The following story is a satirical dramatization of my worst customer service experiences ever. In the history of ever. Pretend for a moment, my year-old toaster just ain’t what it used to be. The low-medium setting produces golden brown side, while the other comes out charred black, featuring sketchy silhouettes of B-movie actors and the members of the local city council.
Having registered my product with the manufacturer on the date of purchase, I should receive full coverage under the manufacturer’s limited warranty, which most certainly covers hardware failure resulting in an asymmetrical breakfast.
The Worst Ever
ACME: Thanks for calling ACME Toasters, this is Connie. How may I provide you with the utmost in satisfaction today?
I EXPLAIN MY TOAST PROBLEMS
ACME: Why, yes sir, the limited manufacturer’s warranty will most certainly cover asymmetry such as you’ve described. Let me go ahead and look up your account information. Your name, sir?
PERSONAL INFORMATION EXCHANGED
ACME: Ok, and here we go. It appears your warranty expired two days ago, but we can still help you out with that. Just one moment, sir.
ME: Sure, no problem
ACME: Ok, sir. We’ll need you to ship the toaster to our RMA center in Dubuque, Iowa; where it will inspected and diagnosed. Unfortunately, this particular problem comes up more than we’d like to admit; it’s probably the heating element.
ACME: To repair this, we need to remove three perishable screws (part #1Z774X), one occlusal eclipsing crescent spring (part #2P367A), and one iron-clad colosso heating element (part #7R220M).
ME: Um, excuse me?
ACME: Yes, sir?
ME: What exactly is a perishable screw?
ACME: Oh, it’s a machine-molded, non-renewable, comfort-fit fastener specially made to create efficiencies and economies of scale in small-to-medium, countertop appliance manufacturing.
ME: Come, again?
ACME: It’s a machine-molded…
ME: No, I got that. Basically, it’s a disposable screw. Anyway, you were saying: disposable screws, hammer-and-sickle spring, and a colosso heater. What else?
ACME: Sir, I’m sensing a little frustration and would to apologize for any shortcomings on my part. I assure, you, I’m here to help. And, as I said, we can still help you with those out-of-warranty repairs.
ME: I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right. I’m frustrated with the process, not with you. Please continue.
ACME: Ok. Thank you for your patience, sir. Now, the work order will include delivery of a postage paid return label and RMA claim to your home address, or any other convenient location.
You’ll need to provide a shipping container, though. The original box is ideal, but people rarely hang on to those.
ME: Actually, I’m a bit of a neatnik. I break down those boxes and store them in the garage. I still move around a bit for work, and I’ve found it much easier to just keep those boxes around.
ACME: Oh my gosh! Me and my boyfriend do the same thing. Besides the convenience, moving boxes are just so expensive!
ME: Don’t I know it?!?
ACME: Ok, so we have the return label; intake and processing in Dubuque; diagnosis and repair. Oh, and return shipping of course.
Just a couple things and we’re set to go. I’ll need you to confirm your mailing address and daytime phone number.
PERSONAL INFORMATION CONFIRMED
ACME: Ok, got. it. And just one last thing before we get you back on the road to golden brown. We just need a credit card number as we don’t currently have one on file.
ME: A credit card?
ACME: Yes, sir. Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. You can even use PayPal. That’s a new customer benefit we added this year. To cover the charges for parts, intake and processing, diagnosis, repair, and return shipping.
ME: You’re joking, right?
ACME: No, sir.
ME: So, I’m expected to pay for all of this, then. Correct?
ACME: Yes, sir. These are the standard charges for Premier-Elite Out-of-Warranty Support.
ME: Wow! When you said you could still help, you gave the distinct impression it would be treated as though it were still under warranty.
ACME: Oh, no sir. I apologize if you misunderstood. But, sentence four, deeds and disclaimers of the manufacturer’s limited warranty states: Upon lapse of the herein implied, non-binding, limited warranty; customers with registered products will be automatically extended lifelong membership into Premier-Elite Out-of-Warranty Support with all privileges stated or implied.
ME: Of course. And just what are the privileges – stated or implied?
ACME: The terms of membership, benefits, and privileges are all detailed in the transition brochure you should be receiving by postal mail in 3-8 weeks.
ME: Naturally, I’ll make the assumption these terms are not favorable to me.
ACME: Sir? I’m sorry, sir.
ME: No, no. Not your fault.
ACME: Your credit card, sir? If I can get that number, we’ll get you right back on the path to golden brown!
ME: Absolutely not. I’m beyond frustrated now. It feels like I’ve been lied to. No way am I paying for this. Out of curiousity, though, what’s the tally?
ACME: That would be $41.27.
ME: Well, what do you know? That seems almost reasonable.
ACME: May I remind you, sir, that your Premier-Elite membership entitles you to the Premier-Elite Return Shipping Advantage.
ME: Return shipping is already part of the bill, right? What’s the â€œadvantageâ€?
ACME: With no fees in addition to the actual shipping cost, you may select your preferred shipping method as well as the shipping priority.
ME: You don’t say? What if I want USPS Three-Day Select?
ACME: Not a problem.
ME: Fed 1st Overnight?
ME: Fantastic. What if I can’t make up my mind, what with all these fantastic choices?
ACME: Well, sir. Standard shipping is UPS Ground, which should arrive in 11-14 business days.
ME: Lovely. Now, let me see I have this all in order: assuming ground shipping, I can pay you $41.27 to repair my $85 toaster. Let’s assume the return label arrives in four business days with initial shipping to Dubuque…oh, via UPS Ground, yeah?
ACME: Yes, sir.
ACME: Ok, 15 days from now, my toaster arrives in Dubuque. 3-5 days for repair?
ACME: Yes, sir.
ME: Another 11-14 business days for return shipping. All told, I’m looking at 30 business days, or six weeks, without a toaster. Let’s consider the economic impact.
30 days of retail toast @ $3.25 plus $2.25 for the bottomless coffee plus tax and tip. That’s approximately $7.00 per day in replacement cost, totaling out at $210, which does not account for weekends. With $200, I could upgrade the toaster I already have. Today.
ACME: Sir, I think I understand your frustration, but I am bound by the terms of the warranty.
ME: Of course. Your hands are tied! There’s nothing you can do! Whatever!!
ACME: Actually, sir. There is one other possibility. Would you give one last chance to offer you the utmost in customer satisfaction?
ME: Let’s see. I’m already late, pissed off, and curious for all the wrong reasons. What the heck!?!
ACME: Excellent! Thank you, sir. I’m going to transfer you over to our new Warranty Recovery Team.
ACME: Warranty Recovery, this is Tristan. How may I provide the utmost in satisfaction today?
ME: Seriously? The utmost in satisfaction? Not likely.
ACME: I’m here to help, sir. Connie alerted me to your case and I’m reviewing your customer record now. Ok, I see. Another faulty heating element, eh? And, yup, Connie was right. You are, indeed, out of warranty. Not a problem, though, sir; we can still help you with that.
ME: Oh, really? Do tell.
ACME: Sure thing. As a Premier-Elite Out-of-Warranty Support member you’re eligible for 10% off the annual subscription to the Platinum-Onyx InPerpity Support program with a five-year legacy auto-renewal clause included. This will extend the terms of the original warranty for 12 consecutive months from the data of manufacture.
ME: Date of manufacture, you said? Not registration date, or date purchase?
ACME: Absolutely correct, sir. Or, you’re also eligible for a 25% discount on a subscription to Lifetime Diamond Mark VII support, which extends your original warranty with a variable 90/10 coverage umbrella.
ME: 90/10, eh?
ACME: Yes, you’re 90% covered on weekdays with a standard-practice 10% coverage rate on weekends, holidays, and the first day of every month.
ME: Wow. Just wow.
ACME: Indeed. So, let me help you understand the rates for these great discounted warranty programs
ME: Yes. Help…I want help.
ACME: Then I’m your man, sir! As I said, the Premier-Elite rate for…
ACME: Sir? The rates, sir.
ACME: Sir? Have I provided you with the utmost in satisfaction today?