I purchased a Danby Wine Cooler from the H H Gregg Montgomeryville, PA store in late 2011. I did my research at the big box stores, and even visited a few. They had the right model at the right price. I also bought the extended warranty. Normally I don’t, because they’re not a great deal. In this case, it was priced right, too. The salesman was fast and courteous, and self-installation went smoothly.
My cooler recently stopped working. I visited the store personally to find out what I should do under the extended warranty. I was a little worried that they’d tell me to bring it into the store. Instead, I was quickly and efficiently given an #800 to contact headquarters for warranty repair. So far, so good.
On September 3, 2014, I placed my service call. As soon as an automated attendant answered, I knew I was not going to get through the experience quickly. I had to go through the menu prompts three full times, because “Silicon Sally” would not “recognize” my menu choice. Finally, on the third attempt it did, and transferred me to . . . who knows.
Then I waited a very long time on hold. And waited. And waited. With frequent and annoying reminders from Silicon Sally that the phone queue was unusually backed up. Really? I never would have figured that out. Or was the annoying playback supposed to make me believe this was atypical? Uh, not convinced, Sally. Try some other rube who hasn’t been to the rodeo before.
After a very long time on hold, someone finally came on the line. He quickly verified my purchase, verified my extended warranty coverage, and then told me I had to call their third-party warranty company, (Warrantech). I immediately made that call, wondering why I had to have made the first call at all.
After virtually the same experience trying to get through the menu, and then waiting over 45 minutes, (this time I actually timed it), I was connected to someone who would best be described as “snotty.” I expected that the warranty administrator would resolve the problem. Nope. She told me that they had to contact Gregg headquarters first, to find out whether they wanted to repair or replace the item. Excuse me, didn’t I just get off the phone with headquarters, who passed me to you?
I asked if there was any way to expedite the process. I explained that I have a huge party coming up, and needed the cooler in working order. No, I was told, there is no way to expedite this process. It will take 2 – 3 days just for Warrentech to hear back from Gregg headquarters. I was told that they would call me as soon as they heard back, and instructed to wait for that call.
Thirteen days passed. During that time I heard nothing further about the repair. So I called back today, 9/16/14. And let me be clear, I was not a happy camper when placing the call. I have a ton of work on my desk, but instead I have to set it aside to make a call I know will be neither brief nor, I suspect, satisfying.
It came as no surprise that I experienced the same problems with menuing system, and a long wait once I finally got into the queue. In fact, the wait was more than 25 minutes. Finally, someone named Will from Warrantech got on the line. Yes, they had the “answer” from Gregg headquarters. After verifying everything in the computer about me and my purchase — which I tried to respond to patiently and politely — Will informed me that as far as Warrentech is concerned, their file is closed, and the warranty has been satisfied. Huh? What’s the resolution?
Unbelievably, Will stated that he could not tell me what the actual resolution was. He told me I had to write down a repair order number, and call Gregg headquarters once again. Only Gregg could tell me what the repair order meant in terms of resolution.
At that point, I admit I lost it a little. Where was the apology for the delay, and for failing to call me back? Why was I being sent in circles? His response was in no way apologetic. In fact, he responded like he was speaking to someone mentally unbalanced. “Did I want the repair order or not?” was the most I was going to get from him, and I could tell he was about to disconnect if I didn’t write it down. I did.
With repair order number in hand, and smoke coming out of my ears, I again dialed Gregg headquarters. Again, there was a problem with menuing system. Finally I got into the “unusually long delay” queue, and the recording says there’s a back-up of “at least” 10 minutes.
When the hold time hit the 30 minute mark, I sensed I was about to burst into flames from anger. Seeking any possible release, I called the actual Montgomeryville store on my cell phone, with my other phone still in the hold queue with headquarters.
Guess what? Everyone at the store is apparently busy, because I was placed in a hold queue at the actual store, too. No way to speak to someone like customer service or, God forbid, a store manager. I had already been in the store queue 15 minutes when headquarters finally connected me with a live person. At that point I hung up on the store. What if I had been calling to make a purchase? Apparently they don’t care.
OK so what does my repair order number mean? Rose at Gregg headquarters explains that I will get an in-store credit for the entire amount of my purchase, so I can buy a replacement. No refund. No chance to go elsewhere. If they now only have something very expensive as an option, I can’t go elsewhere, I have to pay the difference. If by some miracle what I find as a suitable replacement costs less, I will have the unused money remain as a store credit. (Since I don’t intend on buying anything there ever again, that means it will be forfeit.)
Also, Rose has no clue why Will from Warrentech did not tell me what the repair order resolution was. She says it was in front of him on the screen. There’s no way for me to know, but I agree that it sounds like it should have been. Wait, it gets better! Rose says I have to write down a number to give to the store in order to get my in-store credit. Ok, I ask, what’s the number called? All I wanted was a label, so I could speak intelligently at the store. Rose said there was no name for the number she was giving me, and I could call it anything I wanted. I swear, this is true!!! I know it sounds like I must be making it up, that’s how ridiculous it is. “It isn’t called a credit number, but you can call it that if it makes you more comfortable”, Rose explained.
Is there anyone on the face of the planet that believes this is acceptable customer service? Hey, all of you company executives out there, would you be happy to be associated with a company which treats its customers this way? Rose suggested I write a letter to headquarters. That was in response to my question as to whether I could find a place on their web site to post a review. Thanks, Rose, but I had a more public review in mind.
Sadly, this experience is too common with “big box” stores. We want their cheap prices, me included, but miss the service of the local business. Unfortunately, most local businesses have been wiped out by the giant competitors. Do we have to accept this as the new normal? NO. Reference this post on your social media accounts. Give it a LIKE, ReTweet it, comment on it. Share your own experience with today’s customer service. Open the window and shout “I’m not going to take this anymore!” Eventually, someone will hear.