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The Pitiful State of Customer Service (1 Viewer)

JohnRice

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Recently I've been astounded at the remarkably bad "customer service" I've received on multiple, high dollar purchases. I just need to get it off my chest a bit, and maybe let others commiserate. I'm not talking about "The box with some $20 item from Amazon was damaged" kind of stuff. There's already a long thread for that. These are expensive purchases.

Example #1
Last spring (March 2021) I had the impulse, for the first and probably only time in my life, to trade in a perfectly good car for a new one. I had a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and while I loved it overall, it was an early model year since a total revision, and it just had stupid little glitches. The 2021 model was the last year of the model and I don't like the completely new 2022 version at all. So I decided to trade it in. Over the last seven years this would be the third new vehicle I'd be purchasing from the local Jeep dealer, so they had a reliable customer.

There was a $2,850 rebate, which with tax savings brings it to an actual savings of almost $3,000. At the time, they also offered interest-free financing. When I was asked if I wanted to take advantage of the interest-free financing, I figured, why not? I took up virtually none of the sleasman's time, and went home with my new GC.

I'm not a fan of shopping. I just want to get the job done and go home. So, the next morning when I looked at it in detail, I realized that the interest-free financing negated the rebate. I called the salesman. He just shrugged me off and said, "Don't worry, the interest-free financing is worth WAY MORE than the rebate." Well, I can do math, I have stellar credit and the interest rate at that time would have been 2%. It was easy for me to calculate that the financing saved me about $750 but added $3,000 to the price of the car. When I called him on that fact, the sleasman did nothing but SCREAM at me over the phone.

I later got to the sales manager, who I knew personally from a previous purchase, who said, "Don't worry, the interest-free financing is worth WAY MORE than the rebate." No joke, verbatim what the sleasman said. Ultimately I accepted that there was no way to fix this, since they had zero interest. Better for my sanity to chalk it up as lessons learned and vow that they had forever lost a loyal customer. They clearly don't give a shit about that.


Example #2
In October of last year, my mother who is 90, went to Lowe's to contract replacing the flooring in their kitchen and dining room. About two months later, the flooring was finally delivered and the independent contractor they hire to install it arrived on a Sunday, unannounced, to install it. He did half, and discovered the other half of the roll of flooring was damaged, and just left it there, rolled up in the middle of the kitchen, and went home. He did not contact Lowe's.

The very, very, VERY, long story short is, nothing else has ever been done. The job is half installed, and I finally dragged the damaged flooring out of the kitchen and into the garage. You can't get in touch with anyone at the installer and Lowe's claims the job has been completed. End of story. It's now been almost ten months, and that's how it remains. Without going into details, there have been dozens of attempts to get it done, but it's like beating your head against a brick wall.

I know what the suggestion is. Dispute the credit card charge. I did that. The problem is, if the product hasn't been returned to the seller, the charge will NOT be reversed. End of story. Of course, there is no way to return the product, because half of it is glued to the floor, there is no place to return it TO, and it is absolutely impossible to get it completed. The flooring is also now discontinued, so there's now way to.


Example #3
Almost two months ago my refrigerator died. It's probably 40 years old, so definitely time for a new one. Bought one. It was delivered. It doesn't work. An authorized tech has been out and diagnosed that the compressor is defective. He ordered a new one. Great. Except the manufacturer (Frigidaire) doesn't actually have any compressors for it. As far as Frigidaire is concerned, that's the end of the story. "Sorry. We'll get back to when (if) we ever have the part." Actually, the exact quote is "We certainly understand your concerns and apologize for any inconvenience. We will follow-up with you as soon as we have an update on the part."

Of course, I already learned from the last example that if I dispute the charge, it'll be declined, since I have no way to return the refrigerator. Plus, as I learned, with major appliances, the seller isn't responsible for service after the sale. The manufacturer is. The warranty even expressly says "Do not contact the seller if there is a problem."

Again, after five weeks of fighting and nearly two months without a refrigerator, I decided my sanity is most important, and purchased a second refrigerator, just so can prepare my own food. It'll be delivered tomorrow. Here's hoping it works.


My parents are in their 90s and I've taken over managing their care and finances. They will be moving into assisted living, which I spent months investigating to make the best choice. I was told a maximum of three months for an opening, and now, three months later, I'm told it could be another three months. "Sorry". After the temptation to do something rash, I realized I had already chosen the best option, and just need to wait rather than make a long-term decision based on short-term circumstances.


Anyway, it simply seems as though the attitude with a lot of businesses is, "We got your money, now shut the hell up and go away."

Opinions?
 

JohnRice

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I sent an email earlier today regarding the refrigerator. It would be amusing if it wasn't so infuriating.

Just an example of the Cycle of Hell businesses put you in.

The email I received two weeks ago today...
We are following up with you from your post on our Ratings & Reviews site about your concerns with getting your refrigerator repair completed. We were able to locate your account and contacted the servicer for an update on the status, and were informed that the part is on backorder. We are currently working with the technician for the part number so that we can move forward conducting a part research for an estimated date of arrival, and resolution for your appliance. We appreciate your patience while we are working to resolve this issue.

The email I just received minutes ago...
We apologize for the delay in repairing the refrigerator. We have sent a request to Sunrise manager for assistance with getting the part information so we can review available options. We appreciate your patience while we work on resolving this for you.
 

David Norman

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Example #2 is an absolute perfect case for a TV NEWS Consumer Watchdog "Large Corp Ripoff the Nice Old Lady" story. Only thing better if she or your Dad are Veterans since Lowes is a major supporter of the Military

I just about guarantee it would be accepted and it would get resolved maybe before the story even makes it to Air. I'd probably call the local Lowes HQ and let them know you're contacting the local TV station. Heck, why not just skip the local and contact National HQ. Since they're a NC company I used to know a guy pretty high up, but he retired 15 yrs ago


#3 sounds like it never worked (or not for long)-- that's not a service issue and the store should have replaced it on the spot. I guess another plug for Costco
 
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JohnRice

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Example #2 is an absolute perfect case for a TV NEWS Large Corp Ripoff the Nice Old Lady story. I've watched enough of those stories that don't even come close to that. Only this better if she or your Dad are Veterans

I just about guarantee it would be accepted and it would get resolved maybe before the story even makes it to Air. I'd probably call the local Lowes HQ and let them know you're contacting the local TV station


#3 sounds like it never worked (or not for long)-- that's not a service issue and the store should have replaced it on the spot. Another plug for Costco
I've thought about that on #2.

On #3, it was defective from the get-go. It never produced cold air. Here's the awesome thing about Home Depot, though it's probably the same with most other major sellers. They claim they are responsible for initial defects for 48 hours, and they mean 48 hours. Not two business days. 48 hours. It was delivered at 8:30 AM on a Saturday, which means I had to get to someone and action taken no later then 8:30 AM on Monday, when the major appliance customer support is closed on the weekend. PLUS, when you call them, it gets details and then, automatically, connects you directly with the manufacturer.

The thing is, what I've discovered is, major appliances are like a world to themselves. It appears, for all I can tell, that this is how it works these days. The seller delivers it and washes their hands of the entire thing.
 

David Norman

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I've thought about that on #2.

On #3, it was defective from the get-go. It never produced cold air. Here's the awesome thing about Home Depot, though it's probably the same with most other major sellers. They claim they are responsible for initial defects for 48 hours, and they mean 48 hours. Not two business days. 48 hours. It was delivered at 8:30 AM on a Saturday, which means I had to get to someone and action taken no later then 8:30 AM on Monday, when the major appliance customer support is closed on the weekend. PLUS, when you call them, it gets details and then, automatically, connects you directly with the manufacturer.

The thing is, what I've discovered is, major appliances are like a world to themselves. It appears, for all I can tell, that this is how it works these days. The seller delivers it and washes their hands of the entire thing.

Ouch, but I wonder how that actually would play out legally since they left you no way to report a problem.


Similar story and I have no idea if this site is truly a Consumer Watchdog Free service, but might be worth checking
 

JohnRice

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Ouch, but I wonder how that actually would play out legally since they left you no way to report a problem.


Similar story and I have no idea if this site is truly a Consumer Watchdog Free service, but might be worth checking
Hey, that's helpful. At least confirming. Of course, Electrolux and Frigidaire are the same company.

One thing is certain. I will be filing a complaint against Lowe's and the installer with the State Attorney General.

It's good to know that Frigidaire's policy is not to replace the unit until a repair has been attempted. That completely ignores the situation where parts aren't available, or will be a months long wait. It gives them an excuse to do nothing. That's clearly what I'm running into.

BTW, this is genuinely how they left my parents' house. They didn't even move the big stinking roll of flooring out.
_FER6150.jpeg
 
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David Norman

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I still vote of the TV Report for the original problem -- at least talk to someone there and see if they can "persuade" the local Lowes it's in their best interest to fix the issue before proceeding a full televised report (or having an AG investigate). You couldn't have a more sympathetic consumer

Did talk with the local Lowes Manager or only someone online (I guess same question with the HD Refrigerator)? I guess dealing with the Local In Charge has usually worked better for me through the years -- again small town also helps rather than a big city.
 

Malcolm R

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Sounds like the CS practices of the airlines are filtering down into everyday retail and services.
 

John Dirk

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I agree with @David Norman regarding example #2. Lowe's need to make that right for you, period. I can't believe they haven't acted in better faith. You're gonna need to ride them until they behave. It's exhausting work I know, but worth it for both your sense of fairness and your wallet.

Your best course of action for example #3 depends heavily on where the fridge was purchased. This is why I try my very best to buy major appliances from Costco. They stand behind what they sell, no questions asked.

If you purchased brand new from a big box store then they should offer to replace it. As long as it's brand new you're not obligated to allow them time to repair it. Similar to example #2, they may need to be "encouraged" into doing the right thing. I know this isn't your forte but if you allow frustration to discourage you, sadly, most businesses will just register a victory and move on to the next victim.

If you purchased from an online retailer, unfortunately, options are limited and the same methodology for example #2 likely applies.

John. It took me a full year to get Paypal and UPS to resolve the respective claims I filed for my damaged Monitor Audio Speakers. It was discussed here at the time so you might remember. I won't lie, it was a dreadful process but, after a whole lot of prayer and persistence, I prevailed and it felt great. Your soul desires the same, so fight for it!

Regarding example #1

There are two basic ways to buy a car.

1) Carefree - You'll get the absolute worst price but there's no leg work involved.
2) Hands On - You'll get a better price but there's a lot of work involved.

Considering the method you employed, I'd say you actually did pretty well. Let this one slide. ;)
 

Todd Erwin

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@JohnRice One thing I have learned over the years when dealing with these types of issues, after exhausting all logical and acceptable avenues is to write a letter to the person in charge at corporate. This would apply for scenarios 2 and 3.

With your mother's flooring issue, I'd write to the CEO of Lowes and include the photo you posted in this thread, and CC the Better Business Bureau and, heck, I'd even copy the GM of the local store.

As for the refrigerator, I would send separate letters to the CEOs of both Frigidaire and Home Depot detailing the issues. I get the feeling in this case, everyone in customer service is just following SOP on this, which does not take into consideration supply chain issues with regards to parts not being available on something that is brand new. As for HD's 48-hour policy, that is something they have had in place for at least a decade, and, having sold appliances at Best Buy for nearly five years up until five years ago (I left in 2017), I used that as a selling point on why not to purchase from Home Depot. I'm not saying that to rub salt in the wound or anything, but my customers always had 14 days (or more if they were premiere rewards customers) from the date of delivery to return/replace a major appliance, and even then we had some wiggle room if we pleaded with the manager on duty or our store's GM. The very fact that the fridge never worked from day one should negate any and all policies, especially if you contacted both the store and manufacturer within the allotted timeframe and neither were willing/able to assist you. If I was the salesperson who had sold you the dead on arrival fridge, I would have moved heaven and earth to get you a replacement.

Letters to CEO's should always be a last resort, and unfortunately these days, that is the case more often than not. But they can work in most cases. A letter to Sony resulted in two of their engineers visiting my home, swapping out my UHD Blu-ray players with new ones, and eventually swapping those out with newer models. A letter to the CEO of Best Buy when I could not get my TV repaired under their extended warranty due to a lazy contracted technician resulted in the company junking the TV in exchange for a store credit for the original purchase amount plus a $100 gift card. Multiple letters to the CEO of Vudu after they merged libraries with FandangoNow resulted in a phone call from the VP of Content and getting most of my library issues resolved. But letters to the head of Paramount+ when HDR stopped working for six months on Roku devices was a futile attempt.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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This isn't quite the same since we weren't dealing w/ a large corporation or the like and the $ involved is smaller, but I recently had to threaten suing my Mom's coop in small claims court over charges the management and board insisted on levying for very badly performed (by their own maintenance/repair guys) custom installation of replacement kitchen cabinets that were damaged by a water leak for which the coop was/should be responsible. As it was, they weren't willing to cover the cost of the replacement cabinets, and my sister compromised w/ them on that aspect. I ended up having to pay for someone else to redo the installation -- and of course, the cabinets were already permanently (mostly cosmetically) damaged (though mostly hidden from view) by their guys' shoddy work too.

We basically argued on and off (as civilly as possible) over emails for a few months until they went ahead and charged the badly performed service to my Mom's coop maintenance bill... plus a ridiculously high $75 late fee when I refused to pay... at which point I threatened to sue in small claims court, officially requested whatever evidence they had for claiming their guys did satisfactory work worthy of the charges (to be used for the court case) and to basically added back every reasonable, relevant claim/grievance we had for the whole thing, including cost of replacement cabinets they previously refused plus what I paid someone else to fix/redo, etc -- if I'm gonna have ta put in the effort and bother w/ this avenue, figured I should make it worth my while as much as possible, not just for a few hundred bucks.

Pretty much as soon as I threatened (all) that, they changed their tune and agreed to remove the charges as long as we sign something to waive further action regarding this specific issue. Pretty sure they just didn't wanna have ta invest more time into the issue plus send the whole relationship w/ the management and board to hell over it -- and they probably can't just ignore a small claims court case (and whatever potential negative PR) over here in NYC metro area (that might not be quite so in many other less urbanized areas of the country).

Anyway, never in my life had I ever bothered to consider small claims court for anything... but had to start figuring out how that actually works in real life (vs on reality TV, LOL) before they acquiesced...

But no, I'm sure that wouldn't have worked at all dealing w/ big corporate...


RE: case #1, that kinda stuff is exactly why I'd never wanna trust car sleasepeople... and they're really all about trying to make a quick buck off the 2ndary stuff like financing, extended warranty, etc.

_Man_
 

JohnRice

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Yeah, I get this stuff. I suppose there are ultimately two purposes for my post. The primary is about exactly what the thread says. The pitiful state of customer service. I didn't send a check in the mail to some shady business for a sketchy transaction. I purchased major, new products and services from very well established companies. It simply should not be this difficult to get what I paid for.

Second, of course, is trying to make things as right as possible. I think at least some of you realize I'm a rather detail oriented person, and I also spent several years living in the bowels of corporate hell. I know the solution is not to keep bashing the same button, but to find every button you can hit until you get to the right one. I know it can take an absurd amount of time, which is why I resorted to buying a second refrigerator. As completely absurd as it is to have to do that, it really sucks not having a refrigerator and I haven't had one for almost two f*ing months. I would have gotten one earlier, but these people keep making me think it's going to be fixed. Believe me, the longer it goes on, the more I will expect in return, and I will keep taking it as high as needed to achieve that.
 

JohnRice

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If I was the salesperson who had sold you the dead on arrival fridge, I would have moved heaven and earth to get you a replacement.
You do realize in the curent world of big box sales, you're a buggy whip...right?

I was in sales for many years. Both retail and wholesale. Even that long ago, I was the exception.
 

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As far as the refrigerator is concerned, if it didn't work from day one then you were sold an inoperable unit, I would think legally there should be some kind of lemon law similar to buying a bad car. A threat to take them to court should be effective. And I agree that it is frustrating that that is what it takes sometimes.

As for the car purchase, I am happy you are at peace. Dealing with car salesman is such a pain. Last time I bought a used car from a dealer I had a $500 off coupon from their website, with no exceptions printed or otherwise noted. I chose a used van for $7400, and was offered a special financing option which sounded good. Just before signing the contract the numbers didn't add up in my head. They hadn't taken off the $500.

When I questioned them I was informed that the coupon didn't apply because of the financing I chose. My response was 1) were you planning on not telling me and just hope I didn't notice? 2) there are no exceptions on the coupon or the website.

I refused to sign and it took me getting in my car about to drive away before they took the $500 off. And they weren't happy or polite about it. I told the manager if they had been up front with me about it I probably would have been fine, but since they weren't that's why I made a fuss. He didn't seem to care or apologize.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Going the "legal" route w/ big corporate is most likely a lost cause... unless there's actually real potential for class action -- and even then, you're probably not winning much materially (after a very long time invested) if it actually gets that far.

In the end, probably only way you'd get what you want/deserve is if you can somehow convince them it's clearly more worthwhile for them to simply do right (enough) by you rather than whatever extremes you might need to go to bother them enough about it I imagine -- and of course, there's no certainty you'd actually find a way to succeed.

In one of my social circles (of Chinese acquaintances), we joke about sending a posse of (middle-aged?) Taiwanese ladies to (essentially) go camp out and get it done, LOL. That's precisely what one former coworker did a long while back (nearly 20 years ago) when he needed a somewhat expensive, (practically) brand new TV replaced by Best Buy -- I forget the details now, but it may have malfunctioned just barely outside the normal 30-day return window or something like that. The former coworker was about to give up w/ BB, but these Taiwanese ladies friends/acquaintances of his wife offered their "services" and got it done fairly quickly (or so it seemed) to his very pleasant surprise. Of course, he better be nice to them after that, LOL... ;):laugh::laugh::laugh:

_Man_
 

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My thought process, (and I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV), is that with lemon laws you would sue the local dealer you bought or leased the car from, not, for example, Toyota.

Small claims court in Texas caps at $20,000. I'm pretty sure the OP didn't spend $20,000 on a refrigerator.

I'll readily admit though that I like the posse of Taiwanese ladies approach better.
 

John Dirk

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Yeah, I get this stuff. I suppose there are ultimately two purposes for my post. The primary is about exactly what the thread says. The pitiful state of customer service. I didn't send a check in the mail to some shady business for a sketchy transaction. I purchased major, new products and services from very well established companies. It simply should not be this difficult to get what I paid for.
Amen to that. When I first saw your post my intent was to take the part of the title that reads "The Pitiful State Of" and append any number of additional things we all must suffer, pretty much on a daily basis, such as...

The Pitiful State Of Traffic
The Pitiful State Of Health Care
The Pitiful State Of Our Justice System

It's bad out there for sure.

 

JohnRice

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The Pitiful State Of Health Care
The Pitiful State Of Our Justice System
Holy ..uhm... smokes. I have learned those two in spades. Unfortunately I learned the second one by the time I was ten years old in a way that I suspect scarred me for life. I know that's probably difficult to believe, but it's true all the same.
 

Scott Merryfield

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John, I feel for you. We've had similar experiences as your #2 & #3 situations, albeit with Home Depot (#2) and Danby (#3). Our home flooring issue wasn't as bad as yours, as I was able to cancel the carpet order after the independent contractor failed to show up twice. Our lesson was to never again use a Home Depot or Lowe's for anything that requires using their independent contractor for installation.

Our refrigerator issue was with a small Danby 24" wide refrigerator with no freezer that we ordered through Amazon during the pandemic. We couldn't find anything locally, and the beverage refrigerator in our basement bar had died. When the appliance was delivered, the outside box was completely damage-free. I waited for a friend to come over and help me get it to the basement. When we unboxed it, there was a huge dent on the edge of the door. The unit worked, though. I contacted Danby, since the unit was obviously damaged at the factory and boxed up that way. All I wanted was a replacement door, since sending it back to Amazon would be a huge hassle (it was shipped via a freight company), and it took us months to get this unit. I fought with them for a couple of months. The best I could get out of them was a $50 credit for the damage. We touched up to door with white appliance paint, and since it's in the basement we live with it. Still doesn't make Danby's response right. All they had to do was send me a new door.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Our refrigerator issue was with a small Danby 24" wide refrigerator with no freezer that we ordered through Amazon during the pandemic. We couldn't find anything locally, and the beverage refrigerator in our basement bar had died. When the appliance was delivered, the outside box was completely damage-free. I waited for a friend to come over and help me get it to the basement. When we unboxed it, there was a huge dent on the edge of the door. The unit worked, though. I contacted Danby, since the unit was obviously damaged at the factory and boxed up that way. All I wanted was a replacement door, since sending it back to Amazon would be a huge hassle (it was shipped via a freight company), and it took us months to get this unit. I fought with them for a couple of months. The best I could get out of them was a $50 credit for the damage. We touched up to door with white appliance paint, and since it's in the basement we live with it. Still doesn't make Danby's response right. All they had to do was send me a new door.

For something like that, I suspect they simply do not have a practical way/channel set up to handle sending you just the door in their business model. Such relatively inexpensive, small-ish appliances are probably all designed/meant to be cheaply built/assembled w/ all parts in another country at least as far as Mexico, if not literally overseas, and no such large-ish part (one might think should be easily replaceable) would be readily available here in this country -- they'd need a warehouse (w/ whatever minimal staff) somewhere here specifically for that and then incur whatever additional costs to ship, etc and deal w/ all the relevant customer service issues, and their business model probably just won't be able to handle all that while trying to make enough $ off the whole endeavor.

I'm guessing there might be some much smaller, fairly generic/universal parts commonly available for fixing certain other things in the fridge, but not something like the door or main body/chassis that's very specific to that fridge model.

Probably just an unfortunate reality of products being designed/engineered and built ever more cost-effectively (and globally) w/ greater "smarts"/complexities and often ever smaller (though not so much w/ a fridge of course) that are increasingly more "disposable" than readily fixable...

_Man_
 

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