How to complain on principle about customer service
I often get asked about the last complaint I made and I always say it is about the principle of complaining however much the amount. I complained about less than a fiver on behalf of my mother. Here’s the story!
The Easylife order
On the 12th January she ordered from Easylife: gloves at £14.99, boots at £14.99 and a wallet for £9.99, making the total £39.97
She had a voucher for free P & P if spending over £30. However! After ordering and payment taken, she received an email with only the boots and wallet with p and p added totalling £29.97. When she queried this on the 12th January she received a response 4 days later on the 16th January at the end of the day to say that the order did not include the gloves because they were temporarily out of stock. However, there was no explanation for why my mother was not informed of this before submitting the order. Breach of Consumer Rights Act 2015. Easylife is not allowed to make changes to an order without agreement by the customer.
Easylife processing payments incorrectly
On the 12th January £9.99 plus a further payment of £19.98 total £29.97 was taken from my mother’s account. On the 23rd January my mother emailed Easylife to say that she had been to her account where it said that the items should be dispatched within 5 days. It had been 11 and that the tracking system was not working. On the 24th January my mother received a reply to say that the wallet was out of stock and the items would be despatched together. Interesting that Easylife could process an order for one item that was out of stock and not another. Breach of Consumer Rights Act 2015 for not providing services with reasonable skill and care. This was demonstrated further as on the 5th February my mother emailed to say that she had actually received the wallet but not the boots! She requested a refund for the postage and packing and clarity regarding the other item given that Easylife incorrectly said that the wallet had not been dispatched. On the 6th February a further £9.99 was taken from the account, making a total of £39.96. In effect Easylife has charged my mother for all three items but not sent them. This is a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and is fraud if Easylife has no intention of actually sending the items as it would appear it doesn’t. Easylife has not provided services with reasonable skill and care. Easylife did not have the courtesy of even sending a standard response to my mother’s email of the 6th February. On the 8th February she found that £14.99 had been put back on her card. No-one at Easylife has had the manners or common sense to send any correspondence as to what this referred.
Still with me?
So after advising her on how to complain I had some fun.
The Complaining Cow complains to Easylife
Ok, ’twas time for me to step in, ‘cos….
The administrative errors, lack of undertaking services with reasonable skill and care and the absolutely dire communication which was downright rude, annoyed me. Won’t have my mum receiving treatment like that thank you very much. So I wrote to the CEO, addresses at CEOemail.com – In short, I requested that my mother received all her items within 5 days. I also expected something for the inconvenience and stress that they had caused.
I forgot to add my mother’s account details and so actually sent another email straight after. (That’s important to remember!)
Two weeks later, I’m not sure how or why I waited that long, was very busy! I had had enough and sent an email with “Email before action” in the subject line. I told the CEO that I had not received an acknowledgement never mind a satisfactory response. Told him that I was on BBC Breakfast, ITV News and Channel 5 News the previous week regarding customer service and complaints. I was asked in one of these programmes about the importance of complaining and I mentioned this story. I informed him of legal action and that he may like to resolve the matter and provide a comment for my article on the issues. It was also likely that the story would feature in the next book “The Worst Customer Service Known to Man”, in addition to a couple of conferences I would be speaking at the following month.
That is the first and only time I have ever used my persona The Complaining Cow. Too near the “Do you know who I am?” kind of rubbish. But here it was good to mention that I had actually used the story in the media because their service was so bad!
The Easylife response to complaint
Two hours 35 mins later I got a response from Customer Services! A useless one but a response. I was told by, let’s call her Sarah, that she had written to my mother and that if I had any further questions to contact her. I did, so I did. Meanwhile my mother told her to deal with me!
Sarah said that she had checked with their bank and could see that my mum had been charged and refunded and then charged again for the Boots, but the item has not been dispatched. She had checked with the warehouse and the item was no longer available. Therefore, she cancelled the order and refunded her for the item. They were hoping to source the boots and send them to her free of charge. (To date this has not been successful). The gloves were removed from the order as they had run out of stock and they had no date for replenishment. However, this should not have been done without my mother’s authorisation, so they sent these out to her free of charge.
Sarah refunded the postage cost of £4.99 and additionally a generous £10 for the inconvenience caused.
I noted that she blamed most of the errors on systems. However, she did not say that my mother should not have been charged the postage and made no reference to the human who told her that the amount was correctly charged. Why would a member of staff give the reason that they did? Although I put this to Sarah I did not get a response. I also asked why, when I emailed the CEO, Mr Caplan two weeks previously, twice I got no response but this time I got a reply within 3 hours. Was it the mention of court? The media? Conferences? Next book?
I didn’t get a reply so a few days later I emailed again. I told Sarah that I gave a short presentation at an awards ceremony on complaint handling and included this story. I was discussing how, if a company can’t even get these basics right, the CEO ignores correspondence regarding breach of consumer law, provides appalling service and it takes threats of legal action to get anything done (albeit a response lacking in substance) how can it possibly do things right for more vulnerable customers as that is where the challenge is for most decent companies, ensuring that they respond to all not the most damaging. I said “They are here tonight….” that got a good laugh round the room. So thanked her for providing me with material for future conferences.
I gave her until 9.00am on the Monday to provide a comment.
The next response from Easylife
Despite specifically saying only correspond in writing, they tried to phone me. The Head of Customer Service, let’s call him Jarvis, emailed after I refused to answer the phone. I told him that I would only deal in email and please could he have the courtesy of answering my queries. The response was almost comical. It included the following:
“The order was received via an order form and owing to it containing credit card information was securely shredded immediately upon completion, therefore I accept in good faith that the order was requested for 3 items:
5921 gloves £14.99
9566 boots £14.99
6535 wallet £9.99”
Seriously? SERIOUSLY? They don’t keep records of orders? Who believes that? Anyone?
“It would appear that the agent” (“Agent”? A secret one perhaps?) processing the order saw that the arthritis gloves were out of stock with no restock date and, in the agent’s belief of enhanced service, removed the gloves as they believed these would never be fulfilled. As already acknowledged, this was an error on the agent’s behalf and this has been addressed with the agent and the entire order form placement team.
The result of the error
This resulted then in the order falling below the free postage & packing offer, hence an additional £4.99 was charged. Unfortunately, our order processing system was not updated with the arthritis gloves and to anyone subsequently looking at the order it would appear that £4.99 was indeed chargeable for delivery as there is no reference to the gloves that would have taken the order above £30.
I acknowledge and apologise for the delay in response you received from your original email, that would be due to Mr Caplan being on holiday since 3rd Feb. However, even then he does forward (and believed he had in this instance) all necessary communications to relevant parties to handle. In this instance it appears that forwarding failed” (twice remember) “and hence no response was received by yourself. As to why [Sarah] was handling your query is quite simple: she is the most experienced within the head office team across all aspects of account management and hence does the investigations where errors occur and responded directly as neither Mr Caplan nor I were available.” (Remember she ignored many queries).
“With regard to payments made and received:
- Your mother has been charged and refunded for snow boots twice
- Has been charged and refunded for postage
- Has been charged for aluma wallet
- Been credited a goodwill payment of £10
= net £0.01 in [her] favour.”
Yup he’s actually pointing to the fact that she is 1p in credit. How generous. In addition if they can get the boots they will send them to her. Still not arrived. She actually received the gloves so she is in credit for more than 1p but honestly how bad is this company?
There was no comment provided for the blog post, so make your own mind up!
Not such an Easylife huh?
Further help with complaining effectively
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