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Thread: Poor customer service or am I too picky?

  1. Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    I'm curious to see what my fellow musicians think about this as it does relate to music, perhaps you guys can put this into perspective for me.

    A bit of background...my wife and I are huge fans of mp3 players...I'm not going to single out the brand, right now. Between my wife and I, we own 4, all made by the same firm. I don't use CDs anymore, as I think it is very convenient to have access to your entire collection in the palm of your hand at once. We have been very happy with these for a number of years, and we still use them nearly every day. Recently, we bought a new home computer to replace our old one. I had no idea how to transfer my entire library to my new machine, and I had a couple of other minor questions about this changeover. I called customer service to solicit their advice, and was told that since none of my players were under warranty, they would not be able to provide me with advice. Bear in mind that I was NOT asking them to fix anything. I complained about this and eventually convinced them to help me, but they made it clear that they were doing me a favor by doing that and they ordinarily charge for doing so for people with products whose warranty had expired. I argued with them for 5 minutes and in the end it took them less than 3 minutes to help me and answer my questions. This strikes me as extremely poor customer service. I'm contemplating calling the firm again and asking for a customer service manager to voice these concerns, since I really like the products, but don't like the idea of being left out in the cold for a simple question because my warranty expired. What do you guys think? Are my expectations too high?

  2. Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    Tough call. I would think that they'd want you to be comfortable and happy with their products. If it was quick then it should be no problem, but if they needed to spend a large amount of time, then it's not worth their time.

    I have people call me at work as a repair technician to ask me how much they should sell their instrument to their neighbour which they're not even going to bring in for service or someone who bought a guitar accessory from elsewhere and expects me to stay on the phone and guide them through installation. I'm happy to help people, but I'm supposed to be making my store money in the process or I'm not doing my job.

    If you think you were reasonable in asking relevant information that was not a huge hassle then you can bring it up to their bosses, but if you're dealing with a call centre, the second you hang up, there's not much point in calling back as the people who wronged you are hard to track down (and the management doesn't really care despite what they might say) and after a day or two, they've probably already quit.

  3. #3

    Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    Based on what I know of call centers, they have a lot of guidelines and restrictions. I'm sure the people who answer the phones are supposed to complete X number of calls, and may have to justify the time they spend. It's possible you got hold of someone who was a jerk or was maybe having a bad day, but I suspect the target of your ire should be the company that sets the policies.

    What do you think is fair for the company to do? Should they help a customer out no matter what? At my day job, my company is very customer oriented. We even have a support department that is tasked with dealing with exactly the kind of problem you describe (in a different industry). BUT we are know for high-touch customer care and better-than-typical support; and we are also NOT known as the low-price leader. Those two things go together.

    I don't know the MP3 market all that well, but I think most of the brands/retailers work on a pretty slim profit margin. Would you rather pay $X more for your players to get better support? Would you still rather pay more if you knew that you could find the tips you need on the web? You might want to become familiar with the Kim Komando site. She's a radio show host offering lots of computer advice on her website: www.komando.com

    I shop both ways. Sometimes I get things at the lowest possible price because I know what I'm getting and how to deal with it. Other times I go to a seller than has more support and pay more.

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  4. #4

    Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    It is poor customer service, but I think your experience is pretty much industry-standard these days, at least in the computer and consumer electronics fields.

    I deal with 50-60 different hardware and software providers in my job, and can't think of any off the top of my head that doesn't charge (in some cases, exorbitantly) for phone support for out-of-warranty equipment or previous versions of software, except via the Internet. (Dell's out-of-warranty "On Call" support is $129/incident, and the customer service rep won't acknowledge your question until you provide a credit card number.) These days, even with in-warranty equipment, I don't bother even looking up the customer support number until I've checked online resources, particularly those authored by other users, which are often more clear and more complete than those from the manufacturer/retailer.

    FWIW, if the mp3 players are from the company I suspect you're referring to, I've had considerable success getting answers to questions regarding out-of-warranty hardware and earlier versions of software by visiting one of their retail stores or via email to customer support.


  5. #5

    Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    Felix's response triggered my memory. Another approach is to see if they have a Twitter or Facebook account. People monitoring those have a more customer-service-oriented attitude. It IS social media, after all, and the reason companies have people doing that is to help with customer warm-fuzzies.

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  6. Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    What do you think is fair for the company to do? Should they help a customer out no matter what?
    I shop both ways. Sometimes I get things at the lowest possible price because I know what I'm getting and how to deal with it. Other times I go to a seller than has more support and pay more.
    Call me old fashioned, but if I'm not asking them to fix anything and am only soliciting how to advice, then I think the answer is yes. Oh, and one other thing...these mp3 players are some of the more pricey ones out there and this firm supposedly prides itself on superior customer service. I know, the firm is simply thinking of the amount of the time lost by their customer service reps rather than cementing a long term relationship with a customer who has already bought several products. Don't forget, my wife and I have bought 4 different versions of the products from this specific firm, and one of these products went out of warranty just a few months ago.

    One thing is clear. I'm going to call the firm again and ask to speak to a supervisor. If I can't get them to see things my way, I will be shopping based on price in the future. Why pay a premium for customer service when they all seem to be interested in making a quick sale rather than cultivating long term relationships?

    I suppose this is a logical outgrowth of the falling prices in the electronics industry in general, but it doesn't make it less frustrating!

  7. #7

    Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    Originally posted by: euphdude
    Call me old fashioned, but if I'm not asking them to fix anything and am only soliciting how to advice, then I think the answer is yes.

    While I understand your frustration, I also understand why for-profit companies feel they need to establish a hard "expiration date" for free customer service AND why they have a blanket enforcement policy.

    Taking 5-10 minutes to assist one customer is one thing; multiply that by several thousand customers, and the time and financial costs are no longer insignificant; multiply those several thousand by several more thousand, and the costs can quickly approach, if not exceed, the entire personnel and financial resources of even the largest, most profitable company. So even if, in principle, a company is willing to assist callers beyond the published "expiration date" of their free support, the question is at what point does one draw the line? And, assuming a company does occasionally assist callers beyond the expiration date, how does it determine which callers to assist and which not to assist without exposing itself to the very real risk, in the current social climate, of a class action law suit alleging racial/gender/other discrimination from other callers whom they did not assist?

    That's not to say that the policies are right; only that, from a business perspective, they are not unreasonable.

  8. #8

    Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    I was chatting with my wife about this interesting topic and that reminded me that it is NOT a new issue.

    In about 1997 I bought a copy of Norton Anti-Virus for a new computer. Something went wrong during install or update or something (can't recall the details) so I tried to call the company. Unless I just picked the wrong path to follow, it seemed that the only way I could have talked to a human being was to put in a credit card and accept that there could be charges. I was greatly offended by this and hung up. I think the computer company actually managed to help me through this for no charge (of course, they made more $$ from me).

    At the risk of sounding older than the hills, I miss the days when we were all a bit more dependent on local resources to help us. As a young driver I used to rely on gas (service) stations when I had a mechanical problem. One would go to the local hardware store and talk to a person about what was needed, and generally got good advice. If you bought a Voice of Music record player (remember those?) and had a problem, your first point of contact was not VM but rather was the store.

    Beyond the obvious factors in that old-fashioned way, there was more of a sense of "community" about the whole process. The company who made your MP3 players clearly did not build community with you! And few do.

    There are some retailers who do a good job. At least the last time I knew, Crutchfield offers good pre-sales and post-sales support. They are an online retailer, but are more high-touch. (Has anyone had recent experience with Crutchfield? Is this still true?) It's not exactly local community, but at least they did not make me feel lost and discarded when I needed help from them.

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  9. Poor customer service or am I too picky?

    TextThere are some retailers who do a good job. At least the last time I knew, Crutchfield offers good pre-sales and post-sales support. They are an online retailer, but are more high-touch. (Has anyone had recent experience with Crutchfield? Is this still true?) It's not exactly local community, but at least they did not make me feel lost and discarded when I needed help from them.
    Thanks for the great reminder Dave! Yes Crutchfield is unique and they still do have excellent customer service. When we made a very modest purchase from them last year, they spent more than 15 minutes with me answering my questions. I was extremely impressed. They are certainly one of the good guys in my book!

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