Can you tell your right hand from your left? I can, and so can Sparkly. We’re organised people, ones who communicate our needs very clearly to others. When ordering some new modular seating recently, in a furniture retail outlet called Harveys, we even went to the lengths of cutting up the store’s own photographs of the different sections needed to suit the layout of our new home. We gave the assembled montage to the helpful member of staff on duty, who had no trouble at all translating our request onto the corporate ordering system.
Like many British goods these days, the store displays seating assembled from components manufactured in China. But we discovered this about ours only after it had been delivered, following a wait of some fifteen or so weeks. We were very disappointed to find that it did not fit the space we had so carefully measured. In fact, it had assembled completely the wrong way round. It was actually a back-to-front version of what we had planned.
After Sparkly’s trademark assertive telephone complaints, it was established that yes, indeed, it had been made reversed left to right. We found later we had not been the only customers who had suffered from this error. Some of Harveys staff had had to visit the factory in China which produces the goods. It was a really basic communication error: the British staff plan their furniture when looking at it from the front, while their Chinese counterparts view things from behind. Hey Presto! In the blink of an eye, right became left, left was flipped into right. The real magic was in being told by one of the two delivery drivers that the warehouse wouldn’t listen to him when he told them the order was missing a piece, which then had to be brought separately the following day by two more employees.
You could say, in this case, that two Wongs didn’t make a right. Anyway, it’s back to the drawing board for Sparkly and me. We’ve refused to buy the unfit furniture. It’s going back to the store, but only after we’ve had our money back – and then some. Their first “cash incentive" offer to stay loyal was £50. On a £2200 spend, that’s little short of an insult. How much were those air fares to China, eh? Well then, we’ve declined their offer to re-order, which would have involved us waiting until the end of August before we could see if they were capable of putting things right. From the comments on the Internet I’ve read about other customers who’ve lost faith in Harveys ability to deliver the right stuff, I’m not prepared to waste my summer sitting on packing crates just to find out.
Sparkly’s hot on the compensation trail now. She’s lost two days annual leave, plus a cancelled hair appointment (extremely bad news for a smart PR professional like her), not to mention the phone calls and wasted car fuel. All of which leaves me in no doubt at all that it’s going to be woe betide anyone who hinders her path to complete and speedy customer satisfaction.
Me? I'm off to buy a pair of left-handed scissors, especially for our next interior design project.