Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My rant about customer service


Two years ago now we moved into our newly-built house... excited to be here and settling in, but without any money for landscaping. (The landscaping allowance went to things like kitchen cabinets and our really cool but highly controversial kitchen sink...) By fall we had enough money to seed the yard and start growing some grass, and I designed flower beds and lined them with bricks.

But said flower beds have largely remained empty because this is one project I want to get right - really right - the first time.

Back in March as the weather started to get a little warmer and our grass started to green up, I called a local landscaping company. For the time being, I'll leave their name out of this - I want to reserve writing them a letter in the near future. Let's just say though that it is a very well-known, well-established, and well-respected company. It seemed everywhere we turned, people were recommending them because they are reliable, do really good work, and are at least 1/2 the price of many other well-known companies in our area.

The man I talked to was very friendly and explained how they generally do these kinds of jobs, and that they had a waiting list but they would call me by the end of April to set up a time to come out and see firsthand what we needed, work up a design, get an estimate, etc...

The end of April came and went. Then, the end of May. Still no call. Today, nearly half-way through June, I called back.

The woman who answered the phone was nice enough and said that yes, she did indeed see my name on the list, but something about not having enough people and the bottom line... she didn't forsee that they would be able to help me.

Huh?

Apparently I need to get in the landscaping business, because I'd like to work in a field that is turning away business right now, considering the state of our economy. It seems like every day another business closes its doors in our town because their parent company is downsizing or filing for bankruptcy... and here is a business that apparently doesn't really need business.

All of this wouldn't be so bad if they had just taken the time to call me and tell me "sorry." Now, it's the middle of June and by all rights, we should be majorly SOL. I'm sure there isn't a landscaping company around that isn't booked until winter. She did give me a few names and phone numbers for other businesses, but even admitted she wasn't sure if any of them actually did landscape design, or just cut grass. And then she said that maybe if those places couldn't help me, they would know of someone who could.

Another huh? Excuse the phrase, but who do I have to sleep with to get some plants in my flower beds? I mean, is this really that hard? I'm ready to drop a couple thousand dollars on plants but first I have to go on a scavenger hunt to find someone willing and able to do the work? 

Luckily, we happen to "know someone" who does landscaping on the side. I think there is a silver lining here - she's doing it because she loves it and I think she'll take more time with me to do something that won't just look like every other house on our block. Plus, it's the freakin' middle of June - which means PLANT SALE at the local nursery!

See, I'm trying to look at this optimistically. The seed is half-sprouted, shall we say.

But as Edgar and I talked about this today, we're wondering if we aren't just a bit cursed in the customer service department? Three weeks ago we called an exterminator about the wasp nest on our roof. He hasn't called back yet. Two years ago I did call a different landscaper, one our neighbors used. He never returned the message.

Every two weeks when the Schwan's man comes, he doesn't knock or ring my door bell. He just walks up and automatically puts his "sorry I missed you" sticker on my door. If I don't happen to see him and open the door, *we* miss *him.* I talked to my neighbor - he knocks on her door every time - and she says she typically orders less than I do.

And don't get me started on DirecTV. Three different technicians, three different answers to what our problem is - six months later and still no actual solution. I don't even want to call for another service call, but paying for satellite in 2 rooms and getting it in one is getting pretty silly. (Ah, but no sillier than the set-up the last guy gave us, which requires us to go *outside* and unplug/plug in wires to switch to cable. Problem is, if the satellite is out and we *need* the cable, it's likely because there's a tornado brewing outside. Thanks genius.)

I just don't understand. Edgar and I have both worked in service-related jobs and fields.We both waited tables, worked in fast food, heck even working in TV is like the ultimate of the service industry some days. We get it, we really do. And I think we are bend-over-backwards nice to people. What are we doing wrong? Where's the karma?

Of course, I suck at confrontation... so I'll never actually ask the Schwan's man what's up and we'll probably just try to call another exterminator. Heck, the fact that I called that landscaping company today at all is a minor miracle. But my methods are much more passive-aggressive. I like to talk, and of course, to blog. 

And I hope that karma will catch up.

1 comment:

SallyN said...

man o man, I've got a few customer service rants from years ago that still make my blood boil.

but moving on... now I'm curious about this kitchen sink! :)