Customer Service

In this current financial climate, with holiday sales as slujggish as they are, it stands to reason that giving good customer service is a sound way to increase the possibility of higher sales. In the last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ve run into one example of horrible customer service and two examples of above-and-beyond GREAT customer service.

The Bad

I purchased some clothes for my wife from New York & Company. NY&Co has always been an easy bet – I know Holly’s size and I’m likely to find something stylish at a reasonable price. Leading up to the holidays, they were really pushing the coupons. I placed an order and took advantage of a coupon that offered a certain discount if my total exceeded a set amount.

When I received the order, one of the items was very different from how it was portrayed online (there’s a difference between a belt being 1-1/2″ and 2-1/2″ inches wide!) I figured: no prob. I’ll just go to the store and swap for an alternate item. I made it clear to the sales associate that I was happy to replace the item I was returning with a more-expensive item if that was necessary to keep my total above the coupon requirements. I was informed that if I made the exchange, that I would lose the entire amount of my discount. They treat it as a return and a new order.

I knew better than to argue with the part-timer that was working the register and spoke to the store manager. No dice. “Store policy. Can’t help you”.  So… I got her name and I called the customer service number that she gave me. “That was an online order. You’ll have to talk with online support.” Great. They recommended I use the online form on the NY&Co Web site. [side note: I had to wait on hold for about 20 minutes until I spoke to someone. The whole time, their hold message states “We axe that you please continue to hold…” Just a tip: It’s “ASK”.]

I sent a full description of the problem using the form on their site and received a canned response that said to call the number that I’d already tried. They put the form on their site, but the person on the phone hinted that they don’t actually read the email — they just expect people to call.

I tracked down an email address for their service department (skipping the online form). Since sending the email over a week ago, I’ve received 2 successive emails saying that my order was important to them and that my email had been forwarded to the correct person.

They’ve lost my business.

The Good

I placed an order for a book through Barnes & Noble’s site. My book arrived with a slight tear in the dust jacket. I called my local B&N, but the copy they had had a ripped dust jacket, too (strange), but the woman I spoke with went the extra mile and while I was on hold, tracked down a pristine copy at another nearby store and had it held at the front desk for me. Awesome.

I purchased a turkey from Harris Teeter this week. I’m going to try Alton Brown’s brining procedure for the first time. My wife did a bit on online sleuthing and figured out that the Butterball that I’d purchased wasn’t recommended for brining as it already had a solution injected to “increase juciness”. I’d already chucked my receipt, but the front-end manager at my local HT refunded my purchase asking to see my VIC (very important customer!) affinity card. This store also has some of the friendliest cashiers around. They’ve got my business for the long-term.