Big apologies to Kris. I had wanted to post this ages ago but life got in the way. Thankfully, time doesn’t change the customer service experience he had and I’m thrilled he decided to share it on The Upsell.
I bought a digital camera from XS Cargo in Victoria about 6 months ago, before going on a cross-country tour across the U.S. I bought it with an extra 3-year warranty. Shortly after arriving in the U.S., the camera stopped functioning properly. The lens would take over 20 seconds to mechanically close when you turned the power off, not very efficient to say the least. Also, it took over 3 seconds from when you hit the button until a picture was actually taken, not so great for action shots.
So I’m back in Victoria, and one morning I went to do the exchange. I got there just as they opened at 10 a.m. with a handful of eager beavers. As the others were there for shopping, I was first to the cashier asking about the refund/exchange program. By the time they were done explaining it to me, there were two people behind me in line. She told me it would still take a few minutes to process the exchange if I wanted to look at the other cameras. As she said that, the guy two people yelled over, “Well I need to pick up my wife, you tell me what you should be working on…” and before she could even respond he did for her, “That’s what I thought!”. I couldn’t believe the audacity of this customer, but instead of handling it what I would deem properly, she dropped what she was doing for me, and processed their transactions. Not ideal customer service, but not serious enough to react. (although in hindsight I should have spoken calmly with him…)
While this is happening, Steve the manager comes out and tells me I’m in luck, they have a floor model of the next camera up and he’ll give me 50% off the MSRP because of the glue on it from their alarm system.
Considering there wasn’t much camera selection, and I love to always have a digital camera with me, I agree. He attempts to charge me for another 3 year extended warranty, and after some negotiation he agrees to give me the 50% off, and transfer the warranty over. (He initially entered 2 years, not 3 years, as I happened to be shoulder surfing I corrected him). Again, not enough to really bother me, as it’s hard to prove this was intentional or not.
About 10 minutes later with the cashier and Steve the manager on the computer, they realize the process they were trying to do the exchange wasn’t working. Many huffs and receipt triple checks later, he asks for my credit card to reimburse me the $40 difference. At this point their system won’t allow them to reimburse me for some reason. He decides to take full control of the cashier, and spends another 5 minutes re-entering all of the data, and precedes to hand me the new camera, a receipt, and my Mastercard. This is where I enquire, “I didn’t see you use my Mastercard, did you re-imburse me the $40?”. “No, I wasn’t able to, the computer wouldn’t let me, so I just made it an equal exchange…”
Confused I asked him, “So because your computer wouldn’t let you refund me, you charged me an extra $40 without disclosing that to me? Isn’t that like ripping me off?” This is where he turns hostile, “You’ve already asked me and I told you, enough out of you already!”
I didn’t think asking two questions was crossing the line, considering the situation, and I responded as calmly as I could, “Don’t ever tell your customers to shut up, I was just trying to verify you were just intentionally trying to rip me off of a deal you just promised me.”
“I didn’t rip you off, it’s just some glue, you would have still saved a few dollars…”. “But you didn’t discuss it with me, you just made an assumption…”
Before I could finish, he grabbed the camera and receipt back, and processed a full refund, which I have to use within a year. This is slightly bizarre, as I have a three year warranty, so I’d be better off keeping the broken camera until they get new cameras in, instead of holding this refund slip good for only one year…
Anyway, a few tips to anyone in retail customer service, that could have avoided all of this:
* Don’t let one customer bully another
* Keep to your word, if you have to change it for any reason, openly and transparently do so
* Don’t tell customers to shut up
* Make sure refund slips match the warranty period time.
Thanks Kris. Not that you had such a bad experience of course but that you shared it. Customer service isn’t just about delivering a product or service in a satisfactory way but rather how a company reacts to certain situations. This one example, not so good.
The last time you had to return something, was it a good or bad experience? How/why?