I’ve always been a very aware and vocal consumer, but now also as someone in public relations I have to say I am so surprised by the lack of customer service out there these days. This is one reason why I think my old neighbor and friend, Peter Shankman, is really onto something big by starting a consulting company that will specialize in training companies on customer service.
Here are a few of the major fails I, myself, have experienced recently:
I called American Express to ask what my options were for renewing a business card and ask if they could waive the fee since I was also a Platinum member, etc. To make a long story short an agent named Mark (later found out he was lying about his name and it was actually Mike) told me that he couldn’t do anything about the fees because “that’s how you maintain a business.” I’m sure this isn’t a line AMEX execs wanted him to use. So I hung up with him and went to send AMEX a message to complain about how rude that customer service agent was. It appeared I could no longer send a message and only do a chat. This is where things went from bad to worse. I chatted with someone named Sue who wanted to verify my husband’s identity a couple different times during the chat. She, at one point, had one of her colleagues in India call to talk to my husband. Even after that, she said that colleague didn’t enter the verification info into the computer and she had to help another customer so she had to call my husband, again, herself to verify. I am all for people working hard, but I truly believe the fact that I was chatting with people so far away, in India, was one of the problems here. So many people here in America want and need jobs, it’s a shame to see AMEX outsourcing these jobs, at the expense of customer service. I was also told by someone else on the chat line that AMEX cut out direct messaging (I was told it was no longer available…hmmm a cost cutting measure perhaps?). I eventually emailed top execs and did hear back from someone. It shouldn’t have come to that though. Also I’m still not satisfied with even the top execs response. Sigh!
Second up Gilt.com. I got my husband a spa voucher at Exhale. I get lots of things off Groupon and Living Social, but this was one of my first purchases on Gilt. I can’t keep track of whether I use all these vouchers, I rely on the service to do that (Groupon and Living Social do it great). I learned Gilt doesn’t track these though. How? Well I received an email a couple weeks back saying I had an unused voucher that was about to expire. So I called Exhale to book the massage. I told Exhale I had the voucher. The voucher clearly says to tell the business about the voucher when you book and present it when you arrive. I did both. So I did my due diligence. When my husband went to check out though Exhale did a bait and switch and told him the voucher wasn’t valid and had already been used. They had two chances to bring this up earlier, but they didn’t. They made my husband pay out of pocket for the massage and took any relaxation he got from the massage away. I have emailed Gilt several times about it and eventually they put all the blame on Exhale saying that Exhale didn’t properly mark off the voucher as used back when it was used in February. It took about four emails though to get a straight answer from Gilt and I still haven’t heard a word from Exhale.
Last up was Amazon this morning. An item I ordered that was supposed to arrive a week ago never arrived and today it showed “undeliverable” in their system. I called at 8:20am and spoke with a customer service agent who said the item was damaged in transit. I asked to get the item expedited overnight since it was almost a week late. She told me I would have to redo the order myself from my home computer and then call back and they would credit it, along with the shipping. I asked why she couldn’t just re-input it on her end and she said the system wouldn’t allow her. So she wanted me to waste more of my time calling back and being put on hold. I then asked for a manager because I said “surely a manager can override this system and put this re-order in since this wasn’t my error, but a delivery order on their side.” She said a manager was going to tell me the same thing, but eventually put one on. This supervisor was totally unhelpful too and said the same thing that agent had just told me. I asked him name and he said it was David D. I asked for an employee number or some way to track him and he said he isn’t allowed to give me anymore info. I also asked where he was located and he said South America. So I asked to be transferred to the US and he said he couldn’t transfer me, but that I’d have to call back and ask to speak with someone in the states. Make sense? Um no it doesn’t. I eventually hung up on him and did call back but I wasn’t happy. Luckily I got someone who was more helpful.
My point is I don’t think I’m just unlucky with all these bad experiences. I think customer service has taken a huge dive and something has to be done. I hope everything else out there speaks up for themselves and doesn’t just let incidents like these brush off as if nothing happened. We as consumers have a right to good customer service or else we should take our business elsewhere!