Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"I'm sorry, I can't help you." Postscript(s)

There is a long postscript to this story.

After leaving the downtown store we returned to the branch at which I had made the original purchase. I laid the broken chain on the counter as I recounted my horror story to a very sympathetic sales associate. As I was speaking with her, I looked down at the chain and noticed a small trail of gold bits beside it on the glass. Clearly this product, supposedly worth $450, was a piece of junk. When it was clear that there was no other item that would satisfy us, the purchase price was refunded without question.

 About ten days after this incident I wrote a long letter to the customer service department of the store detailing what had occurred and expressing my disappointment and disbelief that a customer should be subjected to such abusive treatment in a major department store. I sent the letter by e-mail and shortly received an automatically generated reply promising that I would be contacted by a customer service representative within twenty-four hours. More than seventy-two hours later I still had not been contacted, so I wrote another e-mail. Three days later, having received no communication from customer service I telephoned the department and spoke to a very polite representative who told me that she had no record of my initial or subsequent communication and said that since I did not have an account with the store they would be difficult to trace. Nevertheless, she assured me that she would do what she could for me and took down my particulars. We were then cut off. She never called back.

 She must have been successful at digging up my original e-mail, however, as that afternoon I began receiving messages from the store, first from general customer service, then from the manager of the store at which I bought the chain, and finally from a low-level manager at the downtown store. Everyone apologized for the poor service I had received. There were also telephone messages (I was out of town at the time) from the general customer service person and from the downtown store person. When I returned to Vancouver I had an actual conversation with the downtown person, who apologized again, told me that there was in fact no policy requiring the customer to include the tag when returning or exchanging an item, and offering me a store gift certificate as a token of the company’s desire to keep me as a customer.

 A few days later I received in the mail an envelope, with the store’s letterhead, addressed to me. Inside, wrapped in a plain piece of paper was a card with a gift card enclosed; nothing, not even the denomination of the gift card, was written on it. When I took the gift card to the store to be read, I was told that the value was twenty-five dollars.

 A further postscript:

Recall that I had received an additional fifteen percent discount on the price of the chain by applying for the store’s credit card. On August 3 I received a letter, with the joint letterhead of the credit card issuing company and the store, advising that they could not approve my application because they were unable to validate my identity. I have owned a home in Vancouver for more than twenty years and have held a credit card with a substantially high credit limit for a dozen years, yet they were unable to validate my identity.

 On August 18 I received an alert through my online banking service that a new credit account had been opened in July; the financial institution that had opened the account on my behalf was of course the same one that had sent me the letter of refusal. I have now been sent an account statement. But of course I have no credit card.
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