NOTE! – This issue has been resolved by American Furniture Warehouse customer service as of February 22nd. Please see this blog entry for the rest of the story.
We now return to you the initial entry as originally posted…
Since we moved to Colorado this month (February 2007), we had to purchase new furnishings for our home. We decided to visit American Furniture Warehouse as their selection was vast and their prices seemed fair.
We spent thousands of dollars on 24 pieces of new furniture, which included a kitchen set, two sofa sets, lamps, bedroom sets and more.
One of the sets was a chair and a half and matching ottoman for the sitting area in the Master bedroom.
Who would have thought that this set would test the principals of American Furniture Warehouse?
This is my customer service gripe…
All of the pieces we ordered were delivered earlier this week, with the exception of the ottoman for the above-mentioned chair. It was on back-order, and we were told that there would be no additional delivery fee to bring the piece when it came in. No problem.
Today, however, we spent some time in the chair, and noticed that the back cushion didn’t really have any support. It would be a matter of time before it would crater and become utterly useless.
So we decided that we would send the chair back and cancel the ottoman, though we intended to purchase another matching set in exchange.
We went to the store today and explained the situation to the salesperson, who promptly led me to customer service.
I explained the situation to Chandra, the lady behind the counter.
I was told that they would exchange the furniture, but we would pay an additional delivery fee for the new pieces.
I explained that under normal circumstances that would make sense, but since the delivery team was initially going to be bringing us the ottoman in the first place, it didn’t seem right to charge us for an additional delivery fee.
Chandra told me that the new pieces would be on a different ticket, and that the existing delivery fee only applied to the pieces we had already purchased.
I again told her I understood the policy, but it seemed ridiculous to charge us for an additional delivery fee when their team was already scheduled to visit our home to deliver furniture.
It was one of those “well, duh” moments that anyone who is interested in providing good customer service instantly recognizes as a special case.
Not Chandra. She couldn’t do squat.
And as it turned out, there was no one in the store with any authority greater than hers. I was instructed to call the customer service number if I wished to pursue it further.
Now before I go on, please understand that this was NOT about the $30 it would take to deliver the new pieces. It was strictly about principal. I know how I would handle a situation like this, but I was hoping American Furniture Warehouse would see it the same way.
After waiting on the line for fifteen minutes (the recording told me they were especially busy… ), Doug Bryant from the Thornton office picked up and wanted to know how he could help me.
I explained the situation to him and fully expected him to say, “Sure, Mr. Comm. I know you understand we have policies, but in this case it certainly would not make sense to charge you an additional delivery fee since we were already prepared to deliver another piece to your house. We value you as a customer and appreciate your business, so we will make sure your new pieces are delivered when we exchange for the piece you currently have in your home for no extra charge. Please do consider us in the future for all your furniture needs.”
Makes sense, yes?
That’s not what happened.
Mr. Bryant merely echoed the words of Chandra, the customer service agent in the store, in telling me that I would have to pay an additional delivery fee.
I was dumbstruck.
I had just spent thousands of dollars at this store, and my wife presently shopping for more furniture while I was on the phone, and this guy was telling me that policy was policy, regardless of the obvious common sense one could apply, and that I would have to pay for a delivery that would have taken place regardless.
I told him (paraphrased), “So if you are telling me that you can’t simply exchange the furniture and NOT deliver the ottoman that I already had coming without charging me an additional fee, than it is likely that you have lost a customer for life!”
His reply? Get this…
“If your response to our policy is that you are going to blackmail me so that you get your way, well then I am sorry to see you go.”
I was informing him that his idea of customer service stunk and that I would have no further interest in doing business with American Furniture Warehouse, and I was told that to do so was blackmail!
Holy cow. What a customer service disaster.
The conversation went on an additional 10 minutes or so and I got absolutely nowhere with this guy. I explained that in my business, I would never think twice about making sure my customer was satisfied.
He told me that they have costs to doing business and they had to pay their delivery drivers. It wouldn’t be fair for them to not be paid.
And since they were ALREADY paying the delivery driver to come to my house to drop off the backordered ottoman, what would be the difference in paying them to drop off the furniture and NOT deliver the ottoman?
Yes, it was common sense. And one would think well worth it to keep a customer that had already spent a large chunk of change.
Not so as far as Doug Bryant was concerned. No sir. No exceptions.
Fine. Our conversation was over and I hung up the phone.
The salesperson shook her head and empathized with my plight.
I would NEVER treat a customer like that. Never.
So, I am getting the furniture from them only because I don’t want the existing piece.
And I am paying the $30 delivery fee even though it makes no sense.
But that $30 fee cost American Furniture Warehouse hundreds, or maybe thousands more, from this customer. I plan on living in this area for years, and I guarantee I would have gone back. As it stands now, it isn’t likely.
Would Jake Jabs approve? As a business owner, I would hesitate to think so. I would make sure that I had a customer service team that was able to analyze each case individually and do the right thing.
If Mr. Jabs reads this blog entry, I would welcome a response that would make this customer happy. Perhaps then I will have something nice to say and once again freely spend my money at American Furniture Warehouse.