Local Customer Service: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

In the last week, I have had two issues come up and since Mrs. Rent had a little more time than I did, she handled them for me. In one, the end result is an example of what customer service is all about. In the second, a local company that has received literally thousands of dollars from us in the last few years has lost a customer.

The service that impressed me was from my cell phone provider, Sprint. I have had a Palm Treo smart phone for some time now. And if you are a long time reader of my blogs, you will remember this past winter I lost the stylus to the phone. (For those not familiar, a stylus is a little pokie stick thing used to better hit the right parts of a touch pad screen on many smart phones and PDA’s.) Anywho, I blogged about the sticker shock I received at Best Buy when I paid something like $40 for a package of three.

You have to get a stylus that matches the phone because the phone has a holder for it, and if the end cap isn’t the right size, it either won’t fit in the phone, or it will fall down into the holder never to come out again.

The Best Buy stylus’s (or is it styli?) were kind of neat. Instead of being one piece of metal with a plastic tip so it doesn’t hurt the screen. The top part that fit into the holder on the phone was plastic, and the end with the plastic tip actually screwed off and under it was a ball point pen – very MacGyver. Well that plastic holder that held the stylus in the phone’s stylus holder had a knack for breaking off. On Friday, the last of the three broke and I needed replacements.

I gave Mrs. Rent the specifics on the phone and she went to Best Buy. After not being able to find them where I told her they used to be, she found one of their employees. That employee explained that they don’t carry them any more because there were problems with them breaking (no sh___) and recommended either going to the cell phone retailer or ordering them online.

At the main Sprint Store, they explained to her that they no longer carried them because they haven’t had that specific model of phone in a while. She told Mrs. Rent that you could go to the Sprint website to order them, but based on what other customers told her, we would be better off going to the Palm website. However, she did quick run into the back of the store, found an old one laying around that might be the same kind, and gave it to Mrs. Rent free of charge (it did fit by the way).

That is what customer service is all about – that is why I have been with Sprint since they first came to Wausau. (Also, kudo’s to Best Buy for the service received there as well.)

The place where we won’t be going back is Furniture and Appliance Mart.

Back when I had knee surgery in July 2006, Mrs. Rent (though at the time she was “the future Mrs. Rent”) thought I needed a better TV. We got a projection TV and because it was the floor model, I also got the extended warranty.

Over the last 5 years, we have been pretty regular customers at Furniture and Appliance Mart. In addition to this TV, we have also gotten two different dining room sets, Mrs. Rent got me all new office furniture for my home office, a front loading washer/dryer, an upright chest freezer, and a large recliner for the living room. Those are just the items I can remember. About a year ago, the lamp went out in the projection TV. Using the extended warranty was not the easiest thing I had ever done, but after 3 phone calls and 2 hours on the phone, I was in possession of a new lamp.

A few weeks after that, we were in the store and were talking with the manager of the appliance section about our experience with the TV lamp. He told us that we should have called them (Furn & Appl Mart) first and they would have handled the warranty issue, that I didn’t need to go through all of that. I said I did! He said, if we ever have to use the warranty again, call the store first and if we don’t get the satisfaction we need, call him directly and he would handle it.

On Saturday evening the lamp burnt out again. As luck would have it, it burnt out about a half hour after the store closed. Mrs. Rent called the store on Sunday but no one that we needed to talk to or would handle anything like this was in weekends and we would have to call back Monday. So, she called back Monday and spoke to about 3 different people, who all told her that we needed to contact the extended warranty place directly.

She did. And they confirmed the warranty information and said they would send us the bulb right away and we would get it in 5-7 days. WHAT? The last time this happened, the warranty company worked directly through Seim Appliance here in town (by the way, I have used Seim for a couple of things and they also have the Dr. Rent seal of approval and come highly recommended). We literally had the bulb in hand the next business day. Apparently, in September 2008 the old warranty company sold out to this new one. We could get the bulb shipped overnight to us so we would get it by Tuesday, but it would cost $35 more. That’s $35 in shipping costs out of OUR POCKET (this warranty wasn’t cheap) to ship a small box about 6” x 6” x 6” that weighs less than half a pound. HOLY CRAP!

Because of the run around and general “not my problem-ness” of the local store, we will probably not be going back. They were already “on probation” with us after the bedroom set fiasco. Mrs. Rent bought a bedroom set from them. Some of the pieces on the floor were damaged, but we were getting a new set from the factory. When the new set arrived, it turned out it was the damaged floor set. We were not told we were getting the floor model, and if we had wanted the floor model, we would have assumed a price break for taking it as is.

In summary, I have always gotten great service from Sprint and that never seems to change. Local television repair place Seim Appliance are also good people. I have also not had a bad Best Buy experience yet (other than the price of those little pokie things). However, Dr. & Mrs. Rent won’t be wasting their time in Furniture and Appliance Mart anytime soon.


About drrent

Wausau, Wisconsin Landlord, past president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, Host of the Dr Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, Wausau, WI
This entry was posted in Customer Service, Extended Warranty, Palm Treo, Sprint and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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