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The war of the (actual) roses, final chapter

Regular readers of this space already know that I spent my entire weekend fighting against the incompetence of 1-800-flowers, complete with a cameo appearance of incompetence by their competitor Pro Flowers/FloristExpress.

By Sunday morning, I thought the matter was as settled as it was going to get (without any flowers being delivered), when out of the blue I received a Twitter DM from a customer service rep from 1-800-flowers, with a brand new offer reversing earlier decisions made by them. Now, suddenly, they wanted to issue me a full refund (which they’d already done), credit me $50 on my next order (up from the previously-offered $25, which I will never use because that would actually entail me utilizing their “services” again, but whatever), and – here’s the big change – deliver the flowers at no charge. So, the thing they’d been unable to do as scheduled on Friday, then refused to do on Saturday, they by Sunday were asking me to allow them to do on Monday. All they really wanted to know was if Monday was a good day to deliver them.

The recipient was scheduled to be out much of Monday, so I asked them to deliver the flowers late in the business day, and if the recipient wasn’t home, to leave them on her doorstep. The customer service rep agreed, and also committed that she would personally contact me as soon as she had spoken with the local florist, and would report back to me the specific time the flowers were scheduled for delivery as soon as she knew it.

Of course it didn’t happen that way. The customer service rep never contacted me (still hasn’t). And at 5:47 pm on Monday I received their automated email that they had attempted delivery of the flowers, but that since the recipient had been unavailable, they had been unable to do so. It was another nasty surprise, with another undesirable result, which contradicted every agreement made on Sunday. The automated email also explained that either I or the intended recipient would be contacted for alternative delivery arrangements, but neither of us were contacted.

So being me, I once again lit up Facebook and my Twitter feed with vitriol against this shady operation, and once again scores of others once again began re-tweeting, cussing, discussing, and adding their own 1-800-flowers horror stories. This time, uncharacteristically, the crisis management team at the company was non-responsive, ignoring the whole thing. It was as if they were busy doing something else.

Turns out they were indeed busy – scrambling to cover their tracks, stop the social media bleeding, and deliver the flowers, because like magic, at 7:15 pm, the flowers arrived.

So, to review, it only took four extra days, scores of emails, countless Twitter direct messages, one very well-read blog post, and undoubtedly thousands in lost revenue due to bad publicity about this company on this blog, Twitter, and Facebook, for 1-800-flowers to finally accomplish their core business service.

And that’s how I spent my entire weekend.

[thanks to Sondra, whose Facebook comment was stolen fair and square for the headline]

Comments { 3 }

Consumer rant: 1-800-FLOWERS

This post has significant updates at the bottom since its original posting.

It’s rare that I go on a tirade against bad service. In the case of 1-800-flowers, I’m more than happy to make an exception. It is, however, the only thing in this pathetic situation I’m happy about.

I have a close friend in Houston who has been ill for way too long, and this week has been particularly difficult for her. Thinking that I wanted at least one little positive thing to happen to her this week, yesterday I ordered flowers to be delivered to her condo. I used 1-800-flowers.

By about 5 pm I got the email notification that the flowers had been delivered. By late in the evening, after she had said nothing to me about them, I knew something was wrong. I asked her if she’d received a delivery from me earlier.

She replied with words to the effect of “oh, was that you? I wondered about that,” then told me the full story. She’d been on a conference call  for her job as the flower delivery fool had tried to call her. Apparently, the security gate at her condo complex had gotten the best of him. After getting off her conference call and listening to the delivery fool’s voicemail, she called him back, no later than ten minutes after he had been at her complex and called her.

She told me that not only was the delivery fool unwilling to double back and make the delivery, but that in the process, he was rude to her.

So, to review, 1-800-flowers failed to deliver the arrangement I had paid for. Then they were rude to the person the flowers were supposed to cheer up. And they lied to me in sending me a confirmation that the flowers had been delivered, when in fact they had not.

Incensed, I called them late last night, and connected with some badly-trained buffoon who assured me it would be taken care of, in such a way that left little doubt they would put as little effort into it as possible.

Meanwhile, I took to twitter to make sure others knew what they’re getting into when they order stuff from this half-assed operation. I got an auto-response (a grammatical tragedy) from their “customer service” rep (read: crisis management flack) to follow and direct message them so that the issue could be resolved (read: take it private so potential customers can’t see the extent to which we suck). It wasn’t immediately clear to me that it was an automated response with no humans on the other end, until after I noted that Senator Leticia Van de Putte had replied to my original tweeted complaint, and as a result she received the same auto-response (which was either another grammatical tragedy, or an insult to a Senator). Also, after I dutifully followed their instructions, followed them, and direct messaged them, they quickly sprang into action by doing…nothing. Except for another auto-response this morning, again asking me to do what I’ve already done: follow them and direct message them so that the issue can be resolved. Get a clue, losers: I can’t follow you any more than I already have. I’m following the ever-living crap out of you. And I’ve already direct messaged the bejesus out of you. But still no reply, and no flowers.

So thanks, 1-800-flowers: you wasted my money. You wasted my time. You not only failed to make somebody feel better, you made them feel worse. And you’ve lost a customer forever. For all these precious gifts from you, here’s a little delivery in return, from me to you:

Update: I just received an email from this sorry-assed company, which included the following: “We would like to inform you that we have scheduled a redelivery of your order on 06/02/12 at no additional cost.” SERIOUSLY?? No additional cost? How magnanimous of them, to do today what they were supposed to do yesterday, all without charging me more! Holy crap, these people are a waste of skin.

Update #2: In my discussions with 1-800-Flowers, I asked for three things: that the rude delivery dork apologize to the intended recipient for his rude behavior to her, that the flowers be delivered immediately, and that I be refunded my money because of the company’s indefensible handling of this situation. I got only one of those three things immediately: the delivery dork did call the recipient and apologize. When my friend told me that delivery dork had called, she also mentioned that delivery dork had told her that for reasons unknown to him, the order had been canceled.

A full hour later, I got an email from a 1-800-Flowers representative, informing me that their company policy would allow for either delivery of the flowers, or a refund, but not both, and that they awaited my decision. An odd circumstance, seeing as how I already knew from Delivery Dork that 1-800-Flowers had already canceled the order. The representative also informed me that I would be mailed at $25 gift certificate as an apology. I replied to the company to cancel my order and issue my refund, but that they could save the postage on their silly gift certificate, since I am clearly never utilizing their services again.

In what I thought would be a clever twist, I then ordered a similar flower arrangement from 1-800-Flowers’ competitor, Pro Flowers/FloristExpress. Even including expedited delivery fee, Pro Flowers was less expensive than 1-800-Flowers, and I was poised to write a final update praising Pro Flowers for coming through for me.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to do so: after hours of back-and-forth customer service SNAFUs of their own, despite their guarantee that they could deliver the flowers within four hours of the order being placed, Pro Flowers finally admitted to me that they would be unable to fulfill the order at all today, and would instead issue a refund. But at least they weren’t liars like 1-800-Flowers. They were, however, just as incompetent.

That said, for your future reference, if you ever want to have flowers not delivered, Pro Flowers fails to deliver them at a significantly lower price than 1-800-Flowers fails to deliver them.

And to my ill friend, I apologize for my utter defeat in what at first appeared to be a simple task. Here are the only flowers you will see from me today:

flowers

Final update: this happened.

Comments { 9 }

Consumer Rant: Dell

(This is an occasional series, usually posted on weekends when site traffic is down anyway. The series is intended to torture corporations who know that many potential customers who google the business name will run across feedback like this.)

Dear Dell:

I am a repeat customer of yours. I’ve tried my best to like you. But despite the fact that I’m writing this from a Dell computer, and looking at it from a Dell monitor, I just don’t like you. Here’s the latest reason why you suck.

I have a TV on my back porch. It’s an old POS TV, I bought it a while back at the local pawn shop, and all I use it for is to watch baseball games with my buddies. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a TV for the back porch, because, you know, it’s the back porch.

Then the thought occurred to me: I could just get a small flat screen TV and move it outside whenever I watch a game out there. The LCD flat screens are so light and easy to move, it would be a cool solution. Plus, HDTV is way cool for baseball.

But then I thought, “what about the cable box?” I don’t want to leave a cable box on the back porch either. I can’t just plug it directly into the cable, because I’ll lose the HD if I do that. So the perfect solution would be to find a small (i.e., 19″ or so) flat screen, which is cable card compatible. That way, easy to move the TV, no cable box to move, and I can enjoy my baseball games in HD. Problem solved.

When I logged onto the Best Buy website, I saw that they don’t have any small TVs which are cable card ready – just the jumbotrons. So following up on some advice I found while googling around looking for solutions, I went to the Dell website.

I don’t really know much about the technology, but under the specs for your TVs I couldn’t find “cable card ready” info on any of the TVs, like I saw on the Best Buy website. So I bravely called your 800 number, and wasted 10 minutes of my life, only to conclude that the customer service person on the other end of the phone – and probably also the other end of the planet – has no idea what a cable card is. Not a clue.

So, Dell, I hung up on your customer service representative, after telling her that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, and telling her I would shop somewhere else.

So if anybody knows who sells a small flatscreen which is cable card-ready, give me a shout. In the alternative, anybody who knows of a work-around, likewise please comment. I’m all ears. Like I said, the only person who knows less about the technology than I do, is the Dell woman at whom I hollered.

Meanwhile, Dell, here’s your prize:

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Dear John Kelso:

I am in receipt of your latest column in the Austin American-Fishwrapper, in which you blast the Austin Marathon runners who clogged Austin’s streets last weekend.

I know. I understand the problem. In fact just for grins I gave ‘em a side-swipe or two myself, both here and on my Facebook wall.*

That said, since you’re in the blasting business, I’ll play: among those at greatest fault for the giant traffic snarl in Austin last Sunday was none other than your own beloved newspaper.

Because, JOHN (can I call you John?), similar to you, I also had a speaking engagement on Sunday morning. Also similar to you, I got ready early and built in extra time to get there.

Just before I needed to leave my house, JOHN, I jumped online to grab a map of the race route to strategerize on the best route from my house (which is just outside the marathon route) to my destination (which is downtown – inside the marathon route).

Where did I look for such utterly timely and newsworthy information? Why, on the front page of statesman.com – your very own beloved newspaper.

But guess what, JOHN? It wasn’t there. Not on the front page, anyway. Neither was it on the other end of any search engine results on the search function of your site. It also couldn’t be found on several other Austin news sites I searched on. It was probably on the marathon’s website, but that site crashed Sunday morning – probably because of all the Austinites who went there in desperation after realizing they couldn’t find what they needed on your newspaper’s site, JOHN.

In fact, I found it so unlikely that the Statesman would be such morons as to fail to put the route map on their site, that I originally assumed that I was the one with the shortcoming – that it must be there, but I just couldn’t find it. I felt better about me, and worse about you, when I got to my destination, and found that another speaker – a reporter, ironically – had the exact same problem.

I finally did find it – on the website of the local Fox News affiliate. So I must begrudgingly say – and may God forgive me – thank you Fox News, you were a life saver.

So, JOHN, I would respectfully bluntly suggest that you get your own house in order, before blaming somebody else for your troubles on Sunday morning. In other words, go out and buy yourself a real website, Pops (can I call you Pops?).

Meanwhile, regarding your own news organization, I always mistakenly assumed they spelled your parent company “Cox.”

PS: speaking of getting a real website for the Statesman, I tried to leave something similar to this comment on the Statesman’s website, under your column. It kept telling me I needed to first log in. I was logged in. I got the “Welcome Harold” treatment at the top of the page and everything. Buncha morons.

*get somebody to explain to you what a “Facebook wall” is.

Comments { 5 }

Consumer Rant: OfficeMax versus Office Depot

(This will be an occasional series, usually posted on weekends when site traffic is down anyway. The series is intended to torture corporations who know that many potential customers who google the business name will run across feedback like this.)

On Friday at about 11 a.m. I stopped by the OfficeMax at Capitol Plaza in Austin. I needed some new phone equipment for my office. When I found the equipment I needed, I located the box with the matching model numbers, but found that the picture on the box didn’t match the actual display model.

I looked around the store, and saw no employees who could assist me. In fact I saw no one at all – the store was completely deserted. I waited for a couple of minutes, thinking that someone would soon appear from somewhere. After giving up on that, I walked to the front of the store, and asked one of the cashiers if there was somebody who could help me. She talked into her walkie-talkie, and said some one would be with me in a moment, in the phone area of the store.

So I walked back to that area of the store, and waited. And waited. And waited. After another five minutes passed, I gave up, and on my way out, I told the cashier, not quietly, that nobody ever came to assist me, so instead I would be going to Office Depot. She just stared. I appreciated that she had paused her social chatting with another employee long enough for the stare.

After lunch I went to Office Depot, near Highland Mall. An employee greeted me at the door and asked if she could help me find something. I asked her to point me to the phone equipment, which she did. After a moment of looking at my options, another employee asked if he could answer any questions, then stayed with me until I made my choice.

Score one for Office Depot. The folks at OfficeMax couldn’t have cared less. Here’s the OfficeMax award:

Comments { 6 }