Monday, May 18, 2009

Customer Service Failures:Does It Matter to Businesses That They Could Lose a Customer?

In 2003, my wife and I had to replace 10 windows and the sliding glass door in our house. We opted to use Window Wizards. The sales process and installation went well enough, but getting service has been a nightmare. Nobody seems to bother to check the voice mail on the service line. I've tried to call sales to get service, and still be given the voice mail. I've had service calls get canceled after taking a day off and sitting around. I've had repeated problems with some parts, and by the way, a "lifetime" warranty isn't a lifetime warranty.

My wife recently started pointing out to me that I'm going to have to call Window Wizards again. The vinyl on the back of our sliding door is cracked again, and the door is hard to open and close. We have a window that needs to be adjusted because it won't stay open, and the wheels on our screen door rusted out, rendering the door useless.

As I called and left my message with Window Wizards earlier, doubting that I will be called back within the promised 24 hours, as I haven't been before, I seriously wondered if it would be worth just replacing my windows slowly as they go bad so I don't have to deal with Window Wizards anymore.

If their service was better, I'd happily recommend them to other people. But the service sucks. I get the message from the company that "We already got our money from you. Now you're just costing us in service calls and replacements." Of course, if their product were made better, that might not be the case. I have no idea how to make a window or sliding door better. I expected that they would know how.

I've had similar problems with other businesses. I wrote a two part post last year, "Would You Buy A Car From the Same Car Dealer a Second time?" You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. I need to write part 3, in which I retract my recommendation for Burns' Hyundai given in part 2. I won't be buying another car from them. If you've taken my recommendation for Burns' Hyundai in part 2, please accept my apology and consider my appeal for forgiveness. I'm about through with car dealers. Since I always buy used cars anyway, I think I'll just buy from private sellers in the future.

There are businesses that I completely believe in. I need a haircut. My wife has a coupon for a place that I can apparently get my hair cut for $2.99. I've been going to Hair We Are for years though, and I know they'll do a good job. I don't mind paying $15 for a haircut from them because I know what to expect. I've established a relationship with them over the years, and they are dependable. I don't know what to expect from a $2.99 coupon. I've had bad haircuts in the past. Since I've been going to Hair We Are from 2002 on, the only bad haircuts I've had are when my wife tries to talk me into going somewhere else to save a few dollars.

Likewise, if I need work done on a car, I'll take it to Tim's Auto because I know Tim will do a good job on it. If I need a pizza, I'll go to Ron's, which is in walking distance. Their pizzas may not be on Food Network, but they do a good job, they're close by, and I know Ron and his employees will do a good job. It's also within walking distance, which is great. Another business with my current support is the Budget Rent a Car office in Stratford, NJ. It's within walking distance, they know me, and I rent cars from there when I travel for work.

I'll happily pay for quality and service. I won't pay twice for crap. That's about how I feel about Window Wizards. Their product needs too much service, and that service is very difficult to get. I'm not going to be ordering any more windows from them. Maybe they'll save a few dollars in the company budget by making it really hard for me to get somebody out to fix my problems, but it's going to cost them if I buy another house that needs windows and I go with a competitor. It's going to cost them the next time somebody asks me if I think they should buy from Window Wizards, and I share my experience with warranty service and ask them if they think it's worth it.

What about you? Do you do business with companies that seem nice until they get your money, and indifferent afterward? If you have any good stories, please share in the comments.
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