Customer service! Is that what you call it?

Who is the worst?

When you think of very poor customer service, which business sector comes to mind?

For me, far and away the worst are car dealerships! I have limited experience of buying cars from them, it is their servicing business which stands out as being awful, sometimes ridiculously so!

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

If their business premises were a mess and their people scruffy, then one might expect poor service; but their premises are extremely clean and well-designed and their people are smartly dressed (if you excuse the proliferation of extreme hair styles on the salesmen).

So, it is partly the contrast that makes it so jarring.

Should I?

Perhaps I should recount the saga which lasted several weeks and included:
– their inability to find a fault despite the cause being suggested to them and, much later, finding it satisfactorily themselves
– their attempt to charge for an incorrect solution
– their reluctance to accept the results of tests by a specialist
– their attempts to charge for unnecessary work
– their creation of a new fault
– their attempt to avoid responsibility for that
– their grudging acceptance of my explanation of its symptoms
– and, finally and funniest of all, their expressed delight at their success in using their diagnosis manuals to trace the fault that they had created, based on my explanation of its symptoms!

But let’s leave that one for another day!

For now, a simpler story:

One memorable incident began when I was making arrangements with the main dealer for my car to undergo routine maintenance; I also arranged to take advantage of their collection and delivery service. They were to collect the car early on the morning of the chosen day.

However I knew that, as one of their staff lives nearby, it is sometimes more convenient for them if they collect the car the evening before; this also allows them to start work on the car earlier on the day itself. So I offered them this option on the basis that, if they wanted to do this, they would need to make contact with me to change the arrangements.

No such change was made, so the original arrangement stood.

Late in the afternoon on the day before the allotted day, I was driving elsewhere when I received a call from the car dealer asking where I was? They had sent someone to collect my car and I was not at home!

I informed them that I was more than 50 miles away and the arrangement was that they collect the car the next morning. Well, they told me, someone is at your house in Topsham and is expecting to collect the car. Well, I told them, I am sorry about that, but wait … why Topsham (Devon, UK)? I had lived in Topsham up to about five years earlier and, since then, had lived in Sidbury (Devon, UK) some 15 miles away and, on several previous occasions they had collected the car from, and delivered it to, Sidbury.

No, I was told, the only address that they have for me is in Topsham. This was ridiculous because I had printed documents relating to work done by them with the Sidbury address on them. After several interchanges, it transpires that some other information was also not available because – they let slip – their computer system had crashed recently and they had lost some data.

Aha: so they had lost some data and reloaded their system with customer addresses which were at least five years out of date! Presumably they knew that they had reloaded the data and it is difficult to believe that mine was the only address that had changed in five years.

Even when I pointed this out to them, they were not accepting any responsibility and implying that it was my fault because I had not kept them informed of my change of address!

Why do we trust them?

They are hopeless and, in their view, everything is someone else’s fault; yet we trust them!

When thinking about my possible need to tread hard, at motorway speeds, on the brakes that they have maintained, I nevertheless fully expect that those brakes, complete with their fancy combination of electronics and hydraulics which provide their ABS capabilities, will function correctly and bring me safely to a standstill!

Maybe it is me who is at fault after all; maybe I need to lower my expectations even further!






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