– Ben Martens

Customer Service

Tyla has a Christmas village from the Thomas Kinkade collection. She feels like she has enough big pieces but was interested in a couple accessories so back I decided to order her something for the Christmas of 2012. There’s only one website where you can get this stuff (other than used on eBay.) I placed my order and was told it would be 6-8 weeks. Oops. Well that’s ok, I’ll wait. After 3-4 months and a couple postcards with status updates, I was told that they would never ship my order. Ugh. For the Christmas of 2013, my mom decided to order Tyla some little accessories. The exact same thing happened to her!

I was really frustrated at this point so I emailed customer service. I tried to be very nice in explaining my situation and asking what we’re doing wrong. Is there a better time of year to order? The reply was “We regret to inform you that the item has been retired.” Huh? I didn’t mention any item in my email. It was a general question. I replied “Did you even read my email?” The second email was a bit longer but it was still a canned response that didn’t answer my email. In the vain hope that a human who cared was actually reading, I replied once more and ended it with “You don’t need to reply to this. You’ve lost me as a customer.”

I’ve been reading the Ford book about Alan Mulally so I guess I have CEO on the brain. I believed that there must be somebody in the company who cared about treating customers properly and would want to know about an experience like mine so it could be corrected. A little searching revealed the CEO’s name. I guessed what his email address probably was and forwarded my customer service chat to him along with a note. I said that if I was in his shoes, I’d want to know about something like this. I wasn’t looking for any retribution. It was simply for his information. I figured that would be the end of it (whether he actually received the email or not.)

The next morning, my phone rang and it was someone from the company! I guess they looked up my number from my previous order. She said the CEO had forwarded my note on to her and she apologized for my situation. She then stated a couple things she had done to get some fixes started (removing retired items from the website, scheduling a meeting with the manager of the email customer service group, etc.) She thanked me multiple times for emailing and I apologized for ruining her day by getting the CEO involved. She insisted on giving us something for our trouble so if it all works out, Tyla should have a small gift arriving in the mail.

It was a wild story but I’m happy to know that the senior management does seem to care. This isn’t how I normally recommend lodging complaints against a company, but in this modern world, there are some extremely affective tools available if you choose to use them. They did regain my business and I’ll give them another shot.