Pottery Barn Example Of What Not To Do

One of the things that I’ve long talked about is the fact that loyalty of customers is not simply attributed to perfect service.  You can make a mistake as long as you quickly respond and fix the issue.  Last year, I was singing the praises of Pottery Barn for doing just that.  But, now they’ve blown it again.  [BTW – Pottery Barn is owned by William Sonoma.]

In 2008, I bought a couch from them.  Love the couch.  Loved the store.  Felt it was over-priced, but I was okay with that for the quality and service.  But, when it was delivered, there were a few issues.  Honestly, pretty small, but I had high expectations.  I sent a few messages and got a flurry of activity leading to a 10% discount on my purchase.  I was happy.

A year later, I decided that I was going to buy another couch and went back to Pottery Barn.  This time, it was a comedy of errors.  The 6-week delivery took 16-weeks.  The deferred payment terms which were supposed to be 12-months from delivery started immediately.  So, again I raised the issue, saw a flurry of activity, felt it was fixed, and received a discount (credit) on my purchase price.  I felt happy until after getting my next month’s bill only to find out that everything was still messed up.  They had simply gotten me to go away without fixing anything.  And, I also found out from the new installers that the original installation on my couch from last year was messed up and that was the reason why it constantly was disconnected (it’s a sectional). 

So, this time, my anticipation was another discount.  Would that have really made me feel better?  I’m not sure this time.  Now, I’ve actually spent time and been frustrated dealing with lots of credit people and customer service people.  It’s actually cost me money (in time).  But, I didn’t get another discount.  For a company that offers it’s employees a 40% discount, I know there’s lots of room to “reimburse” me for my time. 

Yes, I know this isn’t at all about healthcare, but it is about communications and customer service which are important.  [And, yes…I’m using my “bully pulpit” to voice my frustration.]

One Response to “Pottery Barn Example Of What Not To Do”

  1. Vincent K Ogurek Reply March 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    In regards to the couch, you saw a flurry of activity and were encouraged? What if that was never necessary? Would not the purchase alone been enough, with a price agreeable to both, and a quality product delivered appropriately?

    I find it odd you purchased even though the price was over what it should have been for you, according to your own estimate, the first time. Never mind the second time.

    You display having no brand loyalty and never had with this shop, your just looking to deal, as if your in a poker game. And apparently Pottery is not measuring up for you in that regard. But you love the couch? What if you could not live without the couch, literally?

    And this is at the root of the Health care dilemma in a stock ownership and profit driven system, as I’m sure you’re well aware, as am I. In that I mean the sofa continues to be bought by insurance providers and the insured although now most of what they get is only a flurry of activity and nothing resembling health care. There is a clear line between health care and insurance initiatives. And they don’t love the couch, they depend on it to live.

    In another situation, what happened to the BSC Rx client at ESI anyway, and who suffered the consequence of the lack of customer service to client and initially patients? That is right, patients first felt the problem, then service members sometime in between and years and years later the managers.

    Your Pottery Barn awareness of an employee %40 discount is interesting. Most company will draw their employee base into the fold in one way by offering a discount on the product at hand. It is not considered an evil benefit to those employees. Ford, in fact, used this as a way to survive, not a wasteful overage in benefit.

    But that was a different time.

    I am aware ESI never discounts the drug benefit to their own employees, although the Fed-Ex semi’s still deliver the pills by the millions to an automated filler or two, the profits keep rising (officially at least,) the stock keeps growing, and new companies are merged into the business after billion dollar deals.

    But then it loses major clients like BCS. After people die without their…couch.

    It is regrettable.

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