Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Customer Service

This letter, unearthed in the morass of this house recently, was written in February of 1988:
Dear Pacific Bell,
You will note that my payment is for $2.90 less than the so-called "current charges" on my bill.  This is because the bill includes a charge of $3.58 for a local call charged to my calling card from a phone booth.  I spoke with someone at 811-3111 (after getting no answer at 800-288-0606) and he agreed that the charge is excessive, although he did not know what the proper charge should be.  On checkig my previous bills, I find that local calls charged at the SE rate to a calling card are 50 to 60 cents.  Allowing 10% extra, the call shoud cost no more than 68 cents, so the overcharge is at least $2.90.
Please make the necessary correction.  The call in question was placed on December 7 from 415 ###-### to 415 ###-###.
Thank you
Walt doesn't remember what the response (if any) to this letter was, but since we are still permitted to have a phone, I assume they took him at his word and subtracted the $2.90 from our bill.

Those were the days when people actually cared about customer service.  I had a few spectacular responses to respectfully worded complain letters, sometimes with photos included, like the time I complained that the bag of sugar I bought came out as a 5 lb rock, instead of grains of sugar.  I think they sent me a coupone for another sack of sugar.

When the flea spray I bought from Hartz Mountain stopped spraying after two uses, and the next can I bought also stopped spraying after two uses, I wrote to complain and a Hartz Mountain representative showed up with a whole box of Hartz Mountain products and dog toys.  The funny thing about tht is that the flea spray included in the box also stopped working after two uses.
Walt and I have Haagen Dazs mini ice cream bars for dessert after dinner but one of them I had recently was not creamy, but icy.  Rough textured.  I wrote to Haagen Dazs and received  letter of apology and SIX half pints of various ice cream flavors.

The best response, though, must have been to a letter I wrote to a fancy restaurant where every thing that could possibly go wrong did, including our table being between the stations of two waiters and each one thought the other one was serving us, so we sat and sat and sat while it got darker and darker and darker and nobody even came to light the candle on our table.  There were also problems with the food (in this very expensive restaurant).  I wish I still had the letter I wrote because it was one of my best and I got a return letter from the head chef telling me how much he enjoyed my letter, apologized for the problems, and gave me a coupon for enough that we were able to return and bring Char with us the second time.

But interest in pleasing the customer has gone downhill since then.  A restaurant we used to like here in town moved to a new location and we were anxious to try it.  We went twice and each time was a disaster, mostly due to terrible, terrible wait staff (keeping us waiting for 20 minutes when we were only one table of three with customers)..  The first time we went at 5:30 on a Sunday and they were out of THREE of the specials advertised on the menu.

Once again, I applied all my polite eloquence to my letter of complaint, certain that they would comp us on something to make up for the problems we had experienced (especially since they were essentially a brand new restaurant and I would think they would be eager to keep the customer happy).  But all I got was a letter of apology and a promise to do better next time. You don't do that to someone who is somewhat "known" in this town and who writes a blog (though I don't remember if I was writing Funny the World at that time or not, but I certainly was not shy about sharing my experience with others.  The restaurant closed about a year later and is now a successful Irish pub).

My most recent complaint letter was about Ritz crackers.  I have been eating Ritz crackers since I was a child.  My grandmother spread them with something cheesy during cocktail hour when we had dinner at her house.  I haven't bought them in awhile, though.  I did pick some up when Caroline was here to have a selection of crackers if she wanted to snack.

The box I bought had four sleeves of crackers and when I opened the first sleeve, every single cracker turned to crumbs.  It was the same with every single sleeve.  I ended up using them as toppings for a casserole.

Thinking that the problem was with the store's handling of a shipment, I bought another identical box.  I very carefully lifted each sleeve out, opened it with scissors, to avoid putting pressure on the crackers, and the exact same thing happened with each sleeve.  On the off chance that you could lift out a whole cracker, as soon as you got it in your hand, it crumbled.

I sent a letter, along with the above photos to prove my point, thinking that I would at least get a coupon for another box.  But, no.  These days nobody gives a fig for customer satisfaction.  I guess that's one of the advantages of overpopulation.  If a shmuck like me gives up on buying your product, there are a bunch of others waiting in line to buy boxes.  Ritz doesn't seem to be hurting for customers.

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