Crate And Barrel / poor, poor, poor customer service
Will Crate and Barrel be going the way of the Sears department store chain in terms of poor, poor, poor customer service ? Time will tell.
20 - 30 years ago Sears was a chain store that was admired by all in terms of their customer service and, in particular, their quality line of appliances. However, today Sears is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of customer service and sales...and this is clearly reflected in the dramatic decline in the price of their company stock. Following a very bad experience that I had in buying appliances from Sears two years ago I can see why current sales are suffering and Wall Street is marking the value of Sears stock down, way down...
Aside from not investing in upgrading their stores, Sears also has not invested in the quality of the staff that they hire. This applies to their floor sales people (many of whom can't even calculate in their head a 10% discount off of a list price without using a calculator) to their store managers. I will not go into the details of my HORRENDOUS experience with Sears appliances and customer service, other then to say I have shared my nightmare experience with friends and co-workers and they have taken note in where NOT to shop for appliances and good service !!!
Now... Crate and Barrel. I have been a customer at Crate and Barrel for a number of years. I have been drawn to the store not only because of their great style of merchandise, wide selection and attractive prices but also because of the service I received in the past. Granted the bulk of my employee interaction with Crate and Barrel has only been with people who processed my credit card purchases. That being said, all it takes is one bad experience... a really bad experience... and all that customer loyalty is thrown out the window.
The problem I encountered also occurred at the Paramus, NJ store where another contributor to this web site also lodged a complaint. Not many customers would take the time to write a compliment or complaint on a site like this...unless they felt very strongly, good or bad, about a service or product. The fact that there are two complaints about the personnel at the Paramus store makes me think that this is more than just a coincidence.
I had purchased a cabinet valued at a few hundred dollars from the Crate and Barrel store in Paramus. The cabinet that was purchased was a discontinued item and the last one in stock which should have made me a bit concerned . The cabinet came in a box since it had to be assembled and could not be inspected at the time of purchase.
Upon getting the box home and opening it, it was clear that the pieces of the cabinet in the box had been removed and repackaged. Some pieces were not properly wrapped and others just fell out of the box upon opening it.
The cabinet required two people to assemble it and a handyman was paid to help. During the assembly nicks in the cabinet's finish were noticed. But most concerning was when the cabinet was fully assembled (after an hour of work) it was discovered that the drawer did not roll in and out properly. Clearly, with the nicks in the finish and the defective drawer rollers this was not a new cabinet. Given that the cabinet was not properly wrapped in the box, the reasonable conclusion is that this item had been purchased by another customer, returned for whatever reason and resold to me.
The one positive experience regarding this incident was that when Crate and Barrel was initially contacted the sales person said that given the defects there would be no problem in returning the cabinet for a full refund. When asked if someone could pick the cabinet up (since it would require another hour of more of disassembly time to get it back into the car), they said yes...but the pick up charge would be $70-80. That was about 25% of the value of the cabinet !
Instead, the cabinet was disassembled, wrapped in a blanket and returned to Crate and Barrel. It was returned to the shipping/receiving area in the garage area of the store and was accepted but not inspected at that time.
After entering the sales area of the store to collect the refund, an assistant store manager who handled the request said there was additional damage to the cabinet, in the form of a scratch, and that a full refund could not be given.
Clearly the additional damage that was identified was either there already when the cabinet was originally purchased and not identified at the time of assembly or was done after the cabinet was returned to the store's pick up area in the garage.
When the Asst. Mgr was told that this scratch had to be present when the cabinet was originally purchased, but just not noticed, the comment the Asst. Mgr. made was that Crate and Barrel doesn't sell defective merchandise. Now think through this comment... on one hand this Asst. Mgr. is saying that Crate and Barrel doesn't sell defective merchandise and yet another manager, at the same store, said that a full refund would be given due to the nicks and defective drawer. If Crate and Barrel doesn't sometimes, unknowingly, sell defective merchandise then why were they initially willing to provide a full refund based on the defective drawer rollers and nicks in the finish of the cabinet ? It was clear that this Asst Store Manager never took a course in logic or she doesn't communicate well with her store colleagues.
Despite bringing to this Asst. Manager's attention previous loyalty to Crate and Barrel in making store purchases of almost $10, 000 in 2 years... the response given by this Asst. Store Manager was that she in fact had purchased twice as much from Crate and Barrel ...basically saying I don't care how good a customer you are ...YIKES !!! Sometimes you don't know if you want to scream or cry at the stupidity of some people's comment. I can't say if this Asst. Mgr. was having a bad day given she had to work Labor Day weekend, but regardless the comment was totally out of line.
As fair balance... this matter has not as yet been fully addressed with the senior store manager (who wasn't available) nor with the regional manager of the NJ store.
This web site was brought to my attention today and so before I missed an opportunity to provide comment, I decided to first write down the experiences to date with Crate and Barrel. Hopefully within the next week I can return to this site and comment on how Crate and Barrel resolved this issue to the satisfaction of a loyal customer.
Oh by the way... Crate and Barrel did take back the cabinet but kept about $50 to offset the cost of the scratch. Think about it... is it the $50 or so that is important to me...or is it the principle that customer loyalty must be honored and customer service must be preserved if a great chain like Crate and Barrel is not to go the way of Sears.
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