Customer Service (?)

Ok, fine.  I’m jumping on the bandwagon.  I have always  resisted the popular movement to bash Wal Mart.  I like the prices, they are convenient to me and, well, I’m kind of a fan of capitalism.

As the owner of a residential cleaning service, I am acutely aware of the need for customer service.  Who isn’t, really?  With social media these days you can be fairly or un-fairly dragged through the proverbial mud with a keystroke.  If you provide lousy customer service, within moments, anyone and everyone can know about it. 

But back to my point.  Wal Mart.  As I say, I’ve always been a fan, as a customer.  Oh, sure, I would have the slightest twinge of regret when I shopped there.  Wondering which little Mom and Pop shop got plowed under while the retail behemoth drove on in it’s quest for global domination.  But look at the great price I paid for this new fishing pole!   And, frankly, I was always treated well whether I shopped online or in-store.  Until this week.

I had ordered laptops for my kids for Christmas.  They’re both in high school now and report writing is an intergral part of that.  Plus the one-step-up-from-a-Commadore 64-desktop they were using was due for a replacement.  The new hardware was a Cyber Monday deal.  Each of the two eMachines came with a case and a 2 gig flashdrive.  And the price could not be beat.  I was stoked.  World’s best Dad.  Finally!

All went well.  At first.  Within a week one of the cases and the two flashdrives came in.  And then I waited.  And waited.  I kept going back to the “click here to track your order” button, but the information never changed.  All I knew was that the order for shipment was placed with Fed Ex on December 2nd.  Period.  I take that back.  I also knew that they were expecting my order to arrive between December 9th and December 16th.  On December 16th, I used the email form on Wal Mart’s website to inquire about my order.  I received a bot answer, telling me to go back to the “track this order” button.  It also said, that if the bot email was not helpful, I could reply to that email with more information, which I did, detailing what a heel I would be if I couldn’t get these laptops by Christmas (I am not above a little manipulation.  I learned well from my kids).

A short while later, I get the email response, “A refund has been processed for your order”.    I was shocked.  I didn’t ask for a refund, I just wanted to know what happened to my laptops (granted, possesion is 9/10ths of the law, and I was clearly not in possesion, but still…).  I dialed the 800 number given in case I had other questions, which I did.  I won’t go through the whole conversation because nocody wants to hear about the begging and the anger and the confusion.  Suffice to say that the answer I got was “the laptops were shipped to the store, but the store sent them back”.  Why?  “I don’t know.  They may have been damaged”.  Was anyone going to tell me they were sent backBefore Christmas?  “I don’t know”.  I told the gentleman that I would like to cancel the order and get a full refund, in light of these disturbing events.  I was, not even politely, told that since one of the cases and the two flashdrives had been shipped and was ready for pick up, I would have to go to the store and refuse them, in order to get refunded.

As a business owner, I would not last a minute with customer service like this.  I know that as surely as I know that my blood pressure went through the roof during that 30 minute conversation.  I also know that I cannot change this.  This little rambling of mine will maybe get a few similar stories in response but Wal Mart will continue to quash competition and march on in it’s never-ending quest or world domination.  But I also know that it will do it without me.


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