I thought we were supposed to be living in the service economy. So what happened to.. you know, that “service” part? Here’s a run down of my experience this week purchasing a new plasma tv, and a side by side comparison of two companies who approach the whole service angle from completely opposite directions.
So I purchase said television from CYA.COM (I’ll withhold the real name unless they screw me, and if so they’ll become my favorite e-whipping boy). This particular internet retailer ships over one shiny new Vizio 42″ plasma screen. When the set arrives, the screen is completely shattered, as is my hope of watching the final episode of Heroes Monday night on a nice set in my new bedroom. I’ll deal. So after spending an annoying 30 minutes looking for a CYA.COM phone number, I find it, call up CYA.COM and get a support drone who promptly tells me the manufacturer shipped it, so I’ll have to contact them. This sad sack proceeds to backpedal and “umm….ahh..errr” himself silly once I inform him that it is in fact CYA.com’s address on both the packing slip and the return label. OOPS!
Fine, whatever. I call up Vizio, and I was passed along to a manager named Laurie. She proceeds to tell me that while the retailer should handle it, she would like to help if they botch a replacement, because afterall “your happiness is paramount here”. She gives me her direct line, jots down a case, and asks me to fill her in either way this goes. Nicely done Laurie – I would be swearing a whole lot more about this if not for your help.
Back to CYA.com, who tries the vendor bit again. Doesn’t fly this time, so then they tell me they will need to have an “inspector” come by. That’s odd, I think to myself – until she mentions the inspector would be someone from the shipping agent (ie FedEx). To make matters worse, I get an email questionaire the next day (today) asking me a series of questions regarding the shipper’s possible tampering with the package. Come on. It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to figure out what’s going on here. I didn’t buy the vendor shipment canard, so they’re trying to float the culpability the other way at the shipper now. Fine and dandy, but why am I doing their job? Do I end up in limbo if the shipper disputes?
What all this leads me to is an obvious parallel between the two organizations I’m dealing with – Vizio’s team is interested in keeping a customer, and is covering my ass. They gave me a contact point. They care. CYA.COM is busy covering their ass instead, and is ultimately nameless and faceless. Who would you rather do business with?