If there is one thing that gets me vex it is really bad customer service. Not because I demand perfection and expect to be served like a queen. But because it is SO easy to do very basic things to make your customer happy and SO rare that people even make an effort.
A few days ago I was on my not-so-rare rant about the best country in the world; it's Barbados obviously. Not that I'm biased or anything. There is a long list of reasons why Barbados is so great, but good customer service does not usually appear on that list. In fact, I'm among quite a few Bajans who often get distressed, and frankly, embarrassed, at the level of service in some of the most tourist-visited places. Like the Airport, for starters. It is not that Bajans are a rude people, not traditionally anyway. We used to have a reputation for being warm and welcoming, kind and helpful, funny and good spirited. But more and more I come across cashiers at Super Centre whose only form of communication is grunting, shop clerks in Cave Shepherd who think it is helpful to finish their chat on the phone before doing their job, and my real favourite, taxi drivers who like to tell young ladies that they have got particularly attractive rear ends. Their language tends to be more colourful.
However! During my epic argument about the best country in the world, a Trini (one of those renowned Bajan-haters) conceded on the one point that he got pretty damn good customer service in Barbados. I was floored! And incredibly happy. Maybe there has begun a turn-around on my beautiful island. What's more, the next day I had to ring up the Barbados High Commission in London. I was fully expecting to hold for twenty minutes and then speak to a machine. Wrong! Two rings and the lovely Jackie answered. Not only was she pleasant and articulate, but she was also genuinely helpful. Can't say the same for the US Embassy; service was disgraceful.
So we've got the Best Country decided. Now for the Worst Company - Argos. Ok, this might be an exaggeration. I'm sure there are arms dealers and market traders and soft-drink manufacturers and all sorts of other companies that do much worse things than Argos. It might not be The Worst but it certainly is Terrible. Mercia Garden takes a big load of the blame too as you'll see in a bit.
Here is the tale of the Terrible experience had by a Friend:
Friend ordered a garden shed online, as one does, from Argos. Friend assumed she was getting an Argos product. Wrong! Argos out-sourced to Mercia Garden. Now the product was just slightly too big for the letter-box, so someone had to be home to collect delivery. Sure. No problem. Friend was given a day for delivery. No time frame; no "we'll come between 10 and 2"; nothing. So good responsible Friend sat at home ALL DAY! No delivery. Customer service department (if we can call it that) tells her, "Oh, we're very sorry. Bit of a mix-up. We'll deliver tomorrow". Fine. Good responsible Friend sat at home ALL DAY! No delivery. Ultimately, FOUR separate delivery dates were set up and still: No delivery. Now, I don't know what you like to do with your time, but Friend and I, we don't think sitting at home waiting on a non-existent delivery is particularly fun or productive. What's worse, the so-called customer service department is less than apologetic and less than helpful in sorting the whole issue out.
|Dear Argos, You Suck.|
There's MORE! Friend, being a patient and forgiving and generally awesome person, makes another order from Argos. This time, for next-day delivery. Now, you may have seen all these adverts that Argos has got posted over half of London and ALL over the tele; they claim they can do same-day delivery, within 90 minutes if you're that eager for it. You'd think with the ability to do 90 minute delivery, the next day should be do-able. Wrong! The f-ed it up. Surprise surprise! For more on shit from Argos read this.
Maybe one day Argos will surprise me in the way that Barbados has. Until then,I shall not be ordering from Argos. I will not be gracing them with my time and patience. There are a million other places I can shop and now, I will.