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Friday, February 15, 2013

Life Lessons from a Bad V-Day flowers order

Over the last week, yours truly has experienced a most aggravation-filled situation regarding the a flower order with a reputable flower company in time for Valentine's Day that after much work and determination upon my part, resulted in some positive resolution.

The purpose of this post isn't a hit piece on one carrier of flowers vs another.

From the hundreds upon hundreds of negative feedback responses upon the Facebook pages of FTD, ProFlowers, Teleflora and 800-Flowers, all of them deserve most horrible grades for efficiency, keeping delivery promises, inaccuracies of their orders and overall poor phone customer service.

Instead I want to demonstrate from my ordeal, a couple life lessons that you can take with you and use in your everyday life if situations like this arise.
So a short summary of my ordeal:

On Saturday February 9th, I placed a couple orders (I'm witholding the company name because as I said before, all of them are terrible and I am not trying to make one seem worse) for flowers to be delivered on Feb 13th, the day before Valentine's Day.

One order -- a decorative flower arrangement representing a drink called a Cosmopolitan was to be delivered to my Mother in a different state i.e. florist from mine- it arrived on time and was perfect.
This is what hers looked like when delivered... lovely, isn't it...

The other order.. one for myself, was another flower arrangement representing a drink was called a Blue Hawaiian Margarita.  The pic below shows how the arrangement was supposed to look...
Yummy, right?

And while my order did arrive on time, it was not anything visually close to what the arrangement should have been.  Instead of a sapphire blue gel inside the acrylic glass, the local florist decided instead to fill with very dark green pebbles, making it look something more apropos for a cemetery.

The pic below shows what I received...
Take away the umbrella and it belongs on a headstone...

Now people make mistakes.. it happens.  And then what's usually supposed to happen next is you call customer service, get some kind of resolution then move forward to other things in your day..

What's not supposed to happen is constant calls over a 48 hour period because every person you speak with has broken english, can't understand you as you can't them, contradicts the previous person you spoke with and won't send any written confirmation to show changes or refund on that portion of the order.

I will not go into every one of the 9 calls I made over 2 full days to seek some level of comfort and resolution but just stick to the main points.
After receiving the arrangement at noonish, I called to express my dismay. The person I spoke to issued me a $20 credit on future order and said I would get the correct flowers that day.   It didn't come..  Called again.. next person promised it would arrive Thurs.   I called a little later because I wanted confirmation so I didn't waste a full day being home... That person said there was no order...

So after getting tired of the run around, I asked for a refund of the order.. it was granted (I think).  I asked for email receipt for my records..  Sure--right away...  Hours later.. nothing... Called again.. 'right away'... Nothing..  Again.. 'right away'.. nothing

After two full days I finally got some level of resolution this morning which I will explain how as part of the life lessons to take from this if things like this ever happen to you:
1)  Never give up- Especially on Yourself! --  It may be aggravating, time consuming and sometimes feel fruitless, but don't quit... don't ever quit.  It's your precious money that you spent for the product or service.  You have every right to expect it be in the condition and appearance you were shown via photograph before you ordered and every right to a refund.

It doesn't matter if its $50, $500 or $5, its all about what matters To YOU..And it certainly doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you.. Bleep them!.. It's your money, and unless the person judging you is going to write you a check for the amount spent on the bad item to reimburse the loss, that person has no say in your decision to keep fighting.

2) Stay calm, even tempered & 'Detach' -- Some people give up.. its too much of a pain to keep trying..  Or the feel guilty or self conscious that they keep having to call.. Or get very angry and frustrated, and yell at the person on the phone resulting in being disconnected.
The key is to remain calm, professional and in a way detached as if you are calling to represent another in resolving an issue rather than you yourself the one affected.

The people you speak with on the phone-- they are limited in how they can help.  They are also detached themselves and couldn't care less.  They get paid $9/hr and many are working from home rather than a centralized office so there's no supervisor present to worry about if they simply hang up on you.

So the key is to not get emotionally caught up in the vocal tone of the person you're dealing with or the amount of time wasted thus far..  Just treat it like a job yourself... speak slowly.. calmly.. and in the back of your mind know that this will get resolved in your favor ultimately.

3)  Life's Road Blocks are merely Detours -- I tried getting resolution calling the customer service number...and after 9 attempts after two days, I realized this was getting me nowhere.  So instead, I looked up the company's corporate office on the internet and found a different phone number; one that was not published.
I called... spoke to someone within 30seconds (previously, my wait times on the main 800 number were 15-20min apiece)  She looked at everything... explained the refund would come and why it took so long for an email to be sent, etc..

By the time I was done, I felt good for the first time in days that some kind of resolution would be reached so I could move on to thinking on other things.

But let's say you call corporate office and get no resolution, what do you do-- what options are available?   The Better Business Bureau is one outlet though admittedly that's more to vent than anything else.  If its a local business, sometimes getting the media involved i.e. human interest story can embarrass the merchant into working with you..

Ultimately if paying by credit card, you can always file a dispute of charges, explaining your side and why you're requesting the refund.  The process may take a couple months so be patient.
Usually the credit card company will put a hold on that dollar amount meaning you don't have to repay until its resolved but I don't trust credit cards so I pay the amount and then when I win, I simply get reimbursed a credit. This prevents the card company from mistakenly charging me interest.

So in this situation, who is the Ant and who is the Grasshopper?

The Ant is the person who never quits until resolution or every avenue open to them is closed...and the Ant still does not give up.    The Grasshopper just shrugs, goes 'Oh well' and la di da continues the dancing and fiddling

Which would you be in this situation?