Customer service

My belief confirmed….

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This has nothing to do with religious beliefs (you will be pleased to hear), but my personal belief that all car dealership service departments are generally as bad as each other. I have found over the last 25 years that when I get a new car I have to spend some time ‘educating’ the service department so that they come up to my expectations (which I don’t believe are excessive).

Over the years I have dealt with the local dealers for the following brands – Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, VW, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Mercedes. Only two have actually provided from the start what I consider to be good service – Volvo and Alfa Romeo.

I now have a Mercedes and although the service department are keen to ‘fawn’ over you and try to have an appointment system for clients (which doesn’t work) they have just confirmed to me that they are no better than any other dealer.

tamoldThey have had a part on back order for the last month for my car – I blogged previously about it – (it’s the central display between the speedo and rev counter). The part arrived last week and I was contacted to get it fitted, it could be done within a few days and therefore prior to Christmas, so that sounded good. However, having now had it fitted it is actually the wrong part!

Yes it fits, and yes it provides the correct information. But my old clear and quality looking full colour display has been replaced with something akin to the sort of display seen in 1990’s cars (or on a Tamagotchi for those who remember them). Black and white and very poor quality – frankly rubbish!

According to the dealership representative getting the wrong part was “a genuine mistake” and is not considered a major issue “as it works”. The car is now booked in (again) for the correct part to be fitted when it appears in the New Year (they have checked the part number apparently).

Well, strangely I’m not impressed, amused or likely to recommend the brand or dealership to anyone on this performance – but it has confirmed my belief that all car service departments are the same – which in a bizarre way pleases me!

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The ‘trouble’ with modern cars

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Car-Company-LogosI like cars and am lucky enough to get a new one every three years through work – that gives me the ability to choose what I want (within reason), so there have been a number of makes driven over the years. I have also come to realise that in terms of reliability there isn’t much to choose between makes nowadays – French, German, Italian, they are all much of a muchness these days….

I can hear you all shouting “NO – Germany make the best cars” – well not in my experience. Yes, they are more solidly built (although my Volvo was the most solid), but in terms of reliability there is nothing to choose between them. Let me explain. . .

The most reliable car I have driven? An Alfa Romeo, it was faultless for three years and had no ‘niggling’ issues.

Second best? A Volvo – one minor issue with the air-conditioning ‘that went away’ – otherwise a great car.

The mid range – Citroen, Renault, Peugeot and VW – all had a number of minor faults but never let me down.

The worst based on the number of visits to the dealership for an ‘untraceable issue’ over the first few months of ownership? Mercedes!

None of the above have ever let me down, but most have had annoying faults – especially the Mercedes – so as I say, all cars are equal now – some may be more solidly built – but the quality of components and the chance of ‘minor’ faults is about the same.

The question is whether this is a good thing or are we still being sold underdeveloped and poorly quality controlled cars?

And for the record my Merc is now just over two months old and has had its 4th visit to the garage – and I am still waiting for a call to resolve the problem promised to me two weeks ago………

More ‘joy’ with the Royal Mail

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Any one who follows my blog will be aware of the ‘pleasures’ I have been enjoying recently due to a lack of service from the Royal Mail, I have now come to the conclusion that the package that so nearly made it to me is lost (the manager at the sorting office as good as confirmed it to me).

20130826-171226.jpgI am now in the process of trying to get some form of compensation from the Royal Mail and have spoken to their customer services (complaints) department to progress this. To be fair the man I spoke to was very good at his job (plenty of practice?) and handled me like a pro – however his basic line was that it was the sending companies issue….

What I wasn’t 100% clear on until last week was exactly what the parcel they lost was, however a few emails have confirmed that it was an item forwarded to me from New York by the lady we rented an apartment from in the city a few weeks ago. So I have a receipt of postage and know what the parcel contained.

But, and this is what is really annoying me – because the parcel was sent through the United States Postal Service (USPC) as far as our wonderful Royal Mail are concerned I should make my claim against the USPC – not the Royal Mail who actually lost it! Apparently it is all part of an agreement between postal services across the World. In my view it is wrong – the parcel travels 5000 miles, gets to my letter box but is then lost somewhere in the 3 mile triangle between my house, Beeston and Nottingham – sorry but I can’t see that as the United States Postal Services fault!!

I am going to take this as far as it can go until I get an apology and compensation from the Royal Mail – watch this space……..

When is fast food not fast?

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Answer – at any McDonalds in the USA.

20130721-190900.jpgDon’t get me wrong I am willing to wait for food if it is prepared for me and is of a high standard, but my understanding of ‘fast food restaurant’ revolves around the first word? That is how the idea of the drive through works, so shouldn’t it work the same in the restaurant as well?

We stopped of at a McDonalds in Orlando, Florida for a quick bite to eat after some outlet shopping, the idea was to hit McDonalds and be on our way in a short time frame. However we ended up waiting 20 minutes for one happy meal, two wraps and a chicken sandwich. And we weren’t alone, talking to others in the queue who were waiting for their number to be called it was considered ‘the norm’ in American McDonalds these days to have to wait for your freshly cooked food.

Have McDonalds lost the plot or are they moving their offering up market?

Perhaps we will be getting Big Macs served on china soon – or even waitress service? I think not – come on McDonalds do what you should be and serve fast food, no slow average food.

Good customer service – with an edge….

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I recently purchased a new compact camera from Currys – to be fair they are generally pretty good for camera gear, as in Nottingham most of the staff are ex-Jessops, so know their stuff. I did some research and decided that the price they had for the Canon Powershot S100 was very good, so went ahead with the purchase – all good so far….

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Their website indicated that a £20 cash back deal was available on that camera, so I went via the link on their site to the Canon site – only to discover that the cash back was on the S110 (the newer model). Now if I am honest the cash back was not something that clinched the deal, but I thought it was worth mentioning to Currys – if nothing else to let them know that they were misrepresenting the facts.

So an email was sent to their customer services department together with a screen shot of the web page showing the cash back deal (see the image above). I got the usual automatic reply and waited…..

Interestingly within a few hours of my email the website changed and the cash back deal was removed (see the image below).

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Next day I received a very nice email from Currys to tell me that they had ‘just checked’ their website and it didn’t indicate a cash back deal currently, also they said they couldn’t date my screen shot so couldn’t confirm it’s validity (although the date it was created was pretty clear). However as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ they would send me a £20 voucher (which they have done).

So a good result for me (and the camera is excellent) and good PR for them – but I am assuming my email prompted the change of the website – just a shame they couldn’t admit it!

How not to manage one of the worlds busiest museums….

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Ok, so I admit I am not averse to complaining – in my opinion no one should be, it is the only way things improve. So when there is a total lack of information or perceived management of a situation it annoys me…..

The situation I refer to relates to the closure of the Louvre in Paris on Wednesday 10th April – now the French are very proud of the museum (quite rightly) as it is one of the largest and most visited in the World. This would therefore assume a good level of management. So when we arrived as a family and found barriers up, security staff guarding the doors and very small messages saying the museum was closed – but giving no reason why and no idea when it would reopen – we were naturally somewhat annoyed.

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But what really didn’t help was the total lack of real information, it took us at least 45 minutes to discover the reason the Louvre was closed – a strike by staff due to pickpockets – and also that there was no chance of it opening at all on that day. This last point was not clear from the note at the entrance (and the ‘help line’ mentioned on the message was never answered – on strike too?)

Who did I find out from? A security guard – no one else was around from the museum staff.

But what really annoyed me? The fact that the message on the website (which only appeared many hours after the strike started) was so incongruous. One might almost say it was deliberately vague – perhaps they didn’t want visitors to know that the staff strike and that pickpockets are a big problem? I would hardly call a strike in France ‘exceptional circumstances’!

Come on – this is Paris, France – the home of strikes and now it appears Europe’s capital of pickpockets!

So in trying to ‘keep it quiet’ it appears to me that the Louvre’s ‘management’ may well have scored a huge own goal – typically French?

We are all working harder – well most of us….

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The general theme that comes across when I talk to people in business is that we all appear to be working harder than ever (generally for lower fees), this is not a complaint (that comes later) – it is a fact of life. The economy is in a bad way so we have to ‘dig in’ and work through it, or at least most of us do – but not it seems the Royal Mail…..

courtesy of Viz...
courtesy of Viz…

I will admit to not being one of the Royal Mails biggest fans, I have blogged various times before about them and can’t recall any of them being positive, and this one isn’t either!

I accept that if I am not in the Royal Mail can’t deliver packages to me, and I have asked them not to deliver them to my 85 year old neighbour. Previously the card left asks me to wait 24 hours for the package to return to the sorting office – around 2 miles away. That is fine, I really don’t have an issue with this.

However, it now appears that it takes 48 hours to do this – why?

All I can assume is that the package is placed back into the Royal Mails own post – as we all know everything (even first class post) takes at least 48 hours these days……