Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Runaround Customer Service at The Bay

Customer Service is what can differentiate a store or chain from the competition.  The Toronto Star's Ellen Roseman constantly reports the intricate web customers must climb through in order to get satisfaction from retail, home appliance, telecommunications and many more.  Most of the stories in her articles and blog entries provide cautionary tales of both what hell companies are putting their customers through.  As well Roseman provides excellent advice to customers on how to avoid the pitfalls of company "Customer Service" departments instead of spinning their wheels round and round.  

I thought I had a good story for Ellen to investigate recently when my just over a year old Misty Mountain Winter jacket's zipper pull broke on December 29th.  I had purchased the jacket on boxing day (December 26) at The Bay at Richmond Hill's Hillcrest Mall

On December 31st, I dutifully Googled "Misty Mountain" and many variations that included the words "jacket" and "winter" in an attempt to find the manufacturer's customer service department  All I got back were pages upon pages of entries on who wishes to sell me the same jacket,  pizza shop, a mushroom farm, coffee shop or climbing gear.  Not a jacket company's website to be found.

Among my searches I noted The Bay was still carrying the jacket.  Thus, I figured since I purchased the jacket with that chain they may have been able to help resolve my issue or have contact information for the manufacturer.

I clicked on the Google entry, then clicked on the "Customer Care" tab to find:

Need Help Placing an Order?
Feel free to call one of our associates at 1-800-521-2364
For all other inquiries please feel free to send us an email.

As a good customer - and since I was not placing an order - I followed the instructions and clicked on the "email".  I filled out the details requested including: name, e-mail address, chose "product quality concern" in the drop down menu and then filled in the "Please Type Your Question Box with:

I purchased a Misty Mountain Winter Jacket on Boxing Day in 2011 at The Bay in Richmond Hill Ontario.
 
On Saturday, December 29th the zipper pull (i.e. the part of the zipper that moves up and down to zip up or unzip the jacket) broke off.
 
I've attempted to find Misty Mountain Customer Support online to see what repair options I may have. I cannot find any customer support information for the manufacturer after a couple of Google searchs.
 
Could you let me know if:

1. Can The Bay provide any support to resolving my issue?

2. Forward any customers support information to me via e-mail so I can follow up with the manufacturer.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Seemed like a simple enough request. 

On Friday January 4th I received a reply e-mail:

Dear Michael,

Thank you for contacting the Bay, please give us a call at 1-800-521-2364.


Thank you,
Hudson's Bay Company


This is a little confusing of course, as mentioned before, on The Bay's website it says for all other inquiries besides ordering to please e-mail.  Then a couple of days later The Bay wants customers to call you?  Will The Bay make up their mind which way they want customers to contact them? 

On Monday January 7th I called in.  I left the issue until Monday so that it was a regular business day, The Bay could have further looked into my case more, and possibly if needed a Customer Service Manager or Men's Wear Manager/Purchaser would be available to help.  At least, from the e-mail, I had a case number to quote that indicated to me The Bay might be working on something.

At 1:40 P.M. I dialled  1-800-521-2364, pressed 1 for English, 5 for customer service and 2 for other inquiries.  I waited less than a minute listening to the usual customer service line that my call was very important to them.   Ginger picked up and inquired how she could help.  I  gave her the case number from the e-mail and she pulled up case.  She read for about a minute the details on file which seemed promising.  I further explained what happenned with the timeline to this point and emphasized I was lucky to get perhaps 6 months use of my Misty Mountain winter jacket.  

Ginger's reply though was not very promising.  She said that The Bay Customer Service I had called has contact information for appliances and similar large items but not for clothing.  She suggested I speak to the online department (i.e. the people behind www.thebay.com website) as they deal with a lot of clothing and smaller items.  She transferred me over with the feeling of promise that I was about to get my answer to move forward. I was put on hold at 1:46 P.M. and put through to the hold music. 

Nikki picked up and I relayed my Case number to her and quickly ran through my story again about how the zipper broke and how I ended up speaking to her.  Nikki suggested to contact manufacturer, she doesn’t have a listing and would have to Google it.  I explained to her, as she obviously did not listen to the story or read the case, that I was attempting to contact the manfacturer and had Googled the life out of it so I was not going to waste her time.

I asked to speak to a customer service manager, Nikki said she would have to take my information and a manager would call back in 24 to 48 hours.  Great, the usual Customer Service brush off, seems just like Rogers when no Customer Service Managers are available due to a variety of reasons.  I didn't ask Nikki why a Customer Service Manager was unavailable, I did not need to hear one of the many scripted responses on file from The Bay's aging book of excuses.  
 
I asked to be transferred back to customer service line and Ginger to work from there.  Nikki explained she could only transfer me back to the Customer Service Department and only to the first available agent.  I sighed and requested to be transferred back.   Nikki then transferred me back to main line.  The only thing she save me really from doing was dialling the 1-800 number again!

So I went through it again using my notes  I had written on how I originally got to Ginger.  Press 1 for English, 5 for Customer Service  and 2 for other inquiries.  I waited  about two minutes listening to the music and how much my call was appreciated by The Bay.  Next thing I heard was shuffling and the call dropped.  

I sighed, channelled my inner Ellen Roseman customer service calmness, and dialed again at 1:52 P.M., pressed 1 for English, 5 for Customer Service and 2 for other inquiries.  I was getting better at this, in fact I had to wait for The Bay's automated phone system to catch up to me this time.  The usual hold music was there with The Bay telling me again how much my call mattered to them.   

At 1:57 P.M., Daishawn picked up and inquired how he could help.  I provided my Case number to him and let him pull up the notes and read them. I ran through the story again from broken zipper through until I reached him making sure to include names and departments at The Bay. 

Unfortunately Daishawn was not too much help other.  He explained that The Bay Customer Service department doesn’t have phone numbers for customers for clothing.  They only have numbers for major appliances like refrigerators or stoves.

I explained I was shocked that The Bay Customer Service Dept does not have any contact information for purchasing products as they sell the store.  I'm sure a button has fallen off or like myself a zipper does not work or some seam had given.  Things just didn’t make sense. 

Daishawn tried again to explain that they only had contact information for major appliances.  He obviously did not want to admit the stupidity of The Bay not having manufacturer information available especially considering the majority of the floor space in The Bay Toronto (Yonge & Queen, Yonge & Bloor, Hillcrest Mall, Upper Canada Mall, Yorkdale) and Ottawa (Rideau Street & St. Laurent Mall) stores is taken up by mens, womens and kids fashions.

Daishawn's only solution to recommend was to go and visit a Bay store to see if they would have the manufacturer information available.   At this point, I was getting a little tired of getting the runaround from The Bay with no offer of not a sliver of contact information whether it be a website address, e-mail address, phone number or even a postal code.   I asked Daishawn to make a note on my file.  I explained to him that I would visit The Bay on Rideau Street, failing that I would visit The Bay St. Laurent and if that came up empty I would contact a newspaper.
Daishawn's reply, I should definately visit The Bay store and if I needed any help locating one.  Obviously, like Nikki, Daishawn was not listening, I repeated again and asked him again to add it to the file: I would visit The Bay on Rideau Street, failing that I would visit The Bay St. Laurent and then contact the press. I also requested a Customer Service Manager contact me. 

Daishawn replied that it would take 24 to 48 hours for a Customer Service Manager to contact me.  I left Daishawn my phone number.  He repeated it back to me and we parted ways.  Fast forward to today, 10:30 A.M. and still no phone call from The Bay Customer Service Management, apparently my call is really important to them and they are trying to figure out the rocket science they have been doing for 200 plus years (The Bay is founded in 1881) of bringing winter clothing to Canadians from suppliers.

I packed up my jacket, put the two pieces of the zipper into a Ziploc bag, grabbed my original receipt issued by The Bay store at the Hillcrest Mall store in Richmond Hill, printed off the The Bay's e-mail and the notes I had taken from the phone conversations.  Next, I  headed to The Bay store at 73 Rideau Street, Ottawa.

I arrived at the store about 2:40 P.M. looking for the Men's Department.  Coming in across the pedestrian bridge from the Rideau Centre across the street, The Bay becomes a labrynth.  I walked through the Women's fashion department and found the interior escalator.   I ventured down another floor to find the mens fashions.   I skipped the shoe department and found a "Service" counter with "Matthew" waiting for me. 

Matthew inquired if I needed any assistance.  My reply with a grin: I'm about to make your day.  Matthew grinned.  I unpacked my jacket and the Ziploc bag with the broken zipper.  I ran through my story explaining I purchased the jacket at The Bay in Richmond Hill on December 26, 2011, got 6 months use out of it, during that time moved to Ottawa, before the zipper broke on December 29, 2012.  I also explained my adventures with contacting The Bay Customer Service via e-mail and phone showing him printed copies of the e-mail and phone notes.  Then I said, "and now I'm here with you to, hopefully, further unravel this issue".   I also noted I would be happy with any contact information for Misty Mountain either from the store's records, from a tag on a jacket for sale or if The Bay was willing to do anything to help itself. 

Matthew replied that he would speak to his manager and asked if he could borrow my receipt, a copy of my e-mail and notes. He thanked me for being prepared with the e-mail, phone notes and original receipt.   It was 2:45 P.M. as Matthew dissappeared.  For another five minutes I had two other Bay employees stop by to ask if I needed any help.  This is quite positively shocking as at some The Bay stores it is easier to find a roaming dust ball on carpet older than I am than an employee to help.  

Matthew returned at 2:50 P.M. and said I had a couple of options.  The first, which he suggested, was a full refund for the jacket which I jumped on immediately.  We worked through the return and I received full payment back of the original purchase price. 

I asked again of  Matthew if he knew if there was any contact information for Misty Mountain at store level.  His reply was the store did not as Head Office does all the ordering and distribution.  He also said that was probably where The Bay's Customer Service Department was.  We looked at each other with a grin knowing how far The Bay's Customer Service Department was in obtaining that information.  He explained that it would probably have cost $50.00 to repair. At that point, I thanked Matthew for resolving the situation and wished I had come to him first and left.

In the end, after much runaround I got almost what I wanted.  I originally set out to have my duly purchased Misty Mountain jacket's zipper repaired.  But now at least this jacket is off my hands.  Through this experience I have learned a couple of things:

1. Misty Mountain jackets do not stand behind the products they make.  If they did, they would make it easier for customers to follow up with them by providing a webpage with contact information or at least provide their distributors with something customers can use. 

2. The Bay's claims of "Customer Service" and "Your call is important to us..." are false via their  1-800-521-2364 because if they were, my simple question for Customer Service support would have been easily handled.  As well, a Customer Service Manager could easily have looked into it. 

In the end, after receiving unnecessary runaround, I got to use a Misty Mountain jacket for 6 months or less and got a full refund.  I also learned not to purchase a Misty Mountain jacket as well and probably will not buy anything from The Bay.  

As well, I'm not sure how Ellen Roseman survives the agravation of dealing with companies like The Bay, Rogers and Bell.  I would have given up a long time ago.  But thanks to her work consumers can see which company's prefer to aggravate their customers instead of servicing them for what the customer paid for.

In the end, I would like to apologize to Ellen that she did not get to join in on the fun of navigating the web of how a Boxing Day purchase, a Misty Mountain jacket and The Bay went wrong.
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