Thursday, December 22, 2011

Customer Service Epic FAIL-

Occasionally our readers send us stories of great sales, customer service experiences, and interesting products that they want to learn more about. We love reading about what they send us, and try to share it with you as often as possible. This holiday season, one of our readers shared a horrible experience with us, that hit us close to home, and we were so shocked- we felt the need to share it with you, in her own words. Without further a-do, here's Mrs.K's experience.

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Over the summer I found a website, while looking for Father's Day gifts for my volunteer firefighter husband. I've ordered 3-4 times from this website since Father's Day. Shipping was always a bit slow, but it was coming from the west coast - Washington State. All Mr. K wanted for Christmas was firefighter gear.

Being a volunteer, we have to purchase a lot of his extra tools, gear, etc that the department doesn't have available or provide for him. He had been eyeing a bracket that allows a flashlight to be attached to his fire helmet. I had been looking around for the best deal since October. I found package deals (the bracket and flashlight included for one price), and I found them sold seperately. There were a handful of websites I found that offered these products, including Our Designs, some were even much more affordable, but I decided to stick with a company I knew. Because I had ordered from Our Designs before, and knew I could trust them, I decided to go ahead and place the order on December 6th.

I called their customer service number before going online to shop, to insure I purchased the correct shipping to make sure I received the items before Christmas. The gentleman I spoke to on the phone told me which shipping would be best, and I went online and put the items in my cart. Before checking out, I saw a firefighter glass that I could put in his stocking, and added that to my order.

Later that day I received my order confirmation. This is a copy of the email, verbatim:
ORDER SUMMARY*************************************************************** Qty Product Description -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Streamlight 4AA Propolymer LUX Flashlight ITEM#: STR68244 PRICE: $31.96 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Streamlight PolyTac LED Black Jack Helmet Mount ITEM#: STR88855 PRICE: $18.36 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Firefighter Stein ITEM#: ALC7004 PRICE: $3.83 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- OUT-OF-STOCK ITEMS SHIP WHEN AVAILABLE:*************************************************************** Qty Product Description -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Firefighter Stein ITEM#: ALC7004 PRICE: $3.83 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Subtotal: $54.15 Shipping Method: PREMIUM GROUND - 3-5 BUSINESS DAYS - $6.99 Tax: $0.00 Order Total: $61.14

To me, that email said that the out of stock items would ship when they were available, and the rest of my order would ship on time. It was about 4 days after I placed my order, when I realized I hadn't received a shipping email, so I really started watching my email. On December 13th (a full week) after I placed my order, I called and asked what was going on. The lady on the phone told me that the firefighter cup was on backorder, and it's their policy to not ship an order until everything is in stock. A customer can request items be sent separately, but then they will charge you double shipping.

I told her to please cancel the stein, and if I would have known that, I would have cancelled it the day I placed the order. The website did not show this cup on backorder, as it did many other items. She cancelled the item for me, and assured me that because it was later in the business day, my items would ship the very next day. I waited the next day for an email...and the next. On the 9th day, December 15th, I called and asked if my order had shipped. I was told it had not.

I began to express my disdain with them. I told them that I had called to make sure my shipping choice would get the items to me by Christmas, as this was an important gift. I asked him if there was anything he could do, refund shipping, bump up my shipping speed, etc, and all he said was there was nothing he could do because my order was "on the floor."

I told him that he should at least let someone know that the wording in their emails needs to be changed, because had I been aware that there would be a hold up in shipping, I would have taken action the same day I got that email! The next day, I called again, because I still had not received an email. The gentleman I spoke to told me my order had shipped. I hung up grateful that it was on its way, and after getting home from finishing errands checked my email for my tracking number. No email.

I checked my bank account, and I had not even been charged. At this point I was livid!!!! WHY had I been told it had shipped when it wasn't?? Of course this happened on a Friday, so I had to wait until Monday morning, PST to call them again. After waiting and waiting on hold, and getting disconnected a few times, I finally got another representative.

Beth, I believe was this representative's name, was the first person to actually try to figure out what was going on for me. She sent an email to the shipping department and told me I'd have an email from them with answers by the end of the afternoon, or the next morning. She said the only thing she can figure is their inventory counts were off and it wasn't really in stock when I ordered, or when they got my order for packaging. Tuesday morning came and still no email.

So I called them AGAIN, and it still had not shipped!! No one could give me ANY explanation. I told Jason, the final representative, I'd like to just cancel my order because I was disgusted with their service at this point.

There was no reason 14 days after I placed my order, that my in stock items had not shipped. All I can figure is that they HAD my items when I ordered, but because my order sat for a week before I realized what was going on... they ran out of the items I ordered. But I have no idea if either of my items were ever in stock to begin with, because of the mass confusion on their part.

I am appalled with their lack of customer service. I even paid an extra fee upon my first order for a V.I.P. membership to receive discounts on orders and free shipping. Now my husband, who is a hard working firefighter who may work a full day at his paying job, and then come home and be out in the cold or heat fighting a fire for hours on end all through the night to help others, does not have the one tool for his job that he so wanted for Christmas.

If you look at their Facebook page, I am not the only one who's been put in this situation this Christmas. That is why I shared this story with you.
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And THAT is why Lauren and I felt that you all, our loyal readers should learn about this awful customer service FAIL. Lauren has a lot of family in New York that have been fire-fighters for YEARS, and was appalled to learn of this story. Long story short, for a gift that you may or may not receive, might work- but if it was us, we'd look elsewhere. For a company who boasts over 30 years experience, a high rating for online stores, is BBB certified, and claims fast shipping (with NO mention about out-of-stock or back-ordered item policies on their shipping page), one would assume that they would have a higher standard in customer service.
Any order we've ever received, be it from Old Navy or Amazon, what was in stock always shipped first, then the other items came a few days, or a week later. If the item was discontinued, or extremely delayed, there was always an email from the company.  

As far as Mrs. K, she says that she will get the gift for her husband from one of the other sites she found at the beginning of her search. It will be an after-Christmas gift, had she not been put through the ringer, he would have had it on time from any of the other sites. 

We wish Mr. and Mrs. K the very best this holiday season. We hope that someone from the company contacts you, to formally apologize for your inconvenience.



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