Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Customer No Service – Still

Posted on Sep 21, 2011 by Lisa Ricard Claro   14 Comments | Posted in customer service

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Photo courtesy of morguefile.com.
One of the first of my articles published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was titled “Customer No Service.” That was a number of years ago; unfortunately, not much has changed. What happened to the days when someone would say, “May I help you?” and mean it? Or when businesses acted for the customer’s convenience rather than their own?
The ice maker on my Kenmore fridge recently developed a major leak. We turned off the valve, cleaned up the mess, and contacted Sears appliance repair. The soonest they could send a repairman was nine days.
Two days prior to the appointment, Sears called to confirm. Then, on the scheduled day, they canceled. We were told they didn’t have a service rep in our area, and the earliest they could send someone would be another full week. We don’t live in the boonies, buttercup; we’re in a major metropolitan area.
So, first they scheduled the appointment, confirmed it, and then canceled last minute because they hadn’t arranged for a rep to actually show up.
How many people can keep taking half days out of work to accommodate something like that? My husband and I have flexible hours, but most households find such things a hardship.
My husband went up the ladder to complain. The people he talked to were rude and unhelpful and, in at least one instance, lied to him—something he confirmed when he later talked to a manager (and getting to a manager practically required an act of God; they don’t like to talk to customers, apparently). Needless to say, Sears has lost our current and future business.
My fridge is fixed now. We went through a smaller repair company who treated us well. (Appliance Max, thanks! We’ll use you again.)
I worked in customer service for years, both as a rep and in management. I know how tough it is to spend the day “rubbing bellies” and offering up warm fuzzies to grumpy people. Believe me, I handled some doozies.  But honesty, courtesy and an honest desire to help and accommodate the customer go a long way.
What experiences have you had with customer service? Do you notice a difference with smaller, locally owned businesses compared to national chains? What is your opinion on the decline of customer service?
See you for Book Blurb Friday –
Lisa

14 Responses to "Customer No Service – Still"

  1. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    September 21, 2011 at 5:57 am  

    We purchased a refrigerator from Sears Appliance Store and it was scheduled to be delivered the day before we were to leave for vacation…between 3-7 p.m. At 8:00 we calledthe store. Truck still out making deliveries. At 9:00 we called again. They fed us another line of bunk. At 10:00 p.m. we called corporate and they said the delivery truck was finished for the day, but they could fit us in tomorrow or next Tuesday!!!We did not SAY we'd be gone. We canceled the order, then had to deal with their customer service people when we returned, because they did NOT cancel, and we did not receive a refirgerator. It was a nightmare.

  2. Comment by Seasons
    September 21, 2011 at 6:14 am  

    That speaks poorly of Sears as far as you are concerned. Wish they knew, the power of the Internet and a woman with her own website! Absolutely, being honest and keeping one's word is the greatest advertizement. I have had similar experience, perhaps proving the statement: Power tends to corrupt…Glad you and your husband could find a solution with a smaller company, and you courteously mentioned their name too.

  3. Comment by Bish Denham
    September 21, 2011 at 7:35 am  

    It's so sad about Sears. When I was kid we relied on Sears for everything from buildings and motorcycles to toys at Christmas. But now…we recently had to buy a stove, we didn't go to Sears because there's just no guarantee they'll be here when you need 'em. When we can we use local services, local stores.

  4. Comment by BECKY
    September 21, 2011 at 9:08 am  

    Lisa, I'm really surprised about that, because my family, like Bish's, always shopped at Sears when I was a young girl! Thank goodness I haven't had to deal with them in a long time. I agree, too, about customer NON service! And I too worked in customer service for years. OUR managers didn't want to take those complaint calls either, and us poor little guys…gals…had to listen to them…but we were polite and did what we could. Glad you got a local company to help you!

  5. Comment by Laraine Eddington
    September 21, 2011 at 10:10 am  

    It is sad when we are thrilled and surprised with good customer service instead of being able to expect it. It is a dying art form.

  6. Comment by Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy
    September 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm  

    Oh, man. You guys sure have been having a lot issues with house stuff lately, Lisa.When we got married, we used Cary's parents old couches for 2 or 3 years as I was looking for just the right ones to buy. We finally found them, and they were supposed to be delivered from 30 miles away the next day. Cary had cut a deal that he would buy the couches if they were delivered for free. We gave the old couches to our nephew, and were sitting on lawn chairs for a day.The woman at the delivery part of the store was very angry that we were getting them delivered for free, so she decided that we could not get them for another week. The truck had to drive right by our house to deliver something 40 minutes south, but she didn't get our couch and loveseat on the truck. We got on the phone and called all the other branches throughout Oregon until we found a manager who would talk to us and promise our couches that night. When the poor guys got back from a day of deliveries, they had to load the truck with our stuff, come back our way and deliver our furniture at 8:00 p.m. Cary gave them each a beer and $10, lol. That company is now out of business, but I still really love our couches, so all is well that ends well.Glad your fridge is working!Hugs,Kathy

  7. Comment by anita
    September 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm  

    I know exactly what you mean, Lisa. I have had my mjaor customer service problems with trying to contact communications companies, lately AT&T. Communications companies do not want to communicate with people, just with computers. After they raised the rate on the local plan by $15 a month for my home phone, I called to cancel and couldn't, even by e-mail. Finally, a surly, rude woman told me that I had been notified by mail (never saw it but wasn't looking for it)that my long distance, which I did not sign up for and never used, was no longer free. She then cut me off Musac came on for a very long time. I was so set to cancel my account when the lovelies woman, Janae, answered and took all kinds of fees off my account. I told her that AT&T feel darn lucky that someone there actually knows what customer service means.

  8. Comment by Eric 'Bubba' Alder
    September 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm  

    I may be showing my age here, but I remember full service gas stations where the attendant not only would pump your gas but also checked your oil and fluids and would clean your windshield! Nowadays they're all self-serve. Service? What's that?

  9. Comment by irishoma
    September 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm  

    Hi Lisa,Sorry to hear about your bad experience. It's even worse when managers make things worse.Last week I dropped by our local Sears Hardware store looking for a bird bath–hoping to catch an end-of-summer sale. I asked the first clerk I saw (a twenth something guy flirting with the cashier) if they had any. He shrugged and said they didn't. Then a cashier told me she thought there might be one in the clearance aisle. I found two marked down at 70 percent off, and a second clerk showed me some other gems all marked down at 70 percent off, including an American flag, which was actually made in the USA no less. So, I guess it depends on the circumstances. Two out of three clerks were helpful, but the first couldn't be bothered. Good thing I waited for a second opinion. Donna

  10. Comment by Joanne
    September 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm  

    I have had problems with Sears too and vow that they will never get us to buy another appliance from them again!Blessings, Joanne

  11. Comment by Kay L. Davies
    September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm  

    LOL, you asked the wrong person if you expect me to have been good at customer service. I was a major FLOP.Years ago, when my brother and I were running the family printing shop, he tactfully suggested I stay in the back with my machine, and let him talk to the customers.Some of us just weren't born with tact and diplomacy. People like those managers you mentioned, who don't want to talk to customers, shouldn't be in "people" positions.We might buy from Sears, but we have our own local guy who repairs our appliances. I'm glad you found one, too.— KKay, Alberta, CanadaAn Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  12. Comment by Val Thevictorian
    September 22, 2011 at 1:49 am  

    My dad used to swear by Sears Kenmore. I had a washer and dryer that ran for 24 years without a hitch, even though a broken hose caused them to sit for hours in three feet of basement water. Since Sears kind of went out of business, my husband talked me into a Whirlpool. Hate it.My bouts of customer service pique result from computer warranty dodgers. I put my sixteen-year-old son on the phone to wear them down. He knows what he's talking about, and doesn't mind deciphering the accents. He's a tenacious young man who won't take NO for an answer. He's like the Red Chief of customers. Managers give in and agree to the original warranty terms, just to get rid of him.

  13. Comment by Lynn
    September 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm  

    I'm sure I have plenty of stories, only I can't think of anything at the moment. It is frustrating, that's for sure. I think the locally owned business are much better with customer service. Glad you have one you can count on!

  14. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    September 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm  

    I use a local guy whenever anything breaks down, mostly because breakdowns happen after the warranty expires. And I never buy extended warranties.So, call me, Lisa. I'll give you my guy's name! 😉


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