Monday, October 06, 2008

Customer disservice

Here's the text of the e-mail I sent to H&M today:

My kids and I went to the H&M store in downtown Boston this morning. My three-year-old, who was hanging on to her new clothes, accidentally dropped a pair of leg warmers in the basket underneath our stroller. Of course I didn't discover them until I was nearly home (at the end of the subway line, folding the stroller to stow in the trunk of my car).

So I called the store as soon as I got home: I have a pair of leg warmers, and I'd like to pay for them. The woman who answered the phone was utterly confused, and told me I'd have to come back to the store and show them my receipt.

No, I said, I didn't pay for them. They're not on the receipt. I'm calling because I WANT to pay for them.

She asked me to hold while she got a manager. I was on hold for quite a while -- 10 to 15 minutes -- and finally hung up. When I called back a few minutes later I asked to speak to the manager immediately.

He wasn't much more help. No, he couldn't take a credit card number over the phone. I would have to return to the store to pay for the leg warmers. (I don't go downtown often.) Or, if I didn't want them, he guessed I could send them through the mail. He didn't see any other way he could help.

How about this, I said. I'll send you the tag from the leg warmers, with a check. He agreed, gave me his name (Paul) and the address of the store, and hung up.

Now, I'm embarrassed that I walked out of a store without paying for something. And I really wanted to do the right thing. But at no point did either employee thank me for being honest. Instead, they acted confused -- why would I want to pay for something if I didn't have to? -- and, in addition to being unable to help me, seemed unwilling to go an extra step to find a way in which they could help.

I wonder if your employee training covers how to handle a situation that is out of the ordinary. From the experience I had today, I doubt it. I would have appreciated someone saying that they didn't have an answer for me, but they were certainly sympathetic, they appreciated what I was trying to do, and they would give me a call back within an hour with a solution.

Oh, and Beth had so many questions about why things were a certain way on our train that I suggested she could design subway cars when she grew up. She's pondering it.


Em Russ said...

well, if it's any consolation, I am proud of you for going the extra mile to be honest!!

Jessie said...

wow that's silly... maybe they thought you were messing with them. They probably have a lot of shoplifters:-(.

Yay for you for being honest! Are you going to wear the leg warmers?

Libby said...

I guess I need to make the leg warmer thing clear: they're for Beth, not for me. I went through a leg warmer phase in the '80s and don't plan on repeating it...well, at least not until I'm so cold in February that I'll wear anything to stay warm.

Danika said...

You are a girl after my very own heart!!! I write letters ALL THE TIME! If the experience is good or bad I write a letter and surprisingly I've gotten a lot of free stuff over my lifetime for it. Free dinner to Atlantic Seafood Company, gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts, returned funds for shipping... it really pays to sit down and write a letter. Let me know what they say!

Cynthia said...

I want a picture of the nefarious warmers.