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Inexplicable Customer Service

I feel like I've been having more and more odd customer service experiences lately. There was the Xmas thing with the gift card. Then there was the "[Insert customer issue here]" non-response. Recently, I ordered my son a lunchbox with robots on it. A. already had one (R. had gotten it through MyHabit). After a week, R. told me that T. was asking when it would arrive/where was it. So last night, I scrounged around in e-mail and PayPal history and determined that (a) I'd been charged and (b) never received a shipping notification or (c) the lunchbox. Weird and wrong. I tried to call them, but even though it was between 4 and 5 p.m. in California, where their address is, the phone number went to a voice message box. I left a message. I also left a message on their website. This morning, I got the following:

"I'm so sorry...not sure how we missed your order. It will ship today and you will
receive tracking information once it ships."

So, yay, it's now on its way (I got the Quantum View notice separately), but if I hadn't been asked, I'm not sure when it would have occurred to me that there was a problem.

And that is one _hell_ of a non-explanation. "not sure how we missed your order"? It's a very small operation, but yikes. That's not much of a business process. (But there is an apology, which is to the good, and a prompt correction of the problem, which is even better.)

It's also interesting to me how much that stands out against the background of Amazon (Zappos, etc.) order experience, including 3rd party sellers, and eBay (I'm picky about my sellers over there, too). I've gotten so used to a flawless order/ship/delivery experience (4 business days is a long wait, in my experience, never mind an entire calendar week) that I don't have any process to notice when something got dropped.

ETA: I forgot one other odd experience, altho that one was so well handled that the seller pre-emptively described what might happen, which that the item might no longer be available after it was purchased, if it sold in their brick-and-mortar store.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
I think it's the change of seasons.
I went to Volunteer Park Cafe, where I've been well-treated and even remembered, during one of their busier days and times. I was prepared for a wait, but somehow kept a good estimate on when my food should have been ready. Thank goodness I got a drink and a cookie, or else I would have passed out from my impending blood sugar drop (that was brunch, as I hadn't had breakfast yet).

Eventually I noticed that people who'd been served *after me* were getting their food, so I asked a passing server if my name had been called and I just hadn't heard it. She said that she didn't think so. Enough time passed that I moved from the common table to a private one under the window and was *still* waiting. At one point that server called a name that only sounded passingly like mine. Our eyes connected, I shrugged good-naturedly and went back to my book - I don't know about their operation to know when to get really concerned.

Eventually that same server left the counter, came up to my table and asked, "Did you order food?"

"Yes, a BBQ pork sandwich."

Her face went from a confused blank to lightly alarmed.

"I have my receipt," I said, reaching into my bag.

"No, no - it's okay, I believe you. We just never got the order. I'll go make your sandwich right now."

"Okay, cool!"

It was a nice sandwich even though they were long out of the standard buns for it, but ... I think I was there for damn near an hour before I got it. That has *never* happened to me there before, even during other busy times. As I was leaving I made sure to thank her for looking out for me, because she was the *only one who did*.

Lick Creamery, which supposedly offers vegan scoops, has been hit or miss. They've changed which days they offer them (it's either Tuesday or Saturday, depending on the owner's whim). He makes small batches because it doesn't sell well, then sells out and can only shrug at other non-dairy customers. One day he decided to take all of the vegan stuff down to the local children's hospital, because so many of the patients are on restricted diets. This was nice, but it's not like he made *extra* for them ... he took it ALL. We've had a running joke about how he owes me, and he offered to make me a "special flavor" without asking my preferences. As it turns out, he was using me to encourage him to work on a secret flavor he'd already had planned ... that's repeatedly flopped before he could bring it into the store. Now he's offered to make a vegan offering of one of my favorite flavors, but I'm so used to leaving his store empty-handed that I've forgotten to even send him a list.

A clerk at the co-op was so fascinated with the previous customer that they ignored me when they scooted my stuff up on the conveyor belt, then ignored that my card was on top of my bags when they picked them up, sending it flying. They tried to write it off as my fault so I explained the timeline. They didn't say another word to me if they could help it, and instead looked slightly stricken during the rest of the transaction.

I had good luck with customer service yesterday during my cafe hopping, so maybe my luck is turning around.
Apr. 4th, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC)
Re: I think it's the change of seasons.
I dated a guy for a couple years who had a theory about the rise of chain restaurants. It was simple: before chain restaurants, you typically had either a terrible experience, or a great experience when you ate out, and you really didn't know which it was going to be, especially in an unfamiliar area, especially for cheap eats. Chain restaurants brought a guarantee of mediocrity: you were sure to avoid awful, altho you were never going to experience greatness.

All my experience supports this theory. He had kind of a cool theory about hamburger equivalents, too. He was crazy picky about food, very repetitive, but he'd happily eat out at just about any kind of ethnic restaurant then available in the Seattle area (this was back in the late 1980s). He figured that every cuisine had a thing that picky people ate, and all he had to do was figure out what it was and order that, usually in its most stripped down form (he was a big fan of pork noodles, for example).

Again, makes a lot of sense.
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