Home » Sharon Drew's Rants

Plantronics, Part 2: the definition of un-customer service

Submitted by on Tuesday, 12 July 2011

As per my blog post a few weeks ago, I had problems with a phone I recently purchased from Plantronic. The first fix they sent me was a refurbished product to replace the new one. I refused that, and was then sent a new one. At each step of the way, I told the folks to please make sure they would pick up the products from my door, and I was assured there would be a mailing envelope so I didn’t have to spend more time.

Here is the stream of emails I received from Russell Castronovo, Director, Global Communications.  As you can see, they truly care…. about themselves. Below, I’ve taken several email exchanges and printed just the ones I thought were most interesting: 1. the comment that this was a non-standard problem so it didn’t deserve additional customer service training for the folks (although I had said I had found the team unresponsive, etc), and that he not only refused to get the package picked up, but he ended communication when I got a bit cheeky when he insisted I just pack it all up, etc. Unfortunately I bet these exchanges are common.

——–

Sharon,

This is Russ Castronovo, I’m the director of communications here at Plantronics. My email address is russell.castronovo@plantronics.com.

I’m sorry to hear that your experience with our company wasn’t good and would like to offer our apologies. Hopefully the replacement device is working properly.

If you have any continuing issues with the product or Plantronics let me know and I’ll expedite.

Russ

————–
Russ: As I said on the original email, although 2 of your handsets didn’t work, this 3rd one is working.

The problem (for you more than me) at this point, is I’m sitting with the 2 faulty boxes to send back. I just don’t have the time to pack them up, tape them up, get them over to the post office, wait on line, etc.

I had asked the supervisor if she could fix this so I wouldn’t have to do that, and she said the box(es) contained a shipping envelope – which they do not.

And, now that there are 2 boxes, one shipping envelope won’t work.

So they sit here until someone from plantronics arranges for them to be picked up. I had originally discussed this, telling the supervisor not to expect me to get them sent off but that you’d have to make arrangements from your end.’

SD

——

Russ, if you ever want to discuss customer service, it might not be a bad idea to give your folks some training. The first guy didn’t even care what my problem was, gathered no data at all, and tried to get rid of me.

The woman who is/was helping me, did a rotten job in gathering data and doing what she promised. so now you folks have me holding 2 boxes of product with no way to get them back.

This is basically what i do for a living. So if/when you decide you’d like to actually help your folks 1. listen; 2. respond in a way that matches the interaction, so you can respond more appropriately to your customers, let me know.

Sharon,

Thanks for the offer. I’ll run it by our Customer Service head.  I talked to him earlier and got the impression that the folks were off the path in terms of our standard procedure and he was looking in to that.  If it’s a training thing, rather than an end case, I’m sure he’ll be in touch.

As for returning the product, were you sent a fed ex shipping label or a USPS label?  I’ve not gotten the details of what’s happened to date so I’m flying a little blind.

If it’s a Fed Ex label all you should have to do is put the items in any box and, attach the label and drop it off anywhere where there is a Fed Ex pickup.  I’m less clear about what the USPS processes are so if you got something that the Post Office would use then I’ll have to look into that.

—-
Russ: I will not find a box, pack it, tape it, and drive it to a fed ex center.

I am an entrepreneur. I run a business. I purchased a product. I’ve put over 2 hours into YOUR problem (that became my problem) with YOUR defective product and now you want me to spend MORE of my time? Even though I asked you all to send me a shipping envelope, or get the boxes picked up, right from the beginning?

Why don’t you come here and do that for me? All you have to do is fly here. My place is a brief taxi ride from the airport.

sd

—–

I do not understand how this phone problem ended up in my lap. I do not understand why they didn’t have a FedEx guy come pick it up. I do not understand why it became easier to let me keep the phones (I guess since they were defective it didn’t matter to them.). It certainly makes me seriously question if I would ever purchase a Plantronics product again.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/carolehayes Carole Harris Hayes

    I’ll never understand companies who are THIS clueless about good customer service.  I just tagged them on Twitter to let them know I won’t be buying phones from them because of your post.  Thanks for the warning!  

    • Anonymous

      Except for sending a refurbished phone instead of a new phone the first time, I think the company’s customer service hit the major points correctly. The first tech immediately identified the problem and offered to send the customer a replacement, the supervisor spent a couple hours with the customer at the customer’s request even though the tech already covered it, and the company was generous enough to rush out replacement phones before getting the old ones back. I suspect they don’t care about getting the old phones back any more and really wish this woman would just stop bugging them.

      • Anonymous

        i’ve had several such exchanges with plantronics–both as an employee and via personal purchase. in spite of the fact that i like using their hands-free products very much, they seem to break rather consistently, and almost immediately–they convinced me, for long enough, that buying the next better phone would make a difference. they have few competitors, and thus get away with the shoddy act of replacing new merchandise with refurbished–unless the customer notices. they’ve done this to me, so this is my last plantronics phone. THIS is why they will want their merchandise back–so they can fob it off on another unsuspecting customer.

        if one digs around enough on the internet, they can find many plantronics customers complaining about their shoddy customer service. granted, there are glowing reviews about their products, too, but the pity is if you have to deal with them following the sale for any reason.

      • Anonymous

        i’ve had several such exchanges with plantronics–both as an employee and via personal purchase. in spite of the fact that i like using their hands-free products very much, they seem to break rather consistently, and almost immediately–they convinced me, for long enough, that buying the next better phone would make a difference. they have few competitors, and thus get away with the shoddy act of replacing new merchandise with refurbished–unless the customer notices. they’ve done this to me, so this is my last plantronics phone. THIS is why they will want their merchandise back–so they can fob it off on another unsuspecting customer.

        if one digs around enough on the internet, they can find many plantronics customers complaining about their shoddy customer service. granted, there are glowing reviews about their products, too, but the pity is if you have to deal with them following the sale for any reason.

  • Matthew Miller

    Welcome to the world of 21st Century Customer Service. Companies nowadays have absolutely no clue that they actually work for their customers. I won’t go into too much detail but I’ve had so many companies recently making their problem my problem, refusing to do the right thing and acting like I’m the one out of line. The most recent, Alamo Rent-A-Car, charged me for damage to a rental vehicle when the damage did not occur when I had the vehicle. After weeks of trying to get ANYONE from Alamo or Enterprise Holdings (the parent company) to talk to me about the problems, they finally said I wouldn’t be held responsible. Their solution to the entire more-than-month-long hassle? They’ll provide feedback to the employees involved. –Natch– great.

    • http://sharondrewmorgen.com sharondrew

      DISQUS

  • http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit Dave Lieberman

    I’m confused by this. You complained that you didn’t want to just be told to exchange the phone, so you volunteered to spend time trying to fix it—which didn’t work, and you then complained about it. They sent you a refurbished phone, which I absolutely agree with you on—that should have been a new phone. I find the business of “we don’t ship out new phones to replace broken new phones” to be total bollocks.

    They screwed up and sent you an incorrect number of RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) labels. This was their fault and they should have sent you the additional label for the second broken phone, but I’m confused by your assertion that you don’t have time to pack it up and return it.

    As an entrepreneur I am sure you send things by FedEx (or UPS) routinely. How is it possible that you don’t know you can call FedEx or UPS for a pickup and leave the box outside the door (or ask them to come inside for pickup)? My mail delivery person picks up my mail all the time, packages and all, from my home mailbox.

    If you are actually so busy that neither you nor anyone around you can pack up two phones into the boxes they came in and add a pre-printed label that requires nothing more than making sure it’s arranged legibly on the box, then you should hire a personal assistant to take care of these and the other five hundred matters a day that you probably also don’t have time for. The company’s responsibility is to provide you with a product that works; your responsibility is to return the product that doesn’t work.

    • Patrick

      I’m also confused by the assertion that the OP had no time to do the return, yet they had time to spend arguing via email.  

      In the time it took to write the emails, I could easily have found a box, packing tape, and packaged the order.  Yes, the company didn’t offer excellent service, but as a customer, you need to cooperate as well, in order to reach a reasonable resolution.  Digging your heels in and being as stubborn as an ornery mule does NOTHING to help you.

    • Dan Shahata

      Agreed Dave.  I have never seen a company that will send a FedEx Driver out to your business to pick up something.  In fact it makes no sense since you know your own hours of operation, not them. It’s up to the person with the stuff to be shipped to call the shipping company.  The shipping was paid for so all you had to do was get any box put the phones in it and then stick the prepaid waybill on it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IKVVNPKPMBDXQJDAIREAS5IQLM Mike

      You nailed it Dave, clarified the issue and reached a good conclusion, should have been a judge!

      Especially when you buy a fast-moving consumer item, you take the risk that it may be defective, and you will have to put time and maybe gasoline into returning it. That’s the way the world works today.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IKVVNPKPMBDXQJDAIREAS5IQLM Mike

    You nailed it Dave, clarified the issue and reached a good conclusion, should have been a judge!

    Especially when you buy a fast-moving consumer item, you take the risk that it may be defective, and you will have to put time and maybe gasoline into returning it. That’s the way the world works today.

  • kojak

    I am also having an issue with Plantronics. I purchased the voyager legend about 6 months ago from best buy. I was very happy with it until recently I would use it after a full charge to make 1 short call and then I turn it off, when I use it again later in the day it says the battery is dead and needs to be recharged . I tried a few things like resetting the headset and when that didn’t work I got out the receipt and called Plantronics for a warranty claim. They sent me a refurbished headset and an email saying that I need to return the defective device at my expense. I find this lack of customer service crazy since I spent 100.00 on this headset that was brand new, only to receive a refurbished headset that will probably break sooner than the new one. Then to suggest I pay for shipping. I will not pay a dime for Shipping. I am not the maker of the faulty product and to make a customer responsible for paying shipping cost to return their defective product is insulting. They make it sound as they have done us a favor by paying to ship the new device to me at their cost and it’s the least I can do to pay for the return shipping. Not going to happen. I have a message for Plantronics. I will no longer purchase any products from your company. I will not return the defective headset until you send a prepaid return label. If you don’t send the prepaid return label you will not get the defective headset back. I urge anyone else to do the same . We as consumers need to take a stand and demand better customer service. Perhaps if the company did a better job of making the headset correctly in the beginning they would have less shipping cost to pay for. The next time I need a Bluetooth headset I will spend the.extra money and buy a bose.