Due to continuing reader response, and because I'm still annoyed by my recent experiences, I'm going to share more of your tales of customer service woes this week.
A reader named Susan sent me an e-mail about her experience with a local sporting goods chain. She wrote that she is a "50-ish" woman who participates in many activities that require athletic shoes, so she is always looking for a good buy.
"I had seen an ad for a pair of shoes, and I also wanted to pick up a pair of swim gloves," she wrote. "Pretty much, the store is self-service, and I understand that. However, I couldn't find swim gloves anywhere in the store. Two cashiers at the front of the store were engaged in a conversation that did not include me. I couldn't even catch one of their eyes to ask for help. And it wasn't business they were discussing."
So Susan wandered around the store again, still looking for swim gloves, but with no success.
"And then I spotted someone putting stock on the shelves and thought if anyone knows, he will know," she wrote. "Well, he didn't. It turns out, he was from another store and didn't know if this store carried swim gloves or not, but his store, clear across town, did."
Susan did not want to drive across town, so she went back to ask the cashiers, but they could not or would not help her.
"I walked out of the store after 20 minutes of frustration, and guess what? I have told countless friends this experience, and my disclaimer was that this particular store would no longer have my business. I called their corporate headquarters to explain my poor customer service, and the dreaded computer was all that I got. If this had been my first experience of poor customer service at this store, I would (have) given them a D and tried again, but it was my fourth! And my last."
You've made the right decision, Susan. And your story leads me to an e-mail from a reader named Bethany, who wrote in with another example of "the arrogance of large companies toward 'the little guy."'
"Out of the blue, I received some pills from the mail-order pharmacy we occasionally use," Bethany wrote. "It was a medication I had not used in a long time, so I wanted to return the pills and have the $45 co-pay removed from my account. I called (the company) many times, and no one could help."
Bethany finally returned the pills and wrote to the president of the company. That got her a call from a company representative, who said it did not matter that she did not order the pills "I had to pay, and if I didn't, our account would be turned over to a collection agency.
"When I suggested that since (the company) made the mistake, (the company) should fix it, he said, '(The company) doesn't do that.' Needless to say, in the future I will use my local pharmacy."
Bethany wrote that she later found out the company had sent an old prescription list to her doctor, and he or someone in his office automatically approved it.
"(The doctor) doesn't recall, but says that could have happened, but shouldn't have," Bethany wrote. "I think (the) billion-dollar (company) should be magnanimous and write off the co-pay or deal with my doctor for payment, since I was not at fault, but (the company) doesn't do that."
Of course it doesn't, Bethany, because then the company wouldn't be able to bleed every penny legitimately or not from its customers. Or, in your case, former customers!
On a related note, my wife was poking around the Internet seeking resolution to our recent bad customer service experiences, and she ran across a Web site that may prove helpful to all of us. It's gethuman.com/, and it tells how to bypass those endless loops of computer recordings and get a human response when calling dozens of specific companies.
I haven't verified the numbers, so user beware. But this is probably worth a look if you're struggling with a consumer issue.
Good luck. And remember, the only way we're going to make headway in this fight is by taking our business away from companies that don't offer good customer service and telling our stories to everyone we know. It will take time, but I think it will be worth it!Meanwhile, if you have a financial question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.