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TinotopiaLog → Adventures in Online Shopping ( 1 Jul 2005)
Friday 01 July 2005

Adventures in Online Shopping

Nicole writes of her experience with Audible in the past few days:

So, basically, “we hope you enjoy your weekend, we’re violating our contract by not providing the stuff you paid for, you can’t call us to complain, and by the way we’re taking Monday off. Fuck you very much.”

To say that I’m pissed off at them would be a huge understatement. They clearly have a problem that calls for immediate attention, and they are just leaving it to fester over the holiday weekend. There is no recognition here we, as customers, are even entitled to that which we’ve already purchased. Customer service doesn’t come much worse than that, now does it?

You usually see this kind of thing in more subtle ways: like how Best Buy never, ever seems to have in stock the things I’m looking for. It’s annoying, but Best Buy is under no specific obligation to have the stuff I want, even if those things are things that they nominally carry.

In this case, Audible is quite clearly breaking their agreement with the customer. (I’m sure there’s actually a clause in there, as there is in most contracts that businesses make with consumers, wherein they disclaim any responsibility on their part to do anything at all in return for your money, but they’re breaking their moral agreement to provide value for money, anyway.)

Now, Audible is a reputable and usually reliable firm, so I’m sure that this problem is the result of something beyond their control, and that they are working to fix it: but the notice on their website (see the screenshot on Nicole’s site) is pretty opaque. If these problems really do persist ‘through the holiday weekend’, as they warn, then I’m going to have to reassess my evaluation of Audible as a ‘reliable’ firm.

So I propose a new customer service rule:

Don’t keep customers in the dark. When things have gone so badly wrong that you cannot live up to your obligations, respect the customer enough to tell him specifically what’s wrong, and what you’re doing to solve the problem. If you’d prefer to have an opaque operation, you must first have a perfect operation.

Posted by tino at 13:05 1.07.05
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