Customer Care Experience : Part 1

Setting the Scene

Do you ever consider the reputation of the customer service department before buying a product? Hopefully you’ll never need them but, as I recently discovered, even a premium brand doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive a premium after-sales service.

I’m sure that, as consumers, we have all experienced less than satisfactory products and services. Personally, sometimes I can live with a defect but on other occasions I know that over time it will start to grate with me and I will regret not making a complaint. On other much rarer occasions I let my principles get the better of my emotions when it would just be easier to write off a grievance that isn’t being correctly handled by a customer service department.

It was one such genuine grievance that I recently had that has led to me starting this blog in the hope that my story may offer some information or assistance to somebody dealing with poor customer service. If not, well at least I can let off some steam without hassling my wife about it. Yet again. And that’s another thing. If you can be bothered to pursue such a complaint or grievance, be prepared for the whole experience to consume you and your time in the event that you may be dealing with a particularly obstinate company or representative.

Two and a half years ago i purchased a top of the range mobile phone from an online phone specialist, mobilephonesdirect.co.uk. I bought a Sony Xperia Z which, for just shy of two and a half years, was reliable and excellent for my needs. I was in no hurry to replace it but, realising that the battery in particular could give out over the coming months, I had recently started to consider what I might replace it with. Not long after I’d started to look around at the latest handsets I decided to take the Xperia Z with me to the local swimming pool to photograph my baby daughter, who I was taking to one of her first swimming classes. Seeing as all of the handset capabilities had worked flawlessly since i bought it I was confident that the waterproofing would also be reliable, especially since I had looked after my device. In fact a few months earlier I had replaced the sealing flap that covers the micro USB port where the seal had obviously perished and I was absolutely paranoid about ensuring that all port flaps were firmly closed before I entered the pool.

I had my phone switched on, ports closed and in a closed pocket on the leg of my swimming shorts. I passed my daughter down to my wife who was in the pool already and then I descended slowly into the shallow end via the pool ladder. As soon as I was in the pool I reached for my phone, extracting it from my pocket and up through no more than half a meter of water  where I tried to illuminate the screen without success. It was dead. Already. In case you are not familiar with the handset and are wondering, Sony claim that this model is water-resistant to 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.

I was annoyed that my trusty phone had died due to a failure of the water-resistance but moreover I was upset that I wouldn’t now be creating the images of my little girl’s early swimming experience. I was confident that the device failure shouldn’t have occurred, that I’d done everything correctly within the limits set out in marketing and the manual, so I was sure that being a premium device from a premium brand I would be well looked after. Little did I know that in fact Sony’s Xperia UK team was about to deliver me some of the worst customer service that I’ve ever experienced…

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