Blog: Man Alive...ALIIIVE! Bad Service
(originally written 2/9/12)
Like most of us consumers, I've been subjected to my share of lousy customer service. Just last year I had to (rudely) interrupt two yakking fast food slags who didn't feel my presence at the counter was worthy of their attention. I was once refused service by a small seafood restaurant because it turned 8:00—closing time—while I stood in line for several minutes (boy, did I utter some unprintable words that night).
I once had a Costco checkout chick go District Attorney on me, basically trying and convicting me of circumventing my Gold Membership in a complex scheme to buy milk and oatmeal 15 minutes early. And I'm sure you read my piece from December about Wal-Mart...DIDN'T YOU?
Bad CS is part of life, I suppose. There are 300+ million people in the United States. Idiots in the workforce simply can't be avoided. It's very true that while we retain the pleasant memory of high quality service for about, oh, three minutes—and certainly never will we blog about it—the sour taste of poor service can linger for years.
Which brings us here.
A few days ago I took my daughter Josie to Sears. That's Sears. The company I'm about to complain about is Sears. That's S-E-A-R-S. Like "years" but with another "s" instead of "y".
At the portrait studio, we were met by a young woman who, despite having appeared to have been standing there alone for days, was quite nice and professional. She led us in back and snapped several quality shots. Then outside the studio, I was murdered. Or so it seemed; why else would everything go dark all of a sudden? Turns out we got caught up in a power outage. And honest to God—something about the darkness triggered an explosion of Josie's bowels. (Mental note: wait for the Warriors' pregame introductions to end before taking her inside the arena.)
In the ensuing commotion of trying to find the potty while fumbling thru the dark juggling Josie, bags, etc., the receipt (with confirmation #) disappeared just as mysteriously as the electricity did.
(Did they run off together? AMBER ALERT: Be on the lookout for an 8x10 sheet of paper accompanied by a lightning bolt. Do not approach either; they're both very sharp.)
Losing the receipt is my fault, but the total failure by Sears to respond to ANY of my attempts via numerous channels in an effort to rectify the problem is on SEARS. I've done everything short of telegram to get somebody to talk to me, in vain:
Eight—count 'em, eight—phone calls spread out over days. One voicemail. Not one answer. No returned call.
An e-mail sent via the website. No response. Not even a confirmation that it was received.
A return to the store. I stood at the counter waiting...and waiting...and waiting...while making enough noise to attract someone from the back. No one ever greets me or acknowledges my presence.
During that visit, I noticed a supervisor's photo and number posted on the wall. Extra-careful not to err, I copied the number as if it were Adele's. The number turned out to be disconnected.
Finally reach the National Call Center or whatever it was called, where I'm given the regional manager's number. Shockingly, my call goes to voicemail, and the RM doesn't call back.
Grr X 1000.
Is it a surprise these guys are going broke???
Look, I'm not hard to please as a customer; just ask Applebee's, where I received napkins with bears drawn on them multiple times in the late 90's and didn't complain. Or ask Comcast, who made so many erroneous charges to my account in the mid-2000's that I thought my identity had been stolen, and got no complaint. (But don't ask me because I'm not here to talk about the past.)
All I ask for from any business is competence, politeness, and appreciation.
So when I drop $18 for something I could have easily gotten at Walgreens for $5, I expect somebody, anybody, to at least pick up the damn phone when an issue arises.
When this experience is over, Sears will join Costco and Wal-Mart on my asbestos list—do not enter their buildings under any circumstances ever again. Of course, by the time this experience is over, Sears may well be out of business. Maybe that was their plan from the start—swindle me and then shut down, like that mom and pop shoe place on Seinfeld.
I hope you people understand my intentions.