Customer Service: Getting It Right

by Kristie LeVangie

When we, as consumers, purchase an item, whether big or small, we expect it to be of decent quality, delivered in a timely manner, and should something not meet our expectations, be no-hassle, returnable.  This is the very premise of the customer-retailer relationship.

…Or so I thought.

I recently had 2 very different experiences with customer service that exemplified in juxtaposition the “right” and “wrong” way to handle consumer complaints.

1.  Kohl’s


Last Sunday, I bought a Croft & Barrow laptop bag.  It sat unused for a few days because I was too tired and too busy to switch over the contents from my previous bag.  But Tuesday night, I emptied out my MacBook Pro, a 7-page questionnaire, my mouse, power adaptor and a few pens.

Thursday night, I saw one of the decorative loops sitting on the carpet by where my bag was placed when I got home from work.  Upon further examination, the straps had begun to come off.  One strap on each side, actually.

This was just unacceptable, from a quality perspective, and I emptied out the meager contents, found my receipt, and wondered how Kohl’s was going to handle my complaint since tags had been removed and the bag had been gently used.

Friday after work, I went into Kohl’s with bag, detached loop and receipt.  I was greeted in a friendly manner, given a sympathetic apology, and credited the amount for the bag back onto my Kohl’s card.  I was leaving the store a very satisfied girl in less than 5 minutes.

Easy, peasy.  My dedication to Kohl’s strengthened even further by the experience.



2. h.h. gregg



About a month ago, we wondered into an h.h. gregg store and found ourselves perusing the refrigerator section in search of a new refrigerator.  We were approached by a very nice salesman who really impressed us with his knowledge of the brands and features on each floor model.  After finding a scratch-and-dent markdown of a $3400 top of the line French door stainless steel fridge, we applied for a credit line and then added on a front loader washer and dryer.  Why the hell not, right?

The salesman insisted we purchase the pedestals to go with them even though we didn’t really feel a need for them.  And finding out they were conveniently “just put on sale” (in our heads = a discount to close the deal), we finally gave in and went home happy to await our Saturday delivery.

Friday before delivery: 

The delivery manager called to tell us that the pedestals were out of stock.  He asked if we would prefer to wait for our delivery or have the appliances delivered, and they would schedule another delivery for the pedestals once they were off backorder.

We said, “Bring on the new appliances.  No problem.”


Delivery went well.  The guys were nice, didn’t wreck the house, and surprise!  They had a pedestal.


No, they didn’t.  It was BROKEN!

Apparently, they made a note that we did not get the pedestal and told us we would get a call when both pedestals were available.

Saturday night:

I got an automated call saying we were getting a delivery within the 3-hour window on Sunday.

Come to find out, after pressing “0” to talk to a human, they were going to deliver a pedestal the following day.


No, they weren’t.  They were not even in stock.


Another automated message.

They weren’t in stock.


Let’s fast forward a bit with automated messages coming periodically.


Two weeks ago:

Guess what?  ANOTHER automated message.  Press “0”.

This time we are told they have 1 pedestal ready for delivery.


I let the boyfriend handle it.

He tells them, “No.  We said not to deliver them until there were 2.”

After a few minutes of trying to explain we never got the original one since it was broken, I yell out in frustration.

“Tell them to cancel it and return our money!  I’m through!”

Come to find out…they sure take your money right away, but to get it back as a refund…7 to 10 days!


Last Friday:

Still no refund.

Go to the store to face this head on.

The manager had to call over another employee to look up our info.  Apparently, they don’t teach the managers to use the computer systems…even for simple tasks.

We are told the refund should be coming in the next few days.


Current status:

The refund was finally credited to our card.




If the end game as a retailer is “the sale”, then h.h. gregg has done a good job.  The pre-sales experience was really good.  The salesman was friendly, knowledgable about the products, and made the experience easy.

Then, as is so typical with a lot of retailers, after they have your money, they no longer care.  Our post-sales experience with h.h. gregg was so horrible and frustrating that not only will I never go back, I’m going to go out of my way to deter ANYONE and EVERYONE from shopping there EVER!  This blog is just another way to share my story with others and warn them before they too find themselves in a fiasco over pedestals.

Not only did h.h. gregg lose my pedestal business, they have lost my future business.  And I already know that I will need a new stove and dishwasher to match the new fridge.

Guess where I’ll be going?

I can tell you where I won’t be.

Kohl’s, on the other hand, has my business for life.  I know that they stand by their products and really care about the customer experience.  They apologized on behalf of the product manufacturer.  They couldn’t really predict that the bag would fall apart after just a few uses, and yet they sympathized with my situation and offered an immediate resolution.

As a business owner, I tend to lean toward the Kohl’s approach.  It’s quite frankly the only way to ensure long-term customer retention and organic growth.

h.h. gregg will just be another company who put too much investment into training and not enough investment in its consumers.

Caveat emptor!


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