Monday, 10 March 2014

Customer Service Win/Fail

The damaged drawer

See the photo above? That’s what our customer Kate discovered when she unwrapped Lars, a table we sent to her via Interparcel.

As you can see, the entire front of the drawer has been split in two and, as the photo below shows, the screw holding the knob in place has been bent in half. It must have taken some considerable whack.

The result of a 'small drop'?

Lars was a sturdy little chap and had been wrapped in corrugated cardboard prior to being picked up by Interparcel’s courier (we believe it was UPS). It was packaged to my satisfaction, and I’ve done my share of wrapping furniture for delivery. But somewhere between RVHQ and Kate’s house in Northamptonshire, the parcel must have been dropped/smashed/sat on by an elephant.

Naturally, we were horrified and offered Kate a full refund or a replacement item. She asked us to source a replacement, so we scoured the web for an identical table – eventually found one, bought it, collected it and repainted the drawer.

By way of an apology, we chucked in a bag of posh popcorn and a box of chocolates and posted the new drawer to Kate. Predictably, it couldn’t be that straightforward and the new drawer didn’t quite fit the old table! So Laura painted the new table to match the drawer (still with us?) and we delivered it in person to Kate and her family, who had been so patient throughout the entire process.

We were worried about the whole thing – especially as it was one of our first sales through, but Kate put us at ease by telling us it was the best customer service she had ever received from any company. 

Chocolates and popcorn for Kate

Meanwhile, at our end of the transaction…

We lodged an official compensation claim with Interparcel. We knew at the time of sending that we had just opted for the standard £50 cover, so knew we wouldn’t be able to cover our full costs, but every little helps…

Interparcel asked us to provide photos of the table, complete with wrapping, in our customer’s home. We weren’t going to hassle our already inconvenienced customer to do this, so instead we described the packaging, sent the photos at the top of this post and sent them the photos of the same packaging materials we used.

After several emails back and forth, during which we were repeatedly referred to as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, despite writing our names at the end of every email and addressing Interparcel's staff by name, Interparcel’s claims manager sent us the following email:

It has been noted that your item was not flatpacked and also packaged in corrugated cardboard, this does not comply with our terms of use in which we advise that all items must be packaged in a double walled box with plenty of internal packaging and that items must be able to withstand a small drop.
We also advise that furniture unless flatpacked is not suitable for the transit system and if sent will be sent at the customers own risk. This is due to the fact that items of this nature are not suitable for the automated transit system as the majority of the parcels journey is via machinery (conveyor belts) with minimum human interaction.
Your claim has been entertained as goodwill only and therefore no further compensation will be raised.

Quelle surprise.

1.     I don’t remember seeing any warnings about Interparcel’s policy of not delivering furniture, or the double-walled box policy, but ok, fine. Perhaps I should have searched the small print.
2.     This item had been subjected to more than a ‘small drop’. At no point has Interparcel attempted to explain how the damage could have been caused
3.     “Entertained as goodwill only”? You rude buggers!
4.     From the cold, robotic response, I can only assumed the claims department is also staffed largely by machinery

Now, I should point out that during an earlier email exchange, Interparcel had offered us £10 off our next booking with them (though I suspect this offer n longer stands) – but that’s not really the spirit is it? I had asked them to explain if such damage was regarded by them as routine and if we were to expect our packages to be handled carelessly. They did not reply to these questions.

We treat our customers the way we would like to be treated. Interparcel apparently treats its customers as though they are no more than an inconvenience.

They could have responded to say: “You’ve obviously not seen our furniture policy, perhaps that means we should make it clearer on our website. Normally, we would choose not to compensate you, but as your item has clearly been on the end of a fair old whack, as a gesture of goodwill, we will honour the £50 compensation claim and look forward to receiving your custom in the future”

It would have cost them £50 and ensured our future custom. As it is, they’re never getting a penny from us in future and you can all read about what a shower of heartless, unfriendly wazzocks they are.

Compare our customer service to Kate and Interparcel’s customer service to us over the very same incident. Which would you rather receive?