Like many, lately I find myself waxing nostalgic for “the good old days”. With all of the chaos and uncertainly that is surrounding us with the economy, healthcare and politics, is it little wonder we want to slip back in time a bit, and we “Try to remember the kind of September, When life was slow and oh, so mellow.” (Many of you are far too young to remember that song from Tom Jones!) We’re so tired of the lackadaisical disregard that’s out in the world, and it’s really become so commonplace for us that we almost don’t see it for what it really is anymore: Customer Service EPIC FAIL.
I’ve said this before, but unless you are going to make sure your department does it’s job well (I’m talking to you, Best Buy) you really need to rename it Customer Dis-Service, so that in fairness to your customers, they truly know who they are working with. My husband and I were lucky enough to buy a new washer and dryer recently. Our old set was mismatched, here when we bought our house, and about 15 years old, so when the dryer went for the third time, that was all the reason I needed. I ordered what we wanted from Best Buy online and set up delivery. Before it was all said and done, the tally was 2 trips from the installers, 1 from the plumber, 6 calls to different people in customer service, at least 2 hours combined hold and talk times with customer service, and over 2 weeks without a washer and dryer. Plus a whole lot of misinformation and frustration, all of which was completely avoidable.
You’d think I learned my lesson after that debacle, but since I’m a slow learner, I didn’t. I went back to Best Buy, this time to the store, as I was trying to buy some Bluetooth speakers for my mom’s computer for Mother’s Day. I really wanted to hear one particular brand, but couldn’t get the store display to work. I asked one of the staff about it and here was the response: “I’m sorry, that unit isn’t working, and hasn’t for a few weeks.” That was it. I said, “Can you try to fix it? Get a different one? I’d like to hear it, and I won’t buy something I can’t hear” and the response was “no, we can’t”, and he just stands there smiling and looking dumb. Seriously? That’s the best you can do? So I left and went next door to Target and they had a couple of young kids working in stereo. (You know the kind, the type that have “rule bender” written all over them, and I immediately know this will work to my advantage!) I said to them, “OK, here’s the deal. Best Buy was less than helpful, and I’m really hoping you’ll be able to help me. I need to hear this thing, because I want it for my mom and she has a little trouble hearing so I want to make sure it isn’t too tinny and has good base sounds. Is there any way you can open the package for me so I can try connecting it to my phone, since you don’t have it as a display model?” and without even hesitating, they said “sure, we’ll give it a try”. Bless their hearts, they did, and I’m so grateful for it, because I really didn’t like the speaker at all! But I was able to find something I liked later with my husband’s input, and mom was thrilled with what we bought for her.
I guess I just don’t get it, why is customer service such a thing of the past, such an exception instead of a rule? Part of the problem where Best Buy is concerned, is that for those of us in the Twin Cities, they’re kind of the only game in town for some things. We no longer have Circuit City, and we don’t have stores like Frye’s or other electronics competitors, which is really unfortunate. I think it’s allowed Best Buy a degree of complacency and they’ve become really second rate. I do shop my dollars elsewhere when I can but sometimes they really are it.
On the other hand, our local hardware store (yep, I’ll name it, Pellici Ace Hardware, and they have several locations) consistently falls all over themselves being helpful, courteous, kind and downright awesome. I might have to pay a little more for things there, but it’s worth it. If I need something they don’t have, they will go into their online catalog with me and find it, but honestly that’s only happened one time. Generally speaking, if they don’t have it, you probably don’t need it. Everyone should run a business like Pellici.
Even Best Buy.