Two Recent Consumer Experiences

I wrote several blog posts recently about organizational transformation efforts at Zappos.Com. I figured I should check out their customer service so I ordered a pair of casual shoes. I really liked the shoes and wore them often for about 10 weeks. But when I turned them over I saw that the heels of each were coming apart.

The online instructions were clear and easy to follow. I boxed the shoes up and sent them—postage free–off to Zappos. Two days later, I received a cheery email telling me that the package had survived its travels and that my credit card was credited the full amount of the shoes.

A typical customer service email from Zappos:

Hello Tom, Thank you for contacting the Zappos.com Customer Loyalty Team. My name is Lui, the Comics Guy, and I’m happy to help you today. On behalf of the whole Zappos family, you are very welcome! We like to consider ourselves more of a service company that happens to sell different products. It is our goal to give you the best shopping experience you can find. We are happy that you are happy! Thank you for being an awesome customer and taking the time out of your day to share your kind words with us. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or Super Villains that need stomping! For now, I must go back to my secret hideout, to keep watch over everyone, protecting them from evil-doers and delivering happiness to all the citizens of Zappos City! Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you, we’re here 24/7. Have a super day!

I will visit Zappos.Com again.

About the same time, I ordered a $1.00 look at my credit report at Experian.com. The process went well and I got my look at my credit report. My credit card was charged appropriately. I liked our transaction. A week later, I noticed a charge for $21.95 from Experian for a “credit tracker.”   I hadn’t knowingly ordered anything from Experian.

I went back to Experian.com and found the fine print—right under the link (above the link would be a better place for consumers) I clicked to order the $1.00 credit review. I had unwittingly become a trial member in something and had a week to cancel my online order or I would be charged $21.95 each month for my permanent membership.

Perhaps this is just an example of buyer beware. Technically I had ordered the product and Experian had provided it to me. Maybe I should just chalk it up to experience and be more careful reading the fine print. But I felt scammed: the fine print was in a small font and it was easy for my eye to miss it as my attention focused on the large link pointing to get your credit report and FICO score. Once I clicked, I moved to another page. In hindsight, I was also suspicious about not receiving any information during the trial week. When you join up with something on the Internet, you always get a ton of emails telling you about your new product. But not this time. I imagined they didn’t want to alert consumers that they had become members of something for fear they would realize their mistake and cancel. But they were sure quick to bill me $21.95 as soon as the “free trial” expired.  I wasn’t alone: I found hundreds of complaints about the same issue at http://www.consumeraffairs.com/privacy/experian.html

My wife and I had to search the Internet to find an email for Experian customer service (from a site that helps people cancel services with Experian). I wrote and cancelled my membership. I also asked that my credit card be credited for the purchase I had not wanted, didn’t know I had made and hadn’t ever seen. They didn’t reverse the charge. What reputable company would not immediately refund the price of a minor product purchased in error by an unwitting customer who didn’t want or even receive the product? Only a company who wants the $21.95 more than they want a relationship with the customer.

Experian violated our new relationship.

I disputed the charge with my bank and asked if I could block Experian from making charges to my account—as I don’t trust them to cancel my membership in whatever club I had joined.

I like to be treated with respect; I don’t like to be treated with disdain. I will be saying nice things about Zappos for a long time and I will buy from them again soon. I will be warning others about Experian. I will not do business with them again.

My letters to the Better Business Bureau and to the Minnesota Attorney General are ready to go into the mail.

We do what we can.

7 thoughts on “Two Recent Consumer Experiences

  1. I’m glad to hear that you had a good experience with Zappos; I’ve been a loyal customer of theirs for years and am relieved that their legendary customer service doesn’t seem to be suffering in spite of Tony Hsieh’s bizarre memos and “reorg” efforts.

      • Well, it looks like they certainly have made a fan of YOU! That’s wonderful.
        I also like your observation that customer service is a relationship — and like other human relationships, it’s the little things that either make them stronger, or strain and eventually break them. That’s why I think Zappos may survive, while Amazon — with its indifferent packing methods and nonexistent customer service — may eventually go downhill. Anyway, thank you for another great and thought-provoking read!

  2. Thank you for the good review on Zappos, a company I’ve not used but will now consider.  I agree that the Experian experience is not unique to them.  This goes on all the time.  I recently wrote my “representative” who is a Republican about a bill they put to a vote in the House regarding the CFPB.  He states he is all for protecting the rights of consumers but the CFPB does not have any oversight therefore he coauthored a bill put forth by a TX Repub to repeal the CFPB.  This is how they want to protect consumers financial interests?  I doubt they carefully edited what was said in this letter or they would have realized how insanely idiotic it was.  They don’t fix anything.  They break everything, yell that it’s broken and their solution is not to fix it and make it work better for the people, they just want to repeal it, which is their ultimate goal anyway.  Some day these people will wake up and realize what they’ve done, not only to use, but to themselves and their children and grandchildren. Sorry for the rant, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.  🙂 Judy From: Tom’s Thoughts To: spiritwalker63@sbcglobal.net Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 9:03 AM Subject: [New post] Two Recent Consumer Experiences #yiv6304799043 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6304799043 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6304799043 a.yiv6304799043primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6304799043 a.yiv6304799043primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6304799043 a.yiv6304799043primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6304799043 a.yiv6304799043primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6304799043 WordPress.comg the r | Tom Heuerman posted: “I wrote several blog posts recently about organizational transformation efforts at Zappos.Com. I figured I should check out their customer service so I ordered a pair of casual shoes. I really liked the shoes and wore them often for about 10 weeks. But wh” | |

  3. I had the same experience with a credit reporting “service” and didn’t realize my charge card was being docked until after 3 months! Now I look for anything that says I’m also signing up for an additional “service.” I too will be visiting Zappos — looks like they’d figure out it doesn’t make good business sense to trick people and to practice the Golden Rule.

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