Strong opinions, weakly held

Don’t turn your customers into rats

My wife had an interesting customer service experience yesterday that I thought I’d write up. My wife ordered something on the Internet and the company shipped her the wrong item. She called to let them know about it, and the customer service rep who she called asked her for some identifier for the person who packed the order, which was printed on the invoice. My wife just wanted to get the correct item, and didn’t want to get the person who packed the order in trouble, so she tried to avoid telling them who the person was, but they helpfully directed her to the spot on the invoice where the packer number could be found, so she gave it to them. Sorry packer #23.

When she told me about it, I couldn’t believe that the company’s customer service was so horrible. Most people don’t want to feel like they’re going to get someone else in trouble, and asking the customer to tell you who packed your incorrect order certainly gives you that feeling. The invoice was produced by a computer, so if the company cares about who packages the order, why don’t they have it available on their end? Calling to complain about a mistake is traumatic enough for most people, making them feel like an informant only makes it worse.


  1. My funniest delivery mishap happened about a year or so ago. I had ordered a dress from Victoria’s Secret. Yes, I know…anyhow, my order had to be broken up because the dress was backordered. Fine. They gave me an estimated delivery date. Fine. Then I got an email that it had shipped. Great! Soon, I get a tiny little envelope in the mail…my dress??? I know there stuff is skimpy, but c’mon! And this dress wasn’t that skimpy!!! So I open it up, and the envelope is completely empty…except for yet ANOTHER VS catalog!!! I called immediately because I did not want the order to be closed when I never did receive the item. They very nicely explained to me that the fulfillment house was out of stock of the dress, but the inventory was screwed up when the shipment went out…they really thought it was there, so they prepped the packing order, the pkg, etc., and when the item wasn’t available, they couldn’t/didn’t stop the process. They were very apologetic. And long story short, they got my dress to me at about the time they said they would initially. But I think it is a great example of machines/computers running the world!!!

  2. Jackie: ~ when the item wasn’t available, they couldn’t/didn’t stop the process.

    Sounds like their employees are not allowed or encouraged to make decisions on their own. This is usually what happens when companies try to squeeze all costs out of a system: they hire (mostly) unskilled folks at low wages, then hand them the three-ring binder of instructions.

    Any deviation from the binder will result in immediate termination, so when a situation arises that the binder authors didn’t anticipate, the company does something stupid like shipping an “empty box,” thereby spending extra money and pissing off the customer. Lord only knows what other things they are doing that waste money.

    I bet the workers know.

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