How Not to Handle Customer Service

For some reason these customer service stories keep coming up, and while I am looking forward to writing about other things, this just stands out as important.  I don’t think I am much different than your clients when it comes to customer service.  I want to get a great deal, be treated well, and know the company I am working with is responsive to my needs.  I’ve been waiting to write about this; just waiting for the final outcome.

I started over a month ago, in mid-November, working on getting my Craftsman compressor repaired. It would seem like a simple thing – a big tank full of air, with an electric motor.  I sent it over the Sears repair center, with a $35 diagnostic fee that would be applied to the repair, which was pre-authorized for about $100.  A week later I received a call with a $250 quote to replace the motor.  Now, I had done some homework on this.  I had actually taken this thing apart with my father, and tested the motor, and sure enough, it ran!  After questioning the technician, he explained that it was actually related to a capacitor, a part that starts the motor, but is not longer in production.  So, the fix is to swap out the entire motor with one that is available.

Not wanting to pay the $250, I picked up my compressor.  Once home, a man in my church agreed to take a look at it and fix it, however we both felt it would be helpful to know what part was actually not working.  I called Sears Repair center, hoping to get a five minute explanation.    Three weeks later, I am still calling, talking to enthusiastic call center people, who are leaving messages for the technician; however, no return call.  Christmas comes and goes, and finally I decided, this is great blog material.  So the next step was to take this up the ladder.  After several attempts, I was able to get the call center person to directly connect me to the manager – what a disappointment.  After explaining my situation, he actually told me that “they are not obligated to answer my questions since I have already picked up my compressor!”  Wow.  Mind you, I have paid the non-refundable diagnostic fee, and if I can’t figure out how to repair it, at some point I would be coming back to Sears.  You would think they would value my business.

After I hung up, I decided to go another route. Sears has a department at headquarters called the Blue Ribbon Team.  Supposedly this executive office team is dedicated to getting satisfaction.  After speaking with David, an official member of the Blue Ribbon Team, he assured me he would figure this out and get back to me by Friday.  Friday came and went, so the following week I was forced to make a second call to the infamous Blue Ribbon Team.  This time I was connected to Picole, who sits right down the line from David.  David wasn’t in, but after hearing my story, Picole assured me he would track down David and call me back with an update by the close of business that day.  Well, as expected, five o’clock came and went.

This morning I had it on my list to call Sears, something that has become part of my daily routine, but before I could get to it, the technician actually called me.  I sensed that he did not really want to talk to me, as he repeatedly reminded me that he had already spoken to me, but he did give me the details I needed.

The lesson here – The technician did end up having to call me, but look at how much time he wasted. He wasted weeks of my time, while also adding to my stress, and defaming his own brand.  He also spent time avoiding my messages.  You know it takes some time and mental capacity to get a daily message from someone, and not call them back.  And, it greatly eroded my confidence in Sears to provide customer service!  For most of my life I have thought of Craftsman as the right brand to buy when talking about automotive tools, mostly because of their reputation for life-time warranty.  While electric power tools and compressors don’t carry that same warranty, I expected quality treatment.  Don’t let this happen with your customer issues!

© 2012, David Stelzl


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