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Friday, December 14, 2007

Bad Service Too Common Today

Connie Castanera

My tractor has been broken needing a part that allows one to switch from forward to reverse. Late in the summer (about 5 months ago), I called a local dealer that sells tractors and supplies for my brand of tractor. Eventually (several weeks after the original call), the dealer sent someone to look at the tractor and determine exactly what part was needed. The initial visit took place around early September. I was advised that the part would be ordered immediately, and that they would return to install it shortly after it arrived.

Further, I had been told that it might "take a little time" to locate the part. Months went by and I never heard anything from the dealer. I tried to be patient, but, how long could it take to locate a simple part? Eventually, I called the dealer again and located the person I had talked to previously. He had only a vague recollection of our previous conversation. He admitted that the part had never been ordered, and promised that they would take care of it promptly. I informed him that I had been referred to another dealer who might be more responsive. He asked me to please give him another chance to "make things right." Realizing that we all make mistakes, I decided to do so.

Five weeks later, I still had not heard anything. Again, I called the dealer and asked to speak to the head honcho. I told "Mr. Head Honcho" the whole story. He advised me that the part had arrived, but that the person I had been dealing with was away attending a conference. He said that I could expect the part to be installed within a week. If I didn't hear from them after a week, I should again call back.

As you can probably guess, I didn't hear from them after more than a week. So, once again, I called back. I have now been promised that the part will be installed today (12/14/07). I hope they show up as promised, since this is truly their last chance with me! You would think they would treat me better since I had made a large purchase with them earlier in the year.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I bought a new snow blower from one of the large department store chains in Frederick. We had planned to take it home that night, but after finding that it didn't fit in our SUV, we asked if they could deliver it within a couple of days. We were assured that a 2-day delivery would pose no problem for them. The delivery was scheduled for that Friday. I had several errands on my schedule for that day, but altered my plans to accommodate their arrival time of between 12 noon and 5 PM.

Shortly after 5:00 PM, I decided to call the store to see if they would be arriving soon. No one seemed to know the whereabouts of the truck, but they assured me that they would soon arrive with my purchase. When they had not arrived by 6:00 PM, I called again for an "update." At that time, I was advised that the truck had been vandalized that afternoon, and that they were running behind schedule. If that was true, why hadn't someone called to tell me what had happened? That would have been the responsible way to treat a customer that had just made a large purchase with them.

I was again assured that the truck was on its way, and that I could count on getting my snow blower that evening. Again, I had to adjust my plans for late evening to accommodate their delivery schedule. At that point, I was quite annoyed by their lack of consideration. But, I was willing to give them a chance to "make it right." Therefore, I set a "final" deadline of 8:00 PM.

At 8:30 PM, I finally called and canceled the order. While cancelling the order I found out that they had no intention of delivering the snow blower that night anyway, but had never called to let me know that. The very next day, my husband and I went out and bought a comparable snow blower from one of the large hardware store chains. It was priced right, assembled, and fit into our SUV.

My husband and I are often amazed at the amount of bad service that is delivered to good, loyal, customers. Whether it's a high ticket item or a simple meal in a restaurant, people would like to feel that their business is appreciated. It just makes good sense to do that if you want good customers to return. Why is that so hard to figure out?

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