I don’t think I’ve ever ended a phone call like that before today, but I felt like the manager at 1800flowers.com gave me no choice.
I was away from home for Valentine’s Day, on my yearly ski trip. My wife was also away from home, visiting her family at a vacation home in Florida. This arrangement was her idea — honest — and not a sign of any kind of problems with us; I don’t know what I’d do for a whole week in FLA, and she couldn’t see herself sitting in a house in Colorado with a young child all day if she couldn’t ski. Win Win (win).
Anyhow, the only thing I could do to reach out to her was send some flowers for Valentine’s Day. OK, maybe not the only thing, but lacking much creativity it seemed like the right thing to do. This is what I tried to send her: — ^@#*$*!? OK, here’s how much 1800Flowers sucks: I can’t even find the bouquet I tried to send… I entered a term in their search field, and all it does is returns the home page. [later: Seriously, all the search terms I can think of, and there is no sign of the flower arrangement. Maybe they cancelled it and that’s why it never got delivered.] [Whoops, I gave away the punch line…]
Feb 13th I called my father-in-law on his cell phone, getting the address of the house they are staying at, and luckily my wife was in the shower when I called — the surprise delivery would be such a nice touch — and I placed the online order well within their guaranteed delivery timeframe for the holiday. The next day I called my wife and casually asked if she had received a delivery. She hadn’t, but there was still some time left in the day, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. The surprise was blown, but the delivery would still be worth it.
The next day (Friday) I received an email that the delivery had been picked up by UPS. OK, a day late, I could accept that. That night when I talked to K, she still hadn’t received anything. I used 1800F’rs email response form to explain my complaint:
I got the email (below) today, indicating that my order was picked up for delivery today. YESTERDAY was Valentines Day, which was the order delivery date I selected and which your web site indicated I was ordering in plenty of time. The email even indicates 2/14 delivery — so getting this email on 2/15 is infuriating.
Now my wife thinks I forgot to order something, but this was your fault. Surely you understand how important Valentines Day is (the day-after-Valentines doesn’t have the same effect). It just so happens that this year I’m in Colorado and she’s in Florida, so this was the only thing I could do to let her know that I was thinking of her. I want a full refund. Let me know when you will have it processed.
On my way to the airport Saturday I got an email indicating they had recieved my email (“Thank you for your important e-mail! … We appreciate your patience!”), so I checked the UPS tracking number (mmm… EVDO) and it indicated that UPS had received ‘billing info’ but had not actually picked up any product yet. (???) I was still trying to stay in vacation-mode and not get too stressed out about things, so I let it slide.
So today I finally called them. I wanted the flowers delivered plus a full refund. The best the CSR could offer was a 20% rebate; a full refund would only apply if I cancelled the order. Give me a manager… the manager said the same thing. I said that 20% per day might be a good start, but she wouldn’t budge. I said that I’d consider full equivalent credit for a future order (they keep my money, I get two deliveries for the price of one). She kept rephrasing my request in terms that made it sound like she was giving me what I wanted, but in reality was only delivering once (in the future). “The only way I can give you full credit is if you cancel your order.” Fine, then cancel it. She was all too chipper telling me how much would be credited back to my credit card, and I couldn’t help but be rude when the transaction was done.
I don’t literally want her to go to hell, but their company and customer service systems like theirs are just infuriating. And their decision was stupid from a financial perspective… assume that 1800F’rs remained my preferred delivery service for the next 5 years and I send flowers on three occasions per year (roughly right; it’s been less, but I could see it being more in the future), the value of me as a customer over that time is roughly $750 (present value, discounted). It would have cost them about $50 to make me happy about this V-day screwup. In fact, I might have been more loyal because I’d feel secure that they’d make things right if there ever was a problem — more revenue for them. Instead, they lose current and future revenue, and I’ll convince anyone within earshot not to use their service in the future.