I had to really practice being kind today and I didn’t want to be because I felt like I had a right to be mad.
I recently read an article that talked about how someone was mean to a customer service representative and didn’t see their own ugliness in how they treated the worker, until they witnessed another person being mean to a worker. This stuck in my head today when I wanted to blow a fuse.
I recently upgraded my phone and used an ATT authorized retailer close to my house. Let me just warn you to never use an authorized retailer and recommend that you use an actual retail store because there is a definite difference. Who knew? The ATT logo is the same for the franchised store and there isn’t any differentiation to let you know there even is a difference, until you run into a glitch.
My situation involved returning a phone. When I ordered a new phone from the franchise store, they told me if I didn’t like the phone, I had 14 days to exchange it. They also didn’t have the phone in stock when I originally ordered it and they had it shipped to their store for me to pick up 24 hours later, which actually was 48 hours later. They also told me that the other ATT stores didn’t have phones in stock, to discourage me from shopping elsewhere. I believed them, but now I know better.
So I picked up my phone after an expected delay, tried it out for a week, and decided it was too big. Earlier this week, I called the store that sold me the phone and asked them the process for returning the phone. They told me to bring in the new phone and packaging, my receipt and my old phone to use while they ordered me a new smaller phone and that I would have to pay a $35 restocking fee.
This morning I backed up my new phone and then brought everything to the franchised store to do the exchange. When I walked in the store, the guys working there told me that they couldn’t exchange the phone there. I was surprised because no one mentioned this when I talked to one of their employees earlier this week, nor when I purchased the phone. They told me I had to go to a corporate ATT store to do the exchange because they couldn’t do it there. I was angry, as I thought this would be a simple problem to solve and plus they told me the process to follow.
I left the store and drove to the corporate store that was filled with customers and an hour+ wait to be seen, as I didn’t have an appointment nor did I know I needed one. I waited to be helped and when I told the employee at the corporate store my problem, and he told me he couldn’t help me. This is when my blood began to boil and I didn’t want to be nice anymore. He was really kind, and I told him that I didn’t want him to continue telling me his story and that I needed to speak with a manager, because now both stores were giving me the run around. He understood and listened and called over a manager.
The manager came and explained his side. He told me another story, that the two stores didn’t share a POS system and he couldn’t see my purchase in his system. I told him that the other store sent me to him and he said this is a common problem. I explained my side of the frustration, calmly and firmly and he listened. He told me to go back to the franchise store to do the return and to come back to his store to get the new phone that they actually had many in stock. He told me he was going to follow up with his regional manager and called the franchise store to explain what was happening and that he couldn’t help me with the return. OMG! I was so frustrated.
So I drove back across to the next town again, and was fuming. They recognized me when I walked in and they were talking on the phone with their franchise store manager, who asked to speak to me. He wasn’t sure what was happening either and told me to stay there while he called his regional manager. I sat there wondering if I was in the twilight zone. And as I was talking with him, he shared his opinion that the corporate store just wanted the commission from the sale of the new phone and didn’t want to lose money by taking my phone back. And I, as the customer, was stuck in the middle of two men fighting for commission. How’s that for customer service?
The manager called back and explained to his worker what was going to happen next before he talked to me. I was told to drive back to the corporate store again and they would handle both sides of the transaction, the return and sale of the new phone. I wasn’t sure whether to believe them or not. He also offered me a free case and screen cover to make up for the hassle they created. I called the manager of the corporate store before driving back again and he confirmed the story and told me to come back and he would take care of me. Phew. But still. Why? Why did they put themselves first and this wasn’t the first time this has happened to a customer, as one of the workers said this happened to another customer just recently. Wouldn’t you think if you had a franchise store, that you would streamline the process, communication, management and customer service?
As I was sitting waiting at the franchise store, another customer came in wanting to upgrade their phone and swap out a broken phone for an older model. Again, they lied and told the customer that they didn’t have any phones in stock and neither did any of the other ATT stores in the area, that no one had them, which was a blatant lie that they also told me when I went to purchase my phone at the franchise store. They just don’t want to share business and have the other store earn the commission. This made me so mad, but again I stayed quiet in the store. But I chose to walk out to share with the women my version of the story and the availability of phones at the other store.
I drove again to the corporate store and the manager met with me right away. He knew that I knew he did something wrong and I questioned him for not being honest and taking care of my needs when I came in the first time. He apologized and accepted responsibility for not asking enough questions, and I let go of my anger.
He was quite helpful and handled the exchange professionally and fixed my contract. He waived the restocking fee and installed a glass screen saver on my new phone and didn’t charge me for it. He also noticed another part of our bill that he could reduce our monthly fees and took the time to apply a promotion. At the end, he apologized again and walked me to the door as I left the store.
So in the end, the exchange happened and took 4 hours out of my day. I was not happy but kept calm and firm and pushed for what was right. This was more important to me than even doing the return in the end.
I was respectful to the workers and in the end they were respectful back and heard me and were compassionate and kind and wished that this event didn’t occur. In the end, I was thankful for the challenging experience and the opportunity to stretch my patience and self control, even though I didn’t want for this.
ahhhh… I feel so much better now. Thanks for listening!
I wish you the best customer service and peace and patience through whatever struggles come your way too.