

I say, "It looks like someone is trying to pull a fast one on me."

And you know what he says??

"You didn't hear it from me, but yeah, they probably are."


Then the kicker, "You could refuse it and tell the store you want them to order a new one," he adds.

I ALREADY DID THAT!! THIS was supposed to be the NEW one!

I thank him for his time and walk out of there with steam shooting from my ears.

I mean, come on. Really? You're going to pass off the old one as new and think I won't notice? Why would it have been so hard to order a new one???

To put an end to the frustration, my husband went down there to talk to our sales rep and cancel the whole order - and get our money back. And you can bet I won't be going back there for any more purchases.

It was all very disconcerting since we had bought all our living room furniture there just a few months ago. So you'd think we'd be a "valued customer."

I just wish someone would have told me customer service was dead. I would have tried to get to the funeral.

Because I really do miss it.


  1. Maxine, you are so right about so-called "customer service." What I have noticed is that in the past few years, some stores don't care enough for your patronage to do anything to encourage you to come back. And in this depressed economy, that is almost business suicide, IMHO.

    BTW, LOVE your new pink page format! Are you a "pink girl" too?

    Anna Popescu

  2. That's exactly what I was thinking...don't businesses need to take it up a notch on customer service to at least survive in this economy? I just don't get it. And yes, I love pink - and the stripes are just fun. Blogger had some new templates so I thought I'd mix it up a bit. :)