This past January I was shopping for some boxed birthday cards at Ross, a national chain discount clothing and household goods store. I’ve always liked shopping at Ross and I’ve shopped in their stores for years. For some reason, I’ve had trouble finding boxed birthday cards I like these days, but I was able to get them at this particular location a few times before at a decent price. I shopped around the store for other items, especially in the fashion and household goods sections as I always do. When I went to the section where the boxed cards, photo albums and picture frames normally would be, the cards were not there. So I looked around the store and finally found them in another department.
For some reason, the boxed cards and stationery were placed in a bin that was somewhat over my eye level. I’m only 5’2″ and require a step stool for a lot of things. I have been known to call a taller shopper over and ask for help to reach something way over my head. But this time, it wasn’t too far up for me so I reached into the bin and started rummaging around. I saw a box of birthday cards and pulled it forward, but it was just the box and no cards were in it. As I withdrew my hand, I felt a sharp object slicing into it! I pulled my hand out and discovered a deep gash on the inside of my left hand under my little finger and boy, was I bleeding. Upon further inspection into the bin, a broken mirrored picture frame was the culprit that caused my rather painful and messy injury. I pulled the picture frame out of the bin and immediately went to the check out counter.
I didn’t have a tissue or anything in my purse to stop the bleeding (which I normally do) so I just put pressure on it. Both clerks were finishing checking out other customers when I approached the counter.
The cashier looked at me in horror when she saw all the blood. I handed her the broken picture frame and showed her the cut. She immediately turned around and called for the customer service clerk, who came over to look. With the same look of horror on her face, she dug in a drawer for a Band Aid and called the store manager over the speaker system.
The manager, a really young guy who looked a few years out of high school at best, came from the back of the store but never approached me. He went to the customer service clerk, mumbled something then went back where he came from. He came out with a wet brown paper towel and a Band Aid, handed it to the customer service clerk and then walked off. Well, I was bleeding a lot more than that would handle. I asked the clerk and the cashier if they could at least give me some antibiotic cream, an alcohol wipe and a few more Band Aids. She called the manager again and he came back with an alcohol wipe and one more Band Aid. He turned around and left, never to return. Never even looked my way. What was it with the doling out of Band Aids one by one??? Why couldn’t he at least look at me, see what happened and talk to me??? No cream either. No explanation. Another customer behind me who witnessed what was going on just shook her head and said I should call upper management. She wished me luck and left the store. The clerk said the manager should have taken a report. He didn’t. She and the cashier helped me put the two Band Aids on after I cleaned the wound. They both looked embarrassed and apologized profusely. They seemed really hesitant too, as if they were a bit afraid to confront the manager. Maybe they hadn’t had good experiences with him in the past… But I decided not to satisfy my curiosity about that bit of workplace drama. The customer service clerk took my name and phone number just in case the manager wanted to discuss this with me. He never used the information.
I couldn’t believe how this manager treated me! I shop at Ross stores all the time! I knew I had to do something that would have some real impact that I’ve done before.
When I got home and my hand stopped bleeding and aching, I got on my computer, used my trusted search engine and found the name of the Ross store chain’s CEO and the address of their main corporate office. I took pictures of my wound with my trusted constant companion, my beloved iPhone, and began to write a letter to the CEO describing exactly what happened with dates, times and the names of the employees involved. I didn’t rant though. I was ultra professional but I let it be known that customers should never ever be treated this way by management, especially when there was an injury involved with its fair share of blood, pain and witnesses. I printed the letter and pictures and sent everything by certified mail with return receipt.
A few days later I received my return receipt. Good, I thought, they got it. A few weeks later I received a nice letter of apology back from the vice president in charge of customer service and a $50 gift card, to “encourage me to continue shopping in their stores”. I was given the name and phone number of an upper management customer service person, for of course, my complaint had been escalated. I haven’t called yet, but I will. I wonder what happened to that manager who ignored me? I need to go back to see.
Another time when my son was younger, and he slipped and fell on a slick floor and hit right under his left eye on a sharp edged fixture at Old Navy, the employees went into high alert mode, scrambled to get medical supplies and medical help. They took an incident report, paid for the urgent care visit and actually followed up with a phone call to see how he and I were doing. Once again, a letter and a copy of the urgent care report, the incident report, pictures of the floor, fixture and my son’s cut went out to the company’s CEO. They also sent a nice letter of apology, but the gift was much better: Five $50 gift cards!!! Boy, did we have a great time shopping with those, especially at the clearance sales! I even gave a couple away as Christmas gifts, since they never expire!
Here’s another one. I sent a package from a UPS shipping center internationally by second day air, but it didn’t get to its destination at all. I didn’t know where it actually went for seven days. I called different places in the destination country daily to see if it had been received, and it ended up not at the delivery address, but at a holding center an hour and a half away. After writing the CEO, I received a reimbursement check for the postage and two $25 phone cards to reimburse me for all the international calls I made to find the package.
So I say don’t be mad, get to your computer and start writing about it. These companies want your business, especially in this competitive recovering economy. If you bring your way less than stellar customer service experience to the proper people to get their attention, they’ll do something to make it right. And if they don’t, you have every right never to give them a dime of your money again. That’s the beauty of being a consumer: you have choices.
Be sure to always intelligently communicate though, no matter how angry you are about it. Nobody pays attention to a crazy rant. Pictures always help. Also be sure to write down the names and position titles of everyone involved, and the street address of the store/place of business with the date and approximate time of the incident. Believe me, this helps. Send it registered with a return receipt. Any negative customer service experience you have deserves attention from management. They need to make it right for you. If you still aren’t satisfied, you have recourse. Go straight to the top! It really works!