Customer service? We've heard of it.

Following on the heels of Barbara, I have my own tale of consumer woe.

Until the middle of August, I have the kids up here in Ottawa with me, since it is easier for me to get them to and from summer camp than it is for Sofia in Montreal.

Since the kids principally live in Montreal, that is where their beds are. I live in a mostly empty house in Ottawa, so I need to buy a bed for them to sleep on.

It was a pretty simple decision for me, I went to Mattress Mart because I've bought from them four times before (97 or 98, 2000, 2001, and 2003) and was happy with them. On 03-July-2007 I bough a futon from them and asked to have it delivered in the evening of 04-July-2007 - defined as being sometime between 17:00 and 20:00. ”Call tomorrow after three for a more accurate delivery time”, I was told.

04-July-2007 between 15:30 and 16:00 (I tried calling at 15:00, but the line was busy).

me: ”Hi, I was told I to call after three to get a better estimated time of delivery"

We exchange some information.

woman: "Between six and eight PM tonight."

04-July-2007 at 17:55

I arrive home. A little stressed because I had hoped to be a little earlier, but a spot of rain slowed traffic as I got went through the downtown core. I am listening to the tail end of All in a Day, CBC Ottawa radio's afternoon show from 16:00 to 18:00. At least the six o’clock news hasn't started, so I am pretty confident I am home before six.

Get the kids out of the car, grab their knapsacks, lunch boxes and wet towels.

Get to the house, no sign on the door indicating the delivery guys had dropped buy a little early. The mailbox was empty.

Get into the house, tell the kids to wash up, Turn on the radio, The World at Six has not yet started. Wash my hands and pull some pork chops out of the fridge, grab a frying pan, set it on the stove and hear the World at Six theme music start. Ugh. Okay, better tidy up the foyer.

Go to the foyer, start moving shoes, backpacks, lunchbags, wet towels, and some stuff we bought the previous night (nothing perishable) off to the side so I don't have to scramble to clear a path when the delivery show up.

Peek outside on the off chance they we arriving exactly at six. Nope.

Jason runs to the door to look outside (we have a solid front door, but there is a vertical window, about 6 inches (15 cm) wide beside the door). "When are they coming?", he asks. "They said they would be come between six and eight and it just turned six", I say. He continues to linger by the door.

I go back to the kitchen and prepare the pork chops. Time passes, we eat. More time passes.

Eager like kids who can't wait for Christmas morning, my kids are on a hair trigger running at every perceived sound to the door checking if the delivery men are here.

As the evening wears on, their enthusiasm wears off. "It's almost eight," Tania says, "what if they don't come?"

"I am sure they just had a lot of deliveries, but they'll be here," I said.

04-July-2007 at 20:13 I call Mattress Mart.

me: "Hi. I was wondering if your delivery trucks are still on the road?"

woman: "No. They all returned a while ago."

me: "Oh. Do you know what time they tried to make the delivery to [my address]?"

woman: "It says they tried to make the delivery at six o’clock.”

me: "That is not true. I was home at six."

woman: "It says here they arrived at six, waited 10 minutes and left a note saying they tried to deliver."

me: "There was no note when I arrived before six and ...," walking to door, opening and examining it and the mailbox again, "there is nothing on my door or in my mailbox now."

woman: "I'm sorry, I can only tell you what the driver has writen down. I don' normally work this location. If you could call back tomorrow, someone will be able to help you."

05-July-2007 at a little after 10:00

I call Mattress Mart again and have pretty much the same conversation I had last night. Me insisting I was home at 18:00, them insisting the driver tried to deliver at 18:00 and left a note saying so.

They offer to have the delivery manager talk to me. I agree.

05-July-2007 a little later that morning

The delivery manager calls. We speak. Same story.

He keeps trying to reschedule for either the following week (they only deliver evenings on Tuesday and Wednesday) or Saturday (I am in Montreal). As far as I am concerned, neither are acceptable. I want that futon delivered this Thursday, after 18:00. He tells me that his drivers don't work evenings today. I reply that I don't care, their driver failed to make the delivery yesterday and they will make it tonight.

delivery manger: "You're saying you were there at six. My man says he was there at six. I have to side with my man."

Brilliant! Excellent PR! Call the customer a liar.

I tell him that if he is unwilling go deliver tonight, then I will cancel my order. He is unwilling. So I call Mattress Mart and tell them to cancel my order. I am told this will take 10 days, needs to go to head office and there will be a fee. I reply that I Will not be paying any fee because Mattress Mart failed to make the effort to deliver the futon when they said they would.

05-July-2007 at 12:51

I e-mailed their Customer Service outlining my complaint and that I have no intention of paying anything for Mattress Mart's failure.

They claim to respond in 2 to 3 business days. Today is business day 4. I also tried to speak to the store manager, Gabrielle, but she was in a meeting. She has not returned my call.

Other Point of View
I recognize that in this dispute, I am the clear underdog. After all, what could be the delivery guy's possible motive to randomly choose me to not deliver to?

I don't know what caused the delivery failure. That is not my problem. That is Mattress Mart's

But what is more believable: delivery guy randomly fails to deliver futon? Or customer misses delivery and tries to blame delivery guy? (So, I am not just upset at Mattress Mart, I am also upset at every person who lies, manipulates, deceives, distorts or misrepresents the truth.)

Could I have missed it?

Around 18:00 I was in the foyer, right next to the front door. Jason was watching out the window for the truck.

My kitchen is 15 feet (4m) from the front door. The doorbell is located above the kitchen entrance, it works and it is loud (when you press the doorbell button, you can hear it outside). When I am in the kitchen (and listening to the radio) I can hear the knocks of timid kids trying to sell me chocolate bars (some kids don’t use the doorbell, I guess they are afraid I might actually be home). I doubt very much I would miss the delivery man - especially since I was waiting for him.

End story
I am upset with Mattress Mart because I know where I was on 04-July-2007 at 18:00 and I know where the delivery guy was not.

There was no attempt at delivery to my home. There was no delivery attempt notification. Any attempt to say there was is a lie. And I hate lies! (I despise injustice of any sort).

I am very willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. But in this case, there is no doubt because I know where I was. Had they told me a delivery attempt had been made at 17:45, then I would be less sure. I could believe the delivery notice had blown away or been purloined by some mischievous kid.

Had I seen a delivery attempt notice, I would have called and seen if they could make it back toward the end of their run.

I know where I was. I know what the facts are on my side. As a consequence, I will never do business with Mattress Mart again, nor will I ever recommend them to anyone again (actually, I will gripe about them), simply because they are lying.

What effect will this have on Mattress Mart? Minimal. Let's be honest, aside from this futon, how many more bedding purchases am I likely to make? The kids will get upgraded bedding in a few years, so there is 2 purchases (maybe 4 if they live with us well into their 20s). Sofia and I are looking at getting a new bed and we will probably buy a new bed every 10 years or so. So there is another potential 4 sales. So, no, Mattress Mart will not suffer form the loss of our 6 sales. Even if I convince friends, they will end up losing what? 20 sales over 40 years? No big deal for them.

I will let the order cancellation process run its course. If I am charged. Then I will complain with the Better Business Bureau (they are a member, and no, they do not have that many complaints). If that does not resolve it then I will write the consumer ombudsman at the Ottawa Citizen. And if that doesn't work, then I will take them to small claims court (this order may change depending on any statutes of limitation)

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. - Tom Clancy, author

Image nabbed from here.

05-July-2007 at around 20:00

jason: "Will they being the bed tonight?"

me: "No, Jason, they will not be bringing the bed tonight, or ever,” and my heart breaks.

[Update: 13-July-2007 @ 14:56. Spoke with Gabrielle at the head office. She was pleasant and polite and listened patiently as I spilled my story of woe. She said that I will be getting a refund in full. Which is good. But I still wonder why my e-mail to customer service has not been answered and it also seems that Gabrielle was never requested to get back to me. (Actually, I don't even know how the person on 05-July-2007 could tell me she was in a meeting because I called the St. Laurent Office and she works at the Colonnade Rd. office - discovered when I did a follow up call today at 14:00). Hmmm. Anyway. Case closed.]


Barbara said…
Arghhh! I totally understand your frustration. There was a lot of CYA going on by this company and they obviously don't care about your business. The real question is how did you solve the problem of getting something for your kids to sleep on?
TorAa said…
Let them read a book called "A Flat World" - then those drivers can stat delivering in mid Hudson bay. The result will be the same. They are not bable, even to bring their tiny brains. grrr.
Spoiled? They are liares - mostly to themselves.
b said…
I'm with Barbara on this one....arrrrgghhhh!!! That infuriates me so much. It has happened to me before and many others. There seems to be very little care for customer service these days. And yes, failing to deliver the bed is one thing but the deceit is horrible! Nice that they have no regard for the customer.

When I was married, my husband and I were moving into the house we had built and hired professional movers to move a very large television (I begged my then-husband to buy a plasma t.v. but he had to get a huge projection t.v.). The movers came and because my then-husband was at work, I was alone. As they moved the t.v. onto the truck, I was in the house packing things. When I got outside, the movers (there were 4 of them) were acting strange but I couldn't gather why. They had a blanket wrapped around the t.v. and quickly closed the truck.

Basically, they had cracked the screen loading it on the truck. There was an iron patio table hanging from the wall of the truck with its legs sticking toward the inside of the truck. When they loaded the truck, the screen was ripped when they pushed the t.v. in past the legs. When they went to move it into the house, they had a blanket over it and as they tried to get it up the landing, they couldn't because of the turn on the landing, and suddenly claimed (with terrible acting skills) that the turn on the landing punctured the t.v. and that was not their liability. Immediately, I knew what had happened and my neighbor (who I didn't even know at the time) happened to be watching the movers from her upstairs bathroom window across the street. She saw them look under the blanket and quickly conceal the crack with it.

The moving company, All My Sons (I too have no hesitation to mention their name), would not do anything about it. Interestingly, two of the four movers just vanished outdoors when the whole thing went down. When I tried to meet their eyes later, I could sense their pangs of guilt.

So, anyway, we filed a legal claim against them and reported them to the Better Business Bureau. The day before our court date, they called and settled with us. Oh, and they forged my signature on a document that released liability. The damage to the t.v. was trivial, really. We were far more infuriated by their blatant lying with the unwavering claim that the rounded edge of the landing sliced a crack through the t.v. which was impossible. The owners believed the movers (or maybe they themselves knew the truth but didn't care enough to be honest) and never did apologize or take any accountability. They claimed to settle because of their inability to make court.

Everytime I see an All My Sons moving truck around here, I literally become engulfed with anger.
Wow! You sure got the run-around! That's awful! So what have they been sleeping on and did you order another from somewhere else?

I had a huge bone to pick when Sleep Country delivered our bed. I told them they needed to hoist it over the balcony upstairs and in to the summer bedroom, but they insisted it could make the tight corner. They bashed our wall in a lot of places and had to come back and spen a few hours repairing it. They were rude to me, who was home from school sick. I wrote a letter to that annoying Christine Mcgee and did het a $50 voucher for bedding and an apology at least,but I'm not so sure I'd go there again!
Richard said…
barbara: I can understand their position - after all, my story is not exactly high on the credibility scale (customer misses delivery and complains driver never showed up versus driver randomly skips a delivery and lies about it) . Besides, I am also pretty sure they just contract the delivery out (of course, I can't tell, because I didn't see the truck). I bought a double mattress inflatable bed. It is 18 inches high and the kids are happy with it - besides, it is also much cheaper.

toraa: I will look into that book. As mentioned, I can understand their position, because I have worked with customers and know that customers make up stories - often times, it is a misunderstanding, but some customers are deliberately deceitful (or maybe insane). I remember one customer (we used to do work for Sears, a large retail chain in Canada) and she was hysterically complaining to the manager that if she did not get a new TV, she was going to jump off a bridge (her claim was that the TV was causing her to have electric shocks from all the electrical outlets and switches in her home).

breal: a plasma TV? Oh, wow! You were an expensive wife ;-)

At least things worked out well in the end. The front of a projection TV is composed of a plastic screen and a fresnel lens (like a big magnifying glass). The fresnel lens is a few hundred dollars.

While movers have insurance, the truth is they are loath to use it, because then the premiums go up. It was the same with a boss of mine (he ran a TV repair shop), while he had insurance, he preferred to pay for breakage out of pocket.

MOI: As mentioned to Barbara, I bought an inflatable bed from Canadian Tire. While specialty stores can often have better prices. I find that after sales customer service is often lacking. While I bemoan the loss of little retailers to the uniformity of big chains, the reality is that the big stores (while often charging more and not necessarily providing great sales support) tend to be very good at resolving customer complaints or taking things back. Mind you, this worked against Eaton's and they went out of business.

Hmmm, maybe I will avoid Sleep Country too.
b said…
haha. i had my expensive desires but certainly this was not one of them. well, a nice plasma t.v. would have cost the same as this huge projection beast. yes, the screen size woud not have been as large but the clarity much better. i couldn't convince him.

you are right on in your knowledge of the projection television, my friend. we learned the same thing as we contacted repair shops. it did end up costing a few hundred dollars to repair. finally, the movers were induced to pay it. what a hassle.
Nic said…
I am having the SAME experience with Mattress Mart! I googled Mattress Mart complaints and came upon your blog.

How can a company still survive with so many similar stories?! I am going to write to the BBB. However I think my efforts will go no where.

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