Customer service seems to be a thing of the past; but, I’m going to give you a list of the best and the worst based on my experience.
Remember the days when you called a company and a person answered the phone? Now it’s an automated system; good luck trying to get a person on the phone at all. The menus send you round and round, the voice recognition software doesn’t work. I end up screaming obscenities into the phone only to have it say “I didn’t get that. Please try again.” There was a movie a couple of years back with a group of terrorists sitting around a phone with “for nuclear missiles press 1, for automatic weapons, press 2, etc.” It was hysterical because it’s so true.
There are, however, a handful of companies with incredible customer service and I remain loyal to them.
Nordstrom – the best ever. Nordstrom will return ANYTHING even if you don’t have a receipt. They will work tirelessly to look up old stock numbers and find out what you paid. They will refund it to any credit card you want, not just give you store credit. I was once in Nordstom in the shoe department and mentioned I had bought a very expensive pair of boots, wore them once and they killed my feet. He said, do you have the box? I said yes and he said bring them back. I said that was about 4 years ago! He said it didn’t matter. I got my full $245 back and subsequently returned a bunch of clothes that no longer fit and I didn’t have receipts for. The sales people could not have been more congenial and helpful. I got all my money refunded to the credit card of my choice. Another great thing about Nordstrom’s customer service is the personal shopper. It’s free and the shoppers are amazing at finding and bringing you clothes that look perfect on you.
QVC – this shopping channel has incredible customer service! You have a brief automated system that gets you right through to an English-speaking person just dying to help you. I bought a tooth whitening toothbrush (it’s the bomb) but I had braces on and wasn’t able to tell if it was working. I called about the 30 day money back guarantee and said my braces wouldn’t come off during the 30 days. No problem, they extended the guarantee period for me immediately. QVC used to reimburse you for your original shipping; but, unfortunately they don’t anymore.
EVINE Live. I never heard of them before and then found out it used to be ShopNBC. I bought some face serum and moisturizer and the serum bottle was leaking and about 1/3 of the product was gone in three days. I called their customer service number and they said they would immediately send me a new one and I didn’t have to return the one I had. SCORE.
Victoria’s Secret – always helpful, will jump through hoops to help you, and when you have too many bras (like I do) they will let you use the $10 off coupon on another product!
Lands End – This is the only company I know where an actual person answers the phone. It usually doesn’t even ring on my end before they answer. They are always helpful and will do whatever it takes to make you happy. I do think LL Bean might still answer their phones too.
The Skin Store also has great customer service. I had made a return but used a coupon and was confused about the return amount. They were very helpful. The new products I wanted to buy were ineligible for the current 20% off promotion; but, they said they had no problem honoring the discount, made a note on my account and told me to give them a call when I was ready to make the purchase.
Sephora is wonderful for may reasons. First they give you samples of everything and returns are easy even with no receipt as they can look up your member number. People there are always willing to help; although, I was a little taken aback buy the gentleman giving me his list of faves on eye shadow primers and such. I asked him if he wore eye shadow and he said of course. Ok, who am I to judge? He gave me great samples.
Violife answers your emails or calls you in a day or so. I was trying to make a purchase with a 30% off deal but couldn’t get their website to work before the coupon expired. When they called me they gave me a code to use any time for 30% off. That’s good customer service!
Ebay and Paypal also offer great customer service and have resolved my issues. You have to hunt like hell for a phone number; but, once you get it you’re golden.
There are a couple other small companies with good customer service; but they are few and far between.
Now, the list for BAD customer service could take up a book the size of Webster’s dictionary. The worst customer service award goes to Comcast. I have a friend who worked there for 11 years and always called it Shitcast and now I know why. If you call, expect to be on hold for more than 30 minutes, transferred dozens of times, and ultimately hung up on. The last call I made I was talking to someone in the Philippines! My first call was two hours, transferred 10 times, disconnected and had to drive 40 minutes each way to the call center. I was promised a call from a supervisor and that I would get a break on my bill for my trouble. Of course that didn’t happen. They shipped me the wrong remote, then shipped me the correct one and charged me for shipping the right one. (I fought that charge and got it removed.) The next call was because my equipment wasn’t working correctly. I was told I had the wrong equipment and an appointment was made to install another DVR. My friend who worked there said that was wrong. Another phone call, 5 transfers and 40 minutes on hold I found out he was right; but, the tech did install the wrong box. So, they had to reschedule the appointment and I had to wait another week. They couldn’t modify the original appointment. Then the bill came and of course that was wrong too. Another 40 minute phone call. I figure I’ve lost about ten hours of my life to this company.
Nomorerack – non-existent customer service. In fact, the company has changed its name now, no doubt to all the complaints. My roommate and I ordered from them, got wrong merchandise, no merchandise at all, broken merchandise, etc. Hours on the phone with them were futile. We sent things back with delivery confirmation and they claimed they never got it. It literally took months to sort it all out. STAY AWAY.
United Airlines just plain sucks. When it was Continental it was a great airline; but then it merged. They said they picked the name United because it was more recognizable. Gee, wonder why? What marketing genius though naming it United and reminding everyone of 9/11 every time they get on a plane was a good idea? Geez, and I’m overqualified because I’ve got a Masters Degree.
Get on a United flight and be prepared to get NOTHING except surly flight attendants. I actually think it’s a requirement that you be a completely miserable person to be hired. Continental used to give you entertainment and a little sandwich. Now if the plane has any entertainment at all, you have to pay for it. Food choices are severely limited to expenses “snack boxes” which basically have nothing in them. Make sure you bring food from home and something to occupy your time. But it gets better.
I book airline tickets online and United’s website saves your last search, which is naturally the return flight. When I booked a flight in June it booked it backwards and I did not find out about this till I got to the airport! They charged me $580 additional to get on the next flight. I had to get there for a doctor’s appointment so I had no choice. I spent two hours on the phone (40 mins. on hold) with a rep who said not only could I get a refund for these fees; but, I could cancel the ticket and fly standby on any flight for $75. I knew this couldn’t be right. I went to three counters in the airport before I found someone helpful – helpful enough to charge my Amex another $580 on top of the $247 I had already paid. Of course she said you can’t fly anywhere without a ticket so the standby theory was incorrect. No shit. She said I could file a refund form with United, which I did, only to be denied. Not being willing to take no for an answer I took to Twitter and started an attack. At first I got some snarky responses from someone masquerading as United. The actual United Twitter people helped me and I got $200 refunded. Hey, it was better than nothing but took hours of my time. By the way, attacking Comcast on Twitter does nothing and it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a phone number for the corporate headquarters in Philadelphia. I tried. I was a journalist for more than a decade I have damn good research skills. I think the only option is driving to Philly and demand to see someone.
Whatever you do, NEVER EVER rent a car from SixT. This was the most unbelievably horrible experience I think I’ve ever had. The car I had rented – a brand new BMW – died on me. They left me on hold for an hour then disconnected me. I called back (it was evening and I was thankfully at my hotel) and they said they’d have a tow truck there in half an hour. Three phone calls, three disconnections, and three hours later I had no tow truck. I called AGAIN and was told it was too late and a tow truck would be there in the morning. I told them it was too late and that I had a flight early in the morning. I returned the key to SixT and since their computers were down AGAIN (same when I picked up the car) I made them give me a hand-written receipt. The next night I got a call telling me they were there to pick up the car and could they have the key. I told them I was in NJ and the key was with them! Then they tried billing me for an extra day. Fortunately American Express (a top-notch company) fought this for me and I got the entire cost of the rental refunded. But, it wasn’t over yet!
I got a letter with a bill in excess of $300 saying I had drained the battery by leaving the lights on. This was impossible for several reasons. First I was only out of the car for about half an hour and you need to have the key in proximity to the car for the lights to work. I had a local BMW mechanic review the SixT mechanic’s report and he confirmed it was a “bunch of crap.” He knew the dealership they had taken it to. American Express ended up paying the claim but SixT still wants a $50 administrative fee. Bite me; you’ll never get it. Fortunately they haven’t pressed the issue.
American Express is amazing. Use your Amex for everything, especially travel. Had I known it at the time, Amex would have sent a tow truck, picked me up if I were stranded and sorted everything right then and there. Whenever I have had a problem with a purchase, American Express has been there for me. This is another company that will jump through hoops for you. I have five Amex cards and have been a member since 1984.
The sad fact is most companies have terrible customer service, automated menus that won’t let you speak to a human, and if you’re lucky enough to get one on the phone they don’t speak English (but their name is Dave Smith or Sally Martin) and are located in a foreign country.
Even if a store is slightly more expensive, I would rather deal with a place that has exceptional customer service. I will drive 45 minutes to the nearest Nordstrom when Macy’s is right around the corner. I have nothing against Macy’s; but, it doesn’t hold a candle to Nordstrom, especially in the customer service department.
Please share your customer service stories with me as I know I’m leaving out some companies worth mentioning!