No politics today. Just some observations from a consumer, underlining the fact that–despite Americans’ reverence for “entrepreneurship” and the private sector– incompetence is just as prevalent there as elsewhere.
Over the past week, I have had three experiences with service providers. Two of them could learn a lot from the third.
Experience #1 was with the website of Thermador, a high-end manufacturer of kitchen appliances. My husband and I were in the market for a new range and refrigerator. Architects get discounts from some manufacturers –not large, but worth pursuing. In order to determine eligibility for the program, we were directed to the company’s website.
What followed would have made a great comedy sketch. The form we were instructed to complete read: Go to [URL] and click on the link for [X ]. Except there was no such link. Called the company; held for a considerable amount of time because (cough) they were “experiencing unusual call volume.” It turned out that the link didn’t show up if you were using Firefox as your browser. We changed to Safari and clicked; it appeared. We were then told to enter additional information–except, again, there was no visible place to enter it. Another call. The woman who answered said their website only works correctly if you use Chrome as your browser. (And no, nothing on the page said that.)
This is a national company. They manufacture pricey appliances, and could probably afford a competent web designer. Let’s just say I hope they pay more attention to their products than they do to their abysmal website.
Experience #2 involved another appliance. Our dishwasher began making awful noises. We called Epic Appliance Repair, a service we had used once a few years ago; they said to expect the repairman between 2 and 4. I rearranged my schedule and waited. When no one had come by 4:30–and no one had called to say there would be a delay–we called and were told it would be around 6:00 pm. No apology.
Six came and went. No repairman, no call. We called; the man who answered (again with no apology) said “let me check and get right back to you.” He didn’t. After a half-hour, we called again. No apology for not calling back, and no explanation. “We’ll be there at nine in the morning.” Right.
No one came at nine. Or ten. Or Eleven. No one answered their phone, and no one ever came or called. Needless to say, we called a different repair service– one that did come when they said.
Experience #3 was refreshingly different. I wanted my outdoor cushions cleaned before putting them away for the winter, and my regular dry cleaners can’t do those. I went online, found a service called Fire Dawgs, and–through their very user-friendly website, requested a time the next day. (I really expected they wouldn’t be able to come on such short notice, but I was wrong.) Within half an hour, I had a call confirming the time and cost, followed by an email reiterating the information and price.
Twenty minutes before the scheduled time, I got a text–and then a phone call–identifying the workman who was on his way, and giving me an estimate of how long it would take him to get from where he was to my house. He came promptly, cleaned the cushions, charged what I’d been quoted and left. I received an emailed receipt shortly after he left–and an email the next day thanking me for my patronage.
Guess who I’ll use again?
Guess who I won’t.
I’ll admit that I am flabbergasted by #1 and #2. You would think, in this day and age, that large national companies would understand the importance of a user-friendly website that works properly on all browsers. You’d think a company purporting to provide a repair SERVICE would understand that people have lives, and need to be informed when a schedule cannot be met. (You’d also think they might apologize for failing to do so or let you know they weren’t ever coming.)
You might also think they’d want positive reviews and maybe even repeat business…but evidently not. (Some of us do know how to post to Yelp.)
Tell me again how competition guarantees that the private sector will always be superior to those ineffectual government workers…