Archive for the ‘Aggressive sales’ Category

Service of Being Painted By the Same Brush

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Photo: brushesandmore.com

There are some companies set up so you can’t reach them and others you can contact but that don’t listen to sense: They see all customers as offenders. A grouchy or nutty customer or employee writes a terrible online review and the words glare back from the top of every Google search about you or your business. Just try to get rid of it even if insane and untrue. Same if a competitor trashes your restaurant or business on Yelp. Nightmare.

And now, a company you can reach but can’t reason with—Retail Equation—can forbid you from returning purchases or exchanging them to a particular store for a year according to its calculations, even if you’re innocent.

Khadeeja Safdar wrote “Retailers Crack Down on Serial Returners,” in The Wall Street Journal. I’m all for that: Cheaters and unreasonable customers are not my favorites. I recently wrote about 106 year old L.L. Bean’s tightening its generous return policy after too many abuses hurt their bottom line in “Service of Going Too Far: L.L. Bean Puts its Boot Down.” But with Retail Equation keeping track of returns and more for retailers, reasonable shoppers can be swept up in the fray and painted by the same brush as serial returners.

One Best Buy customer bought a bunch of cellphone cases as gifts for his kids, let his sons choose among the colors, planning to return the three they didn’t select. When he did his salesperson warned him that the returns would jeopardize future ones–and even exchanges–for a year even though he was well within the designated 15 day after purchase period.

Photo: videoblocks.com

He contacted Retail Equation that tracks returns for large corporations. His entire record showed returns of the three cellphone cases worth, in all, less than $90. The company refused to change its decision. According to Safdar the customer said: “I’m being made to feel like I committed a crime. When you say habitual returner, I’m thinking 27 videogames and 14 TVs.”

Safdar reported: “Stores have long used generous return guidelines to lure more customers, but such policies also invite abuse. Retailers estimate 11% of their sales are returned, and of those, 11% are likely fraudulent returns, according to a 2017 survey of 63 retailers by the National Retail Federation. Return fraud or abuse occurs when customers exploit the return process, such as requesting a refund for items they have used, stolen or bought somewhere else.”

WARNING: You could be on the Retail Equation’s black list if you return in store or online:

  • an expensive item
  • a significant percentage of purchases
  • something without a receipt
  • after the accepted period
  • things that are often stolen at that store
  • just as the store closes or
  • too many items at once

Photo: cartoonstock.com

In addition to Best Buy, other stores that use Retail Equation to track returns are Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret. If you want to protest your ban, you can call Best Buy at 1-866-764-6979 the Journal discovered when researching the story.

“It isn’t easy for shoppers to learn their standing before receiving a warning. Retailers typically don’t publicize their relationship with Retail Equation. And even if a customer tracks down his or her return report, it doesn’t include purchase history or other information used to generate a score. The report also doesn’t disclose the actual score or the thresholds for getting barred.”

I understand the reason for such a policy, but think it should be used judiciously and not be directed by a company that seems to treat every customer like a sleazy thief. Safdar didn’t say if the policy referred to gifts. What if you give your Aunt Millie a portable heater from Home Depot and her son had already bought her one? Who will be dunned and subsequently penalized for the return? Are customers supposed to keep unwanted items instead?  Have you been confronted with such a punishment? Does it make you think twice about using a vendor that resorts to such measures?

Service of Not Letting Go Easily

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Don't let go

I wasn’t going to post anything today. I had visions of everyone packing up for a long weekend. But something came up.

We’ve been using DIRECTTV to receive a television signal at our weekend place since the early 1990’s when a technician came to install a dish on the roof of our house upstate. The company has upgraded (made the service more expensive) over the years.

Recently it merged with AT&T and since then, we have been bombarded with ads touting their special “If you move take our service with you.”

Tuesday, when my husband Googled DIRECTTV to find out where to call to cancel Order cancelledour service, the only telephone number he could find on their website was the one to order the “If you move …” special. He called it and told the customer service man that we were selling our house and wanted to cancel, but were not moving to a new home and asked about next steps.

The man kept hammering away, “You must need service where you live or have a friend or relative who needs it. It would make the switch much easier for you.”

My husband explained that we live in New York City. You can’t stick dishes outside windows. Further, we don’t know anyone who needs service [nor do we have time to find someone—not our job]. All we want to do is cancel the service and move to our next chore. 

My husband asked if someone could come to the house and uninstall us and take the boxes. Someone came when we added a TV. He said he was sure that we were physically capable of doing the uninstalling and added “It would be much easier if you ordered a new service.” 

Eventually, after much haggling back and forth, he said “You’ll get a prepaid Fedex box with instructions as to what do.”

My husband asked: “What if we get electrocuted, getting your signal boxes detached?” 

He replied: “Turn the power off.”

My husband asked:  “What if we abandoned the equipment?”

He replied: “You can’t do that” and he read off a whole list of pricey penalties.

Husband: “Where can we drop off the signal boxes?”

Customer service: “You can’t, they must be FedExed to Memphis. We’ll send the shipping boxes to you in seven business days, but allow for two weeks.”

Husband: “But we will probably be out of the house by then.”

After a few more minutes of the same, my husband agreed that we would detach the DIRECTTV boxes, pack them, but not their wiring, and bring them to New York, where the company would send the prepaid FedEx boxes with the instructions as to how to detach them. Eventually, we will FedEx everything to Memphis.

My husband had the distinct impression that had we been ordering a new service somewhere else, someone would have come to uninstall us. Also, all of this hassle seems a bit silly since the equipment is so old that I can’t imagine it being of use to a soul.

The customer service rep was doing his job, trying to keep a customer, but he didn’t know when to stop even after my husband explained about restrictions to hanging dishes in NYC apartments. Further, what good to us are instructions sent after we’ve already disconnected the system?

special offersThe next day we got an email: “Give us a chance to make it right,” with special offers.

I can’t believe that we are the only customers to move to a place that doesn’t accommodate DIRECTTV and frankly, if they wanted us to be left with a good memory of them, should we subsequently move to a place with DIRECTTV as an option, they’ve lost us by complicating our lives now and making us jump through hoops to get rid of them.

This industry reflects extremes. When I returned a Time Warner Cable TV box almost two years ago, [we were changing to FIOS], nobody at the place said a word nor did they ask a question. That, too, surprised me.

Should a company train its customer service department when to stop pushing? Should they make it convenient for customers to discontinue service? Have you experienced similar inconvenience when trying to discontinue a service?

 Stop pushing

Service of a Day Off to Relax in NYC in December, 2015

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Day off

A friend with a high stress job, kids and an active pro bono life leading an industry association took a day off to relax in New York City, a great thing to do at holiday time. The people she encountered had themselves—not her—in mind. I couldn’t decide if this was due to the difficult economy making people feel desperate or to cultural differences.

FacialHer day began with a facial. She was enjoying it and good conversation with the esthetician [the person giving her the facial], when the woman began a deep-dish sales pitch encouraging her to upgrade the procedure and buy a bunch of packages. She was feeling pressured, but was in a good mood, and as the holidays were coming, she bought some services as gifts.

window shoppingThis done she window shopped, passing a cosmetics business where a woman was handing out samples. She stopped to get one and was told if she went inside she’d get the right product for her skin. She expected the man inside to open a drawer and hand her a sample but before she knew it she was in a chair and he was applying products to her face and arm, telling her she could get a $700 package for $400. She somehow got out of this place unscathed—she’s an international traveler who does business in several continents–but it was still touch and go, the pressure almost frightening. One of the products he applied appeared to perform a miracle under her eyes, though she admitted it felt very tight on her face. When she washed it off that night, nothing had changed.

yelp logoShe sent me a link to some Yelp reviews of this place and I quote from parts of one that I shortened and edited: “The people that work here are the worst. As you approach the storefront, you’ll immediately notice that there are two to three employees standing out front wearing black and white, aggressively attempting to shove flyers and samples into passers-by’s hands. They don’t only pursue tourists. They harass everyone walking by. Today, I was harassed by one of the males.” The man made fun of the writer’s New York accent when the writer told him he wasn’t a tourist. Then the employee and two female colleagues laughed at and mocked him. He concluded: “For your own sake, do not go anywhere near this place.”

Grabbing for your moneyMy friend ended her odyssey by being treated rudely at a restaurant that offered a special lunch price until 3:30. She entered at 3:20 and was immediately told to “Hurry up!” Few of the offerings on the menu were available at the promotional price and when she asked for more fried noodles—that along with the soup were the tastiest part of the meal—the waitress said it would cost an additional $1–and didn’t bring any.

So her relaxing day turned out to be far from it. What’s happening here? The unrestrained sales aggression reminds me of uncomfortable experiences I’ve encountered in some foreign countries. Is this the new American way? Do these businesses rely on one-time sales—and not on the benefit of repeats? I love to shop but this would no longer be true if I encountered too much of this approach.

cringing customer

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics