KitchenAid Warranty Fix with Tape
When my new Kitchenaid refrigerator was about 18 months old it developed cracks in the plastic lining. A call to Kitchenaid confirmed it was under warrany and they sent out a repairman who put a piece of white tape over the cracks and pronounced it fixed. Here's what I said: WHITE TAPE!!?? Here's what he said: "That's all they would authorize." See the Taped Fridge.
Home Depot Warranty Denied
I had Home Depot install new kitchen flooring. Unfortunately they didn't level two depressions in the floor first, which would have been good worksmanship. They came back out, cut large flaps in the flooring, leveled the floor and glued the flaps down. Over time, the flaps came loose and are now duct taped down while I argue with Home Depot, endlessly. Over the years, they first agreed to redo the floor, but didnt, changed managers, lost the records, and now the store manager tells me it won't be fixed because I dont have a receipt. See the Taped Flooring.
I look at my taped floor and taped fridge each time I walk into the kitchen and associate them with the brands, Kitchenaid:Bad, Home Depot:Bad. Now I ask you, how likely do you think I am to go back to these firms after being reminded of their broken promises every day for years? Yes, not very.
But guess what? These companies don't know that. Most firms have no way to quantify the effects of being bad to customers on their bottom line. Not today's bottom line, anyone can fool those numbers, but the tomorrows bottom line, when your spreading bad reputation fights and eventually destroys your ability to Attract and Keep customers. That's how it works. More later.
Everybody has similar examples of bad treatment as customers, so much and so widely does this exist that buying has turned dangerous. One bad move at a credit card company and your 4% introductory rate goes to 24%. And their definition of a bad move gets tighter and tighter - like paying your phone bill a few days late. Becoming a customer is increasingly fraught with danger from the 'fine print' or the non-delivery of what was promised. Gotchas!
See the article in Washington Post Angry Customers Use Web to Shame Firms.
So we will fight back. Not with just shameful exposure (well, some) but with your well-honed thinking and cutting humor and then, even better, business reasons why and how these bad companies are screwing up their future. Maybe if the management doesn't respond, the investors will.
Bank of America tells you when you are satisfied ...
I opened the mail recently and found that Bank of America was charging me $34 in insufficient fund fees for every item they received, including checks and debit charges. Obviously something was wrong with my account (likely my fault) and they decided to notify me by mail which took 6 days to reach me which gave them 5 more days to collect fees. Eventually they charged over $300 in fees before I heard about, and fixed, the problem. I asked why they didn't notify me by email, or a phone call? (A great way to use automated phone service which they otherwise excel in). They would say: "Hey, there are no funds in your account and charges are coming in!!" I also asked why they continued to honor debit charges which were being checked against my account on line. If one were turned down, it would be a signal to me that there were no funds in my accout. But no, they honored them, charging a $34 fee for each debit, no matter the amount, many of which were for less than the fee. Finally, I asked: OK, since you couldnt notify me, why didnt you move funds from my other account, sitting right there with plenty of money in it. They said this: We cant do that. I said this: Why not. To all of my questions, they explained merely what they do, not why they cant do what I need. When I pointed out that these policies meant they treated a long-time (22 years)customer poorly, and I would like to talk to a supervisor, here's what the Bank of America Customer Solutions person said: "No. I will not escalate this." Pausing only to do a little gasp and raise my eyebrows, I said, "But doesn't the customer get to say when there is or is not a solution?" And he said, No. Hear the recording (Link). His solution - check your balance on line every day to make sure nothing is wrong. So much for the peace of mind associated with Bank of America.
More than rants, more than shame, time to fix bad company behavior...
But this is not just a rant blog. More like a journal of how being a customer has its own dangers. Every day I get offers as a consumer and small business person that just fry me. I'll talk about them here. And I'll classify the problems - is this company clueless or maliceous? Is it a problem of performance or of character? Do they have a good point or are they just hiding the truth so you buy and get caught. We will use the terms used at these companies - like "touch points" to show them where and how they should really think of customers.
Readers are invited to comment and add their own experiences but should also agree to step back and analyze the problem as they see it. Rant with reasons! Many of us have jobs and lives where we do or wish we could do, smart things and we can tell why companies do stupid things to their customers (and employees, and investors, etc.) Companies need to see the results of their behavior in the market.
Coming soon -
"Character and Personality Classification - does this company really care about you at all?"