Is the Customer Always Right?

  • Comments: 7
  • Written on: February 11th, 2007

There is an adage that says you can’t please all of the people all of the time, yet in business rule number one is that the customer is always right. Since opening Schrock Innovations I have seen a lot of situations where I knew that our product or service was not at fault, however the customer believed it was, so we did everything we could to make things right. We understand the value of good service at Schrock, and we work hard every day to be the best. But what should a business do when a customer “crosses the line?”

Background: A customer bought a $1500 computer from us in November. After two warranty support calls in 80 days, the customer was concerned that the system was a “lemon.” Understanding their concern, we agreed that the best solution would be to replace the entire unit with a new system just to be safe. We informed the customer we would be happy to bring the new system to their home, install it for them set everything up and install their programs for them. Our customer said they wanted to think about it, and we didn’t hear anything for a few days on it.

After a week, the customer’s adult daughter called us about the matter and that is when things started going downhill fast.

Our customer’s daughter called and said that her parents did not want a replacement system, and that they wanted a refund. Jennifer explained that our return policy (which is clearly posted and included in our computer ordering packets) was that after 30 days hardware can not be returned at all. Rightfully so, the caller recounted all of the issues the computer had and again, demanded a refund. Jennifer restated our return policy and then things got nasty.

The caller started using language that would make a sailor blush, calling Jennifer every name in the book. Jennifer was tolerant of the abuse for a while, but the caller would not stop her verbal tirade. Realizing that he call was not going anywhere, Jennifer decided to refer the caller to me, thank her for her time, and hang up. The caller immediately called back and left a voice mail filled with more language. The she said she was coming in to “discuss this further.”

About 30 minutes later, the customer’s daughter arrived at our Lincoln Service Center. She continued where she left off on the phone, not knowing our video surveillance cameras were recording her. Again, Jennifer tried to calm the woman who was now demanding a cash refund for a computer that was purchased with a credit card. When Jennifer told her we would never do that for anyone anytime because it violates our merchant agreement, the daughter came across the desk to “get in Jennifer’s face.”

Blaze was listening to this go on for nearly thirty minutes when he decided to put an end to it. He came to the front desk and asked the woman to leave. She refused. Blaze asked her again, explaining he would call the police, and she refused again. So Blaze called the police, and then the woman finally left.

At this point Jennifer was pretty shaken and needed to compose herself for the other customers who were now arriving. A few minutes later the Officer arrived and took a report. He decided to cite the daughter for disturbing the peace and trespassing, and since she refused to give Jennifer information so I could contact her that afternoon, we gave the officer the only phone number we had for her – Her work number.

The officer followed up a few days later and told us that he had issued her the citations at her place of employment, in front of her coworkers. We asked the officer to contact our original customers and reinforce the fact that we were more than willing to honor the warranty by replacing the system as we discussed. The officer agreed, and did so. About a week later, I called the original customers and left a message on their answering machine explaining that they are more than welcome in our Service Center anytime, and that we were ready and willing to replace the computer for them.

They did call back, and they requested to be removed from all of our contact lists. A few days later, a courier came to the shop with a delivery. We get many deliveries a day, so Blaze signed for the package without asking what it was. After he signed, he realized that our customer had a courier drop off their computer at our shop – effectively force returning it. We all knew what was coming next… There was only one reason to send a package signature required.

Last week, our merchant processing company notified us that the card holder had filed a chargeback stating that the original transaction was not completed face to face (which it was) and that we refused to honor the warranty on the system (which was not true). So now we have a computer that was customized for a specific customer, with an XP license that is forever tied to their name, neither of which we can sell to anyone else. On top of that, the original purchase price has been automatically deducted from our company accounts, and it is now on us to dispute the chargeback.

We have filed a dispute with the card company, but from what I read online if we provide everything they need we only have a 30% chance for a chargeback reversal. Obviously, this customer will probably never be back, and have already expressed their dissatisfaction with friends and family. So here is my question… Do we report the delinquent debt to the credit reporting agencies, and hand this matter off to a collection agency, or do we just walk away and cut our losses. What do you think?

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