Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Service of Why Offer What You Can’t Deliver?

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

This package takes up little room. How can a drugstore run out?

We had our share of shortages during the pandemic. It’s a puzzle why some still exist. It’s also a mystery why a company that promotes a service isn’t prepared to immediately repair an obstacle preventing its delivery.

Nothing to Sneeze At

I was baffled that I couldn’t find pocketsize tissues in any of the drugstores near me and had to order some online. Given the gargantuan size of the OTC cold and cough meds market–$11.11 billion anticipated in the U.S. for this year according to statista.com—you’d think the stores would be prepared for dripping noses.

Those empty shelves are not a question of tight inventory control. Smart shoppers who want a holiday-related item like cute Valentine’s or Halloween decorations grab them fast these days or go without because retailers–smartly–don’t want to be stuck with leftovers. However, once the height of flu and cold season is past, we segway into allergy-related sneeze fests that keep Kleenex shoppers coming back for more.

Don’t Pass the Popcorn

I decided that Saturday was a perfect one to rent from Fios a movie I’ve been looking forward to seeing available on Demand. To navigate to Netflix on my Fios system I must first bypass Demand’s lively promotions for its movies for rent or purchase [see the photo below]. After countless attempts to download my choice and three quarters of an hour on the phone with Verizon I learned that the glitch had to be fixed internally. ETA of the repair? Monday at 9 PM. Three days?

I called Verizon when at 9 PM Monday I still got the “Oops.” I went through the rigamarole to finally reach a customer service person and was disconnected. My mood didn’t improve when I had to go through the entire thing again with no opportunity to skip the drill and type in the number of my ticket to get an update. The person I spoke with warned me not to call again until Friday to give them time to fix the glitch. It was repaired late Tuesday afternoon. I loved the movie which I watched Tuesday night: “The Holdovers.”

Are you surprised at what’s still missing from store shelves or how long it takes for a corporation to fix an error halting use of a revenue-generating service?

Service of It’s Simple: Do What You Say You’ll Do When You Said You Would

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

New TV sits on an antique table [so it’s slightly askew].

I learned a lesson from my first encounter with a remodeling contractor who kept disappointing us by missing deadline after deadline without warning. If you’re going to be late let customers know so that they aren’t shocked and angry on discovering that the toilet or countertops aren’t installed as promised adding acid to the frustration.

That was decades ago but nothing’s changed. Communicate, confirm, adjust and update or a dissatisfied customer you’ll make. That’s me today.

All I wanted was to buy a TV to replace a broken one. Before I enumerate the remarkably long list of missteps by Best Buy, I want to note that I grade some of the employees I encountered very good to excellent.

High-speed cable

There was no communication between sales, consulting, appointment staff and installation for which I fault Best Buy.

I chose the TV on my visit to the store. I didn’t order it outright because it didn’t come with a pedestal base and I needed to confirm that the table that two feet would rest on was long enough. Further, TV’s no longer come in the size of the one I was replacing, and I needed to check that a larger one fit in the tight space.

The salesman wrote up the order and chose a time for a virtual visit from a consultant to confirm the space and table issues. When I got home, I measured the table. All OK. Nevertheless, to satisfy the store I waited for the phone call/virtual visit scheduled for 10:30-11:00. When nobody called—I had an email confirmation–I contacted customer service that told me my call was scheduled from 2:20-3:00 p.m. and when that also didn’t happen, I called again.

Before I did, I’d tried the associate’s number—it was on the email confirmation–but his voice mailbox was full and he didn’t respond to my email.

Customer service called the associate who immediately called me. He’d never heard of me nor what he was supposed to do. Further, he was unable to accept emails or texts [!] –no Internet connectivity [!!]–so I couldn’t send him a still photo of the space.

So much for a virtual review with a consultant.

It concerned me that the store associate and phone consultant’s measurements between the feet that had to fit my antique TV table didn’t match. In fact, the associate argued with me over terminology. When I said that my table was 33-1/2 inches long, he said they call that the width.

I’d spent enough time on this so we went ahead with the order.

I was alarmed by the confirmation. Missing was my apartment number—there are 500+ apartments here–but more important, I specified delivery could only be made between 9:15 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The invoice stated deliveries happen between 7 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. As the associate said he would be able to read emails once he left the store I asked for these adjustments both by text and email. No response. Was this supposed to be a pleasant experience?

In addition, I emailed to him a Certificate of Liability Insurance form that apartment management requires of any company sending a worker with equipment. He waited until the next afternoon to fill out and return the form. He never assured me the installers knew of my building’s time constraints and apartment number.

There was an online checklist for customers to fill out before a TV installation. One of the items is: “I have secured a place for the service provider to park.” I think that for NYC residents this item should be deleted. I wouldn’t check it.

I learned that the charge for the installer to remove the old TV was $40. I brought it to the garbage room myself for $0.00. But it gives you an idea of the pretty penny I was charged for installation.

By 5:00 p.m. the day before delivery I hadn’t learned the two-hour delivery time range, as I had been assured I would. I called the customer service number. Nobody works on Sunday. I called and wrote the associate who took the order.

Around 6 p.m. I learned the TV would arrive between noon and 4 p.m. [Two-hour window?] 

Nevertheless I could breathe again. My TV wasn’t going to be abandoned in the package room uninstalled if it was allowed inside.

The next morning I received a second email confirming the time frame. I had errands to run and as I stepped out my front door at 10:30 a.m. the installer called. He was arriving in 15 minutes. Is 10:45 a.m. the new noon?

The Geek Squad installers looked surprised that I didn’t expect them. They did a spectacular job except the cable connection didn’t work. The expert installer diagnosed this as one of two potential problems. I rushed off to buy a high-speed cable and he left for his next appointment. He returned, as promised, to see if that did the trick. It seemed to. The other choice was to contact FIOS for a new cable box. Dealing with another giant corporation would have been overwhelming.

The first night it took a few tries to reach my Netflix account and even though he connected the volume function to the remote, it didn’t always work. My fingers are crossed that everything else goes right. I plan to live with glitches as I don’t have the strength to deal with this operation anytime soon.

Did I mention that Best Buy sent me a survey immediately after I purchased the TV but before the installation? I didn’t fill it out until the TV was working.

How can people who need to be at an office or job work with such slapdash business practices, faulty updates and lack of confirmation? Have you encountered so many problems surrounding one purchase?

I was not planning to secure parking for the installation crew and did not check the box.

Service of Equipment Failure: Staples & Coupons to the Rescue

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

I am a luddite and depend on a mouse. Touchpads don’t work for me. They make me want to scream.

I was on deadline with a project and my wireless mouse died. I panicked, dashed into street clothes and off to Staples on Third Avenue and 43rd Street to buy another mouse, my lifeless one in hand. Money was no object because I had coupons worth $16. But which one should I buy?

Danny, the tech associate, opened my mouse—I hadn’t been able to. He said, “I bet you need a new battery.” He first went in the back and then rummaged through a few containers near the cashier stations and came up with a AAA. “There, you see? Batteries,” he said, as the blue light on the underside of the device came to life.

Off I flew to CVS where just that morning I received a 40% off coupon good for 24 hours. I have AA batteries at home but no AAA.

Success! Relief. Joy. And an example of memorable, engaged customer service.

There must be something in the air: Warm weather? The promise of summer vacation? My lucky day–one where the stars aligned in my favor, and everything went right. Plus: I’d been scrambling for a blog topic for today: another bonus!

Do you have an example of a sales associate saving a device rather than selling you one you don’t need? Or of a day that starts with a hiccup followed by a string of fantastic developments?

Service of Custom-Made Fast Food at Pain Quotidien

Monday, May 15th, 2023

On my way to pick up a friend who had a few pulled teeth and surgery on her jaw requiring anesthesia, I remembered how she liked the yogurt at Le Pain Quotidien. She didn’t realize what she was in for. The day before she suggested that after the procedure we have tea at this, her favorite place. Knowing we’d not be going for tea after such an ordeal I didn’t want to alarm her, so I said “sure.”

Dashing in to buy some—a last minute thought because there’s very little that she will eat under any circumstance, soft or not–I stopped when I saw the granola on top. I knew that granola would be an insurmountable hurdle for her that day and probably that week. As luck would have it, a young man—Martin–was adding sandwiches and straightening the offerings at the branch on Third Avenue and 44th Street.

This isn’t a deli where the counterman or woman can leave out the onions in a salad or add mustard and mayo to a roll or slice of rye. Salads and sandwiches are made to grab and go. I hesitated to bother Martin and am glad I did. Turns out he is a chef. I asked if it would be possible to remove the granola and explained why. He agreed about the circumstances and didn’t hesitate. He said he’d have to ask the manager about the price and disappeared in the back.

Minutes later he returned with just what I’d requested.

I’m not a fussy eater and have never asked for an adjustment in an establishment like this. I was happily surprised at how accommodating Martin was. Do you have similar examples of custom treatment at a fast-food restaurant?

Service of Being Ignored

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

It’s no fun being ignored. I’m curious about the insensitivity of the people who enjoy doing it. If you’re young and handsome/beautiful, it might not happen to you. Those who do it I suspect feel a sense of power.

I delivered documents to a NYC court the other week. The halls were empty. There was a couple ahead of me in the room I needed to visit and they soon left. Nobody was behind me. Had it been a retail situation I’d have worried for the life of the place. The amount of real estate in this giant building on Chambers Street in Manhattan was breathtaking and the lack of activity–of humans in hallways–astonishing.

I waited at the window while the woman who would eventually help me stood about 12 feet behind the see-through plastic divider and chatted with a colleague to her left who was seated at a desk. Next, without moving, continuing to ignore me, she spoke with someone I couldn’t see in another room. It was as though I wasn’t there. Spooky. Not even an “I’ll be with you in a minute,” uttered from her lips. And she didn’t look busy.

Since I needed something from her, I kept silent.

I suppose this is the in-person version of the telephone customer service “I bet you can’t reach a human to help you.”

When you’re not in the driver’s seat, how do you handle being ignored? How do some have the temerity to discount the value of another person’s time?


Image by Marta Cuesta from Pixabay 

Service of Easy Fixes for Restaurant & Takeout Places

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022


Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay 

Inflation is a problem for everyone but here’s a plea to food vendors: Be creative when adding surcharges or removing benefits to customers.

I bought one Danish pastry the other day and paid with my credit card. The gadget that accepted the card asked me three times if I wanted to add a tip. What part of NO did it not understand? I paid top dollar for the treat and didn’t think that placing it in a small bag warranted a tip. I know: It’s the holidays. I’m not usually a grinch. But the prices here are high enough that owners should pay workers a decent wage and not foist on customers the responsibility for paying counter help. In any case, I tip in cash.

A friend who inspired this post resents being charged for ice in a cup when she’s ordering other food. She was hit with an ice charge from a takeout place the other day. I know her: Her orders are never small.

She is miffed when not allowed to use the bathroom. There’s a bakery I like a lot that added tables and chairs in the back. It sells amazing scones and cakes and toothsome sandwiches. It doesn’t have a WC. My camel friends are the only ones I meet there.

While on a roll my friend added that it irks her to be charged $4 to $6 for a soda refill at a restaurant. I agree. Charge a dollar more for the first one if necessary or present them with a can of soda but don’t make customers feel ripped off.

Are there small things that happen when you buy prepared food that tick you off?


Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

Service of “Hello, Hello Is Anyone There?”

Monday, December 12th, 2022



Image by Nebraska Department of Education from Pixabay

I called a pharmacy to see if it would deliver a prescription and instead of speaking with someone up the street, I ended up at a call center in India. The person kept asking me when I wanted to make a Covid vaccine appointment. He disconnected me—inadvertently I suspect–and I ended up in a survey. You can imagine what grade I gave each of the questions between 0 and 10 about the effectiveness of the call. I got a person but…..

When calling an insurance company or large corporation I must be in a good mood, preferably on a sunny day. I know in advance that my question won’t fit one of the choices—“Press One for billing; Press Two for technical assistance,” etc.—or that I’ll be directed to the website and that I’ll be left hanging and frustrated.

Wall Street Journal reporters Rachel Wolfe and Allison Pohle wrote: “It’s Not Just You: Businesses Are Making Their Phone Numbers Hard to Find” with a subhead “More customer-facing phone numbers are being replaced with chat boxes and virtual reservation systems that can make connecting to an actual human being next to impossible.”

They reported: “A 2,200-person Morning Consult poll conducted for The Wall Street Journal shows that about half of respondents said they had to search a company website extensively to find a number in the past year, and 41% of all respondents said no number was available. Some 43% of survey respondents said they prefer talking with a customer-service rep over the phone, while 5% prefer talking to a bot through instant messaging.”

Replacing a phone service with automated chat functions or with communications through social media is cost-saving but is it good for business?  “Consumers say those options leave them spending hours sorting through FAQ lists, sending emails to nowhere and talking to less-than-helpful chatbots to resolve issues that could have taken minutes to fix with a human on the phone.”

The reporters wrote about a 26 year old who frittered away five hours trying to reach an airline with nothing resolved. Her brother and father had no better luck. Finally, a customer service rep fixed the problem on Facebook Messenger***. According to that airline “the shift to digital service ensures customers get the information they need as efficiently as possible. The airline says it had found that most customers prefer communicating via digital channels and that live agent support is available 24/7.” Really?


Image by lindsayascott from Pixabay

***Are you up the creek if you’re not on Facebook?

A large Las Vegas hotel uses a digital tool that wasn’t working for one guest who tried using it a few times to report he had no hot water, so he didn’t bother to try yet again to note there was gum and hair in the sheets. Calling the front desk didn’t work either. He landed in “a general call-services center.” And in person? “The line at reception often snaked around the hotel lobby.”

Only after the Wall Street Journal reached out did the system accept an update with a driver’s license change on a customer’s profile at a major car rental service. The customer had tried unsuccessfully to provide the info for over a year during which time he’d rented many a car.

The reporters offered a tip: A free online database, “GetHuman,” shares intel on how best to reach 10,000 companies. The director of operations told them: “……. users are very particular about where they are spending their money right now. It’s a bad time to be making enemies.”

Do you have tricks for getting through to a company that doesn’t want anyone to speak with you? Are there any companies that do it right?


Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Service of What a Difference One Person Can Make

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

If you’ve become dependent on your smartphone, as I am, should it crash, you panic.

I made the wrong decision when this happened to me, bought a new phone from untrained, irresponsible employees at a reputable company–Verizon Wireless–and was saved by a young man at Apple. He stepped out of the routine–he could have palmed me off to someone else, making me wait, but he sensed my distress and sprang into action.

As Paul Harvey used to say, and now the rest of the story.

AJ Rosario at the Grand Central Terminal Apple store rescued me last week. I thought that Verizon Wireless had sold me a damaged iPhone 13. He assessed my mood and quickly put an end to the drama.

Verizon staff did not know how to download my apps and programs from the cloud, which was clear after two days, and its staff washed its hands of the lifeless device they had sold me by ignoring me. Fortunately, the Apple store is in the same building. Once I realized I was persona non grata, simply warming a seat, I dashed to the Apple store.

AJ was at the top of the stairs crowded with people, the first employee I saw. He was as kind, understanding and reassuring as he was expert. He whisked me to a table and rolled up his sleeves. Quickly my thousands of contacts appeared in my address book as did my emails and texts and eventually the apps–and my sanity returned too. The new phone came to life in his hands.

As AJ worked on my iPhone I texted a friend from my iPad. I told her that a guardian angel at Apple was helping me. I told AJ what I’d just written. He whispered that he’s known by AJ at work but his name is Angel–“and don’t tell anyone.”

Do you share my anxiety when purchasing new electronic devices because like me you’re at the mercy of people who know their way around them–or maybe they don’t? Have you had exceptional service–good and bad–of late?


Image by Stefan Kuhn from Pixabay

Service of Who Cares II

Monday, September 12th, 2022

I’m not the only one who has noticed a surge of overt indifference by retail employees lately and it’s not been exclusively in NYC where I start.

At a Manhattan branch of T.J.Maxx I heard a lively conversation of what turned out to be three sales associates hovering in housewares. I interrupted them to learn whether the store carried an item I needed. I was surprised they were so bold to turn the sales floor into a catch-up-around-a-water-cooler-like scene for such a long time.

At Home Depot, also in Manhattan, where I’ve always been treated courteously by sales associates, a guard on street level, seated in a wheelchair meant for customers, was slumped over his phone oblivious to his surroundings. My grocery cart accidentally slammed to the cement floor, the handle making an alarming clatter, and he neither budged nor looked up.


Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

The same week I heard from EAM who shared examples of apathy towards customers during a trip to California. She visited Gumps, a favorite haunt of her parents. It was 4:40 pm, she wrote, and the store closed at 5 pm. She was looking at jewelry and “they started pulling it from the cases, one man throwing velvet covers over some, putting the jewelry onto trays as well.”  While this was going on, one salesman was attentive and answered her questions. She continued: “Overall, I was appalled by this experience–that a high-end store would treat people so rudely. One saleswoman had made an assessment, based on my appearance, that I wasn’t a serious customer. In fact, my parents, over the years, had made some significant purchases.” 

That same week EAM reported on a booth selling art glass vases in the $200+ range at a craft show. “To ask a question my sister literally had to interrupt the four salespeople in the booth huddled in conversation. They seemed clueless about their dismissive sales approach. She returned to check out the vases before purchasing one and was so turned off by their lackluster attitude towards her that she left. They lost a sale.”

Is something in the air? Are we all exhausted? Were these interactions coincidental? Is it because businesses are shorthanded and have lowered their hiring standards? Have you noticed similar lack of enthusiasm at retail?

Service of Disappointment

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

The saying “less is more,” may apply to interior design but I’m finding that more and more we get less for our money.

What Happened to “Neither Rain nor Snow….”

There is a postbox about four blocks from my apartment in a commercial neighborhood with pickups three times a day, the last at 5 p.m. When I went there this week the times had changed: Now its once a day at 11:00 a.m. not only there but in all the boxes I checked nearby. That early in the day might be a good time for postal workers perhaps but not so hot for customers.

Yes then No

A friend was scheduled for surgery which entailed three days in the hospital and a week at a rehab facility. She knew the drill from a previous operation and all was approved. The day before hospital discharge she learned that her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of rehab. She lives alone. Don’t you love how insurance companies–not doctors–determine how we are treated?

Poor Training

I tried to buy a gift online and the system wouldn’t work so I called the 800 number and placed the order. I opted to pick up the item at the store, a short walk from home because its feather weight and tiny size didn’t warrant the $6.99 shipping fee. The customer service rep said they’d send it home, as it was easier, [not sure for whom], and he’d remove the shipping fee. Long story short, when I was charged the fee I called and customer service told me I had to work it out with my credit card company. This didn’t set well so I contacted headquarters and eventually it was sorted. No more online purchases for me from these folks. Customer care operators should be trained not to turn off customers.

Have you been disappointed by a service lately?

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz