Debenhams: How not to do customer service #3

Still no delivery – colour me shocked – so I used their email contact form to ask where it is and whether anyone was actually trying to resolve the problem. And, yes, I did know the answers to both those questions when I asked them.

Three days later a reply arrives.

I am sorry to hear that your order has still not arrived in store for you to collect. 

Why don’t I believe that? Maybe it’s something to do with the general level of insincerity I have encountered combined with the apparent inability of any of your customer service representatives to actually do anything.

After further investigation I can confirm that unfortunately your order appears to have been lost in transit.

I was pretty sure it had been lost in transit the first time I called you, three weeks ago. And it’s not as though this was CityLink or UPS or a.n.other courier’s fault: this is you sending an item within your own network. It only had to get to my local Debenhams store.

Due to this I have now issued a full refund. Please allow 3 – 5 days for this to appear in your account. 

Thank you for giving me my money back, you’ve only had it for a month. And thank you for checking with me before cancelling the order. You may note an element of sarcasm here.

Regrettably we are unable to send replacement items at the present time. 

Seriously? You must be the only retailer on the planet who cannot send out a replacement order when something has been lost. 

If you still wish to receive the original item ordered, please visit and place a new order.  Alternatively, please contact us on 08445 616161 where an advisor will be happy to place the order on your behalf.

Yes, I will go and re-order the same item for substantially more than its original sale price. And I will believe that this order will arrive unlike the other one.

Oh, sorry, no I won’t.

I have ordered from small companies, medium-sized companies and large companies and I cannot think of any that has given me worse customer service than Debenhams even when, or, rather, especially when, things have gone wrong.

And I am still boggling at the idea that they cannot send replacement items.


Debenhams: How not to do customer service #2

Annoyances” or “I’m frustrated already, don’t make it worse

  • Be consistent
    Have consistent and accurate information in all your communication, whether on the website, by email or on the phone: there should be one fixed period of time after which an order is considered lost.
  • Communicate
    When your order confirmation email says “to keep you up-to-date on the progress of your order you’ll receive regular order status updates” make sure that that happens. That was the last status email I received. Eighteen days ago.
  • Track delivery
    You know when or if an order has been delivered. Do not automatically send me an email requesting that I “review [my] recent purchase” ten days after I ordered it; I would love to review my purchase but you’ll have to deliver it first.
  • Be relevant
    Don’t check the stock level at the delivery store, announce that the item is in stock there, and then tell me that I would have to buy it again as they can’t use that stock to fulfil the order. It’s a pointless and useless piece of information that serves only to frustrate me further.
  • Be sincere
    For your sake and mine. If you simply parrot your apologies and repeat how the system won’t let you do anything, all the while sounding as though you’d like nothing better than to hang up on me, I will, perversely, keep you on the phone until I am utterly bored of explaining exactly how unhappy I am.

Debenhams: How not to do customer service #1

Consistency” or “when should I contact customer services?

I place an order online for collection from store.

The order confirmation email says to contact customer services if I don’t get an email notifying me of delivery within the estimated delivery time. The estimated delivery time, according to the website, is four working days.

After five working days I email customer services. The reply says to contact customer services if the order hasn’t arrived after ten working days from the order being placed.

After ten working days I phone customer services. The system “won’t let” the customer service representative do anything until eight working days after the order was despatched. The order wasn’t despatched until five working days after the order was placed.

Eight working days after it was despatched I call customer services. There was a meeting yesterday where they clarified the policy so that the rule is now eight working days from when the order was placed. Though whether this will be reflected in the emails they send out is anyone’s guess.

And what do they offer to do when the four ten thirteen eight working days have passed and it still hasn’t arrived? Refund and re-place the order thereby starting the process all over again.


Customer service: compare and contrast

It’s always interesting to see how companies’ attitudes to customer service differ.

One of my projects is to try and minimise the amount of paper I am storing and my current focus is on manuals, instruction booklets and the like. To this end I have been trawling round various manufacturers’ web sites to try and locate PDF versions of the aforementioned manuals, with varying degrees of success.

Of course it’s nice when one quick search finds the desired document, but it’s what happens when PDFs aren’t readily available that’s interesting.

What should happen:
Lumie doesn’t have any of its manuals online, but one quick email to an easily found contact address got the requested files in short order.

What shouldn’t happen:
LG have a whole web site devoted to customer service and do have manuals online, in a mix of PDF and djvu formats. Unfortunately the one I was after wasn’t there as a PDF and I wasn’t about to start messing about with plug-ins for a file format I have never needed, or even seen used, before (and, as it turned out after further investigation by Codepope, the file wasn’t actually there anyway).

LG don’t have a contact email address, they have a form. So I filled it in. And got a reply informing me that all their manuals were available as PDFs on the site I had been looking at.

I started to reply but then noticed that “replies to this message are not monitored or answered“, and a link to the contact form.

I’m feeling bored so I follow the link, fill in the form, explaining once again that there is no PDF version, submit the form and get an error page; an error page with links on it, none of which can be clicked because the page is so broken that every click results in an aggressive “right-click not allowed” dialog box popping up. I assume the form has failed, give up and go on to the next manual hunt.

But, apparently the form did actually get submitted — though really they shouldn’t have bothered replying: “We recommend you contact a representative from our Customer Services team on the number below who will be able to advise you further.” Needless to say I haven’t bothered.

And what reassures you that there are people out there who give a damn:
And then there was the rather special Babs from Culinare‘s customer service team.

It was the day after I’d emailed them and I wasn’t really expecting a response — normally it seems to be quick response or no response to simple questions — but there it was in my inbox, a PDF of the instructions. Babs had obviously found the product and scanned the instructions in herself. It wasn’t the world’s best scan but the mere fact that she had gone to the trouble of creating (or finding someone who could create) a PDF for me when she could have just said “sorry, we don’t have one” makes her an absolute star of customer service in my book.

In an ideal world anyone selling consumer products would have all their manuals in PDF form in an easily-found location on their web site but here in the real world I am happy to know that there are companies like Lumie and people like Babs who are willing to far exceed the low expectations set by companies such as LG.