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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Good and Bad

I've been whining a lot about customer service lately, and I recently encountered two excellent examples of what to do, and what not to do.

First, the good.

I had some problems with a newly purchased lock from MasterLock.  The model in question is at the right of the photo.  I e-mailed the company.  It offered a few suggestions.  They didn't work.  I told the company.  It mailed me a replacement.  Free.  No questions asked.  Nice!  I was impressed.  Now, that's good customer service.

That brings us to the bad.

Even though MasterLock didn't want my troublesome lock returned, I decided to mail it back, anyway.  In a letter to the company, I said perhaps they could fix it and sell it as refurbished, or use it for testing.

There are options for sending packages, even small ones.  I'm sure FedEx and UPS would have appreciated my business.  Both are more than competent.  As noted here in the past, FedEx is lousy at dealing with the news media, but they do know how to get things from one point to another.

I chose the dependable United States Postal Service.

I arrived at the Stafford Avenue, Scranton location about 11:45 AM Thursday, and was greeted by a long line.  I wasn't surprised.  This is a big post office, and it's always busy.  Unfortunately, there was just one employee to handle the crush.  One!  The woman said her co-worker was on break, and she was really trying her best.  Her efficiency was impressive.  Still, the number of people waiting was overwhelming.  A man applying for a passport was mucking up the works.  It wasn't his fault.

When it was my turn, I paid for shipping the lock back to the manufacturer, and I paid.  The worker opens the cash drawer, and she was out of change!  What should have been a quick and easy transaction turned in to a frustration filled and needless time consuming odyssey.

The one worker on duty here was not to blame.  Unfortunately, she works in a broken system and one that's designed to fail.  Did it occur to the Postal Service that Christmas is coming and post offices are getting busy?   In fact, many of the people in line before me were buying Christmas stamps.  The government has closed several post offices, so that puts pressure on the ones that remain.  Think it would be a good idea to have more people on customer service?

Postal Service executives blame e-mail and private package shipping companies for their problems.  As Shakespeare once wrote, The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Next time I have a package to ship, I'll consider using someone other than the United States Postal Service.