We spend so much time talking about how to get new business, that often it seems that businesses and business owners forget that existing customers are so much easier (and cheaper) to keep. Here’s how not to do it.
Santa gave one of my children croc-esque clogs in her stocking from Rivers Clothing store. Unfortunately they didn’t fit – by one size (kid’s feet – what can you say). Imagine my surprise when we tried to exchange them(with the receipt) we were charged double the price. But Santa had bought them, so of course we paid the difference – albeit feeling completely fleeced. Imagine my disappointment when those shoes, yes, the ones we’d just paid double for, broke on their very first wear.
So it was time to head back to the store again, this time to return the broken shoes. I had also gotten a pair for myself in size 5, that I put on to wear to the store. Imagine my surprise (now turning to chargrin) when one shoe fit great and the other was so small I couldn’t get my foot into it properly (even though it too was labelled size 5). When I compared them heel to heel, it was obvious that there was a sizing mistake and I’d been sold an incorrectly labelled pair.
Anyone sensing a theme here? But wait…it gets worse. So much worse.
Whilst we were going to revisit the store, I figured I’d also take back the obviously female (labelled as floral) fragrance that had been incorrectly put into my bag as a stocking filler for…my husband. When purchasing it, I had in fact been quite specific about asking they give me a men’s fragrance.
Needless to say, the instore experience trying to return goods that weren’t up to par and that weren’t fit for purpose under the ACCC’s new consumer laws was just awful. The salesperson made a big deal out of the returns, saying he’d have to go out the back to get purchase order numbers for the goods (whilst standing in front of the store computer!!), they didn’t want to refund, couldn’t I just buy yet another pair (I don’t think so) and when I tried to return the fragrance – the store manager was called. A scene ensued where I was told that it was all cologne, who was I to say that any of it was particularly suited to men or women (except that by and large men don’t wear floral fragrances and the packaging is different for the two different ranges). At no point did anyone offer to swap it for me.
At this point, I should point out, that the total sales figure we were talking about here was worth $20. Yes, 20 tiny dollars.
I came home and wrote Rivers management an email outlining the awful customer service experience and below is how they replied (5 days later).
Our apologies to hear about your negative experience at our Belrose store.
Unfortunately it sounds like in both cases the store person was adhering to Rivers returns policy. In the case of the clogshoes – at the time of exchange we have to take the current selling priceof the item which means if the promotion has finished you will be charged the full price – except in the case when the exchange is for the exact same item. (silly me for thinking that changing one pair of clogs for another just one size up was an altogether different item).
In saying this however our returns policy should have been explained to you in a kind and courteous manner – the customer service you described sounds well below what we would expect of our staff.
We are very sorry the customer service that you received was unsatisfactory; we will most definitely be looking into this further.
The respondent then went on to list a great number of people that would see my email, as if that would somehow make it better – it didn’t. The problem lies not with not enough people seeing my complaint, but with, in my opinion, bad company policy.
Needless to say, they didn’t actually offer anything that would make we want to return to their stores. In fact, now having had the policy outlined, I will NEVER set foot in one of their stores again.
If the lifetime value of your customers is likely to be greater than $20 (or whatever your number is), make sure you treat them with respect and do whatever’s required (and frankly is the right thing) to keep them. if someone has the temerity to complain about something – treat the complaint like the gift that it is.
Research has shown time and again, that if you fix someone’s complaint (I asked for a $5 refund – not a store credit, yep, $5), they’re likely to be even more loyal in the future. However, if they didn’t complain (or you didn’t fix it when they did), they would tell 10 or so people. But now times have changed – they can now broadcast it to the world.
They can also report the issues to the ACCC – which I intend to do.
If you’ve had nasty customer service experiences or suggestions for fixing bad company policies, please feel free to share.
I too have had bad customer service from Rivers Clearance Store Victor Harbor South Australia. I purchased two womens suit sets, 2 jackets, 2 skirts, 2 pairs of pants. I dont like try on instore as I get way too hot in the change rooms so I always try my purchases on once home. The jackets and skirts fit perfect but the pants in same size didnt, I immediately placed the pants back in the bag which had receipt in bottom and returned to store to exchange for bigger size. Upon return the girl at front counter couldnt work out why one pair of pants wouldnt register and didnt appear on my receipt – and asked me what I had actually purchased. I told her 2 jackets, 2 skirts & 2 pants. She called the girl back to front counter that originally served me. I wandered into the store grabbed exchange size I wanted and returned to counter. Togther they could not figure out what was going on, and called a 3rd girl. The first girl wandered off and the other two were trying to figure out what was going on whilst I waited and waited, and waited. I only want to exchange the two I have brought back for these … beginning to get impatient.
continued…. BAD RIVERS CUSTOMER SERVICE
“Oh you have not paid for a pair, its not on your receipt, you can exchange only one pair”. Huh?, “well that would be either the scanner error or human error at checkout” I replied, “its your stores mistake”. I had not looked at receipt myself after purchase. I said “If items are incorrectly scanned at other stores you get the item for free”. “Well we cant give you a free pair of pants” I was told by the original girl, and then she seemed disinterested in discussing it further, bending below the counter and doing other things, eventually turning her back to me, so I was left with another girl. I had got cash out of my wallet to pay for exchange, when this other girl then said “This could be considered theft”. WHAT? did I just hear her correctly? I was totally SHOCKED. “DID YOU JUST CALL ME A THIEF?” I said in a very stern voice. “No I am not calling you a thief, this could be considered theft because the item has left store without being paid for”. “And whose fault is that, not mine” I replied – I presented all items at checkout upon purchase – its your store error – human or scanner”.. I then said “UNBELIEVABLE” in loud voice (she had made me teary upset) I do not wish to continue, please refund my money for pants and I never wish to return, you have lost a customer”. The girl then refunded me for one pair of pants and kept both pairs. I was still upset 20 mins after incident so I decided to ring store and ask for a Manager. I was put through to Store Manager who was doing stocktake out back, so she asked me to explain what had happened. I told her what happened with regards to pants and what the girl had said “that it could be considered theft”. I was told by Manager yes the girl had realised that perhaps she said the wrong thing, and perhaps the girl could have worded it differently. I was gobsmacked again….. The theft comment should not have been said in first place!, and the Manager said it could have been worded differently???. To even insinuate theft was VERY insulting. It was the River Store Victor Harbors human or scanning error that led to the item leaving the store unpaid for in the first place. They need to train staff to properly. I was given no apology for the error when instore, basically they turned it around to blame me. The girl that made “theft” comment to me had realised instantly what she had said to me after saying it, was wrong, but still did not apologise. I have written letter of complaint to head office management regarding the theft comment and am currently waiting reply. I used to be a loyal customer, no more. Victor Harbor is a small town, not like the city, bad new travels fast.