Sunday, January 08, 2006

Maybe I'm Just a Complaining Harpy, But...

Recently, after reading about a woman who wrote lots of letters, good and bad (I think I had read an excerpt of her book or something), I decided I was going to quit complaining to my poor, long-suffering husband and instead write letters.

Warning, it seems to be my day to rant, so feel free to skip this blog

In the past month, I've written letters (e-mails, technically) to customer service at Circuit City, Marsh Supermarkets, Dell (twice), Comcast and now Scott's Supermarkets. At Circuit City, the complaint was with the "compare models" feature on their website. It didn't compare a silly thing when I was trying to choose between two XM radio models. I had no idea which one I needed, so I ended up buying both and then returning one. When I e-mailed customer service about this, my reply was a form letter telling me how I could make a return via the website. It didn't answer the original question at all. Didn't even acknowledge it, in fact.

I wrote to Marsh after the news announced that they were possibly going to be put up for sale because the stores were doing so badly. Well, I have shopped at my local Marsh--a whopping total of four times. Each time, I experienced a ton of frustration over their floor plan. They have this kind of "intuitive" plan that is apparently intuitive to the suits, but not moms. Tartar sauce, for instance, isn't with the salad dressing, it's with the fish. Okay, cool, I get that. But then why is the salad dressing in its own aisle, and not with the salad? Why is mustard there and not with the hot dogs? Why is ketchup there, but not with burgers? You can't move ONE thing and expect the consumer to think of where it is. Or if you are going to move it, then put a shelf talker up (hey, that's Marketing 101...bookstores get it, why can't grocery stores?). I told them I felt really bad about not shopping there, too, because they had some neat foods and carried a lot of things I can't find elsewhere. But between the music (twice I'd been there and they were playing things like Vanilla Ice's one-hit wonder. I don't find "Ice, Ice, Baby" conducive to grocery shopping nor does "Back in Black" put me in a mood to pick up ice cream) and the mean customer service lady who yelled at ME because the gas pump didn't work (telling me I should have tried harder. time I'll bring a straw and see if I can get it out myself; McGyver, watch out!), I just couldn't shop there.

Huge Kudos to the Marsh manager of my local store, who actually READ my letter and called me back to talk about it. We had a nice conversation and he told me he'd pass my letter on to the upstairs suits. Nothing has changed at Marsh yet, but it's only been a few weeks.

Comcast was also surprisingly nice when I wrote to them about how disappointed I was in the favorite channel setup. With DirectTV, you can create two favorites lists -- one for me and DH, one for the kids. That keeps the kids from scrolling through the HBO movie list. It was a great parental control for me. Comcast only has one favorites list and then, when you scroll through the guide, you have to go past EVERY channel, even the ones you don't watch. All I want to know is what's on TNT and I'm flipping past GolfTV. The lady who wrote back was very, very nice, and promised to pass on my letter. This was yesterday...we'll see if the upstairs people respond.

Dell...I don't have a single nice thing to say about Dell. I fill out their surveys, I write them letters, and I am completely ignored. My advice? Don't buy a Dell. Give a local guy your business and let Dell realize too late that customer service is actually important.

Scott's Supermarkets was today's letter. I went through all the work of composing it on the website (the corporate website, they don't have one for the store, which means I can't access the ad if I have misplaced it...the competitors all have ads on their sites; it's like one of those duh things to me) and then it bumps it back, saying I had a character limit. Well, put that on the form before I fill the silly thing out! I ended up scouring the site map, finding the e-mail address for the media department, and then sending it to them. We'll see if the powers that be respond.

I swear, the entire world is designed by men in suits who have never taken a toddler shopping in their lives. Just once, it would be nice for a grocery store to have MOMS lay out the floor plan. Ah...I know, too much of a revolutionary thought. Actually let the people who do the bulk of the shopping have input? My goodness, what is the world coming to? ;-)

I encourage you to write letters, too. You never know where you might make a change. The woman who wrote the book ended up fostering lots of changes, and also got lots of free goodies from grateful companies (if you read my letters, I don't think any of the suits are grateful to hear from me ). But, you never know. We are given words and the ability to write...

Now use it for good :-)



  1. Debbie D.11:12 AM

    Sorry Shirley, but I think we'll have to battle this one out - Dell customer service is much better than HP's - they by far are at the bottom of the heap! Writing the CEO of HP was the only way to get a response.

    I enjoy giving my 2 cents and more to companies - too bad they don't listen to you and to me! The mom's of the world could solve lots of problems. lol!

  2. Oh, man, I could write a lot about the grocery store layouts! Why are canned tomatoes with the pasta and not with the canned vegetables? I can maybe understand putting the prepared sauces there, but not ALL the tomatoes!

  3. Debbie, I'll have to add HP to my list of Do Not Shop places :-) I have issues with their new printers anyway.

    Ellen, LOL because I was JUST at the grocery store today and was thinking the SAME thing! I couldn't find the silly tomato sauce and paste, which was in another aisle from the crushed tomatoes and canned whole tomatoes. Now to me, that's a duh. Keep all your tomatoes together. :-)

  4. When I write and complain I very seldom get any reply. But I keep on. Maybe one day they'll get their acts together.

  5. A woman after my own heart! People that know me *intimately* laugh at me and think I'm off my rocker when I track down a semi so that I can write down his license and truck number and the 800# to report bad driving. I mean, after all--THAT'S what the 800# is there for! I also like to write "nice" letters. We experienced EXCELLENT customer service during our recent trip to (a new) Lowe's. EVERY SINGLE PERSON that worked there greeted us with a, "Hi! How are you? What can we help you with?" Every one of them...I kid you not. It was almost annoying, and I did laugh after the fourth person said this to us. But hey, I can't remember a time I've EVER walked in a store and felt so welcomed and loved! :)

  6. Oh I hate DELL, I have a different word for it actually. When my husband went to Iraq my old computer (dinosaur) finally gave out. He purchased me a Dell online because he thought they were the best. Sweet I know. But imagine after only a month and the thing quits working on you. It would take some time for them to come out and fix it and in the meanttime I couldn't get my work done. UGH! No way was I taking three kids to the library during the summer. They had a guy come fix it, which I had told them just to replace it. Within two weeks it died again. I swear I didn't want to bother but did anyways as I needed it. Took an editional 2 weeks to get the machine. In the end they replaced it and had come out, last time they tried helping me over the phone but i've since given up. I went out and bought a new computer. YUCK

  7. This is very inspiring. I don't write enough letters at all; maybe it would get something done. I remember being encouraged to write letters to companies as a kid, and I actually got results. Too bad that didn't stick with me.

    And I TOTALLY agree with you and Eliza about Dell. I heard their customer service was terrific and their computers lasted forever. SO not the case. I not only won't buy a Dell again, but I won't let my mother buy one, and I've spread the word to everyone else I know (when relevant).


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