Happy Birthday Post


November 9, 2010

In honor of my birthday I thought I would post a gift idea for me:)  It just so happens that today’s Boston edition of Daily Candy featured, at the very top of their list, the most perfect birthday gift for me.  A custom illustration of your favorite books, created by Jane Mount (visit her site Ideal Bookshelf for more information).  


I’m an avid reader and I love all types of art…so much so that we are actually starting to run out of wall space… but I’m sure I could find room for one of Jane Mount’s literary masterpieces.  Head on over to her Etsy shop to see all her work.  I know this book lover would love the challenge of finding a spot on her crowded walls for one of these pieces.


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  Customer Service: The Bad and the Good


November 7, 2010

Typically I like to only post fun recent adventures, tips and tricks of the trade or great new products I’ve come across.  I don’t like to go negative, but just this once I have to.  Over the past few years I’ve noticed that customer service has been getting worse and worse.  I recently had a very negative customer service experience in one of my favorite stores and it has been haunting me.  I struggled with how to handle my frustration and I finally decided to elevated it to a district level.  It was only then that I got the positive resolution I was longing for.  Hopefully my story will motivated you to demand the best and not shy away from lodging a respectful complaint.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

I’m sure most of you will agree that everywhere you turn you are inundated with ads.  You see them on the TV, on your social networking sites, on billboards, even when you travel on mass transit.  They are everywhere.  Companies seem to want your attention all the time.  They are desperate for you to come to their store and by their product.  Two weeks ago I did just that.  I was in the market for a new bed frame.  I had spent countless hours researching exactly which bed frame I wanted that was not only in my price range but that would allow me to spend my money in a store that I liked.  I decided on West Elm.  I have written about West Elm many times in the past.  I love their products.  I think they deliver good design at a affordable prices.

When I went in to select and purchase my bed I had a lovely experience.  The sales staff on the floor were both knowledgeable and personable.  I selected the bed, paid and then left the store to load up my car with my new purchase.  Their loading dock facilities happened to be underground in a parking garage which meant no cell phone service and it was chilly.  They assured me that someone would be right down to meet us.  Needless to say about 45 minutes went by before someone managed to come down to meet us.  That 45 minutes included two phone calls, from me to the store reminding them “Hey, we’re down here in your chilly garage waiting for someone to meet us and load up the car”.  Each time I was told “Oh, we’re so sorry, we’ll be right down”.   Two things should be noted, the main buzzer at loading dock door was broken so I had to call the main number of the store.  I was in the basement so I had no cell service which meant I had to walk out of the garage and the main number didn’t immediately bring me to a person but rather a long ad for current promotions and then finally a person, very frustrating. The second major factor was that we were driving a Zipcar which meant we were on a tight time schedule, something we had told them during checkout.

Once we finally had someones attention the service was less than stellar.  The sales associate seemed annoyed and was very curt.  It seemed to us that she was irritated that she had to be out there helping us.  It was very uncomfortable and only added to our already soured experience.  Needless to say we were only able to get half the bed in the car which forced us to make a second trip to the store later that week.  As we drove away I couldn’t stop talking to my husband about how disappointed I was.  We had waited so long to get this bed and I had always loved shopping at West Elm.  It was one of my design havens that I looked forward planning shopping excursions to.  What had happened!

That week I decided to call their customer support line.  I just couldn’t let this bad experience go, it was haunting me.  Typically I’m not one to complain.  If I receive poor service somewhere I just don’t go back.  I’ll likely tell the story to my friends and encourage them to not dine, shop or visit that place as well.  I was not willing to give up on West Elm.  I am very, very glad I made the call.  I received fabulous customer service on the phone.  They were apologetic and helpful.  They were honestly interested in hearing about my experience and making sure it didn’t happen again and making sure that I felt like a valued customer.  In less than a day I received a personal call from the District Manager who personally apologized and a few days later I received a gift card in the mail.  This company was determined to make sure I returned and remained a customer.

The point on this very long story is to let the companies out there know that a sale doesn’t end when you hand the credit card back to the customer.  Each sales needs to follow through till that person has gotten the item home and continues to have a positive experience.  I commend West Elm for corporate customer service support and it’s commitment on a district level.  I look forward to returning to give them a second chance.  I will try hard to go in with an open mind, but in my mind they still have to re-earn my trust.  My negative experience will likely be remembered a lot longer than all my positive experiences.   For all you consumers out there… demand the best.  You will be surprised what can result in calm and thoughtful complaint.