We’ve all had bad experiences with a company or two in our time as consumers, haven’t we? And sure, you’ve likely been moved to call and complain, send an angry email or, if you’re a little older, put pen to paper and fire off a letter of complaint. I certainly have done all that. However its pretty rare, in fact it has never happened, that I feel so wronged and angered that I am compelled to write down what happened for public consumption on one of my websites. So, as I write for you here about the rabbit hole I fell down while trying to complete a simple transaction with Nordic Track, understand this is not something I would normally do. So bad was the experience I felt it needed to be documented for posterity. My grandkids and their kids will probably talk about how angry I am several generations from now.
I have had shoddy customer service in my day, received products that were not as advertised, had delivery dates missed. You name it. I put myself through college as a bartender and waiter so working with the public is nothing new to me. I have had my share of misses when it comes to delivering customer service so, as a customer, I try to understand that every service representative has a bad day, every company makes mistakes from time to time. Not losing my cool at every minor mistake or inconvenience is something I strive for. Giving people, and companies, a second chance, a chance to make things right is important to me as a consumer. Never have I exclaimed “I’ll never patronize company X again” based on one bad experience.
However, when a pattern of poor customer service emerges, when its multiple failings on all levels from a customer service agent, an outside vendor and all the way to management, its more than a bad day. It’s a culture at worst and an inability to grow your company and its systems to meet the needs of an expanding customer base at best.
While writing this down and venting a little is cathartic, I am hopeful you will also find it interesting or amusing. And hey, if you own or work for a company you may just learn from another’s mistakes.
Now for the part of the story that will make you glad to not be me. On February 10th I ordered the Nordic Track FreeStride Trainer FS9i.
In addition, I paid $200 extra for the iFit service and $249 for something called “White Glove” setup and delivery service:
I was told it would arrive in 2 weeks or less. Seemed reasonable. I was provided a tracking number and saw it shipped in impressively speedy fashion.
On February 16th the tracking number said the package was delivered. I assumed, although no one had told me, that it must have first shipped to whoever was installing it instead of directly to me. Still, when I hadn’t heard anything around the 20th I called to see if the package could be located. Here comes the fun.
I would reach a customer service agent, after a lengthy hold time, and tell them I did not know where my machine was delivered. The agent would take all my information, tell me it went to a local courier who would deliver and install it, and put me on hold to find out who the courier was and why I wasn’t contacted. While I waited on hold a different agent would pick up the phone, seemingly accidentally, and ask why I was calling. When I explained I was on hold while someone else helped me they told me they didn’t know who I was previously speaking with so they would help me instead. So again, tell the story, provide all the information, be put on hold. And then, you know where I am going, another person picked up the phone and back to square 1 I went.
Finally someone gave me the name of the local installer. Rather than call them, they provided me with the number. So I called the local company who said they had not been provided a phone number to reach me and schedule the installation. Apparently their solution to this was to do nothing.
48 hours later they called me back and scheduled delivery for Monday the 27th, 17 days after I placed my order, between 9 and 1. Then called back to change that to between 1 and 5. And then didn’t come at all. Instead they rescheduled for Wednesday the 1st between 1 and 5. By 5pm Wednesday no one had arrived. That’s two days out of work. But then, at 7 pm, suddenly they’re here.
My irritation was lessened for only a minute because when I told them where in the house it was going, they refused to bring it in! “We only do curbside delivery now,” I was told. “But I paid to have it brought in the house and assembled,” I countered. He went on to tell me they don’t assemble Nordic Track products, though they used to, and also don’t enter the house anymore. When I asked him if Nordic Track was aware they no longer install the product he said he didn’t know. After some begging I got him to prop it up in my garage.
And so this morning I called Nordic Track again, waited 19 minutes for a representative, and was assured this problem had already been “escalated to a manager” 3 times. Oh boy I was escalated! So now I magically felt so much better! They were going to get to the bottom of this and I was credited for the installation cost.
Roughly two hours later, to my horror, the same idiots from the delivery company called me back and said the other guy was mistaken they actually do assemble the product. And if I just took another day off from work they would be happy to assemble it a week from now. So now the same company that stood me up twice is allegedly going to return March 8th, nearly a month after I ordered it, and assemble the product.
Now, to me, the process should be: I place the order, the installation company calls and tells me when they’re coming, I have my machine. That simple. Instead I placed an order, made at least a dozen phone calls, took 3 days off from work, tried to complain to the Nordic Track customer service team through Twitter in a moment of desperation, and I am still stewing here with a $3,000 machine sitting in my garage.
The tragedy here is that I might love the machine. Maybe I would have been so blown away by the products quality that I would be now happily writing about what a durable, easy to use, quality machine they make. But instead, no matter how good the product is, the experience is so marred by simply trying to acquire what I paid for that I can never recommend someone make a purchase with them.
If it ever gets assembled I will now need to use it in extended durations in an attempt to lower the blood pressure that was raised just trying to purchase a product. Caveat Emptor indeed.