Customer Service Observations (Part I)

HINCKLEY SPRINGS (VALUE PLAN THROUGH COSTCO)

About 8 months ago, I received a case of Hinckley Springs along with my five 5 gallon water containers. The issue was my order only included the 5 gallon containers and not the case of water. Once I noticed the additional $8.49 fee, I called the customer service. Within 5 minutes, the friendly customer service representative was able to assist and remove the $8.49. She promised me she would do the necessary work to avoid this from happening again.

hinckleyLast month, with my 5 gallon water containers, I again received a case of water and an additional fee of $8.49. After another few minutes on the phone, this was eradicated. Again, the service representative promised she would do the necessary work to eliminate this event again. Even though the extra charge was incorrectly included twice on past bills, the fact that these two unnecessary charges were quickly removed from my bill. Perhaps this is the last time I’ll need to call their customer service.

Guess what, last week, I receive another case of water. Good and bad news. Good news, I’m familiar with the number and customer account number. Bad number, I have to again address this. Another element of bad news, I was on hold for 55 minutes. For the initial two calls, I was on hold for roughly 5 minutes per call. This time, it took almost one hour more. Something about restructuring their call center which created an incredibly long wait time. After another 10 minutes, the fee was erased from my bill, The representative, Cierra, from the Orlando area said she texted the route sales manager who was going to clarify this with the delivery person. Time will tell if this will finally do the trick.

LEVI JEANS 

It was time to purchase a pair of Levi jeans so I went to Westfield Mall in Vernon Hills to begin my search. I had inadvertently wore some of my other comfy jeans outside while working in the yard. After some weeding and mowing, they were still comfy but no longer presentable. Therefore, my first stop inside the mall was Penney’s. Who knows, Penney’s may have somewhat stylish Levi’s at a reasonable price. The straight leg jeans I eyed were priced at $58-68. The good news, if you buy one pair, you get the second pair at 50%. I thinkwhat that means is you have to purchase two pairs and ultimately receive 25% off the pair. (I wonder if retail marketers have determined using ‘50% off’ one pair was more enticing than saying the total discount would be 25%.)

Let’s do a little math. If you purchase two jeans priced at $58 each, the total would be $116 and $87 with the discount (before tax). If you choose the more expensive pairs at $68, the discounted price would be $102 without sales tax. Even though the jeans are discounted, the starting point is either $58 or $68 — not exactly inexpensive. Besides, I was just searching for one pair, not two.

Because I didn’t find what I was looking for, it was time to move on to another department store within the mall. So I went to Sears to see if their prices were more competitive. Perhaps they had some deals on stylish Levi’s. Their sales promotion was identical to my first visit. So much for competition. Because I was wearing my FitBit and needed some exercise, I trekked to the opposite side of the mall to visit Macy’s. Didn’t think Macy’s would be inexpensive although I was curious about their selection and prices. Again, identical prices and the identical promotion. I wondered if any other middle aged man would be that curious and do such a thing.

Some may claim I’ma picky or frugal, however, I’m not easily swayed to subscribe to this characterization. In my mind, I’d be willing to spend $35-50 on such jeans during a promotion but did not feel either of these three stores came close to my needs so no wow factor and I moved on.

Even though I really needed a pair of Levi jeans, I wasn’t desperate to necessarily purchase that brand. I was looking to spend around $35 for a pair of jeans on sale. I had to go to Target and pick up a few grocery items. While viewing their selection, I didn’t see the type of Levi jeans I was looking for, I stumbled upon Wrangler jeans. Even though my heart was set on Levi’s, the Wrangler jeans fit well and were on sale for $17. Wow, what a deal! Perhaps next time, I’ll check out Target before moving on to the mall.

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.