Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Adventures in Customer Service

Adventures in Customer Service, Part 1

'I'm sorry. That's not my lawn mower.'

As my fellow homeowners are no doubt aware, with spring comes the most vigorous time of lawn mowing. My neighbors all keep tidy lawns, and are very patient and uncomplaining when our lawn--as it often does--shows signs of scraggliness. This year, we were late with the first ritual lawn mowing, and when Albert did try to start up the lawn mower, engaging the blade resulting in a horrible screeching noise and clouds of white smoke. Sure enough, the blade belt was broken.

We called Bolen, the manufacturer of our mower, and they gave us the name of their local authorized repair shop. They came and picked up our mower. My husband taped a note to it explaining what the problem was and also asking them to install the mulch kit we'd never gotten around to putting on.

On Monday, I get a phone call from the repair shop. Our mower, the woman said, was ready. But they had three mowers that were all alike, and didn't know which one was ours. Based on the serial numbers, they could tell where each one was purchased, so she wanted to know where we'd bought ours (two years ago). Her attitude was that it was somehow my problem for not remembering off the top of my head which of the three local hardware stores (all of which we'd patronized) we'd bought the mower from, and not at all *their* problem for not having, say, stuck a tag on our mower when it arrived at their shop.

Luckily, Albert remembered where we'd bought it, and they said they would deliver it. Someone needed to be there, they said, to pay for the repairs. No problem, Albert said, How much is it? Once again, our fault for asking, not hers for not knowing, or being able to look it up and find out.

Finally, later that afternoon, the lawn mower repair person arrives. The doorbell rings, and I am ready with my checkbook. I'm still ignorant of the amount I need to pay, but what the heck. The man comes in, I sign the delivery slip, and ask how much. He says, "Nothing. It was under warranty."

Great! But as I start to hand the paperwork back, I remember the mulch kit, which was certainly not covered under any warranty. What about the mulch kit? I ask. He has no idea. I look at the second sheet of the paperwork, which details the repairs, and see words like "won't start," and "faulty switch."

"I don't think this is my tractor," I say, and step outside and walk around to look, for the first time, at the lawn mower on the back of the trailer (admittedly, this probably should have been my first step).

I can say this much: the mower they brought us was also green.

It's two weeks later. We've called a couple of times about our mower, and heard nothing. I suspect that we're going to have to go down there and pick it out of a lineup.

Adventures in Customer Service, Part 2

'What do you mean by

In my ongoing quest to organize my yarn, I decided that I needed some shelving for my closet. I went to Sam's, and picked out some nice sturdy metal shelves on wheels. I got the checkout slip for the shelves, picked up some other stuff I needed, and was passing the DVD section when I spotted the first season of Deadwood. I'd heard good things about it, and am a huge fan of Ian McShane, so I decided what the heck. All the DVD sets are locked down, so once again I got a checkout slip with a barcode in lieu of the actual item. I was a little concerned because, unlike many other slips, there was no title printed or written above the barcode, and I couldn't confirm that it was the correct slip for that DVD. Still, it was the only slip there, so I presumed I was okay.

I got the checkout, and a lady was doing pre-checkout, which means that your membership card is scanned, then all your items, so that when you get to the cashier all she has to do is scan your card and the total pops up, without any loading and unloading. Easy peasy.

When the woman scanned the Deadwood slip, I asked her if it was the correct slip for Deadwood. There was no title written on it, I explained, and I wanted to be sure I'd gotten the right one. "What do you mean, Deadwood?" she asked. I explained, again, that that was the name of the DVD I was trying to buy. She turned without answering and starting calling someone to fetch my shelves. Okay.

I get up to the cashier, and ask where I should go to pick up my shelves and DVD. She gives me an utterly blank look, and asks who pre-checked me. I look around, and the lady is gone, vanished, absent. The cashier asks me to wait near the food tables. No problem.

Very soon, a guy comes up clutching the my ill-fated slip. Which season do I want? he asks. I said I wasn't sure, I just wanted the Deadwood DVD. He explained that the barcodes didn't indicate seasons, and I said, Okay, no sweat, first season.

He returns a few minutes later with my shelves on a flatbed and the first season of The Sopranos.

Once more, I explain that I want Deadwood (which I have explained at least twice to each person I've encountered). He goes away again. Finally, he comes back and says that I'll have to show him, he has no idea what I'm looking for. I smile, say "Sure," and walk right up to the Deadwood DVD. He gets it for me, I say thanks, sorry it was so much trouble.

He says, "Just take the shelves on out and tell the girl at the door you need someone to help you."

Now, my understanding--based on him saying so--was that he was going to take the shelves out, but fine, whatever. It's only when I get back to the front door that I realize that it's impossible for me to pull both the flatbed and my own shopping cart with the rest of my stuff. So, I transfer everything to the flatbed, explain (twice) to the lady a the front door that I need someone to help me load up the shelves, and finally, finally, meet someone who gives a crap.

I parked the flatbed outside the door, and told the loading person that I'd be back in a minute with my van. When I started to back out, though, I almost ran him over because he'd followed me out. He helped me load the shelves. He helped me load my stuff. I apologized again for nearly running him over. He said no problem.

Bless you, shelf-loading guy.

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