21 May 2010

A slippery slope?

When I used to do training in complaint handling, we had a session where we invited participants to think about a complaint they had made, and whether it had been handled well or badly. It was incredible how often the same names turned up. In the bad column, British Gas, mobile phone companies, banks. In the good column Marks & Spencer and Waitrose featured very often for their no-quibble approach and imaginative solutions.

So I shouldn't have been surprised by what happened after I made a comment on the Waitrose wine website on a wine I had bought from Waitrose. I wanted to warn people that it was basically undrinkable. (Believe me, if I can't drink it, no-one can.) It wasn't corked (it had a screw cap) but was so strongly sulphurised you could taste nothing else.

Within a day, I got an email saying my comments would be forwarded to the customer service team, to investigate the possibility of a refund. I hadn't asked for that, but why not? This was good complaint handling. But it didn't progress on to be effective complaint handling. I didn't hear from customer services within five weeks, and so I've had to complain again. By this time, I definitely did want a refund. I realised that if I'd taken the wine back, I'd have got a refund without question. I'm still waiting for an answer but there seem to be two people dealing with it.

So why the slippery slope? After you've been dealing with complaints for 15 years, there are two things that can happen when you stop. Either you celebrate that you never have to deal with a complaint again, or you become a serial complainant. I might have just crossed the line.

1 comment :

Brian said...

Update: they've sent me a £10 voucher and a competent apology. Unexciting. Maybe I won't get addicted.