If you've read my previous post, you'll know that I did battle with UPS last week. I'm not sure who won since I got my package but it wasn't on the date I had paid extra for. They have offered to refund the $5 extra payment for the failed rescheduling, but it hasn't occurred to them to refund the cost of the 2-Day air delivery that took more than two days. Since this was paid to the vendor of the goods I bought, rather than to UPS direct, it will be a huge hassle to get this back, but I am planning to take them up on the offer of the $5 refund. I know it's mean, but by the time they have reversed that charge, the cost to them in man hours will be far and above what I paid to them. Judging by the profits they are posting however, not enough people are making UPS actually deliver what they pay for.
So, I thought I'd start a conversation about what it takes to get decent customer service, especially when you are experiencing problems. Please add your tips and comments too, as we can all learn new methods.
- They say that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, (or something like that), so it's probably worth starting off politely and asking for help. If your first encounter with a customer service rep gets his/her back up, the entire process is going to be longer and more stressful.
- Tell them what you want as an end result, don't just phone up and whine. If you want your money back, ask for it - they're not going to offer it to you.
- Keep notes of every event and conversation pertaining to your complaint or request. Even though they usually have a log of every call, you can't access that so you need your own records. I take names when I can but quite often, there are so many people working in the call centre/center, and they're not always in the same office, that it doesn't matter.
- If all else fails, find the company Facebook page and write something on the wall. I did that last week with UPS and got an almost instant response.
- Tweet about it if you're on Twitter. Although I had to Tweet about 6 times last week to get someone to respond, they gave me an e-mail address and responded to my e-mail. Companies don't like that kind of publicity. Interestingly, I was also contacted by a few consumer advocacy organizations who were ready to help if I needed them.
- I was also told to Tweet with the hashtag #nevahold. Nevahold is an organization set up to help consumers make themselves heard. I actually didn't use it, but it might be worth looking at their web site for next time. At present, they say they are mainly concerned with airlines, consumer electronics and wireless industries in the US and UK markets. Here's an interview with one of the founders, which helps explain what they do and how to use it.
- Which brings me to the next point. If you really don't get satisfaction, know what your next steps are. In the USA and Canada there is the Better Business Bureau through which you can launch a complaint; each state also has an Attorney General's office that investigates and helps resolve complaints. In the UK, there is the government's consumer rights web site, as well as Citizens' Advice. The BBC web site also gives good, basic advice on your rights as a consumer.
- Don't forget local and national review sites, such as Yelp in the USA. I typically only use this to sing the praises of companies I like, but every so often have felt compelled to warn others of my bad experiences. Be very careful to stick to the facts though, as the legality of writing scathing, almost libelous attacks is very murky and you could find yourself the subject of an injunction or worse.
"Nil carborundum illegitemi", as they say.*
So - does anyone else have more tips for getting the customer service you paid for?
*Don't let the bastards grind you down.