Written on: 25/10/2006 by 12380 (1 review written)
Next Malmo Coffee Table fiasco:
Buying a coffee table should not be a difficult task, but I would now like to take the opportunity to share with you what I had to endure whilst using your service. Please note this account is told without any exaggeration on my part - once you have read it, that fact will be very difficult to believe!
Having searched high and low for a coffee table, I decided to go for a nice(if not over-priced) Malmo coffee table from Next. I actually saw it, not in your catalogue, but in the Royal Avenue Store in Belfast.
The fun began when I tried to order the item, take a deep breath, and if ready, read on!
When placing the order for the first time, no payment was requested. Strange I thought to myself, this is not what I wanted. I wanted to pay for the item up front for two reasons
1 - The rate of interest on your products is at best uncompetitive, at worst legalised extortion.
2 - For my own convenience. Please note that my efforts to pay up front were anything but convenient (see below).
What followed were several calls to your customer service department. During the process of speaking to several people, none of which provided any great assistance to me, I became aware of the one positive aspect of my customer service experience (believe me it was an experience!!) - I have to admit, I really like your hold music!! This is not sarcastic - if it is designed to calm people down - it is effective!!
During the course of speaking to maybe half a dozen people, it became apparent that my problem was not going to be a simple one to resolve. I was advised that it is not possible to have a have a credit balance on a Next account. I would presume that this is an effective system of earning more revenue via the interest rates, discussed above, but does cause significant inconvenience and is somewhat unusual - it must be one of the few (or only) accounts which it is impossible to have a credit balance!!!!
On speaking to your advisers, I got the impression that they felt I was being awkward. This was not the case. I had no intention of being awkward, I did not wish to spend this amount of time discussing what should be a simple task - I have, quite simply, better things to do with my time.
Eventually, I was reassured my "problem" was resolved. By cancelling my first order and placing the order again with payment up front - it was sorted out. I felt relieved. I was advised that the delivery date of my original order (11/10/2006) may still be possible, but that it could also be delivered on the13th October 2006. I was told to call closer to the time to check this. This again, was something I shouldn't really be doing - I would have thought your office could have kept me up-to-date. This would surely be part of the service.
I made a further call a few days later, and yes the delivery date was scheduled for the 11th October 2006.
On the evening of the 10th October - I became concerned by another possibility that may arise - what if I receive one coffee table on the 11th October and a further one on the 13th October!! I did not want to be billed for a further item and incur interest charges on an item I didn't want. A call to your customer services department seemed to clear this up - one item, one delivery date - one Malmo coffee table, 11th October (morning). Fantastic!! Having received assurances only hours before the delivery was due, I made a phone call and arranged to have someone in my property whilst I was at work.
If I recall correctly the original delivery was due before 13.00, I called at 14.00 to see where it was - "What time was this item due to arrive??" I asked - "We have no delivery for you today Mr xxxxxx" I was told. This was somewhat unexpected to say the least - I had specifically called the night before to ensure there were to be no further problems. Again I was expecting your company to keep me informed, not for me to call and then alert you to the errors made. I had asked a good friend to stay in my place (enduring such TV delights as the Jeremy Kyle show, etc.) to sign for a delivery that never showed up. This made me look somewhat stupid and feel guilty.
I called to find out what had happened later that night. I was told I had been advised incorrectly and that no item was ever going to arrive on the 11th October - this was of little comfort to me. What followed was a long and some what quite heated discussion on logistics!! I was advised that it was impossible for any organisation to guarantee the delivery of an item - this is not true, Royal Mail and other couriers offer services specifically to do this. I was going to send this as a letter via recorded delivery, to prove this very point!! The truth is that your organisation (presumably to save on costs) does not offer this service. This means there is uncertainty in your service and this is reflected in your staff who would not give me any guarantees of any kind. Not what any customer wants to hear!!
On speaking to your company I was then told that the item was not going to arrive until the 24th October 2006. The 24th!!!! I was amazed. I never knew ordering a coffee table could be such an ordeal!! I even offered to arrange a guaranteed delivery sooner myself, and your company refused this offer and further refused to arrange this delivery themselves. You refused to help resolve this situation.
Many excuses (none of which where valid) where given. "We don't have the facilities" was one such excuse, but you simply need to make a phone call. "Health & Safety Reasons" was another, which baffled me!!! I am sure that all such couriers hold the relevant insurance for the relevant risks. I was given no actual reason as to why you were unable to help me. I still don't understand your company's blatant refusal to make any arrangements for a paying customer!
I was then assured that the delivery for the 24th would be closely monitored and although still nothing would be guaranteed, they "would do their best for me!!!" I presume it was only half-hearted attempts before?? Still far from what I expected from an organisation of your size and high profile! Compensation was discussed and it was I was advised that I would be entitled to a figure in the region of £60.00. This partly re-assured me.
On the 13th October the final twist to this saga unfolded. By chance, someone was at my place and signed for the item. I was sent a text message to alert me to the fact that the item arrived. I was astonished - I could not understand how this could happen. You were to do your best to ensure the product was here on the 24th October, however you were simply oblivious to the fact that this item was already on its way to me!!! I was amazed by this - I had no idea that any company of your size could be so incompetent. I now know that you are - as an employee - you should be more than concerned at this fact!! Even after I had assembled the product - you didn't know I had received it!
I again had to call your office to ensure that I was not getting a further coffee table on the 24th October. I have received guarantees that this will not happen, but quite frankly based on your companies previous performance - I am unable to believe you!! Would anyone in my situation?? Would you??
We now return to the issue of compensation. The purpose of compensation in a situation like this is two-fold. Firstly, it is to ensure that the company actually incurs a loss of revenue, if this does not happen, there is no incentive to stop situations like this occurring again and again. It is within your interests to address all of the above issues and ensure that no other customers are subjected to this. Secondly, it is used to retain a customer. Once a customer has been disappointed, they must be rewarded generously to ensure that they come away from the whole situation with a positive view of the company. I want to come away from this and be able to tell people, "yes they messed up, but they really did make up for it - they made it worth it." Nothing less will suffice.
The way of achieving this is simple and straightforward. I expect an extremely generous gesture from your company (substantially more then the £60.00 proposed by yourselves earlier). Perhaps we can discuss this in the near future.
If, however, you are unwilling to make such a proposal, there is an alternative. It is a course of action I would prefer not to take, but will do so in the absence of a reasonable compensation offer.
If I do not receive an offer as outlined above, I will distribute this e-mail to others that would be extremely interested in its contents. I will print this letter off and send (by registered post - why not!) to the certain people. These, I am sure you are aware are your company directors. These envelopes will be marked "For the personal attention of the addressee only - Confidential" - this is to ensure it receives their attention and is not disposed of by an over-eager secretary.
I will also forward copies of this e-mail to the various regulatory bodies for their attention - Mail Order Trader's Association, The Direct Marketing Association and the Office of Fair Trading, to name a few. I am sure other organisations and consumer watchdogs would also be interested. They are many of them - Google.co.uk is wonderful too!! They are also consumer forums that would also be informed - again Google is useful in this regard. I will do my utmost to ensure that this is posted to everyone who may be interested or publish this document.
I would also enforce my full legal rights under the data protection act and obtain all information that you retain on me. If this is not forthcoming, a compliant will follow to the Information Commissioner who oversees the enforcement of this legislation. Once this information is received I will scrutinise this in detail. If this information is not correct, the Information Commissioner will be notified. I would remind you that I am legally entitled to see transcripts of every conversation I have held with your office - there were a lot!!
I am fully aware that all of the above will create work for yourselves, however this is my intention. This comes back to the purposes of compensation that I referred to earlier. I want to discourage your company from making further repeated mistakes like what I was subjected to - please note that this is in the interests of you as an employee, your directors and your shareholders, as well as your customers.
Put simply, the choice is yours, I trust you will inform me of your decision once you have considered this letter. I await your call.
On a final note, please do not interpret this letter as a personal attack against yourself or any of your staff. It is not intended as such. Everyone I have spoke to (without exception) has been pleasant and professional, but were simply giving me false information. However as an organisation, you must take responsibility for this, therefore I await your proposals by return to bring this matter to a conclusion.