November 16, 2004

Personal Responsibility

Ogre has a great post up regarding personal responsibility as a consumer. As soon as I started reading it got my attention.

He talks about a recent beer buying experience. After purchasing his nectar, he accidentally drops one of the bags and the top cracks on one bottle of beer. He chooses to pick it up and continue on. Someone suggests that he takes it back in and have the store give him a new 6 pack. Free. No Charge.

My manufacturer rep's head began spinning off of her shoulders. No No No!!

First - Thank you Ogre, for being honest and up front. Oh, if there were only more like you.

Second - it's wrong to make the store take back an item for any reason other than it being defective Period. End of Story.

Here's my take (buckle up boys, this may get nasty)

Every single day I deal with consumers. They call because they are unhappy. They call because the retailer they bought the bed from is not honoring the warrantee to the consumer's satisfaction and they want me to fix it and make everything right.

Well, they are barking up the wrong tree here. Let me give you a couple of examples.

When I worked beverage products, I actually had a retailer expect me to take back product that was close dated. (all consumable products have "use by" dates. If it's close to expiration, it's considered close dated). No. Hell no. I shipped it in with a 6 week lead time. You didn't sell it, that's your fault. So...they just sit on it till it past date and make me pick it up. They could have run a sale, they could have donated it to a charity. No...they screw me.

Yes, we do budget for some returns. It's a given. But not large quantities of money. Usually you plan on a 5% return rate (on perishables). But I promise you that many of the Big Wig Retailers will force you to eat a lot more than that. Many of them believe that the vendors should bear the burden of making the Retailer successful.

Now, let's talk mattresses.

I got news for you folks. Most of the major mattress manufactures DO NOT have comfort exchanges. Nope. None. You better lay your asses on those mattresses, take your time and get one that you like. Cause I'm not taking the sucker back just because it doesn't feel comfortable when you get it home. Now....consumers are on to that. So, they say there is something wrong with the mattresses. Then some poor smuck has to go out and inspect the bed and make a determination.

I've got to make a consumer call tomorrow that is just like that. They bought a mattress a year ago and the stitching came undone. THAT IS A WARRANTEE ISSUE. No problem. So VIA THE STORE THEY BOUGHT IT FROM they return the product and reselect a comparable mattress. Problem is we don't make the same beds we made last year, so we tell them what mattress is comparable. The new mattress is more expensive, but we don't ask that they pay the difference. (Costs go up, improvements are made) You get like for like. They don't care for the mattress that is comparable. They want a different bed. HOWEVER, they (and most of the other consumers I deal with) think they should be able to pick what ever they want and not pay a dime more for it.

For instance; you buy a queen size mattress 4 years ago, and pay $1500 for the set. Now it's got a bit of a sag issue and falls within the return guidelines. You've got $1500 credit to replace that mattress with. And let me tell you, every time a new line comes out the quality gets better. So you are getting a better mattress. While you look around, deciding what mattress you want as a replacement and you see the new top of the line model on the floor at $2200 for a set, I do not owe you the new Top of the Line at no additional cost. You gotta pay the difference.

I don't owe you any thing more than the credit for what you purchased. I'm not giving you a Jaguar when you purchased an Escort.

Nope. Not gonna happen. I will bust my ass to make a consumer happy. WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES. No product is perfect. They are designed by people, made by people and sold by people. HOWEVER, a manufacturer is responsible for standing by the quality of their product. And nothing more.

Another thing that happens is many time people see the new models come out and think they can complain and make enough calls about the mattress they bought a year or two ago, and by making enough noise, get a free new one. Do you realize the damage that happens when someone pulls something like that? They are kicking someone just like me right in the gut.

I just had a consumer send an email to our corporate office complaining about me. Saying I ignored them and wouldn't work with them. I got my ass chewed big time. (Huge understatement)

Wanna know the truth? The consumer was scamming. There was nothing wrong with their mattress. They had gone to the retailer, and been told that. So they called me. I told them the same thing. So they started up the chain. They called and emailed anyone they could at my company. Thinking someone would give them what they wanted to just make them go away. (Squeaky wheel theory) Well, it almost happened. They told me to make it go away. But I'm not a wimpy girl and stood up for what is right. I refused their return and am willing to go to court for it. I've got pictures of the mattress and am sticking by my guns. THAT RETURN WILL COME OUT OF MY PAY. I'm not into giving mattresses away folks.

If you return something from 3 years ago and a new one is issued, even though I never got paid for the old one, the new one is free to you, so I gotta pay. ME. TAMMI. Gotta tell you, that sucks wet socks.

So....this long ramble is just to give you a bit of an insight into what happens when someone just decides to let the retailer "eat it". It's not the retailer who pays. It's the road warrior.

Posted by Tammi at November 16, 2004 07:25 AM

Reminds me of the time I was working at Ford on the Customer Repair Hotlines.

The Customers bought new Ford Products, but bought aftermarket (re Not Ford) Extended Coverage Warranties. And of course this company, after raking in millions of dollars, went belly up.

Who did those Customers feel should honor their warranty? That's right Ford. They felt Ford should pay for all those after Manufacturer Warranty Repairs because they had Ford Vehicles.

Ford ended up agreeing to pay for 50% of any claims that came about during their Extended Warranty Coverage, going for Customer Service aspect hoping to get some Customer Loyalty out of them. Of course all the people did do was call and complain that Ford should be paying all of it since they had a Ford Product and it wasn't their fault the company they bought the aftermarket warranty from went out of business (the aftermarket warranty was cheaper than Ford's aftermarket warranty, so people went the cheaper route).

I mean really, you were cheap, bought from a small company to try and save money and ended up losing. Ford didn't even have to agree to pay for half, but they did.

Posted by: Machelle at November 16, 2004 08:39 AM

Another point is I think this is only going to get worse with the generation coming up now.

A lot of kids know no personnel reposnsibility, if your not raised with any you certainly won't have any when your an adult.

They will whine to try and get their way because that is what worked while growing up.

Posted by: Machelle at November 16, 2004 08:40 AM

That's the problem with the liberals blaming "corporations" they tend to think of a business as this big impersonal entity - it never is. All corporations are made up of people and somewhere along the line someone has to pay for the customer milking the system. It's not gonna be the CEO - unless the company fails - and maybe not even then! It's always going to be someone way down the corporate food chain who has to eat the cost... So, when the media or even people out on the net start talking about the "evil corporation", it makes me grind my teeth and want to smack them!

Posted by: Teresa at November 16, 2004 10:05 AM

The great thing about working my way through college delivering pizzas is that I could eat the returns.

That probably doesn't work so well with mattresses :-)

Posted by: Harvey at November 16, 2004 01:24 PM

When I worked as "Day Manager" at the Dairy Queen I got to take home all the mistakes. My family never loved me more.

As I use to say $4.10/hour and all the ice cream I could eat, now that is a wage.

Posted by: Machelle at November 16, 2004 02:18 PM

I've been reading Ogre for ages, and I always thought "he" was female. I'm shocked!

Posted by: Sally at November 16, 2004 06:02 PM

I cannot work with the public. I.just.can't. I am glad I'm in the field I'm in... but believe me, even jet engines have warranties. We had a group that would sit down once a year with our customer and all they'd do for days was haggle over what was in warranty and what was not... I thought it was the suckiest job in the company.

Posted by: Boudicca at November 16, 2004 09:08 PM

I really hate people. I could probably make millions if I went into sales -- I could sell ice cubes to Eskimos -- but I really hate dealing with people. Too many are too stupid and are always looking out for themselves at the expense of others.

A 4-year old mattress sagged and they called the manufacturer? I'd toss it in the trash without another thought -- it's 4 years old! Geez.

Now if there is a real problem, I'll call everyone in the company to get it fixed -- but there's so many other scam artists and idiots that clog the system, my real "complaint" never gets the attention it deserves. Oh well, I can't shoot everyone.

Posted by: Ogre at November 17, 2004 07:28 AM

I just shrank my new sweater. Granted it was only a few bucks...but I wasn't paying attention and I screwed up. I'm going to either have to buy another new one or go without.

Posted by: Da Goddess at November 19, 2004 11:58 PM