Thursday February 10, 2005

Customer Disservice.

Is it just me, or is customer service hitting an all-time low?

It all started yesterday with an epic search for a replacement battery for my APC battery backup power supply, which woke me up in the middle of the night with hideous warning beeps. At about 10:00, I called Best Buy to see if they had what I needed. After getting the store’s “We’re Closed” phone message, I went back to work. Ten minutes later, the store’s phone system still insisted that the store was closed—even though any geek worth his optical mouse knows that it opens at 10 a.m.

To make a long story short, this song and dance continued on for 3 hours. When I finally did get through to Best Buy’s automated phone system, my call was transfered to the Computer department where the phone rang for 10 minutes with no answer. I even tried to call Best Buy’s corporate customer service center, but guess what? There was no phone option that allowed me to talk to anyone who could actually help me. And don’t think I didn’t try any competitors. Both of my calls to Circuit City ended when someone picked up the phone and then hung up on me. I did get through to CompUSA after two attempts, but they didn’t have my battery.

So I bought my battery online. Take that, ya retail jerkweeds.

But the fun doesn’t end there. One of our clients has shelled out a good chunk of cash for a MediaTemple appliance server. We recently discovered that all of the client’s .zip and .sit files, which are on the server for customers to download, were generating error pages instead of downloading. So off I go to open a support ticket, asking why in the world the files won’t download when every $5/mo. ‘el cheapo’ webhost I’ve ever used has never had to be tweaked to make the files download.

Later that night I get the MT response, which basically said:

Unfortunately our ability to provide the custom technical support you requested will be somewhat limited. Media Temple’s support department focus and priority is making sure that our servers and network are running efficiently and are responding the Internet correctly. We suggest that you consult a professional system administrator or web developer to help you further with such issues.

What? Maybe I was just cranky from a day frought with customer dissatisfaction, but I grunted in disapproval and forwarded the email to our Account Manager.

The next morning I get an email telling me that the reason the files weren’t downloading was because they were in a folder whose name is reserved for use by the Apache webserver. There’s no way we could have known that on our end, and it took the support guy at MT all of a couple minutes to discover that and change the folder name. Everything is fine now.

It just feels like so many service providers expect you to work for them, instead of the other way around. I know this is nothing new, but this is Best Buy and MediaTemple we’re talking about here. Come on, guys. Don’t be jerks. Help me. It’s your job.


Jeff Smith » 6065 days ago #

I understand your pain Jared. While my complaint isn’t a tech. related matter, it still relates to customer service…It’s posted over at my site: Damn Asshats.

Sean S » 6065 days ago #

And here I was about to order a ColdFusion appliance server from MT. I guess I’ll need to know that folder name, Jared. Care to share? ;)

Nathan Smith » 6065 days ago #

Sorry to hear about your series of bad service. I’ve typically had good experiences at Best Buy. I returned a wireless card there once, and got an even exchange, no questions asked. I do have one story though…

I had some problems with the customer service of USAA insurance. I went to their site with Firefox, paid my car insurance, closed the browser. Then, I get a late charge a few weeks later, saying I’d never paid. So, I call up their customer service, and they cordially tell me that their site only works with Internet Explorer.

Well, silly me for thinking that after the 20+ million downloads of Firefox, that big businesses would have caught on. So, I ended up paying the bill plus the late fee. Last time I checked though, their site was XHTML transitional, so at least USAA is making forward progress.

Abel Rios » 6064 days ago #

Geezus, I know! During Christmas, I purchased a gift, for my fiancee, online at Ebay. I thought everything would turn out ok, but I had a weird feeling it wouuldn’t. And sure enough, it didn’t.

The seller did not want to return e-mails, phone calls, or answer any questions I had concerning the package. A week and a half later, he sends me the UPS tracking number.

I proceeded to check out what was going on with the package, and was concerned where it was. Note: At this point it was almost Christmas and still no package.

I noticed that the package was shipped to an older address that I had listed through PayPal, but had not been delivered. The seller sent the package to he wrong address, but I understood that this was my mistake for not updating my information.

So, I proceeded to call UPS and ask them to change the address, and re-route the package. They agreed to do it, and said it would be done. The VERY next business day, I get a phone call concerning the package, where UPS told me that they could not re-route the package, and that it had already been delivered.

At this point I was beyond frustrated, and I had only a few days before Christmas. I began to make phone calls to UPS Cust. Service, the local hub that delivered the package, Managers, Part-Time Managers, Desk Clerks, Supervisors, the whole shibang. No one could tell me what happened to my package.

To make a long story even longer, the package was ‘picked up’ at the hub, AFTER I had called to make the address change. I NEVER got my package, nor my refund…yet. However, I’ve talked to many a customer service reps in the last two months over at UPS, Ebay, and PayPal, and they were all jerks and none of them helped out a bit.

So where the hell has Customer Service gone? With all the out-sourcing to other countries, I believe that companies are deciding to ditch customer service satisfaction, and start relying more on the product. Not only that, since this is an information world, they probably expect the customer to be able to go online and get all of their support from there. I guess no one believes in phones anymore.

*Sorry for the long comment Jared…maybe I should’ve posted this to the weblog and linked ya*


Jared » 6064 days ago #

Jeff: Oooooooh man! I typically have an even temper, but I think I would have done a whole lot of yelling a la Ralphie’s dad in A Christmas Story.

Sean: The folder name was “icons.” I shoulda known, right?

Nathan: I live across the street from USAA, and I can tell you that anyone with a building complex that gargantuan should not be building websites that only work in IE. That’s insane.

Abel: I have trust issues, so Ebay has never really appealed to me. But I can’t believe UPS let someone pick up your package without matching ID. At the very least, they should be forced to reimburse you for the value of the mismanaged goods.

Abel Rios » 6064 days ago #

That’s exactly how I felt about it! Except they decided that the sender needed to file a claim and I be reimbursed by the sender. Of course, by this time, the sender cut off all contact and changed phone numbers. I recently reported him to Ebay and filed a claim with them. I’ll more than likely get a refund, the sad part, I’m out close to 80 bucks for shipping and Ebay service charges.

I contacted the authorities about the jerk who picked up my package, and have yet to hear anything about it.

What I’m most upset about is not one, but three large companies wanted to give me the run around over all of this. Got close to no help.

Josh Dura » 6064 days ago #

Ugh, I couldn’t agree more. A week or so ago, I had been trying to get a wireless bridge to work with my Xbox for hours, and my wife kept begging me to just call tech support. She couldn’t understand how much I DIDN’T want to do that. For one, if I didn’t get someone on the other line from India who couldn’t speak a lick of English, I would get an idiot 18 year old who didn’t know a thing about wireless networking….

Finally, I gave in just to prove her wrong :D I called, and sure enough, I got “Mark” (so fake lol) from India on the phone… After about 20 minutes of “Please power cycle your bridge” he says he is going to give me a ticket number!? I thought maybe it was some weird way of them transferring me to the next level of Tech Support… But nope, he gives me the number, and says “Thanks for your service, goodbye” and hangs up! Without even coming close to fixing the problem!!!

Whats worse about it, is I don’t know if there is a way to fix these problems. Most companies will just lower their prices, and people will STILL buy the product…

Abel Rios » 6064 days ago #

That’s what is so sad now. The people who actually would rather speak to someone, don’t want to, and would just rather not have to deal with the problem. Nowadays, it’s more of a headache than it actually is worth.

In your case Josh, I would’ve rigged a setup (I have no clue how I would’ve done it), instead of going through “Tech-Support”.

On the topic of outsourcing, I don’t get the real point of this. Yes it’s good for economical growth, but which country really has the advantage here? Surely not ours. American consumers are left out in the cold b/c they can’t understand the people on the other end. I don’t mean this in a derrogatory way or anything, but seriously, I want to be able to say my problem and get a direct answer! Is that really so hard?

Josh Dura » 6064 days ago #

Believe it or not Abel, it is that hard. In a world driven by morons like the people that run Enron, the final consumer satisfaction rating means nothing. The profit margin is all that matters. The CEOs and CFOs only care about profit margin NOW, not profit margin in the future.

Jared » 6050 days ago #

In a disappointing end to The Tale of the Replacement Battery, it was delivered to my apartment office last week, but no one in the office let me know it had arrived. I had to email BatteryPlanet, get my UPS tracking number, and discover this on my own after wondering what the holdup was. Unbelieveable.

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