Thursday, May 17, 2007

1-800-horrible-customer-service

Grrrr.... I hate bad customer support. I just got off the phone after having one of those experiences. Fortunately, through the miracle of modern Internet technology, I get to work through my frustration by blogging about it. Okay, here's the setup...

Last Sunday was Mother's Day here in the USA. Like all dutiful dads with kids, I definitely needed to get some flowers for my wife and my mom. Being a busy guy, prone to forgetting these things and wanting to lock things in, and with a fast Internet connection, I went online a couple weeks ago and ordered two flower bouquets from a large national florist with a web presence.

On Friday, the flowers arrived. My mom and wife were thrilled. Unfortunately, I was not. My wife's bouquet looked bad. The flowers were already starting to turn and looked bleak. My wife got them into water and we went about our business.

By Monday afternoon, it looked horrible. The flowers had all lost most of the petals and were well on their way to being completely dead. Well, I didn't like that one bit. I called a different florist and had my wife delivered another bouquet, which looked great. I got double-bonus-points for being a thoughtful husband.

Okay, so at this point no problem. Hey, flowers die. They are organic living things. Flowers simply aren't an exact science. I looked on the shipping confirmation email I had received and it said "...your satisfaction is guaranteed," and was ostensibly sent by "Julie L. Kaufman, Director of Customer Service." (Or by a big CRM system masquerading as Julie. Who knows if Julie even saw the template text.) I figured I'd just call the customer support line for the florist from whom I had ordered them and get them to issue me a refund. No biggie, worst case Julie would take care of me, right?

I called customer service this morning. Fortunately, the support line wasn't busy and I didn't wait any time in the queue.

"Hi, sir, I'm Bernadette," she said. "How can I help you?"

"Hello," I said. "I just bought a bouquet for my wife for Mother's Day. Unfortunately, the flowers looked horrible when I received them on Friday and they were all dead by Monday afternoon. I'd like a refund, please."

After taking the information such as my name and the order number, the customer service rep informed me that I couldn't have a full refund.

"I can have the flowers redelivered and I can either give you a 50% credit to be used in the future or a 20% refund," she said.

"Well, I really don't want a redelivery," I replied. "I already ordered new flowers from somebody else and I don't need a replacement. Can't you just give me a complete refund?"

"Hang on, sir. Let me check." After 30 seconds, "No," she said, "that's not possible."

Grumble. "What's up with this?" I'm thinking to myself. "There's no way you can give me a 100% refund?"

"No, sir, that isn't possible. Either 50% credit or 20% refund."

"Give me the 20% refund," I said, thinking "...and I'm never ordering flowers from you guys again."

"Okay, sir, I'll have the flowers redelivered and you'll get a refund of 20% of the price. Oh, wait a minute. That bouquet you ordered is no longer available after Mother's Day. I'll have to find an equivalent bouquet." Grumble. "Rather than having you wait while I go through all that, I can let you go now and I'll take care of it."

That last part was at least a step in the right direction. At least she wasn't going to make me wait further while she picked out an equivalent bouquet. I didn't even want the flowers, just a refund, so I figured anything she picked out wouldn't be horrible. And my wife probably didn't want yet-another similar bouquet.

No sooner had I hung up the phone, when I followed a link in the confirmation email to the florist's web site and the "100% Satisfaction Guarantee" page. Right there it said:

Providing exceptional flowers and gifts, and superior customer service is important to all of us at 1-800-horrible-customer-service. We guarantee the freshness of our flowers for 7 days. If there's something we've done and you're not completely satisfied with your order, we'll redeliver, refund, credit or offer a comparable exchange if the original product is not available.

Grrrrrr! Now I'm really pretty angry. I definitely wasn't 100% satisfied, the flowers definitely weren't fresh, and they definitely didn't last 7 days. I had asked for a complete refund but was told that the best I could get was a redelivery and a 20% refund. Frankly, I had been lied to, and that's never a great way to treat a customer.

So I called back.

As you might expect, I got a different customer service agent.

"Hi, I'm Bob," he said. "How can I help you?"

"Bob, I just hung up the phone with someone in your customer service department named Bernadette no more than two minutes ago. I had called because I got a bad bouquet of flowers on Friday that were dead by Monday. Bernadette told me that I could only get a redelivery of my order and a 20% refund of the purchase price. I just went to your web site and it says that if I'm not 100% satisfied that you'll give me a refund. I'd like to cancel the redelivery that Bernadette set up for me and get a full refund."

"You said that somebody else already scheduled a redelivery?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied, "Bernadette said she was going to do that."

"Okay," he said, "I may or may not be able to cancel that. If it has already gone to the florist, it may be impossible to pull it back at this point. When did you say you called before?"

"No more than two minute ago," I said. I then gave Bob all my info again.

"Hmmm... here's a problem," Bob said. "Looks like she still has your record active. I can't make any changes to it until she's done. Can you call back in a bit?"

Huh??? You have got to be kidding. "Okay, Bob, so when are you saying that I should call back?"

"Try again 30 minutes from now."

"So you want me to call back sometime after she's out of the record but before it goes to the florist for shipping?" I asked.

"Yes, that's right."

"Bob, I know that you are fighting computer systems and you're just trying to help me, but let me speak to your supervisor," I said.

"Ummm... hang on a second." (Sounds like typing on the keyboard, probably an IM session to the supervisor.) "Sorry, I can't do that."

"What?!?! I can't talk to a supervisor? Okay, I got a note from Julie Kaufman when I ordered, your Customer Service Director. I want to speak with Julie."

"I'm sorry, but that isn't possible either."

At this point, I'm pretty steamed. I have tried to be reasonable. I'm getting stonewalled. (more typing sounds) Finally, Bob says, "Okay, if I can get a phone number from you, my supervisor says she'll call you back."

I give him my name and phone number, but I have heard this one before so I ask for the name and number of his supervisor. "I can't give out that information," he says.

"So how do I contact her if she fails to contact me?" I ask.

"Oh, I'm pretty sure she'll call you back," he says. That doesn't inspire confidence.

At this point I'm trying hard to keep my cool. All of a sudden he says, "Wait a minute, looks like the other rep saved your record and I can change it for you now. I'll cancel the redeliver and give you a 100% refund."

Breathing slowly and deliberately, I said, "Okay, Bob, thanks. Look, I know that you're just trying to do your job with the tools they give you, but please tell your supervisor that failing to take a call from a dissatisfied customer is extremely horrible customer service behavior. If I was running your organization, I'd force your supervisor back into remedial training and if it ever happened again I'd fire her."

"Uh, okay sir. Sorry about the trouble. I'll tell her." (click) Yea, right. I'm sure you will.

That, my friends is the anatomy of a horrible customer service experience.

Why do I write all this for you? Well, the first reason is that it's cathartic for me. The second reason is that we at Vyatta hate bad customer support. In my next posting, I'll discusses the principles Vyatta uses to deliver a good experience to you and I'll show that had the florist used those principles, I would have had a good experience with them nonetheless. Our subscribers give us rave reviews and I'll share some of their comments.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm dealing with them right now also. Thanks for pointing out the Guarantee, gives me just the ammo I'll need. :)

Sat May 26, 01:39:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have dealt with them on 2 occassons and the flowers WERE NEVER DELIVERED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once was for an anniversary and another for valentines Day. DO NOT USE THIS BUSINESS!!!!!!!!! They will attempt to verbally placate you and make every excuse under the sun for their ineptness. The only thing proven is that they are complete undependable. Again, DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS.

Thu Feb 14, 01:22:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered some roses for my girlfriend on Valentine's Day and when I placed my order, and received the e-mail confirmation that my order was complete, the dumb lady misspelled the word "surprise". She spelled it "suprise". I was PISSED AT THAT POINT so next I called back to have the rep correct it, in which he "told" me he did, but when my girlfriend received them ......YOU GOT IT the word was STILL misspelled and when the roses arrived the roses were NOT in good quality, THEY WERE DELIVERED IN A BROWN UPS BOX AND THE THORNS WERE STILL ON THEM!!! WOW Can you believe that BS????? I CALLED CUSTOMER SERVICE TO REQUEST A REFUND, BUT THEY TOLD ME THAT THEY COULD ONLY GIVE ME A 20% DISCOUNT!! I SAID WHAT????? I just want to thank JULIE KAUFMAN FOR BEING A WONDERFUL DIRECTOR OVER THIS SHITTY COMPANY!! *******DO NOT ORDER FLOWERS FROM THIS COMPANY!! EVER!!!!

Fri Feb 15, 09:11:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DO NOT USE 1-800 FLOWERS!!! I WILL REPORT THIS ON FOX 2 NEWS.....HORRIBLE SERVICE!!

Fri Feb 15, 09:14:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*****DO NOT USE 1-800-FLOWERS*****
*******HORRIBLE SERVICE**********

Fri Feb 15, 09:20:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had a similar experience with 1-800-incompetent internet florist. I ordered flowers for a friend's birthday in another state. I paid for same day delivery. That afternoon I got a confirmation that the flowers would be delivered that day. I went about my business.

The next day, late in the evening I got a call from 1-800-we do what we please telling me they had just recieved a call from the florist saying she had just happened to go back into the flower shop that evening and noticed the order. She hadn't seen it the day before(when the order was suppose to be filled). After the agent told me this there was a long pause, as if I was suppose to come up with a solution. I said "What are you going to do to rectify this?" She said "Well, I could call the recipient and tell them you sent flowers and that we made the error and then send them out tomorrow."

I agreed. She also said they would give me a %20 refund and a 25 dollar discount on my next purchase with them. I asked her if the discount could go towards making the flowers I was sending better. She said that what I had ordered came in only one size, so, no. "OK", I said, "Can you make sure the flowers are really nice?" The agent said she was going to switch florists since this one hadn't gotten the job done. I thought that was smart of her. Boy, was I wrong, smart is nowhere in that company. I also asked the agent if I would get a call or email when the flowers were actually delivered. She said I'd get both.

The next day after work I went to my email and there was nothing from them, and I hadn't recieved a phone call. So, I called them and got a nice woman who seemed genuinely concerned about what had happened but had no way of knowing whether my order had been filled or not. She was able to see that the agent before her had not changed the florist and re-placed the order with the same inept florist from 2 days before!

She said because it was so late the florist wouldn't be open so she couldn't find out why they didn't deliver, but that she could re-place the order. I tried keeping my voice from screeching when I suggested she get a different florist since this one had proven twice she couldn't or wouldn't get the job done. I also told her that I was furious and that this was no way to run a business and that I wanted more than a %20 refund. She said she understood and she would put me on hold and get a manager.

At first the nice music was soothing and then it stopped and there was dead air. I wasn't sure if I should hang up and I figured if we were disconnected I'd get a dial tone. I sat on the phone for 20 minutes when I finally hung up. I figured she would call me back. WRONG! So I called back and after waiting in the queue for about 3 minutes, I got another agent and told her the short version and that I wanted to speak to the previous agent. I gave her the previous agent's name and she said kind of timidly OK, I'll try to connect you. You already know what happened, don't you? Well, you're right, I got disconnected, again!

At this point I was determined to get satisfaction so I called again and told the agent that answered everything that had happened. This time the agent told me he would put a priorty on it so someone would get to it first thing in the morning, and that I would get a call. So, this morning, 3 DAYS after I made a same day purchase, I find myself calling them again and finding out that the florist was finally changed and they say the flowers are on the truck now and that I'll get a confirmation of delivery email, but I am not going to hold my breath. I will NEVER use that awful 1-800-FLOWERS again and I hope that you won't either. FTD has been in business since 1910, I should have used them!

Tue Apr 29, 09:17:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found contact info for Julie L. Kaufman, Director of Customer Service
1 Old Country Road,
Carle Place, NY 11514
write and complain

Corporate Office 1-800-flowers
1-516-739-3083 if not Julie's direct line, they know how to get her!
Email Julie
jkaufman@1800flowers.com

Let Julie know you want the satisfation she guaranteed!

Tue Apr 29, 09:36:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the letter I am sending to Ms. Kaufman (thanks, poster who supplied her address!. It explains everything:

I am registered with 1-800-Flowers.com. Today I ordered Product Code XXXXX, Serene Green (confirmation number XXXXXXXXXXX). It was not on sale, there was no promotional offer, and the item is not detailed as not being available with any discounts or promotional codes. It was not specially-priced or on sale in any way.

I attempted to use a Promotion Code given to me on a postcard sent to me by your company. According to the postcard, the promotional discount was to be valid until 7/31/08 (the promotion code was TY3). Your Web site did not accept the code.

When I called Customer Service, I was told by Janine (who was very helpful) that the offer was expired. I mentioned to her the expiration date on the card. At that time, I tried using a promotional code from a second postcard I received from your company, code TY5 that supposedly did not expire until 8/31/08. Not only did your system not accept the code, but Janine told me it only applies to orders over $40. This is stated nowhere on the postcard. Here is the statement at the bottom of both postcards sent by your company:

SAVE 15%* ON YOUR NEXT PURCHASE WHEN YOU USE PROMOTION CODE TY3 (and TY5 on second card). CALL 1-800=FLOWERS (1-800-356-9377), Click 1800flowers.com, or Come in!

*Exclusive of applicable service and shipping charges and taxes. Items may vary and are subject to availability, delivery rules, and times. Items available online, by phone, and at participating 1-800-FLOWERS retails stores. Offers cannot be combined, are not available on all products and are subject to restrictions, limitations and black-out periods. Prices and charges are subject to change without notice. Offer valid through 7/31/08 (8/31/08 on second card). Void where prohibited. 2008 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, INC.

Fortunately, Janine went in to the order and applied the 15% discount, but the time involved with this was ludicrous, as were the circumstances surrounding my phone call.

This is not the first problem I've had trying to use a discount code with your company...not codes I find at random Internet sites, but codes your company is supposedly supplying. In fact, the last time, I ordered two items at one time and was told by your company’s confirmation letter that the promotional code (also supplied to me by your company) was accepted, and was given the cost to my credit card. Fortunately I checked my credit card statement two days later for another reason….imagine my surprise when I read that 1-800-FLOWERS charged me full price for my orders, as though I had no promotional codes, despite the fact that your confirmation told me the credit card charge would be less! That took almost an hour to straighten out on the phone.

So this leaves me with two questions: Why is your company sending me "thank you" postcards with invalid promotional codes? And why would your company send a confirmation letter telling me it is charging me one fee, then actually charging me much more?

Despite today’s helpful service from Janine, this will most likely be the last order I place with 1-800-Flowers. Frankly, I question the company's integrity, and I usually don't have 45 minutes to an hour to place a simple flower order and ensure 1-800-Flowers is not going to overcharge me but instead is going to honor the discount originated by 1-800-Flowers itself. I will also be posting this concern at various review Internet sites, so that others will be aware of the questionable activity on the part of your company.

Fri Jul 18, 12:30:00 PM 2008  
Blogger katty said...

I hate bad customer service.. . I also heard the same experience as you had.. That is really disappointing.. and as a result, they've lost a customer and generated bad word of mouth.
Small Business Answering service

Mon Nov 22, 06:06:00 PM 2010  

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