Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank You, Sears. May I Have Another?

As a small businessman, customer service is VERY important to me. I can't afford to unintentionally get customers angry. That would send me back to a cubicle. Anything but that. Things happen. Yes. People get upset. Yes. That's part of life, and part of business. How you react to things happening and people getting angry says a lot about yourself and your business.

I bought a treadmill from Sears about 3 years ago. Lately, it started to smell like it was burning. I called Sears, since we paid for the 5 year service plan. I was scheduled for a service call between 1 and 5 PM this afternoon.

Guess what? It's obvious. They didn't show. Nobody called. And of course, with a 4 hour window requiring one of us to be home, it placed us under a huge inconvenience. We had an errand that both of us needed to do, but I ended up doing it myself. It required a lot of labor.

Christina called me after 5 when it was obvious that a large, billion dollar corporation can't keep an appointment. She called them. The call center rep was rude to her. She asked for a manager. She escalated 2 levels in the call center, and did not encounter a single person who cared. We've already been waiting a week and a half for this service call. Now we're waiting until July 18. That's a Saturday. In my business, Saturdays are workdays. Thanks, Sears, you could have just cost me money.

Guess what Sears offered us for our inconvenience? A "free" consultation for air conditioning or siding or some other home service. Right. It would be free anyway. What idiot would pay for a consultation for that? Sears already demonstrated their unreliability and lack of caring about us as customers. If I needed anything done on my home, I know several good and reliable contractors who would do the job right. And I know where they live...

If you live in south Jersey and need air conditioning or siding (or any other contracting service) performed, please contact me. Spend your money on a good small businessman who cares about doing a good job. I can refer you to several. Don't give your money to Sears.

I'm writing this as sort of an open letter to Sears. Some companies actually monitor social media and blogs. When you're as large and soulless as Sears, it's a good way to find out what's really going on when several levels of corporation are between the executives and the customers. Of course, when you're as large and soulless as Sears, you probably don't care about one inconvenienced customer. Or two, or even a thousand. You'll do just fine no matter how many upset customers you leave in your wake.

So if you're reading this, Sears, I hope you don't miss the few tens of thousands of dollars in sales that you just lost from me. I have a long memory when large, soulless mega-corporations tick me off. Just ask Lowe's.

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