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Here’s a Twitlonger that I wrote this morning, when frantic. This particular one is to Miele as you’ll see, but I’ve become just as frustrated in my dealings with Laurastar and Nespresso in the last few weeks. These are, after all, premium brands and spend huge amounts of money on slick marketing. Which is all very well, but if any aspect of what used to be called in 1990s business school terms as The Value Chain fails, then it takes the lustre off the brand. I’m pleased with the product, of course, but memories of each particular logistical nightmare linger on.

This tarnish can, often, be helped by excellent customer-facing staff who will help sort out the situation. Which is not what happened today. I didn’t write this for self-aggrandisement rather in the hope that companies need feedback in order to improve their service to less vociferous customers, don’t you think?

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Dear @Miele_GB

I am writing to express my dismay with two aspects of your customer service: your delivery contracts and one of the representatives in your “customer support team,” in the hope that this will prompt some action from you to avoid further tarnishing your premium brand.

As background, my 12 year old Neff oven finally died on Monday 16th December. I have been hoping to replace my kitchen but my house has been subject to an insurance claim for two years. Obviously, this is of no concern to you.

I like to cook from scratch rather than buying processed foods – it’s cheaper and that way one always knows what is in one’s food – so you can imagine that, just a week before Christmas this threw me into a panic. So off I popped to John Lewis in Bluewater who ordered your lovely PureLine single built-in oven to be delivered yesterday, Thursday 19th. Unfortunately, there was no-one available from John Lewis to install the oven this side of Christmas but, ringing around, I managed to find a company who had a slot to install it on Thursday afternoon. I was thrilled at how easy this all was, especially when a Miele representative rang me on Wednesday 18th to confirm the 9.30 to 11.30 delivery slot. All was well and I sang carols and drank wine despite having a cold.

Imagine, then, my amusement turning to horror when I was telephoned yesterday just after 7am by the delivery driver who had been scheduled to deliver my oven to tell me that his wife had gone into labour and that my oven would not be arriving. I was grateful for his conscientiousness, of course, and wished him and his wife good luck. 

But that left me with a problem. If my oven could not be delivered yesterday, would I be able to find anyone to install it when it was delivered? And then it struck me that a premium brand such as Miele, whom I am paying well over the odds for a new oven, should really have a contract with their delivery company that provided contingency cover in emergencies such as this. Of course, it was not the fault of the original delivery driver that his wife went into labour, well it was but let us not go into that, but surely, SURELY, his employers would have been aware of the situation and provided cover for the route at such a busy and crucial time just before Christmas? It certainly was not MY fault that I was in this pickle, and I was taking all the stress and heartache here.

So I called your Miele Customer Service line and was kept on hold for 15 minutes. Eventually, I terminated my call. I called again after 9am and my call was dealt with 10 minutes later by Heather who, having called around was able to assure me, guarantee me, that my oven would be delivered today, Friday 20th December, in the 9.30 to 11.30 delivery window. 

Now I just had to find someone to install the oven. The Kitchen Doctor company was terribly helpful and their manager tried to ring around but all of their installers are at their Christmas parties this afternoon of course, it being the Friday before Christmas. Eventually I called an electrician I knew who was in Germany yesterday, collecting his son from university there. He was going to be tied up with jobs all day today, despite having formally finished work for Christmas on Wednesday, but when I explained my situation he very kindly assured me that he would fit me in. Which was kind, don’t you think? Isn’t it funny how some people are all too willing to put themselves out to help other people?

Now I just needed my oven. And by this morning you hadn’t called to confirm that I would have it. So I called you. And a young man answered. When I explained the situation he said that “I’ll see if I can trace your delivery even though you don’t have your order number.” For which I apologised, even though John Lewis had not given me an order number. Then he kept saying that he hoped the delivery would be made some time today. 

But, you see, sometime today is not good enough. Nor is being hopeful. Not just before Christmas when I have cakes and mince pies and ducks and roast potatoes and stuffing and mini toads and all sorts in prospect. And I have to take my elderly, arthritic, demented mother to Bromley to fit her for a new hearing aid at lunchtime. Her old hearing aid stopped working weeks ago and it’s taken until now to jump over the bureaucratic obstacles to obtain a new one for her. I shan’t go into the niceties of tendering for NHS service provision. 

My husband is Christmas shopping and my son has a driving lesson at three. And Miele had guaranteed the 9.30 to 11.30 slot. And a kind electrician was standing by waiting for my call. And it is nearly Christmas and I’ve done no baking at all.

“But you have to understand, it’s not our fault that the delivery man’s wife went into labour.”No,” I explained, “But surely your delivery contract would provide for emergency cover?” Had the delivery man not informed them of his wife’s possible Christmas confinement? If not, why had he felt that way? Was his employer likely to ask him to sacrifice any first-born son in a time of austerity? I didn’t say most of this, of course.

But you have to understand that I can’t trace your order because I’m not in the sales department. Fingers crossed you’ll get your delivery today.

No, young man. What YOU have to understand is that you are in the Customer Support department. I am your Customer. I have paid multiples of what a cheap oven would cost for your product and your service and through no fault of mine you are making me run around like a cyan-bottomed dipterous because your delivery company cannot be bothered to make contingency plans at this crucial time of year. 

What YOU have to understand is that I have made and unmade and re-made arrangements for installation of my new, vastly expensive, oven, and kind people are doing me favours so that I can actually get on with making Christmas nice for everyone else. I have obligations to my mother to help her with her hearing aid and obligations to my family to try and fit everything in. Something your mother probably does for you, without you realising it.

And I don’t need you to cross your fingers. Just do your job please. And please don’t try and wriggle out of Customer Support and palm it all off onto your Sales Team. Is that how you deal with everyone, young man? Were you chosen for your posh, young voice? Because it certainly wasn’t for your customer service or language skills. My children are quite posh too, actually, but I would be ashamed if they pursued their career in such a slapdash manner. So why don’t you carry on crossing your fingers and I daresay you can slope off to your Christmas party this afternoon.

Ugh

p.s. My oven arrived shortly after 11.20 and was installed promptly by the lovely Peter, who did my Christmas lights. The delivery driver had received flack all morning from customers on his revised, protracted round. I wonder why.

Yours faithfully

MsAlliance