Before I escaped to my wonderful computer programming job, I used to work in customer service.
I made it a point to try to help the customer as much as possible. In other words, if we had a 30 day return policy and the customer called us on day 40, I tried to find every possible avenue to help the customer.
I had one simple rule : Your claim must be logical and reasonable.
For example: About four years ago, I had a customer who bought a scanner from us but found that the software was only available on CD and her (old) Macintosh didn’t have a CD-ROM drive. She was a bit over the 30 day limit, but the machine was unused, she was willing to accept store credit (rather than demanding a refund) and I was more than helpful to accomodate her.
Another customer bought a laptop (laptops, once turned on, are no longer returnable unless defective) from us. After about a week he wanted to return it. Why? His kid cut the power cord. I offered to try to get him a new power cord, but he wanted to return the whole machine! No way, I told him. If his only concern was the power cord being cut, why wouldn’t he accept a new power cord? My theory is that he wanted to return the machine for whatever reason and was using the power cord as an excuse. Needless to say, I didn’t do much for the customer. Especially after he started cursing at me.
Another customer called one January to return something he bought for his granddaughter for Christmas, since it was defective. I asked the gentleman his order number and as soon as he said it, I knew the order was from three years earlier. I asked him when he bought it, and he told me that he bought it three years earlier. I asked him why he was first giving it to his granddaughter now, and he told me that only now was she old enough to appreciate it. I explained to him that while I understood his point, after three years of the item sitting in his closet, there was no way we could take it back. He was nice about it and understood, but the request was not reasonable.
Another customer called us and wanted to buy a battery for his camcorder as his had gone dead after a year or two of use (as often happens). We informed him that we did not have the batteries in stock, but we gave him the telephone number for Sony (who manufactured his camcorder) and suggested maybe he could buy it directly from them. He called back about twenty minutes later and said that Sony was behind production on them and would not have one to sell him for a month or two. I told him that I understood that, but we still didn’t have any to sell him (if Sony didn’t have them, we sure weren’t going to get any soon). At that point he demanded that we then take back the camcorder. Of course, I refused. He demanded to speak to my supervisor, and I refused again. I told him very simply that we’re not obligated to carry every accessory for every item we ever carried in perpetuity. Needless to say, I didn’t do too much for him either.
One time, a customer wanted to return something because the salesman misinformed him of a product’s feature. The bad part was that the item was well over six months old. It would be near impossible to take it back at that point. However, the customer did have a reasonable claim. He calmly explained that when he bought the item, he would need it to be compatible with another unit that he was going to buy in the future. He now bought the other unit and found that the first one was not compatible with it. After confirming this with the salesperson, I went to bat for the customer, even though the order was well past our 30 day return limit. It took some fast talking on my part, but eventually I was able to swing an exchange for a compatible unit by my manager and everyone was happy. The customer had a legitimate claim and didn’t make a jerk of himself during the call. So, for him, I went to the mat.
Anyway, my apologies for the length of the post, but you can get the gist of my feelings on customer service.