There has been a movement in my town over the last decade encouraging consumers to support local businesses. My family and I are on board completely. We do our best to buy local, year-round. Sometimes we pay a little more for something, but we don’t mind a bit.
Recently, however, we were forced to side with a Giant Retail Chain when we were in the market for a new dishwasher, purely because the customer service of – let’s call the retailer Local Appliance – was terrible on several levels.
We had the best intentions
We had had a minor inconvenience a year ago with Local Appliance when we bought a new washer, but we still wanted to give it our business, even though the dishwasher cost $100 more than it did at Giant Retail. We had one picked out and scheduled delivery for last Friday (like the cable company, they request a four-hour window for arrival). My wife, who is paid by the hour, took a half day off from work, which she didn’t mind.
Until it all went south.
‘I can’t do the installation’
Our dishwasher – which we had for 16 years – isn’t located next to our kitchen sink, like most are. It is an extra 2-3 feet away, requiring a longer hose.
The representative from Local Appliance arrived Friday about 3:00, took a look at our kitchen and said he couldn’t do the installation today because he needed a longer hose. He had three more deliveries to make, and if he left to get a hose, he wouldn’t be able to make his next three deliveries.
‘Why don’t you begin the removal of our old one, and I’ll drive to your shop to get the hose,’ my wife offered (Local Appliance is 1.9 miles from our house). ‘Just let them know I’m coming.’
‘We don’t have any in stock,’ the rep said. ‘I can bring one over on Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day).’
My wife did the math: It was 3:00 on Friday afternoon, and the rep said there were no hoses in stock, but he could have a hose delivered on Monday, a holiday (he even asked if she could leave our door open if we were working. She declined). She didn’t believe him, and she was perturbed that Local Appliance failed to deliver even though she had to take half a day off.
Apparently, the rep’s time was more important than my wife’s time.
Where Local Appliance Really Got it Wrong
After the rep left for his other deliveries, my wife placed a call to Local Appliance to explain her frustration and ask how we could be compensated, maybe a $50 credit. The man on the phone laughed and said he should be charging us a higher installation fee since our dishwasher was more than one foot away from our sink. There was no apology for the inconvenience. No regret whatsoever.
Just, ‘We should be charging you a higher installation rate.’
And it got worse
With that, we decided we were finished with Local Appliance. On Saturday, I placed a call and cancelled the dishwasher delivery. It wasn’t a call I was looking forward to and I felt badly about it. I expected resistance of some sort, perhaps:
- ‘May I ask why you’re cancelling?’
- ‘We’re so sorry for the inconvenience.’
- ‘If we offer an additional 10 percent off, would you reconsider?’
But all I received was, ‘Ok. We’ll take care of it. Thanks.’ I was shocked at how little Local Appliance cared about our business. Had there been some sort of contrition or offer, I’d have reconsidered.
Why customer service is more important than ever
One year ago, Visa lowered its chargeback and fraud threshold for merchants from 2 percent or 200 per month to 1 percent or 100 per month. Such a change is forcing merchants to turn their focus to customer service practices and return policies.
As a result, customer service must improve, by and large. A lack of such will result not only in higher chargebacks, but lost business and negative reviews.