In Our World

Whatever Happened to Customer Service?

In general, I consider myself to be a fairly easy-going person. Those of you who know me well may or may not agree, but it's typically the case that I don't get really worked up about very much. Where I do let things get under my skin is…

In general, I consider myself to be a fairly easy-going person. Those of you who know me well may or may not agree, but it’s typically the case that I don’t get really worked up about very much. Where I do let things get under my skin is when something just doesn’t go like it should. Unfortunately that seems to happen more and more these days.

Now I’m not – usually – talking about an individual. Sure, there are times when a single person can be irritating in their behavior, but generally that is something that comes up and goes just as quickly. I might even write on it if the mood strikes me, simply because it’s something that might be fun to read about later. What really gets me going is when a company who is in the business of dealing with people has no clue whatsoever how to do it.

Take CompUSA. One of my least favorite retailers. They are perhaps the least friendly company on the planet. You could make a purchase, walk out the exit and back in the entrance to return something and you’d be charged a restocking fee. This, despite the fact that you had the item outside the store for perhaps a minute and the shrink wrap never came off. And don’t even get me started on their rebate policy. They simply don’t care about the customer.

Recently I encountered another company who is rumored to have good service, but is one of the worst – Intuit. The makers of Quicken and Quickbooks have got to be right up there with CompUSA. Though they aren’t typically looked at in the same light, simply because you don’t have to walk into a store, they are just as bad, if not worse.

Take my experience as an example. I’ve been exploring the option of testing out Quickbooks (I’m a Microsoft Office Accounting user). The Intuit team offers a conversion tool, which allegedly offers an easy conversion process. When it failed, I called the 800 number for help. The first person I spoke to didn’t even realize that the conversion tool offered to convert from Office Accounting. That’s not a good sign. The next person – and every subsequent one – didn’t realize the difference between a “local file” and a database, such as SQL Server, saying that they had never encountered this configuration. This, despite the fact that Office Accounting always stores its data in a SQL database. Amazing.

Once I finally managed to get my data converted (through no help of theirs – I’ll write about that another time), I was prompted to register the software. Yes, it really took that long. So I did. First I had to talk to someone. Why not do it online? At least the Microsoft process is done via the Internet. But I digress. Once done, I thought I was done. But no, that was just for the server. When I try to activate the workstation, it actually goes to try and activate online, not via phone. And when I do, it doesn’t work, so I have to use the phone again – and this guy can’t help because the software has already been activated to someone in Texas! My only option is to return this software and purchase another.

Since I can get it for the same price, I agree – but when I tell them the price I paid, they balk. They say I have to go to the place I purchased it (Sam’s) to get a refund, since they can’t give me the same price. You’re telling me that Sam’s can actually sell it cheaper than Intuit? Apparently.

So I do go to Sam’s, only to find yet another service problem. Sam’s, as you probably know, has a ton of merchandise. They must have 15 copies of the software on the shelf. I buy one. When I go to the cashier, I find that I have to go to the customer service desk to get the actual software. No problem. I’ve already been there to return the original copy (that actually went smoothly).

But at the desk, they tell me that they don’t have the 2007 software – the one that has 15 copies on the shelf – they only have the 2008 software. No problem, I say, give me that. They’d be happy to – for an extra $50! Had they had the 2008 software on the shelf, I probably would have simply purchased it. But they didn’t. Not a single copy. So I bought what I could. Now they want me to upgrade. Classic bait and switch, false advertising, what have you. That’s just wrong. Even the manager comes over, and refuses to help me. He won’t even attempt to get me a copy of 2007 from another store. So not only do they sell me an already-activated copy of 2007, now they can’t get me another one.

Whatever happened to customer service?