Dec 17 2006

Merry Whatever

Merry Whatever

We had two horrendous customer service experiences at Return Path lately that just leave me scratching my head about how one could possibly run a business that way.

In the process of buying some holiday gifts for a few of our larger clients, we first tried to order gift baskets from Harry & David.  But we couldn’t, because they wouldn’t take our order via Excel spreadsheet — our office manager would have had to enter each order in a web form by hand.  I imagine the conversation going something like this:

Andrea from Return Path:  “Hi, I’d like to give you $2,500.”

Clerk from Harry & David:  “Um, no thanks.”

So, ok, fine, we moved on to vendor number 2 – Wine Country Gift Baskets.  We ordered something suitably nondenomenational, and the ordering experience was great.  But we heard back from a number of clients (ones whose last names were probably like mine – Blumberg, Goldstein, you get the idea) that they were surprised we send them such a Christmasy present.

So were we.  So we looked into it, and apparently our vendor ran out of whatever we ordered and decided to just go ahead and send something entirely different, without asking us.  Again, one has to wonder how that decision went down, but possibly something like this:

Clerk at Wine Country Gift Baskets:  “Hey boss, we’re out of wine and cheese, so how about we substitute in a nativity scene?”

Supervisor:  “Whatever.”

Clerk:  “Should I call the customer to see if that is okay with them?”

Supervisor:  “Is that my donut you’re eating”

Why bother being in a customer service business if you’re not actually going to service customers?  It’s too bad everyone isn’t as fantastic at that as Zappos.