Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Today’s Clueless Customer Service Award to…Best Buy

It’s not an honor to “win” this award.

In my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, I discuss the idea that a company brand is not the slogan, the logo, the corporate colors…but the customer’s experience and perceptions. While the above details may help shape those perceptions, they pale in comparison to the real world experience he customer has in the store, on the website, over the phone.

Here’s my experience of Best Buy. It started off on a very good foot. I found a hard drive on the company website after playing around with Froogle and some other tools. When i went to the store, I had only a few minutes and went directly to a staffer–who, amazingly enough, showed me a better, more modern, higher capacity drive with an extra interface for compatibility with newer machines–at the same price. The buying process was smooth, and after less than five minutes at the store, I was on my way home. This was Tuesday.

But then it all fell apart. This morning (two days later), I tried to set up the drive. The disk mounted, but it was locked. I couldn’t write new information, create a folder, or copy anything onto it.

Usually, a locked disk is something easy to reset in software, but I couldn’t figure out how–and the manual loaded on the disk required some unfamiliar program to read it.

So, after poking around a while, I called the store. Where I was told I had to call the Geek Squad, toll-free. Presumably this team of expert computer sharpshooters would have the answer.

After several minutes on hold, I got a techie on the phone. She didn’t know anything and offered me three options: bring the disk back to the store for “repair” or have me pay $99–what I’d paid for the drive!–to either get support over the phone or have a tech come to my office.

Excuse me, but when I buy a product, I expect it to work–and if it doesn’t, I hardly think it’s fair to double the purchase price in order to get it working. I was flabbergasted. I explained to her that a locked drive was generally dealt with through a simple software command, and suggested to her that she could locate that command and send me on my way very easily.

So I asked to speak with her supervisor. “There’s no supervisor available right now.” This, I think, is a first. I don’t believe I’ve ever called customer service at a large company before and been told no supervisor could take my call.

Then I left my phone number, impressed upon the tech that this was something I really needed to have dealt with this morning, and requested that the supervisor call me within an hour. That was 10 a.m. I’m still waiting for that call, over 12 hours later.

When the call didn’t come, I went to the Seagate (manufacturer) website and fairly quickly determined that to make it work with a Mac, I’d need to reformat the drive using a disk utility. I had the utility on my computer, but it was four years and several operating systems old, and I wanted to make sure it would work. so I called Seagate. Still had to wait a while on hold, but once I got a tech, he talked me through the set up in under five minutes. Utterly painless, the disk is working perfectly, and I didn’t need the $99 “help” from Best Buy.

But Best Buy has lost a customer. This whole experience left me very sour.


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