Generally, I’m a very even-tempered sort of person: Things that would drive most people up the wall merit little more than a raised eyebrow on my part and it takes a considerable amount of frustration to bring me to the point of losing it. This wasn’t always the case – I used to have a foul, and I do mean sensationally horrendous, temper; however it’s something I’ve managed to tame over time, and now I’m the complete opposite… Laid back to the point of being horizontal.
I’ve written recently about my inability to make a fuss or complain, even when it’s merited. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot or will not, when things have gone badly wrong, because there comes a point at which the worm really must turn, even if any hope that something might be done to put things right is fated to be completely in vain. I’m also a great believer in naming and shaming those who offend me, and I take no prisoners.
When it comes to customer service, I think most of us have a pretty clear idea of what’s good and what’s bad. Many would cite Linden Lab as a baseline measure for what constitutes doing it badly… Poor communication, unresponsive to feedback, lack of engagement with users, secretive – all valid reasons for marking them down, although in some circumstances, I do feel they get a bad press and suffer a great deal from having a userbase who feel terribly entitled and who bear far too many grudges for far too long. You may still be fuming that the Lab took away last names, but come on… That was six years ago, and you stopped going inworld in 2013! May I suggest you get a life?
However poor LL may be, there are companies out there in comparison to which the Lab is a shining example of virtue, and I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with one such company in the course of the past week.
The company is Yodel – which many non-Brits may be unfamiliar with, but if you fancy quickly Googling them you’ll rapidly come to the conclusion that they have a serious PR problem. When it comes to customer service, professionally it’s a subject I know a fair bit about, I’m also extremely clued up about project and contract management, and logistics – so I’m very aware of the difficulties that companies can face in delivering a service that meets the expectations of their customers within the constraints within which that service operates. However, Yodel is a company that does just one thing – deliver stuff – which, presumably, means they should be experts in the field.
They are not.
Here’s the deal: I bought a new double bed and, since I have no way of collecting a large and heavy item of this nature, arranged for it to be delivered. I picked the only date available that I would also be able to take delivery – last Friday. So far, so good. Text message Thursday night ‘Your delivery is scheduled for tomorrow between 07:00 and 21:00’ – cue a whole day off work, stuck in the house, waiting for a delivery that never happened.
I used their website to track it, which confidently told me on every occasion ‘On track – delivery by 21:00’. At 21:20 another message popped up: ‘We’re sorry we missed you, we’ve left a card’, a statement that completely falls down on all three counts – no, you’re not sorry; no, you didn’t miss me – I was here, practically camped behind the front door; no you didn’t leave a card. (Unless of course Yodel’s delivery drivers are ninjas who tap gently on doors with feathers before posting invisible cards through the door and sneaking quietly away!)
I did what any reasonable person would do – I poured a stiff whiskey and contacted customer service. I won’t relate the full extent of the conversation, other than to mention that despite numerous attempts to get the message across I could only come to the conclusion that James – name not changed, I refuse to protect anyone at this disaster of a business – was in fact an AU (Artificial Unintelligence), programmed to repeat the same thing, parrot-fashion, no matter what the customer may be saying. Here though are some of the edited highlights:
Me: Can you tell me why the delivery hasn’t been made?
James: I don’t know
Me: Why is your company telling a blatant lie about missing me and leaving a card? I’ve been here between 07:00 and now, and no-one has called.
James: I’m sorry to hear that. This will be delivered tomorrow for you though between 9am and 5pm.
Me: I’m not available tomorrow – I’ve taken today off specifically to take delivery.
James: This will be delivered tomorrow for you though between 9am and 5pm. This can be left with neighbours if you are out though. I will try my very best to get this to you as soon as possible tomorrow.
Me: The conversation with my neighbours, ‘Please can you give up your Saturday to wait in and take delivery of my double bed?’ is not going to happen! I repeat, I am not available tomorrow, I am available now and your depot is only a half hour drive away.
So, I’ve now wasted a day, rearranged my weekend and I’m once again under house arrest, waiting for James to make good on his promise to ‘try my very best to get this to you as soon as possible tomorrow’ – since it’s now Saturday afternoon, I’m not holding my breath!
This is not over. Whether or not my bed makes an appearance, I’ll be writing a complaint and I’ll be going straight to the CEO (firstname.lastname@example.org), who I’m sure will be as happy about having his time wasted by me as I am about having my time wasted by his company, and I suggest that if you’ve been on the receiving end of shoddy service from them, you do the same. I’ll also be invoicing them for my time, including a Saturday premium – nothing will happen of course, but sometimes you’ve got to make the effort.
And James, if you’re reading this… 0/10 for customer service.
Update: Now Monday, still no sofa, and no communication from Yodel.
I strike terror among men
I can’t be bothered by what they think
I bare my cross, my soul, myself
I forgive but I never forget
My Ruin – Terror