Thursday, March 12, 2015

What ever happened to Customer Service? Is it dead for good?

Hello all and how are you today? First off, allow me to apologize for having not posted here in a while, but time goes by faster than I can keep up. Sometimes, it is so fast, I don’t even have a chance to catch my breath, but I’m sure you can relate. Anyway….



      Life is crazy. It’s getting crazier every day. Not to mention dangerous. In the meantime, it’s also become less friendly and personal. Sometimes I really hate shopping. How about you? Companies, especially large ones don’t care about customers and customer service and it shows. Unfortunately, a great many small companies have followed suit. A number of small businesses I’ve encountered seem to prefer making money while treating customers like dirt. I know. Over just the last few years I’ve had repeated bad experiences with small businesses, some I’ve done business with for years while others were brand new. Is it just me or have you noticed this downward trend as well? We all work hard for our money and there is no need to deal with a business that doesn’t value your patronage, which is the main reason I began this blog. This post, as you have already guessed is about the lack of customer service with specific companies that I cannot under any circumstances recommend. Let’s begin with the duds, shall we….

     There was a company that I used to buy “grass fed” beef from that was supposedly sold and shipped “direct from their ranch” in Montana. You may have even purchased from them, too, or knew someone that did. I even recommended a few people to them. It received great reviews from the NY times and the Wall Street Journal. Most of the meat they sold tasted great. Others not so much. Some meat was downright awful. By accident, I discovered that when I placed an order from them, by their own admission, or slip of the tongue from a few different workers, it turned out that their meat didn’t come “direct from their ranch” in Montana. In fact, the meat was sent to a conventional meat packing plant in Madison, Wisconsin where it was processed once, maybe twice a year and vacuum packed and frozen, then shipped to customers. Imagine my shock to discover this. Of course, as you read this, this company is no longer in business selling meat “direct from their ranch.” In fact, La Cense beef doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Coincidence? Did someone else find out, such as the NY Times or someone influential discover the fraud and misrepresentation behind their meat sales? I wonder…. (see 

     No need to tell you about cable companies like Comcast. Their customers’ horror stories are numerous and legendary. Cable companies are just the worst. I can write an entire post on that alone. Sadly, Dish Network is no better. I was one of their original customers’ way back in 1997 (?) when you had to buy their system and they were great. Now, not so much.  
     How about the small company NaSoya that makes the mayonnaise alternative nayonnaise? First, did you know that they were purchased by the conglomerate Con-Agra? Second, their product light nayonnaise, though labeled to “taste like mayo” tastes nothing like mayo. I know. I purchased this based on the fact that their label said it tasted like mayo, when it fact it doesn’t. When I brought this to their attention and requested a refund, they declined to do so. In fact, they became rather snotty. Despite that I sent them photos of their product emblazoned with a label marked “tastes like mayo,” they refused to do anything about it. No apologies. No refund. Nothing. The company representative I dealt with even admitted in an email to me, that "this one doesn't taste like mayo, but our whipped one does." In case you haven’t tried this one, allow me to save you the time, effort and money in doing so.  It tastes like white water that resembles a watery white paste and nothing like mayo. Think wall paper paste and that is it. If you can buy another product, I suggest you do. The company that makes Nayonnaise, Vitasoy doesn’t know how to treat their customers. I guess they just don’t care. It certainly appears that way. As a result, I reported them to the BBB. (see photo and judge for yourself)

And the most recent case that wins my award for a crooked company right up there with LaCense Beef goes to a small business that supposedly has been around since 1850.  Years ago while living in sunny Los Angeles, I located a store in the small community Solvang, just a little bit north of LA that sold nothing but olives. Yes, I love olives. In fact, I used the jar to phone the company to buy more. On and off over the years since 1996, I’ve been purchasing these olives from this one particular company. I’ve referred friends and family to this company. The olives, most are delicious. My business dealings migrated to the web when they did. Unfortunately, the last purchase I made through them was a fiasco. In fact, it was rather a crooked transaction. 
     On three different occasions, I tried to purchase from them online. I also sent them an email to inquire as to what was going on and notify them of my problems to which they didn’t reply. When the fourth time failed, I printed up the confirmed order that didn’t go through and called in the order. As the company was “experiencing problems with their computers” the order was taken by phone. They couldn’t give me a price, yet for my difficulties encountered, they’d give me a 10% discount. That should have been the red flag. Even a little voice told me so. A few days later my order arrived without any paper work. Curious, I called the business and they sent an invoice via email. Surprise! The prices on the invoice were different than the ones listed on the website. They were higher than those quoted. When I returned to the website the prices were lower. They were the prices I found when I printed out my order. It was the end of the day and I decided not to deal with this until the next day. When I called, they apologized for the mistake and said they’d fix it. They also apologized for overcharging on the shipping and would refund the difference. They also said, “It’s better to order from the website because the prices are more accurate.” Imagine that. We did try, but the website didn’t work. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was charged more than I was supposed to by the Santa Barbara Olive Company. By the way, I went back and the prices for the items I purchased went up after I ordered them, but not when I ordered them. What do you make of that? It’s ironic that this company was ripped off by their accountant for $500,000.00 just a few years ago. I couldn’t help questioning them that if they were trying to make the money back that way by overcharging their customers? Of course, they denied that. “That isn’t the way we do business.” What do you think? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…..Looks like they’ll have to be reported to the BBB too.
    Don’t get me started on magazines. I love to read. I’m a self-confirmed bibliophile and a card carrying member of my local library even though I have my own home library. Aside from books, fiction and non-fiction, I love reading magazines. I subscribe to at least a dozen or so, though over the last couple of years I’ve had to cancel some of them. The magazines changed dramatically from the ones I favored and subscribed to. The issues lost pages as they shrunk down in size, though I was paying the same price to purchase them. Some went digital only and I don’t care what others say about it, I prefer leafing through a magazine and holding in in my hands and reading it wherever and whenever without having to worry about turning anything on, carrying extra weight, or being concerned about a power source. The latest issue (pun intended) I experienced with magazines was with Southern Living published by Time magazine. I ordered a three year subscription.  I paid in advance. Word of advice: don’t pay for anything in advance. I normally don’t, but they offered a discount to do so. Big mistake for me. Anyway, I was given a date for my first issue. The issue didn’t arrive. I telephoned customer service and was given another due date for the first issue. When I asked for a supervisor to clear this up for sure, I was given the run around from the broken English-speaking customer service representative. The supervisor, of course apologized and gave me the same date I just received. Of course when that date arrived there was still no magazine. Tired of calling and being put on hold, I sent an email with my problem. Still no magazine so I cancelled. They had the nerve to tell me that they’d only refer a portion of my payment. I had to remind them that I never received an issue and wasn’t satisfied, then they gave me a full refund. Needless to say, I can’t recommend Southern Living magazine or any publication from Time.

    This is just my take on the growing trend in business. It is obvious that businesses no longer care about the customer, you and me. It all comes down to the mighty dollar and they must be independently rich since customers no longer matter to them. You’d think that with so many of us counting dollars and cents and cutting down or eliminating the little niceties such as magazines, etc. that companies would treasure each and every customer. Wrong! That has been my observation anyway. What is your take? What do you think of all of this? Do you think that businesses, large and small care about your patronage? Do you think they value customer service? Have you experienced a nightmarish encounter with one of the companies you do business with? What did you do about it? We’d love to hear about it. What did you do to rectify it?

     Until next time, I wish you well. May all your dreams come true. Be Safe. Be happy. Show compassion. Be kind to one another, especially those without a voice. Don't share your personal information just because one asks for it.

S.J. Francis

In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family."  Coming in 2015 from Black Opal Books.

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(Customer service From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. According to Turban et al. (2002),[1] "Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation."
The importance of customer service may vary by product or service, industry and customer. The perception of success of such interactions will be dependent on employees "who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest,"[2] according to Micah Solomon. Customer service can also refer to the culture of the organization - the priority the organization assigns to customer service relative to other components, such as product innovation or low price. In this sense, an organization that values good customer service may spend more money in training employees than the average organization, or proactively interview customers for feedback.
From the point of view of an overall sales process engineering effort, customer service plays an important role in an organization's ability to generate income and revenue.[3] From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement. A customer service experience can change the entire perception a customer has of the organization.)


Copyright 2015 by S.J. Francis. No portion of this blog post may be reprinted, modified or used without written permission of the author.

Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.