Two parallels, Office Depot and Best Buy.
Yesterday, I had the “pleasure” of have two electronic devices break down in one day and the level of customer support was striking different.
My TV sound suddenly went off and my Lenovo Pad wouldn’t reboot. I called Best Buy for the TV and contacted Office Depot for the Pad. Both devices are within the first year warranty period.
Best Buy’s customer support was a no-brainer. From the comfort of my recliner I was walked through the steps by a polite customer service rep and referred to Geek Squad who helped me determine that it wasn’t the TV but the satellite box. I called Dishnetwork and, again, a quick, polite rep walked me through the troubleshooting process and I had sound again. One phone number each for Best Buy and Dishnetwork. Problem solved.
My Lenovo Pad from Office Depot? No friggin’ way. Totally opposite experience. I took that pad back to the Office Depot that’s near my home and where I purchased it. I figured they’d replace it from stock since it was still under the first year of warranty (only two months old). Of course not! They gave me a number to call and it wasn’t the right one. I had to search for the number myself on the internet. In the process, I had to call six different customer service numbers before there was even a hint of problem resolution. And you know what calling customer support numbers is like… press 1, press 3, press 4, enter your zipcode, repeat the same information, name, address, zipcode, explain the problem get told that’s not the right place, given another number to call, etc. etc. etc. My finger was numb from pressing buttons. I was finally told I had to return it to a Service Center and I have to pay the postage. I could expect a Return Authorization in the mail in a few days. It’ll be a couple weeks after that before I get it returned or replaced.
I bought the pad from Office Depot because it was a brick and mortar operation. Naively, I figured if there was a problem, I could return it to the store (brick and mortar), right? No way. Stupid customer! Just because you bought it here and paid a premium for the privilege, doesn’t mean you’re going to get better customer service. The device breaks, it’s your problem, not ours!
Lesson learned: Since you’re going to have to take on all responsibilities anyway, go to the web, find the cheapest price and buy it there. Forget the brick and mortar operations, especially Office Depot. For copy paper in a rush, perhaps, but not for electronics.
I found this link to some very similar complaints about the Lenovo support… http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-Ideapad-22282EU-7-Inch-Tablet/product-reviews/B005UBT7LW/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt_sr_1?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0
Service in the world of retail often varies from region to region. No doubt, you had an unpleasant experience, but recently I was treated very courteously @ an Office Depot. An employee found a defect in a product I was buying that as the consumer, I may never have noticed. Without waiting for any manager’s opinion or approval, the employee replaced the item. It was the right thing to do, and as you know, such as that is always refreshing. By the way, your tribute to your father was quite moving.
You’re absolutely correct. I have had in-store experiences similar to yours — in my local store, the same as mentioned above. However, in that same store, the “manager” was the one that referred me to the non-existent 800 number that began my adventure. So it really depends on the person at the store but the phone support sucks badly for both Office Depot and Lenovo.
Customer service via telephone would make sense if companies would value the work, and respect the people hired to do it. Further, since many do not share my feelings on this, a lot of firms offer extremely poor service. For some, their images will be permanently damaged. The other side of that coin is that companies who develop a strong reputation compete very well, all else being equal. But a lot is not equal. Once a company starts devaluing human beings who work for them, They usually start having all kinds od problems with product quality, logistics, and even the integrity of their inter-company information flow. All of these problems are dangerously expensive, and especially in retail. As these practices continue to devalue the employees, it only follows logically that they will soon devalue their customers, as well.
Excellent points! It occurred to me that not respecting the human element in a company is like not changing the oil in an engine. Eventually, it will break down.
Over the past three decades, I’ve seen the pendulum swing from people-centered companies to an attitude that the Bottom Line is the only important part of the company and salaries are the largest part of that. So, to fatten the bottom line, cut the amount paid in salaries through layoffs or by getting fewer people to do more work. USA’s productivity is very high for that reason but look at our economy. What a mess!
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you stopped to read my blog.