I normally post about technology here. Business. Entrepreneurship. Customer service certainly has a place. Today gets a personal rant, with lessons applicable to the above. The short story is that I meant to have flowers delivered on Monday to my wife, and only today found out that ProFlowers would not be able to fulfill the order because they had no local vendor. For the tl;dr crowd, here are the key lessons:
- Don’t take money before you can fulfill the contract – The mere fact that ProFlowers took my money without a way to fulfill my order is crazy. The fact that all of my interactions with them since Monday indicated none of this makes it even worse.
- Bad customer service will be cemented in search indexes – I let the woman know on the phone that the days of hanging up on an upset customer were done. I am codifying this here. I have set up a Facebook group. I will request that my tweeps retweet this whole ProFlowers debacle.
- If you are in the business of delivering happiness, deliver! – Having a scripted response for a call center makes sense. However, the flowers I needed on Monday were to handle an issue on Monday. With each passing day, the value of those flowers decreases quite a bit. Flowers can bring joy, but lack of flowers can actually create problems.
- Flowers are not harder than pizzas – It’s not like it was some crazy arrangement that was ordered. Roses. How hard it is to cut some flowers and get them delivered? I was told that I was in a remote area. I live 10 miles from the Microsoft campus. Hardly remote. The pizza guy can get here in 30 minutes, and they actually have to bake the thing.
The story begins on Monday morning. I ordered flowers to be delivered because I have been working quite hard, and traveling quite a bit. With yet another trip coming up for SxSW, I figured it would be a smart move to have the flowers delivered.
To their credit, 1-800-Flowers (the first site I visited) stated clearly that for the arrangement that I wanted, they could not deliver same day. That’s what you should do. Knowing that I wanted to try and get the flowers that day, I went to the next link in the search results. Just a few minutes later the flowers were ordered. I even paid the extra $5 to ensure that they would be delivered that day.
Sometime around 5pm on Monday, ProFlowers called to let me know that they would not be able to meet the delivery schedule. They were nice about it, but it was a bit upsetting. The only offer they made was to call my wife and apologize. Given the flowers were supposed to be a surprise, that wouldn’t cut it. I asked the best question you can ask (thanks Chemda) when dealing with unhelpful customer service people: “what do we do now?” You have to commit to the WDWDN, and be silent. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. The woman eventually offered to upgrade the flower bouquet size. Done.
Tuesday came and went. I spent the whole day checking for delivery status. I called into ProFlowers several times, each time they assured me that they would get the flowers delivered. By the time I got home, around 10pm, they had not arrived. What surprised me was that no one saw fit to call me as they had the day before. Worse, throughout all of the conversations with the customer service reps, no one mentioned that they were having problems. They kept telling me that the flowers were “out for delivery.”
When I called Tues night, the woman read me the exact same script they had been reading me all day. “Can we call to apologize?” That’s such a strange thing to offer. I had to ask for something of monetary value. Perhaps their customer base just takes it – feeling that it’s just flowers, and that the cost was low, so getting anything of value isn’t appropriate. I asked, again, to get the next up-size on my bouquet. At this point, I was at the super-ultra-mega size bouquet.
No surprise – Wed came and went. No call from ProFlowers. I traded emails with them all day. They all had the same script:
What is involved in the “thorough investigation?” Despite all of the back and forth, it wasn’t until this morning that the truth came out:
What’s nutty about this is that a) they again offer the apology letter, but b) insinuate that they can get the flowers delivered. I called to verify, and only then did they indicate that they had no vendor to fulfill the order. They absolutely knew this on Monday. It’s impossible that they did not. So they took my money, and agreed to a contract, without the ability to perform.
When I called this morning, the only thing that ProFlowers would say was “we’re sorry. We can call your wife.” Ridiculous. Only after venting on the poor CSR, did they offer me a $20 discount on a future order. Why would I EVER do business with these guys with them again? The worst part was, the woman basically said “sorry…have a nice day.” That made me pop. So I made today “make ProFlowers pay” day. Bad customer service, especially of this level, should not be allowed to persist, especially from a company with such a high search index placement.
So there it is. My poor wife the one who didn’t get nice flowers. I will sort that out, but my ask to you – join the Facebook group “ProFlowers is Bad for Relationships.” “Like” it. Retweet my post. I want this to run around the interwebs, and I want ProFlowers to feel a bit of the pain. This is a different world we live in now, and the social graph should be able to hold bad vendors accountable.
Also, if anyone has a suggestion for the best florist in Seattle who can delver a long overdue bouquet to my wife, let me know.