Daily Archives: March 23, 2013

The Customer Is Always Right (Take Note, Eddie Bauer!)

dklimkeI had a very negative experience recently with a Customer Service department, and I think this might be the space to lay out all the details and analyze what made things so bad in the first place.

I ordered two items from Eddie Bauer online. The first was regularly priced, the second on clearance. Because the two items were in two separate warehouse locations, in two separate cataloguing systems, they could not be paid for or shipped together. So, the regularly priced item was charged to my debit card, shipped, and I received it the next week.

However, there were all kinds of problems with the second.

Firstly, I, the valued customer, was expected to pay shipping twice, which I think is ridiculous (the organizational problems at Eddie’s warehouses shouldn’t be my problem!)

Secondly, the charging systems they used to bill Mastercard/Visa decided to place three pending transactions for the same item on my debit history. The item was $18.35 total with shipping, but there were three holds for that amount, which tied up some of my hard-earned funds.

Thirdly, when I called Customer Service to try and resolve this issue, I was told I’d have to take things up with Mastercard/Visa – not the service they used to make transactions through these companies. Calls to my bank and to the credit card company sent me straight back to the same Customer Service agent, who apologized and said there was nothing she could do. I would just have to wait out the computer glitch.

At that point, I was fed up, and I requested to cancel my order. The agent on the phone happily complied. Three days later, all three pending charges were still in my transaction history, and two separate phone calls, on two consecutive days yielded two assurances that the order was cancelled, and the charges should disappear.

One day later, I received two notification emails about this order – which I had cancelled.

“It’s processing!”

“It shipped!”

Calls and emails to the customer service demanding that they refund my money (which, technically, they had no authorization to take anymore) only got me apologies, and sheepish reminders that I could pay more shipping and return the item for a refund.

I know this is a relatively small transaction, and sounds like a relatively small issue. But I was so incensed that all my responsible efforts and kind interactions with the people who were supposed to handle these things didn’t pay off. Plus, neither item ended up fitting correctly, and I ended up returning them both, at a loss because of the shipping charges. Figures.

According to SM ROI, here are the things they could have come better:

Recruited me into crafting a solution. If they had offered to credit my online account for the same amount they erroneously charged me, I would have been pacified. If they had apologized and refunded me for the clearance item’s value (even still charged for the shipping!) I would have been happier. Instead, they blamed the problem on their own charging/shipping processing systems!

They added air into my “angry balloon,” by not acknowledging the company’s fault. And, if they thought my request was unreasonable, they should have provided some alternative that benefited both of us. Any alternative would have been better than the falsely apologetic, “Sorry, it wasn’t our fault… it was our equipment…” excuse.

Anyone else ever had a negative experience ordering online from Eddie Bauer? Have to say, I was hugely disappointed, because I do love their physical stores and their clothes. I am never ordering online from them again.