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Monday, December 8, 2014

Speaking of My Problems with Barnes & Noble...

    I am not the only one having problems...my wife has been dealing with Amazon over a defective Kindle since August! I have no idea how many times they have exchanged e-mails and Amazon representatives have called her at home to 'discuss' the problem. It seems nobody at Amazon has any authority to resolve customer service issues. The result is there has been a lot of discussion, but no resolution to the fact that the Kindle does not work right. As a result, she tracked down the e-mail of the president of Amazon and sent him an e-mail detailing the problems she has had. Will he answer? That remains to be seen.

Edit on 12-10  She got an e-mail from somebody (not the president, so he apparently forwarded it to some Amazon flunky) saying they would call her to discuss her problem and try resolve it, but they never did. How many times do they have to discuss it?  How hard is it to resolve a problem with a Kindle that quit working?  You replace it.  It seems like even an idiot could figure that out. 

UPDATE 12-13...no word from Amazon...HOW's THAT FOR LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE?

     It seems this is a common problem these days. Dealing with so called Customer Service Representatives is often frustrating at best. I understand from personal business experience that very often senior management leaves employees hamstung by not providing them the tools or the authority to correct anything. Let's face it, top management often thinks lower level employees such as sales clerks and customer service representatives are too stupid to make any decisions. Or they may make a decision that will cost the company a few dollars. So they put tight rules on these people that prevent them from solving any problems.  Not to mention the fact that very often companies outsource calls to service centers to other countries so you may get somebody who can barely speak English and lives 12,000 miles away.  Of course they don't give a rat's butt about your problem even assuming they actually understand what you are saying to them in the first place. 
     From the employee's perspective, they are often paid minimum wage, receive no benefits and work awful schedules. Throw in the facts that management thinks they are one notch above being retarded plus they have to spend their days at work dealing with the public's problems and guess what? They simply don't care about the fact that something went wrong with your purchase. They feel powerlessness and frustrated. The easiest solution is just to get rid of you, the complainer. 

     Resolution of your complaint is likely going to cost the company some money and profit is put ahead of customer satisfaction. I saw it all the time on my job before I retired. Customer Service Reps have as a goal beating the customer rather than serving them. Restrictive policies are often placed on clerks because companies are deathly afraid that their people will give away some money. Want to speak to their supervisor? There's a possibility they'll get into trouble if their supervisor has to be bothered with you, so expect to get stonewalled if you ask to speak to one.

     I recently had a problem with a doctor's bill and the insurance company's payment of it. All it should have taken was a quick phone call to resolve the issue. Instead I had to make many, many phone calls and send out several e-mails.  It was a waste of time because nobody did anything. And guess what? It was a bill from the hospital for which my wife works! They would not even return her phone calls and e-mails she made from her office at work. 
     That's when I decided to take matters higher and called for the e-mail and/or phone number of the hospital's Vice President of Patient Services. Guess what? They would not provide me with that information!! After a 2-hour Google search I managed to find the e-mail myself. Fortunately, the VP answered my e-mail within a few minutes and the problem was solved the next day! It looks to me like nobody below the rank of Vice President had either enough gumption or authority to deal with the problem. One person I dealt with told me after I had explained the problem, "I can't help you. Have a nice day." then hung up.
     What can you do to combat bad customer service? Here are some suggestions:

10 Ways To Retaliate Against Bad Customer Service
Bad Customer Service? Three Smarter ways to Complain
How To Handle Bad Customer Service

If you still don’t experience satisfaction take, your complaint as far up the corporate totem pole as possible even if it means spending some time on Google to ferret out the e-mail or phone number of a top executive.

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