Friday, October 05, 2007

Consumer Tale – Bose Radio

A few years ago, I called Bose Corporation to order, and pay for via credit card, a pair of Bose speakers for my PC. The cost of these speakers was around $100.00 US. A few days later, a UPS delivery man knocked on my door with a large parcel. The delivery man requested approximately $100.00 CAD to cover the shipping fee, duty, taxes and brokerage, based upon the value of the parcel.

When I opened the parcel, I was shocked to find a Bose radio, valued at $340.00 US, instead of the PC speakers I had ordered.


I immediately dialed Bose Corporation's toll-free telephone number and asked to speak to the manager of customer service. I explained what had transpired and indicated that I had not only received the wrong item, I had also just paid UPS much more than I should have for duty, taxes and brokerage. In addition, I mentioned that since I lived in Canada, and the Bose radio would have to be returned via UPS or equivalent to Bose Corporation in the United States, there would be complications involving export duties, shipping and insurance charges, etc. In short, I would be facing a real mess.


The manager of customer service thanked me for being so honest. He was well aware of the fact that I could have said nothing and just kept the much more valuable radio. He also indicated that there were two very good reasons why I was actually doing Bose Corporation a real favor, by reporting what had transpired. Firstly, another customer had likely ordered and paid for a radio and received my much less valuable PC speakers. Secondly, there was a serious problem in Bose Corporation's sales order fulfillment department and my action would help their management team determine and rectify the source of the problem.

The manager of customer service told me to keep the radio as a gift from Bose Corporation. He also insisted on crediting my American Express card for the shipping fee, duty, taxes and brokerage I had paid for the errant radio delivery. Lastly, he mentioned he was shipping me the Bose PC speakers I had originally ordered, and that my only additional costs would be for the appropriate shipping fee, duty, taxes and brokerage.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Consumer Tale – Dell Monitor

I recently ordered a new Dell PC and a 17 inch Dell flat panel monitor. The Dell sales representative advised me that I would receive my order in approximately five business days. One week later, I received the Dell PC, but no monitor.

I immediately called Dell customer service and was advised that the 17 inch flat panel monitor was on back-order and there was currently no ETA. I reminded the customer service agent that I could not use the PC without the monitor, and that I had not been advised about the back-order issue when I originally placed my order. The agent’s response to me was simply “Do you want to cancel your order and return the PC?”. Her manner portrayed a surprising and unexpected cold-bloodedness, as well as a clear-cut case of total disinterest.


Feeling quite stunned by the attitude of Dell’s customer service agent, I composed an email and sent it to Michael Dell, explaining, in detail, what had transpired. I guessed at Michael Dell’s email address from the format of the email address of the Dell sales representative who had originally sent me an email confirming my order.


Within a few hours, Michael Dell’s executive assistant, Ann Johnson, contacted me by email, and soon after that, I was able to get in touch with Ann by telephone. She apologized on behalf of Michael Dell for the poor service I had received. She thanked me for bringing the matter to the attention of Dell’s management and promised me that action would be taken quickly to help prevent a recurrence of what I had experienced.

Lastly, Ann advised me that she was able to locate a new 19 inch Dell flat panel monitor in Houston. As a gesture of goodwill and to compensate me for the poor service, Ann offered to send me this monitor by express courier, to arrive at my office within forty-eight hours. My cost would be that of a 15 inch model, representing a saving for me of approximately $700.00, before taxes. Naturally, I accepted Ann's offer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Consumer Tale – Acura CD Player

A few years ago, I signed a lease for a new Acura about twelve weeks prior to the date I wanted to take possession. For a small deposit, the Acura dealer was willing to hold the car I had chosen, which he had in stock. I mentioned to the salesperson that there would be plenty of time for the service department to thoroughly check my car from top to bottom, ensuring everything was as it should be (e.g. no paint chips, etc.) for the "delivery" date. The salesperson assured me that this would be done.

Twelve weeks later, I picked up my new car. The next day, I tried to load a compact disk into the compact disk player. It refused to load. The compact disk player was clearly defective. Needless to say, I was quite upset.


I immediately called Acura’s head office in Montreal, advising a customer service representative what had transpired. Next, I called the general manager of the Acura dealer to repeat the story and to advise her that I had just called Acura to lodge a complaint. I emphasized that her service department missed catching the defective compact disk player, despite having twelve weeks to properly inspect and prepare my car. They obviously did not do a very good job. Now, their error was going to waste my time and energy unnecessarily.


Aside from promising to replace the compact disk player as soon as possible, the Acura dealer's general manager offered me various choices of compensation in the amount of $200.00 to make up for her service department’s sloppy work. I selected a no charge 24,000 kilometer check up.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Consumer Tale – Las Vegas Vacation

We recently booked, via our travel agent, a week’s vacation in Las Vegas, at Caesar’s Palace. We arrived at 7:00 pm, Las Vegas time and took a taxi to the hotel where we were booked. We confidently informed the front desk clerk that we had a reservation for today. The clerk advised us that our name was not listed in his reservation list. Upon further verification, he determined that we were actually booked a month from now.

Unfortunately, our travel agent had reversed the day and month of our reservation date, by mistake.

We told the clerk politely that we still needed a room, as we were here now. The clerk said he would love to help us out, but the hotel was, in fact, fully booked. It was Friday evening and the start of another busy week-end at Caesar’s Palace.


We immediately asked to speak to the hotel manager. The latter indicated that there were absolutely no rooms available, and that all of Las Vegas was likely fully booked for the next several days. However, the manager said he would try his best to help us.

While anxious thoughts of spending one week’s vacation in one of Las Vegas’ “not-so-desirable” hotels ran amuck in our minds, we tried contacting our travel agent unsuccessfully.

A few minutes later, the hotel manager advised us that he had booked us into a brand new hotel, just off the “strip”. We ended up in a two-room suite, with a small kitchen. The accommodations were absolutely beautiful, but quite a bit more expensive than what we would have paid for a regular room at Caesar’s Palace.

The next day, we finally got in touch with our travel agent. We told him what had transpired. We pointed out that his mistake had given us a lot of needless anxiety, as well as costing us a lot of extra money.

When we arrived home after our vacation, we had a meeting with our travel agent. We presented him with a statement, fully supported by the appropriate receipts, for our entire Las Vegas vacation. The statement listed all of our expenses for air, hotel, food, entertainment and taxis.


The travel agent apologized and, in turn, presented us with a check for the full amount of our vacation.

Note: this is an edited version of a tale sent to us by MK, Montreal

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Consumer Tale – “Star Wars” Toy

Many years ago, during the "Star Wars" craze, a large department store had an advertisement in a local paper for “Star Wars” toys. One of the toys in this advertisement was “Slave One”, the space ship that transported the frozen body of Han Solo. Han Solo was my son’s hero and “Slave One” was the toy he wanted the most. So, I promised my son, who was two years old at the time, that I would buy him this toy.

It was a cold and snowy Saturday morning when we headed out to the department store. Unfortunately, “Slave One” was not on the shelves. My son started crying, and in between giant sobs, he kept repeating “you promised dad, you promised dad”. I always kept my promises, so I felt very badly.


I immediately asked to speak to the department store manager. He advised that “Slave One” was the only toy in the advertisement not yet received from their supplier. He apologized and told me there was nothing else he could do. My son was still crying inconsolably. I asked my son if there was another toy he would like instead, but he only wanted “Slave One”.

The following Monday morning, I called the department store’s head office to speak to the vice-president of marketing and described what had transpired.


The vice-president advised that “Slave One” was actually on back-order from their supplier, and would only be available later in the week. He thanked me for my call and for pointing out a flaw in their advertising. He also promised to do two things. Firstly, he would ensure that all of their future advertisements clearly stipulated that “we cannot guarantee the availability of advertised merchandise”, etc. Secondly, he would arrange to have a courier bring “Slave One” to our home, as a gift, the same day it was received at the warehouse.

My son received “Slave One” within the week and a father’s promise to his son was fulfilled.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Consumer Tale – P.E.I. Golf Vacation

Several years ago, we booked a trip to a top-rated golf resort in Prince Edward Island, through our travel agent. The latter, in turn, booked our actual package through a golf package wholesaler. We arrived at the golf resort in the afternoon, after a drive of one and one-half days. As we approached the reception area, we couldn't help but notice the attractiveness of the main building. Unfortunately, our accommodations were not in this building, but in one of the thirty small cottages surrounding the main building. These cottages could be more accurately called “shacks”.

It was a hot day and we were tired from our drive. When we opened the door to the “shack” we had been assigned, we almost fainted. The room was very small and extremely warm. There was no air conditioning. There were flies buzzing around the room because the window had been left open.


We immediately went back to the reception area in the main building. We politely advised the front desk clerk that the cottage was unacceptable and that we refused to stay in it. The clerk said there was nothing he could do. So, we asked to speak directly to the manager. The latter advised us that it was high season at the resort and that the main building was fully booked, as of tomorrow. The best the manager could offer was to book us into the main building for one night, and see if he could do something else for us the next day, for the balance of our stay.
We checked into our temporary room in the main building. We telephoned our travel agent to tell him what had transpired and to ask him to exert some pressure on the resort to get us accommodations in the main building for our entire stay.

The next morning we approached the manager to inquire as to our status. The manager had no news and asked us to check back with him later. We called our travel agent at least five times during the next several hours, insisting on some help. It was now late in the afternoon. We checked with the manager again, but he still he had nothing to offer. Finally, the numerous calls to our travel agent paid off. The golf package wholesaler called us and we advised him that we were leaving the resort immediately, to return to Montreal. We said we expected our prepaid golf vacation package to be completely refunded within two business days.


When we arrived back home and looked in our mailbox, we found a refund check for the entire prepaid amount.

Note: this is an edited version of a tale sent to us by RC, Montreal

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Consumer Tale - Nissan Maxima

Last Friday, we discovered that the driver's power seat of our 2002 Nissan Maxima was not working properly. It did not move forward at all. We called Spinelli Nissan (the same car dealership from which the car was originally leased). Unfortunately, they were not able to see us the same day and we were unavailable Monday and Tuesday; so we ended up taking the car in this past Wednesday morning, and leaving it for the day as instructed by the Spinelli service representative.

About an hour after we had dropped off the car, we were advised that the problem was a broken or defective switch which controlled the operation of the driver's power seat. The required part was apparently on back order and there was no "ETA".


Upon receiving this news, we immediately called the head office of Nissan Canada and spoke to a customer service representative, telling her what had transpired. We advised her that having to wait two weeks for such a key part was unacceptable, as far as we were concerned. We wanted Nissan to get the part within two days or arrange to get us a "loaner" Maxima now to drive until our car was repaired in a few weeks. Later in the day, we called Spinelli Nissan and we were advised that the "ETA" for the part was now May 13, 2004.

When we picked up the car at the end of the day, Wednesday, we spoke to the general manager, Mr. Ronald Spinelli. He promised to look into our situation. We mentioned that perhaps he could obtain the required part from another Nissan Maxima and he said this might be the best solution.

We called back Nissan Canada and spoke to another Nissan Canada customer service representative, named Rose. Rose assured us that she would try her best to do something to help us.

The next day, Thursday, in the late afternoon, having heard nothing from Mr. Spinelli or Rose, we called Mr. Spinelli. He had no news, but was still working on it. He hoped to have a solution for us the following morning.


Around 3:00 p.m., Friday, Mr. Spinelli called to advise that he was unable to locate another Maxima of the same model year to be a source for the required part. However, he advised that our extended warranty plan provided for a free rental car ($35.00 per day, plus tax for a "compact" model), and he would personally pay the dollar difference we would incur to rent a car equivalent to the Maxima.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Consumer Tale – Sears Fridge

A few years ago, we purchased a new “top-of-the-line” fridge from Sears. Several months after it was delivered, one of the fridge’s door shelves fell on the kitchen floor. The result was broken glass from some of the glass jars that had been on the fallen shelf and significant damage to our new hardwood floor. We cleaned up the mess and put back the fallen shelf into the fridge door, noticing it did not hold firmly.

The next morning, we called Sears service and arranged to have a service call. The service man came and determined that the plastic tabs which secured the shelf were not strong enough to hold the shelf and its contents. He used our "instant hot" tap to heat the shelf’s tabs which allowed him to bend these tabs inwards. He replaced the shelf into the fridge and then checked the other three door shelves, adjusting all of their tabs, in a similar fashion. He told us the shelves would not dislodge as long as we never removed them from the fridge door, even for cleaning. We asked him to write this in his report, along with a note about the damage to our floor.


The following day, we called the Sears store manager and made an appointment to see him. At the meeting, we described what had transpired and showed him a copy of the Sears service man’s report. We told the manager that, as far as we were concerned, there was a fridge defect. We clearly should be able to remove the shelves, from time to time, to do proper cleaning, without experiencing a problem with falling door shelves.


The Sears manager arranged to have a new fridge, of equivalent value, delivered to our home. The new fridge had a much better system for securing the door shelves. In addition, Sears reimbursed us, in full, for the repairs to our damaged kitchen hardwood floor.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Consumer Tale - Braun Shaver

I have a Braun electric shaver I had purchased, along with a life-time labor warranty, for over $200.00 in the fall of 1994. In the fall of 2003, frustrated with the shaver's greatly diminished battery re-charging capabilities, I decided to take my Braun shaver back to the store where it was originally purchased, Centre du Rasoir (The Shaver Centre), located in a well-known Montreal suburb's shopping centre. I was fully expecting to be able to buy a replacement rechargeable battery, and have the labor covered by the lifetime labor warranty this same store had sold me with my original purchase.

Unfortunately, I was advised by a store clerk that such a replacement battery was no longer available from Braun. The clerk also mentioned that he found this surprising himself since he had, in stock, Phillips electric shaver rechargeable batteries for very old models dating back many more years than my Braun shaver. Sadly, he then told me there was nothing he could do for me.

I returned home and immediately called Braun's North American head office in the United States. I asked to speak to Braun's president, who was unavailable. However, I did get to speak to his executive assistant, who transferred me to the manager of customer service. I told the latter my story concerning no replacement rechargeable battery being available for my Braun shaver. She promised to get back to me quickly.

In the meantime, I contacted the head office of Centre du Rasoir in Montreal. I asked to speak to the vice-president of marketing. He took the call and listened as I related my story, including my earlier conversation with the president's assistant at Braun's North American head office, etc.

The vice-president of marketing of Centre du Rasoir sent a brand new Braun electric shaver to my home, by courier, which I received within two hours of my telephone conversation with him.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Consumer Tale - Cuba Vacation

We recently went on vacation to Cuba, which we had booked through Air Canada Vacations. In preparation for our trip, we had carefully read the Cuba vacation document that we had received with our tickets. The document contained a list of personal use items we were allowed to bring with us, and walkie-talkies were on this list. We felt that walkie-talkies would be great to have with us since the vacation resort complex, Playa Pesquero, at which we were staying, was quite large and our walkie-talkies would make staying in touch much easier, while we participated in various daily activities.

Upon arrival at the airport in Holguin, Cuba, every passenger had their hand luggage x-rayed by an airport security employee, and hence, they determined that we had walkie-talkies in our possession. We were advised that walkie-talkies were not permitted and they were confiscated (n.b. The walkie-talkies were ultimately returned to us prior to boarding our return flight home.)

The confiscation resulted in some anxious moments and a great deal of paper work. The situation was unpleasant and the ensuing paper work, involving a customs official, was very time consuming. This was not the best way to start a vacation.

Upon arrival at the Playa Pesquero resort, we advised the Air Canada Vacations representative what had transpired.

In addition, upon returning home, we emailed Air Canada Vacations' customer service department, providing all appropriate details concerning the walkie-talkie confiscation, indicating it was a direct result of an error in their Cuba vacation document.

Some three weeks later, we received a letter of apology from Air Canada Vacations, thanking us for pointing out the misinformation with respect to walkie-talkies. They promised that their Cuba vacation document would be corrected, as soon as possible. Enclosed with their letter were three $100.00 travel credit vouchers, one for each member of our travel party, to be used within one year of issue, towards the cost of our next Air Canada Vacations package.