What's the best way to complain about rotten customer service and is it worth it?
August 5, 2004 7:59 AM   Subscribe

I want to complain to a company about rotten customer support. How do I do it and is it worth doing? [more inside]

Here's the sad story. (Skip to the next paragraph if you don't care about the particular details of my issue.) I bought an Apex brand 27" flat screen TV (it was cheap and the nicest looking one at Best Buy.) I had it 43 days and it died on me. I didn't buy the extended warranty thing at Best Buy so I'm dealing with the company because I'm over my 30 day return time. The Apex customer support phone line is constantly either busy or there's an hour+ wait. Sometimes when you wait for 45 minutes and get to #4 in the queue it just hangs up on you. Sometimes when you wait the hour and get through to an annoyed sounding customer support woman, she takes down your name and phone number, listens to your problem, asks to put you on hold and then after waiting for 10 minutes the line drops on you. The closest I've come to an actual solution is being told they're totally going to find me a local service center (I'm in Canada, which I guess complicates things) to drop this TV off at and they're totally going to call me with the location within X number of days, and they just plum don't call. Then, like, today, I have to spend 2-3 hours of my life trying to get through the phone line again just to be told the same thing.

I'm a pretty laid back guy and I'm not much of a "demand to get the manager on the phone" type of person. But I've dealt with customer support with lots of other broken things I've owned and I've never had as annoying and as time consuming an experience as this. I'm not too big on the idea of reaming some poor slob out over the phone (also I'm not sure how good I'd be at it), but right now I'm feeling like I'd be a tremendous wimp if I just suck this up and don't register some sort of complaint to let the company now how crappy one of their customers is being/has been treated. But who do I complain to? Is there a department for serious thoughtful non-crank complaints? And is there any point or are they just gonna chuck it in the garbage? I'd love to hear people's advice and experiences.
posted by frenetic to Human Relations (10 answers total)
If yelling at a manager is not your thing you could write letters to Apex execs outlining your problem (with the product, and customer service) and see if you can get a response that way.

Apex Digital Inc.
2919 E. Philadelphia St.
Ontario, CA 91761

Chairman - David Ji
President - Stephen (Steve) Brothers
SVP Sales and Marketing - Gary Bennett

I have a couple of Apex products myself (although, never had to deal with customer service *knocks on wood*), cheap and and fairly decent quality. But I guess the old adage applies to their customer service, you get what you pay for.
posted by mhaw at 8:12 AM on August 5, 2004

Call their sales line.

I recently tried to cancel my cable service. I'd navigate their phone menus and select cancel my service, only to be told that all representatives were busy and I should leave my name and number.

That was a new one for me. But I left it, and waited a few days. Nothing. Called back, left another message. Nothing. Repeated a few times.

Then I called and selected "I want to start a new service." Wouldn't you know it? Less than 30 seconds later I get a chipper salesperson who I can fucking yell at.

Goddamn Comcast pricks.
posted by callmejay at 8:14 AM on August 5, 2004

Apex is pretty much the apex (acme? zenith?) of "low-end", no? I'm not surprised their customer service leaves something to be desired.

If you are not overly concerned with scruples, you could convince someone you know thay they need a 27" flat screen Apex tv, have them buy it and give you the receipt, box, etc and then you return your non-working one to Best Buy for a new one.
posted by Capn at 8:15 AM on August 5, 2004

1. Customer service isn't going to solve your problem. They just take your call and then pass the buck. So when they say they'll call you back, they don't mean themselves and have no idea when it will get done or what will be done.

2. Unless it's a major screw-up, nothing will be done, even if you write to the president of the company. A lot of times, letters to the president or CEO end up in the hands of a customer service rep. However, ask for a supervisor if your issue is not being resolved. They might not be able to fix it either, but they'll give you the straight poop at least.

3. Calling any number just to be able to talk to someone is not cool. I work in customer service and get people who call me all upset and scream at me just because this was the only number they can get through on. Well, I usually can't help them (I'm an order desk: no tech support) and they've wasted their time. Granted you can often get a number to call, but you probably already have it. 9 times out of 10, when someone calls me because they couldn't get through on the line they were supposed to call, I send them right back there because that's the only option I have.

4. Avoid peak call times. Where I work, we're open 24 hours, but very few places are like that. Try really early in the morning or around 3-5PM Central time. 5-8PM tends to be peak times. I speak for my own company, but I would imagine this carries over to other companies.

In sum, call the right number and ask for a supervisor if you want the issue resolved.
posted by MrAnonymous at 9:55 AM on August 5, 2004

I was totally expecting this to be about Verizon.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

Get the part of the warrenty they're not honoring. If you have a lawyer friend all he has to do is write a simple letter with a lawyer letterhead outlining the warrrenty and how you want services done immediately.

This will get things done FAST. If this is not an option, try the BBB and get them to put on the heat. From what I understand the BBB is really quite effective at such things.
posted by geoff. at 10:03 AM on August 5, 2004

I'll second MrAnonymous's advice about avoiding peak hours, not calling the wrong department just to get someone on the phone, and especially asking for a supervisor. I worked internet tech support for a year, and from what I saw, the first person you talk to in any department is essentially cannon fodder. There are some intelligent, hardworking people there, but only because it's a stepping stone to supervisory or second-tier support positions. The company trains them to handle the most common problems, hands them some phone scripts, and walks away. If your problem falls outside the norm, you need to talk to someone higher up.

Oh--and no, writing a letter to the CEO or whatever isn't likely to help, unless you can guarantee somehow that it will get directly to him or her. If it's screened by an employee, as it almost certainly will be, you're back to square one.
posted by Acetylene at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2004

I'm not sure how much asking for a supervisor helps. When I worked customer service for a cell phone company (not Verizon) I was part of a group of about six people, still considered first level, and we took escalated calls from the rest of the first level reps. We were all authorized to say we were supervisors or managers. If someone asked to talk to my manager when I was pretending to be one, I just transferred them to another rep in my group (to be fair, we were supposed to try to solve the problem and not just give people the runaround.) And it wasn't even so much that the first level reps couldn't solve the problem, it's just that sometimes people would call in and insist to talk to someone else right off the bat.

What I can tell you is one time a customer worked his way through all six people in my group, four actual managers, the customer service manager, and eventually ended up talking to the president. Persistence pays.
posted by Cyrano at 10:56 AM on August 5, 2004

Best Buy might still sell you the extended warranty - Circuit City sold us one after 9 months.
posted by theora55 at 6:14 PM on August 5, 2004

Response by poster: Update/closure: still got nowhere with the manufacturer, they were amazingly awful. Eventually some lady at Best Buy who I was calling to ask about buying the service plan told me she couldn't sell me one (as it was 30 days past the purchase date), but to drag my TV back into the store and that they'd deal with shipping it off to Apex if it's still under manufacturer's warranty.

I went to Best Buy and the general manager (who happened to be at the door when I came in) was friendly and polite and nice to deal with. He told me there'd be a $40 shipping fee for Best Buy to ship the TV to the manufacturer for service, but for $69 he'd sell me the extended service plan even though the TV was over two months old.

I went for that and walked out of there minus $69, but with a new TV and three years of coverage. At least it's over. Thanks for everyone's suggestions.
posted by frenetic at 10:23 AM on August 11, 2004

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