I rarely if ever return anything, thinking that I can either find some use for it or donate it. I also rarely buy anything that doesn't work or that has anything wrong with it. This year I bought two nice things ($65-$100) that were defective. The way the companies each handled it were so different.
The first thing that I bought was from Scottevest. It was two of their travel vests for $200 total. We took these to Brazil with us to carry our valuables on our person because of the high crime in Brazil. They were great! Mine was fine, but LoveHubbie's ripped out the ID pocket on the first day. I "knew" that everything would be okay because I trusted Scottevest, a company I found out about from word of mouth (from Patti Digh). I follow the founder of Scottevest's--Scott Jordan--YouTube videos and know that he cares about his company. No worries.
As soon as I arrived home from Brazil, I called Scottevest. I got a cheerful customer service person immediately who told me she'd send a new one out right away, along with an envelope for the defective vest so that I could send it back. No worries. Easy-peasy. A couple of days later, the new vest was here, the old dirty one went out (so that they could see how it failed). They trusted me, and now they have a customer for life. For life.
I will gladly pay for a product that is backed up and handled this way.
I never told Scottevest how happy I was with them. So this is to remedy my oversight. I am thrilled with you, Scottevest, and with how you stand behind your excellent products. I will buy from you for the rest of my life, and recommend you to everyone I know!
Then I had a customer service nightmare. I bought a hyped-up product from a company that is US-owned, higher priced, and touted in professional videos and with claims of artisan-level workmanship. The owner is a young entrepreneur who uses social media to distribute their products. His company is very successful--like Scottevest. Trendy. Very well-respected. It is a very, very cool product also endorsed by celebrities, but intellectual, socially-aware celebrities. I ordered their product for $65 to go with a Christmas present I was taking on an upcoming trip. The product was defective, grossly so. It was like something made overseas, of inferior workmanship right out of the box. No worries, I thought.
First bad sign: no phone number to call. This is a bad sign, people. Email only. I looked everywhere. Searched the web. Nothing. So I emailed them. A really long email describing the problem in great detail. After a bit they responded, writing me that I needed to send pictures to back up what I had written. They didn't seem to have read the email, or else were ignoring key parts of it. It seemed to be a template response. They needed pictures, although the problem didn't lend itself well to that.
I didn't have a camera available at the time, so I made a video. After a while, when there was no response, I made the YouTube video public. After several days I emailed them again, since it was getting closer to the trip. They said that they would refer the whole issue to what sounded like a committee who would evaluate it to decide if I should get a replacement, and if so, what I should pay. I send back an angry (but nice) email telling them that I was tired of jumping through hoops and that they should stand behind their product; they had my money and I had no usable product.
This email was not answered. I tried again. And again. Eventually the customer service person emailed me and said that a replacement was being sent out. But she ignored the other emails I'd sent. At least I'm getting a replacement, I thought. I waited for ten days. I emailed again. No response.
I then became more aggressive and tweeted about my "customer service nightmare". I was fortunate in that the company owner is also their main twitterer. In our correspondence, he first blamed UPS. I asked him to read the ticket trail of many, many interactions so that he could see what had transpired. He told me he wanted to call me.
We talked, and he was concerned that I was a "disgruntled customer", but he was also full of excuses as to why I still didn't have a working product. He blamed the holiday season, my high expectations in ordering the first such product they'd made in "pink", communication problems, their company growth, etc. He ended up sending me a working product overnight in the pink color I'd ordered. I was satisfied, but the problem was that I'd worked way, way harder than he did in earning my product satisfaction.
I will never buy from this company again, and I will encourage everyone I know not to.
I wanted to encourage everyone to value those companies who are truly outstanding and who make a difference in our lives. Not every company is like that. Today, thank a company that delivers what they say they will...we all need to appreciate those companies who work hard to be excellent...and to care about their customers.
Is there a company that has made a difference in your life?