Bad Business

There are two sides to every story.

The other day I talked about some examples of good business: if you missed that you can read it here. So it seems only natural to share a few samples of things gone wrong.

This January I dropped my Amazon Prime membership: I just don’t buy that much and the other perks of Prime just didn’t add up for me. No big deal. I went on-line where it was relatively easy to cancel my renewal of Prime [Kudos to Amazon for making the on-line experience easy and functional.] End of story. 


A few weeks later I received a snotty email from Amazon saying that because I’d dropped Prime I was no longer eligible for the benefits of my Amazon Prime card and my account was shifting to a plainer version. I honestly don’t recall what so-called benefits I had derived but they must have been significant because Amazon made a point about taking them away. Message: you no longer matter because you don’t pay for this elevated service. Ok. All I can say today Amazon is that I have no interest in buying anything from you so if you were trying to entice me back to Prime, well, you missed the mark.

My Health club showers me with emails. Yes, I know I can manage my settings but I like to see health news and ideas. However, much like my Prime experience I don’t need the club anymore: I prefer to exercise outside as opposed to indoors in a place that has [bad] ear-splitting music even at 5 am. I went on-line to cancel: uh-oh, unlike Amazon, 24 Hour Fitness does not have a nice clean interface to cancel services. Tsk, tsk, bad web site design!

So I called, got transferred a couple to times (bad phone tree!) until I found a nice young-sounding person who was pleasant until I told her what I wanted. Immediately silence, then tonal shift: “well – you did make a commitment you know!” Yes, I know all about commitment. I think I get it: my contract is up in two months – I just don’t want to renew it. But Ms Ice informed me it wasn’t that simple. I would “have to” call back closer to the renewal date because there was nothing she could do now. I don’t disagree with her: I’m pretty sure there’s nothing she can do. About anything. And I will play the game and call back later and cancel the renewal. And in the interim tell everyone how the customer service at 24 Hours sucks.

Not to be outdone by online experiences I share my brick and mortar experience at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I don’t shop here much anymore as my consumption post-children is way down but I used to like this place. I needed one thing and showed up an hour before closing on a weeknight. I found the item without help (despite the fact that two employees walked past me as I was hunting without eye contact much less a word) and took it to the register. One person was having (what turned out to be) a somewhat lengthy conversation with apparently the only other customer in the store. It was all about the easiest way to ship something back. There was another employee – this is the fourth I’ve seen mind you – standing at the registers as well doing something. They looked up at me and then went back to work. No one said hello. No one offered to open another register. No one noticed when I put the item I had down and left. Buh bye BB&B.

Are these representative examples of how these companies run? Maybe, maybe not. But they are my experience, and they could have easily been shifted with a little more awareness and concentration on real customer service. Most of us consumers don’t want anything extraordinary. We want actual service, before and after the sale.

After all, there are always two sides.



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