Customer What…?

Written by BG Howard

July 27, 2022

For quite some time I’ve wondered what ever happened to that old staple of the capitalistic order known as Customer Service.  There was a point when the concept of good customer service topped the list of “Do’s” within the ranks of every company beginning with “ground floor” employees and extending to the upper echelons occupying their plush leather chairs at the company’s home office.  Unfortunately, it seems that’s the one fundamental ingredient severely lacking in most employees at various companies spanning the globe.

One such incident, of the many I could mention, left me with questions as to whether the art of customer service is no longer of any significance occurred last year approaching Thanksgiving.  I was preparing to host a gathering for the holiday so some serious remodeling was underway at the house.  A custom lighting showroom (that shall remain nameless) was visited in Jacksonville, FL, and a very nice chandelier was purchased.  The price tag was evident that both the manufacturer and retailer thought very highly of their product.  It would have been all the same for me if I’d picked up a lamp from Wal-Mart or Ace Hardware and sat it on the end table.

At the point I’d placed a special order for the fixture (chandelier just sounds a little above this old South Georgia country slug) the salesman confirmed it would be received in two weeks.  That figured perfectly into the plan as there would be ample time for me to complete the remodeling and install the unit before the scheduled family gathering.

The first red flag should have been sufficient warning in the fact that, after waiting two weeks, I phoned to discover the chandelier had to be back-ordered but no one had informed me of this.  I eagerly waited an additional fourteen days then resolved it necessary to contact the company again.  Sure enough, the merchandise had been received two days prior to the date I phoned the salesperson.  My increasingly tart attitude was, for the sake of peace, put aside and the fixture picked up later that same day.

According to the salesperson, the task of mounting the “chandelier” would normally require two to three hours.  He specified an agent from their showroom could be scheduled out to install the unit but, considering the level of service extended to that point, I was more than willing to take on the arduous task of installing the fixture myself.

Back at the house, I removed the two large boxes from the truck positioning the components in the nearly completed room where the light was to be mounted.  With the order finally received, I figured the most difficult part of the matter was behind me so it was actually a few days still before the process was undertaken.

I carefully followed the instructions, which included directions to wear special white felt gloves supplied as a means of protecting the chandelier’s decorative accents.  As the first package contained all the right components, I anxiously began assembly, convinced everything in the second box was as ordered.  The lengthy process kept me fixated on the ceiling while perched on a step stool for more than five consecutive hours.  Once I’d finished installing all the items included in the first box, I continued in the effort and opened the second of the two.

When I removed what were supposed to be decorative pieces of the fixture from the second box, only then was my issue fully realized.  I discovered incredibly hideous black crystals that looked as though they’d been intended for an address at Dead End Lane in Transylvania.  Needless-to-say, I was hotter than a firecracker on a tin roof in the middle of July at now having to waste more precious time undoing all that had been accomplished.

Ironically, upon arriving back at the semi-exclusive showroom the sign on the door; “No Refunds – No Returns” suddenly became more prevalent.  “On any day except today,” I thought to myself.  In short, the look on my face when I entered the store more than adequately conveyed everything that needed to be said.  The owner received painstaking details of exactly what had transpired but neither the staff nor management bothered to offer an apology.  The real issue though, lay in the fact that no concessions were ever made in consideration of the terrible inconveniences I’d suffered.  Nothing was proposed to signify a desire to retain me as a customer though I’d previously purchased two other fixtures from the same retailer.  The owner simply refunded the money and allowed me to exit the store for what would be the last time.  Thusly, proving customer service isn’t at all what it used to be.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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