Wednesday, February 20, 2008

DCMM: Please Define Customer Service For Me

In my studious research of customer service (i.e. one quick Google search) I came across this:
"excellent customer service (is) the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer's expectations"
Sounds good to me. In the past I have had some excellent responses to some of my customer service problems as they relate to children's toys. LeapFrog was quick and thorough with a fix for the malfunction of my son's Leap Pad toy. Melissa & Doug not only sent me an entirely free replacement for a mail box my own kids broke, but they told me I could just donate the old one to a school or other organization. Cranium, at whose site I was a registered user, responded to my email request to purchase some replacement balls for Cariboo with something to the effect of, "We've already put some free balls in the mail to you. Enjoy! And here is some magic fairy dust to further make you love us."


I've had more trouble recently with two items I had problems with: my LeapFrog 100 Hoops game and my iRobot Scooba. (The latter is not technically a children's toy, I know, but it does provide endless entertainment for my two-year-old.)

Let's start with the 100 Hoops toy. Shortly after receiving it for Christmas (and by "shortly after," I mean "on Christmas") my kids lost the ball. Given my prompt and satisfactory last experience with Leap Frog (see above) I was hopeful that they would be quick to, at the very least, let me buy a replacement ball.

I emailed and never heard back. I called and was told they don't have any balls (What?! Don't they manufacture the toy?) and I should call back in three weeks. I emailed again a week or so later and received an automated reply saying they would get back to me in 48-72 hours. That was January 14. On January 22nd I wrote back with a strongly worded email about my disappointment in their customer service and my reluctance to buy Leap Frog products in the future for the million and six kids I buy gifts for.


On February 1st I sent another email, this one pointing out that their response time most definitely IS NOT 48-72 hours. Then I continued in the vein of, "You suck, you hate your customers, I'm never going to buy from you again. Can't you at least acknowledge my existence?" But I was a little (a little) nicer than that.

Now it is February 19 and today (!) I got an email telling me how I can send them $3 and they'll send me a ball. Oh, and "We apologize for the delay."

Um. Hum.

I won't bore you with the details of my increasing frustration with Scooba, whom I once considered a member of my family. I will tell you that although iRobot's response was timely, it was not favorable to me. Suffice it to say that sarcasm (on my part) apparently doesn't translate via email, and they don't back their product one hundred percent.

On the other hand, Hammacher Schlemmer, from whom I purchased Scooba, does value their customers. They have a lifetime guarantee on whatever you purchase from them. If you were to email them, say, a year and a half after you buy, say, a robot from them and if you didn't have a date, an order number or anything, they would send you an email within 24 hours with the order number in question and instructions on how to return said robot.

So if you're ever looking for a transparent canoe, a water-repellent goat suede blazer, $1700 binoculars, or a sunshine recorder, whatever the hell that is, I suggest you head to a company who cares about their customers.

What is your best or worst customer service story?

Jean also complains at Stimeyland.

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