Laughable Customer "Service"

I know this falls squarely into the “must be a nice life if this is what you have to complain about” category, but I’ll share this anyway.

As I prepared to go to the UK for work for 17 days, I had a car service lined up so I could avoid (my company could avoid) paying for 17 days of parking — the car service would be cheaper. At the scheduled time, the car had not arrived, which was troubling since a car service normally shows up 15 minutes early.

I called and got a dispatcher who said the driver (pictured at left, artist rendition) was “10 minutes away.” 15 minutes later, no car, so I called back. The dispatcher (in New Jersey) had trouble communicating where the car was and there was no way for me to talk directly to the driver. It finally became clear that the car was still 30 minutes away… so I bailed and drove myself to the airport.

My travel agent followed up after I called to complain — the car service wouldn’t charge me for the trip. Ya think? That’s the bare minimum — they really should be on the hook for the parking charges.

I was willing to let it all go, but I got an “apology” letter in the mail.

It reads, in part:

“I understand that weather conditions, holiday traffic, and massive airport delays made a difficult dispatching schedule and we were extremely delayed in picking you up, which forced you to take a cab.”

Holy Schnikes, what a laundry list of excuses! The weather was perfect that day. June 2 isn’t exactly a huge holiday in the U.S., and I don’t think there were “massive airport delays.” And while a cab would have been a cost savings, if I had time to wait for a cab, I would have waited for the car service!!!

So, the final comedy — as these letters tend to go….

“… we take pride in our high quality, on time service…. I offer no excuses, just an apology.”

No excuses except all of them in paragraph one of the letter!!!!

It’s amazing that a company like this is still in business. Yes, a driver is bound to be late once in a while, but the poorly thought-out response is even more troubling. I did try contacting the rep, as invited, and haven’t gotten a call back. Oh, this is “Operator of the Year” as awarded by some industry magazine, their letterhead points out. Yikes!!

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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3 Comments on "Laughable Customer "Service""

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  1. everdream says:

    You too can earn the coveted prize “Operator of the Year” or whatever, if you subscribe to the right trade magazine publications and purchase enough ads!

  2. Vincent Clement says:

    I don’t want excuses. I want to know how you are going to rectify the situation. I want to know what you are going to do to keep me as a customer, and, if you have no intention of keeping me as a customer, then come out and say that. Don’t waste my time.

  3. Mark Graban says:

    I got a voice mail today from them saying “it was a form letter that was completely devoid of what actually took place… we’re reviewing to see if we should even still use that letter.”

    They claimed that problems like mine are “extremely rare” and they will “personalize” the letters in the future.

    At least that’s SOME process improvement, I suppose.

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