Friday, May 30, 2008

Three Strikes, You're Out

Why is it I always seem to write about customer service? Today I have yet another tale about how three different entities could have offered a simple solution to the same problem, but they all failed.

I recently had two skylights installed as part of a roof replacement project for my home. At the end of the day I went to open my new skylights and there was no control hook on either window. (The control hook allows me to connect a long rod to the crank handle so that I can open the windows on the ceiling from the ground.) I asked the contractor about the hooks and he assured me that they were not in the box. I was unsure whether or not there should have been hooks in the box as the retailer had many options for the skylights and maybe that was an option I failed to purchase. I also could not go through the box myself as it was at the bottom of a dumpster full of the shingles they had torn off the house.

I made a call to the retailer where I had purchased the skylights and they assured me that they should have been in the box. But that was no problem. They would send a couple of hooks out to me.

After two weeks, I did not receive my hooks so I called the retailer back and again explained the situation. Again I got the same response and they said they would try submitting a warranty claim so that I could get my hooks. However, the next day they called me back saying they could not get any hooks for me. The manufacturer assured them that the hooks were in the box and that it was impossible for them to be missing.

Next I tried the manufacturer of the skylights and explained the story to them. They insisted that the hooks were in the box along with a few other items I might need (none of which I now possess). They offered to sell me two new hooks at $14 a piece.

Am I expecting too much? Let's review what is at stake here.

I spent $6300 for a roof replacement and installation of two skylights. When $28 in parts come up missing, the contractor offers to do nothing. If I were the contractor, I would be apologizing profusely and offering to order two new hooks and have them installed at once, especially when I see that the customer lives in a neighborhood where there are many other roofs that need replaced. $28 would be very cheap advertising and compared to the $6300 received from the customer, would be easy to cover. Strike one.

I spent $1000 for two skylights and when $28 in parts come up missing the retailer at first tries to do the right thing by offering to get me replacements. Apparently, that was only because they thought they would be getting them free from the manufacturer. When they discovered they might have to cover the cost they backed down. If I were the retailer I would be thinking $28 is nothing compared to the $1000 I collected from the customer. Order the replacements and have them sent out immediately. Strike two.

I purchased two skylights made by a reputable manufacturer that has a track record of great customer service and when $28 in parts come up missing (that's retail value, not manufacturing cost) the manufacturer offers to do nothing. If I were the manufacturer I would recognize that this is an opportunity for great customer service and even though it was not my fault, would send out replacement hooks. My cost to send out replacements would be worth the praise I would receive from the customer as he told all his neighbors about his new skylights (that I made!). Customers like to tell about the experiences they have had and I would take any opportunity available to me to cause a good experience, especially one that costs so little. Strike three.

If you are keeping tabs on the money I just spent you might be thinking to yourself why am I complaining about $28. After all that's nothing compared to the $7300 I spent on the roof and skylights. The problem is, as I have mentioned before, it is the simple things in life that make the most difference. This small amount of money has caused me to speak badly about a local contractor, internet retailer, and world wide manufacturer. Three times someone was able to offer a simple solution. And three times they struck out.

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