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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 15-Dec-06


Friday 15-December-06

An unhappy customer

Recently, I was an unhappy customer, after having been confused by poor retail stocking and then having to spend money again, effectively paying for the store's mismanagement of stock and constrained staff. The amount I had to re-pay was not high, but it was enough to make me unhappy enough to switch to another store.

Here's the story, in the letter I sent to their headquarters:

To: Homebase Customer Satisfaction Manager

Dear Sir or Madam,

Today I had a rather frustrating experience and I hope you can help me resolve what must be a minor issue for you.

It all started a couple of days ago when I bought three pieces of 'Image' tile edging strip from the Bracknell Homebase, at ?5.99 each. A bit pricey, I thought, but you cannot go wrong at Homebase. I picked one, checked it for size against a tile, and then took two from the same dispenser.

Today, I was tiling and needed to create a mitre around a corner and so cut two pieces to shape. I was baffled to find I could not match them until I realised that the two strips I had used were of different size. Examining the third one, I was amazed to find that this was a different size again. There was no obvious indicator that they were different and only a close examination showed this. All were white and the difference was but a millimetre or two.

Oh well, I thought. At least I bought them from Homebase, who have a good customer service policy. And so I took them all down to the Camberley store where I was told by the manager that because I had cut one of the pieces, it could not be replaced. I told her that I had taken the pieces from the same bin and she just said that customers often put things back in the wrong place, effectively washing her hands of it.

I have worked in customer service and am amazed that a local store manager first lacks the training in handling unhappy customers and, even more ridiculous, is unable to write off ?5.99 to assure customer satisfaction. I did not get angry because it seemed unfair on her as an untrained, unempowered employee but, as you can imagine, I am rather disgusted with Homebase. I had to fork out another ?5.99, which perhaps gives you a little gain, but it also gives you a great big loss, as, unless you can do something about this I will now be taking my custom to one of the many other DIY stores in the area.

In hope of treatment as a valued customer,

Yours faithfully

The real slippery slope for Homebase, as indicated in the letter, is in the penny-pinching that appears to have gone on around staff training and empowerment. If you run a service business and your staff annoy or cannot help a customer with a reasonable complaint, it is your fault. And in today's world of strong competition and customers with high expectations, this leads to customers who not only go elsewhere, but also tell other people -- and the power of the internet means this can easily be a very large number.

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