Kate Bachman Kate Bachman
Senior Editor

Never Underestimate the Value of Good Customer Service

April 29, 2024

Recently, I experienced one of the most frustrating and painful experiences on the planet: terrible customer service. After an entire month and elevated vocal gymnastics, I still do not have deliveries of two products that I really need for a new-home build in another state. 

I won’t name the home hardware store where I tried to purchase these building products; suffice it to say that after listening to hours of hold tape, I am now an expert in lead-based paint, how to reach items from a high shelf and the danger of misbehaving kiddos.

I Apologize in Advance for this Rant

I have messaged the retailer’s chat box (worthless), emailed customer service and made at least 17 phone calls in an effort to get my items delivered—to no avail. 

Some customer-service people I spoke with were very nice and well-intentioned, but ineffective in getting the messages through that one item was delivered to the wrong address, and that the other had to be delivered when someone could be there to receive it. Their system did not allow them to schedule the delivery on my timetable, or communicate with third-party carrier’s drivers.

Regarding the misdelivered product, I received a message that it was delivered. I had to ask for proof of delivery. The proof: a photo of it lying on a brown deck with a brown metal railing. All well and good except I don’t have a brown deck with a brown metal railing. Despite multiple phone calls—all of which had to be to a general phone number eventually redirected to the “resolution” or “rescue” departments—I could not get the message through that I did not receive the product. One resolution manager somewhere on another continent insisted that it was properly delivered because the carrier’s notes stated so. I should take it up with the carrier that they had hired, I was told. They would not take responsibility for the misdelivery or even acknowledge it. 

Regarding the product that I had paid to be delivered “across the threshold,” the retailer sent me messages the afternoon beforehand that they would be delivering it the next day between 4 a.m. and 6 p.m. Quite a large window. I have lost track of how many times I called to ask them to hold off on delivering it until I knew when my contractor would be onsite to open the door. First time, they drove there and didn’t deliver it because no one was onsite. Second time, they dropped it off outside, exposed to the elements, and forged my signature that I had received it. Five states away. After I called, they retrieved it, though I had already paid someone $150 to bring it inside. Third time, they tried to deliver it an hour before my contractor was onsite. Fourth time, they tried to deliver it without notice on a day when no one was there. Now, having been in and out of the warehouse for a month, the item was returned to the manufacturer instead of being scheduled for delivery two days later when my contractor would be there.

So, now I have two refunds for the misdelivered item and the nondelivered item, and a gift card—to the retailer’s store. I must reorder these items. After more than a month, I am left empty-handed, construction has been delayed four weeks, and all I have to show for my efforts is a lot of anger, frustration and a gift card that I won’t use.

Earth is Still Inhabited by Humans

In this age of AI-boosted technology, it’s critical to remember that you’re still supplying to other humans. If your current processes fail to serve your customers’ needs, change your processes. All of my delivery troubles could have been avoided had they allowed me to schedule one delivery and if they had communicated with the carriers and drivers. Other companies manage to do that.

No matter how excellent your product may be, without good customer service and delivery where and when needed, a pall is cast on your product. Bad experiences will evoke human emotions of anger, frustration and disappointment, and likely will drive customers to lay their money down elsewhere. I know I will. Anyone want a worthless gift card?

Got thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.

Industry-Related Terms: Hardware, Tape
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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