Monday, January 26, 2009

The "even more" return of customer service

One of the oddities of my job is, because we move around a lot, we tend to collect bank accounts. OK, not so much now, with internet banking and megabanks and all, but back in the day if you moved to a different state, you pretty much had to get a new bank account. One of the accounts I had was with a credit union. I opened it in 1985, and wherever I've moved, I've kept that account open. Mostly because I think there's a certain cachet to being able to be a member of this credit union. Wherever you are in the world, if you see someone with a credit or debit card from this credit union, you can give a little "hey" nod, and you'll know that they know, and they'll know that you know.

Nope, not gonna tell you what it is, but its name wouldn't mean anything to you anyway (unless, of course, it does, in which case, you already know).

Aaaaaanyway... This account is sort of our "fire and forget" account. I have a small bit of my pay sent there every month, and we never look at the account until we need some extra. Well, the other day, I had reason to try to log on to my home banking account trying to find the interest for Uncle Sam's annual extortion, and it had been so long I forgot my password, and locked myself out. So I call the member service office, and after answering many many questions to identify myself (including "what was your qualification for membership?") the rep reset my password, and said, "When you log in, you'll need to update your address, because we have a bad one on file." I gave her my address, and she said that was the one they had. I told her I had been here for 3 years, likely to be here several years more. She said, "OK, I'll take that flag off the account. Sorry about that." She hung up, I let the mandatory 10 minutes pass (why does everything take "10 minutes to update in the system"?) and I log in. Well, imagine my dismay when I see, every month for the last 6 months, a $10 "invalid address fee." $60... gone... for an invalid address that wasn't even invalid!

I picked up the phone, and called member services again. A different rep answers. "I'm looking at my online account, and I see all these invalid address fees. I just spoke to another rep and advised her that the address you have is correct; can I have my money back please?"

Type type type, I hear.

"That money's already been refunded to your account, sir."

"What?" Refresh the browser. "Oh, there it is... wait a sec. Already? You mean you didn't just do it?"

"No, sir. The rep you just spoke to did it."

"Oh. Wow. That's great! Thanks!"

Yep. Imagine. A bank (OK, credit union, but still..) refunding a fee without being asked. Who would have believed it?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The return of customer service??

Yesterday I went to set up the new TV that I had purchased, and discovered that it was broken. Well, not broken, but certainly defective. When you turn it on, it whistles... a high-pitched tone. It's not from the speakers, it's something... electronic. But it renders the TV unusable. What to do? Well, the box that the TV came in had a big label printed on it, with a phone number. "Tech Support," it said. It offered to help set up the TV if we couldn't, or to help us with problems. "Don't go back to the store, give us a call!" it said. So I called, but they were closed for the day.

This evening I called, and after one ring and a recorded "we record your call for training" message, got straight through to a human. I explained that I had purchased the TV two days ago, and when I turned it on it made a beep/whistle. She said, "Is it all channels and modes?" I said, "It's not the speakers, it's electronic, listen." And I held the phone to the TV.

"My, it shouldn't do that, should it?" she said. "Let me get your address and we'll have a replacement couriered over to you. Is Monday good for delivery?"


That's it? No "send it in and we'll fix it, maybe, and get it back to you someday"?? No "bring it back to the store and deal with them"?? No "try all these diagnostic tricks that won't work before we'll have a tech call you back"?? Just "Is Monday good?" And a total of less than 10 minutes on the phone?

And this was the MANUFACTURER. Wow.

I'd post a link to their page, but it's one of those "small" brands, that does house-brand stuff, I guess. Like Medion, or that sort. The brand of TV is Neon, but I saw web references that say the same model is also sold under the Cello brand, but the phone was answered with another name altogether. Don't care, actually. It was a good price to begin with, but with customer service like this... wow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The first thing to go

Earlier this year, when I was off on a Greek Isle, our kids' TV broke. Not a great tragedy, as tragedies go, and we've been in no real hurry to replace it.

Today, Susie sent me a note, that she had seen a decent looking replacement for a very reasonable price at, of all places, the supermarket while she was out shopping. I poked around the net, didn't find anything to dissuade me, and decided to pick it up after work.

I go into the market, head for the meat section, because I have to pick up steaks for the special dinner we're having tonight. (What's the occasion? Read on...) I buy the steaks, and a little bottle of wine to make a reduction sauce, and head over to the TV section. A brief chat with the counter dude, and he sends a flunky off to the warehouse to get the TV.

This being the UK, there is a license for televisions. It funds the BBC. When you buy a TV, you have to fill out a form, and they report the sale so the government can verify that you have paid the license fee. So I'm filling out the form, and I get to the bottom, where it says, "Date of sale."

I blank. I look at my watch for the date, but it's not displayed. I look at the counter dude, and say, "Um, what's today's date?" He thinks a sec, and then, just before he answers, I remember.

It's January 6th.

My birthday. And the reason I went to the store in the first place was to get the steaks for my birthday dinner.


Friday, January 2, 2009

The Year in Review!

Courtesy of YouTube, by way of my sister, here's a quick recap of the stories we were all talking about this past year: