Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hypocracy - Nice Customers Finish Last

Companies don't care about their customers, especially nice customers.

The more understanding and patient you are, the worse service you get.  This is especially true with complaints.

Being in the consumer research business, I know about consumer rights and how businesses prioritize which customers they service first.  Being a client servicing professional, I also know which are the hot buttons clients push to make us give them what they want.

As a consumer and customer of various products and services, depending on the product/ service defect level and my schedule, I sometimes do fight for my rights - and when I do I am quite good at it.  Don't get me wrong, I do not enjoy the process at all.  I'd much rather have a functioning product/ service or a simple, straightforward, friendly resolution to defects.  Unfortunately, the commercial world does take advantage of nice and friendly customers.

Take my HSBC travel insurance as an example.  When Kevin and I went to Italy last September/ October, our luggage went missing for more than a day and the air carrier never called us to update on status of our luggage retrieval nor delivered the luggage to us.  We spent almost HKD 2000 in total making calls and taking trains to and from airport to get our luggage back.  When I was back in Hong Kong and made a phone call to HSBC travel insurance, the staff told me that their policy did not specifically cover any losses incurred due to lost luggage except purchases of replacement clothing and necessities up to a certain amount.  However, she told me sometimes they would make exceptions, but I would need to put that in writing and convince them why they should approve the claims.  So in November I wrote a letter to HSBC and filed for claims.  The next few months, apart from sending us a few copies of the same letter, asking us for receipt of the dress I bought, there was no mention of the other claims.  They never called us.  Only sent us those computer generated letters.

The past few days I was very sick with stomach flu, so I stayed home to rest.  With the idle time I rarely had, I finally picked up the phone and called HSBC.  The "boy" on the line sounded very junior, as he was stuttering a lot, and always quoted "the policy".  The whole time I was very patient, until he quoted "the policy" for the fourth time, I said to him,"Listen, Mr Cheung.  HSBC claims to be the world's local bank, but its travel insurance policy shows that it has absolutely no understanding of local markets, or even what traveling is all about.  The policy assumes the whole world functions like Hong Kong - when you lose your luggage, CX will proactively call you every few hours to update you the status and deliver your luggage right to your door even late at night.  This does not happen in every city, as much as we'd like it to.  Travel insurance is meant to cover one's accidental losses during a trip, and not all sorts of losses can be pre-written otherwise your policy would be as thick as a bible.  So don't tell me what your "policy" says.  I am asking you, Mr Cheung, to escalate this to your supervisor, so that he/she can kindly consider my exceptional case.  I understand it is not written in the policy, and that was the exact reason why I wrote the letter to explain.  Now if HSBC decides it cannot accept exceptions, I am in the media industry, and I will certainly make sure I will voice my suggestions to HSBC publicly, so that your company may consider my suggestion someday."

Today they called me back, first quoting policy again, then said they could make an exception and compensate 50% of our claims.

Another example:  magazine subscription.  Back in December, I ordered an Inside Lacrosse Faceoff Yearbook and annual subscription for Kevin as part of bday and xmas presents.  We never received them.  I emailed customer service, and the lady called Pamela blamed it on snowstorm twice, remoteness of the shipping office in Baltimore, etc.  Till mid-February, after Kevin moved out, I still didn't see the package.  I emailed Pamela again, asked them to deliver to Kevin's work address instead to facilitate delivery, and requested for a confirmation.  She never wrote back.

Finally, two days ago, I decided to go to Inside Lacrosse website and look for other contact emails.  Fortunately, they listed out all their department heads' emails... Business Manager, Sales Director, Marketing Director, etc.  So I forwarded my last email to all these three contacts, copying Pamela:
Dear all,

Apologies for copying you all, I am sure some of you are not responsible for subscriptions.  In case there's a more appropriate contact to settle this issue, please kindly re-direct this email to him/her copying me. 

My last email to the company was Feb 17, and I have not heard from anyone from the magazine regarding my missing (1) annual subscription (2) Faceoff purchase which were ordered and paid in full in Dec 2010.  Those were meant to be Christmas and Birthday presents.  I hope someone from your company can take this seriously, as both purchases have been paid in full but I have not received any of my orders at all.  I do not wish to sue the company for fraud, if we could settle this promptly and peacefully.  Please understand I have been extremely patient and understanding in the past few months.

As per my email below, despite months of delay, I was fine with re-delivery of my purchases - providing the delivery was to be made promptly and a confirmation was to be sent to me so I would be informed of the shipment to my friend's address (I provided a new company address to facilitate your delivery).  However, neither Pamela nor the shipping manager nor anyone else in the company responded to me.

I am requesting for someone to look into this and help me resolve this ASAP.  If I do not hear from anyone by Mar 10, 2010, I will consider taking legal actions.

I hope to hear from the company by then.

Thanks in advance.  Again, apologies to those of you whom I mistakenly copied on this email.

Best regards,
Guess what?  The Business Manager wrote back within a few hours, explained he had never been made aware of my case, and promised he'd make the shipment immediately.

So you see?  Nice people always finish last.

Now I should find a way to complain about my 6-month defective laptop.

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