Thursday, 15 February 2018

How To Lose Custom Without Trying

I haven't posted here for a very long time, but I thought I'd start again with the saga of the coffee table, featuring Oak Furniture Land.  For those of you not in the UK, this is a well known chain of furniture suppliers which advertises extensively on television.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. We bought a coffee table from Oak Furniture Land. Nice thing, just what we wanted. Came later than they said it would arrive, we had almost written them off, in a whacking great box. The delivery men couldn't wait to get away, unsurprising, as it was getting late.  Unpacked it... whacking great crack in the top, not to mention the two in the sides. So... we had to send photos to prove it (why would they take our word for it?), and they said, oh, that IS a big crack, we'll replace it. It arrived yesterday morning. What they didn't say was, we'll bring another in a whacking great big box, but we won't show you what's inside the big box, you have to unpack it yourself... yes, that's me, on my own, the disabled woman with no energy. I didn't think it was unreasonable to ask them to show me what they'd brought, given that they'd sent us a broken one before, but apparently I was meant to take *their* word for it, and without a photograph, either. I won't accept it if I can't see it, I said, so there's no point in taking it off the lorry. I'll speak to my manager, said the driver, and disappeared off to his lorry...presumably whatever he was saying to his manager was either top secret, or involved a lot of rude words about difficult customers. Ten minutes later, they drove off without warning, leaving me with a broken table and no explanation whatsoever. So my lovely husband rang customer services. No, we don't unpack, they said, you'll just have to take it as it is. No thanks, said Robin. Then we'll send the driver back to collect the broken table, and you'll then have to phone us back and ask for a refund. Which seemed totally unreasonable to us, but that is what happened. I asked the driver why they had driven off without a word; I was told to, he  said... REALLY? Well, err, no, we just did (liar, liar, pants on fire). So I enquire if they treat every customer like this, or just the disabled ones...they inform me that they treat every customer with profound respect. Sure they do...just not me. They give me paperwork to sign. I refuse; they say, we won't take the table away unless you sign it, just as, when they arrived, the driver said, show me the cracks in the table, or I can't take it away (apparently the photographs weren't enough evidence, the driver had to check to see I hadn't been lying).  Turns out, it's the wrong paperwork. Someone else's paperwork. Then they give me my paperwork,which still has me receiving a table. So I write all over it, initial it and sign it. They leave with the table.
Meanwhile, we wait for a promised call from a manager. And wait. And wait. More than 24 hours later, we still haven't spoken to a manager...we have, however spoken to another customer service minion, who says, well, our drivers aren't trained for taking tables out of boxes. Hell, neither am I... but the advantage the drivers have over me is that they're manual handling trained and large, strapping able bodied men. So we go through the whole thing with her. Besides which, she says, it would make them late for their next appointment.  Well, yes, but they managed that the first time with us, and it didn't bother them one little bit.  She can't see that they've done anything wrong, despite saying that it's logical that we would want to inspect the table before we accept it, and says she'll write up her notes and give them to a manager. We say we don't see why we should believe that, as they seem happy to lie at the drop of a hat. Oh, but I will, she says.  We're not holding our breath for a conversation with a manager on that basis, however.

The saga continues.  I wrote this up on Facebook, and shared it with Oak Furniture Land, who have a page on there.  Oh, they said, here's an email address, please send this post and your order number and we'll Look Into It.  Guess what... the email bounced.  These people really don't want to talk to us, or indeed, have anything to do with us. I asked for the name of the Chief Executive and their Head Office; the person I was talking to said, here's a link to our website and our Escalation Policy.  I wrote back and said, I understand that if a consumer asks for this information, you are required by law to give it.  So far, there's been total silence, yet again.  Clearly they only have one manager, and he must be a Very Busy Person.  And he really, really doesn't want to talk to us.

 We've never bought anything from Oak Furniture Land before. We will certainly never buy anything from them again. And it's a shame, because really, they had every opportunity to make things right, yet they insisted on doing them wrong.  So, we've bought another coffee table, from one of their direct competitors.  They say upfront, pay us a bit of money and we'll unwrap it and take the packaging away with us.  We've paid the money; it's worth it to us.  Hopefully, we won't have the same problems this time. 

In closing, a comment for Oak Furniture Land.  Just because it's your policy, it doesn't make it right.  If you screw up the first time, you should be bending over backwards to make things right, not further alienating an already angry customer by refusing to show them the furniture you're bringing to replace the faulty stuff you supplied in the first place.  And in case you're wondering, I haven't recommended you to my eight hundred Facebook friends, and will be leaving feedback similar to this, elsewhere.  Enjoy, like we enjoyed this process.


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