Don’t Do This to Your Customers: Based on Today’s Actual Events

customer-serviceTrue story: I recently purchased a new laptop. Today, about a week after my shiny new baby arrived at my door, I received an email from the same company (we’ll call it Dunder Mifflin) announcing 30% off the same exact machine.

Eager to see if I could piggyback on the deal, I quickly jumped on the chat feature of their website and connected with Manuel. I’ve provided my quick chat with Manuel below for context (click on image to see full size):


Admittedly, this was a bit of an unusual request on my part, but I know from experience that these type of questions are not completely unheard of. I don’t actually blame Manuel for not granting what seemed to be a reasonable request, his hands were tied. I blame Dunder Mifflin.

I took three lessons from my experience today:

1. Don’t send me an email announcing a sale on an item I purchased last week. This is just begging for trouble. Before I opened my email this morning, I was completely satisfied with my cool new machine and with the 10% discount that I had received. In my ignorance, I thought I had gotten a pretty good deal! It wasn’t until the well-intentioned folks in Scranton rubbed my face in it that I realized I’d been had!

2. Have a policy that makes sense about this sort of thing. Manuel’s higher ups at DM left him in a lurch. You can see from his responses that even he thought the policy was dumb (giving me hints on how to work the system, etc).

3. In the absence of a smart policy, equip your front line people – You can’t have a policy for everything. Manuel should have either been empowered to address my problem in a common sense way or have been trained to refer me up the line, even encouraged to advocate on my behalf to resolve this situation. It wasn’t until I spelled it out for him and asked for a manager that he offered up a viable next step.

4. Don’t make customers jump through hoops: Their policy forced me to one of two courses of action. First, I could return my computer and reorder another – making my life miserable and taking another several hours to set up a new machine (which is always exciting). This “solution” also would cost Dunder money in processing my return and shipping me a duplicate computer in addition to the 30% discount!

The second, more popular option is just to simply walk away, wishing I had only waited another week or two to make my purchase.  Either way, I come away from my experience significantly deflated and telling my friends all about my less than stellar experience (Remember, yesterday, I was ecstatic).

It would have been far cheaper for them and easier for me to simply give me the 30% discount (and I would be writing about their awesome customer service right now using their real name).

The Rest of the Story – I should mention that I handed this project off to my secret weapon, Nate the Great and after being transferred to 5 different people in two separate phone calls, he was able to secure the discount! Yes!

Funny Story – One of the people Nate talked to actually told him that if we wanted to order a new machine with the 30% discount, they would allow me to hang on the my current machine until the new one arrived. This was awfully thoughtful of them, but COMPLETELY INSANE. Just give me the discount already!

I wish I could say that I’ve never been guilty of such nonsensical customer service, but I am afraid I’ve unintentionally put our Customer Service team in similarly uncomfortable situations. However, we strive to empower our folks to make good decisions and be the CEO of what they do. I’m sure Dunder Mifflin does as well. BTW – I’ll buy from them again in-spite of today’s drama – because they’ve got great products.



Photo credit: gordon2208 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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