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:
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.