Sunday, May 18, 2008

This is not customer service

We've been putting in a kitchen island, with a lot of help from Scott (probably more accurate to say I've been helping him). I'll post pictures later. All that matters right now is that there is a small portion of the island that we would like to tile. Keep in mind that I have no experience with tile, am really lazy, and am pretty cheap when it comes to things I don't really care that much about. So it probably would have made sense to simply go to Home Depot or Lowe's, get some beige tile to match the rest of the kitchen, and be done in probably less than $50. None of those options were really speaking to me; I'd like at least a little bit of character. So we started looking around for places that specialize in tile, and eventually were directed to the Kemper Design Center. Some of the details here will be a little fuzzy, because I didn't realize they would be noteworthy. And this is how the story goes...


The showroom is actually very nice. No receptionist. Exponentially more available options than HD or Lowe's had, and far more interesting. We identified several concepts that we liked, ranging from crazy to reasonable, and with the assistance of a helpful-but-flighty employee finally settled on a design. So the important question: the design is sold as a ~12" square sheet, and is ~$40/sheet. We need four sheets, so ~$160. Ouch. Easily tripled the cost of the theoretical HD route, and solidly into "we better think about this first" territory.

So we mulled it over for a couple of days, and decided to proceed.


We returned to the store a couple days later, a Saturday I think, towards the end of their business day. There actually was a receptionist this time, and we informed her of our desire to obtain some tile. She asks if we would like her to fill out an order sheet. By all means, we say. She runs off to collect some paperwork, and when she comes back we point out our selection. She writes down the name of the product, asks if we want grout, all fairly typical questions. Teri and I think we are done and ready to leave, when the associate informs us that the customer service center is closed for the day, and proceeds to write down a phone number and business hours that we call. This is worth repeating: we will be making a call. Not the associate who just wrote down all of the information; us. Remember, three times the cost of HD. She indicates it typically takes a week or two for tile to come in, and that we will be called when it is ready (after we call to place the order, of course). So we leave, a little puzzled, but generally not too concerned; copy of order in hand.

Teri and I miscommunicated over who was making the call, and temporarily misplaced the paperwork anyway, so it was several days before I got around to actually calling to place the order.


"Kemper Design Center."
"Uh yeah, I'd like to place an order."
"Oh. Could you fax that in?"
"Um, I guess so. Need the number."
"Here you go, thanks."

I look at the order sheet, and notice some significant information lacking. For one thing, it doesn't actually say on there anywhere how much tile we want. It lists out the description, but no quantity. Also, there is no billing information, no credit card information (sales associate never asked), and no daytime phone for me. There is a notes area, so I make a point of spelling out that I want 4 sheets of tile, and here is the number I can be reached at during the day. I deliberately do not add credit card information, because something just feels odd about this whole situation. I fax it in, and wait.


A few hours (hours...not minutes...hours) later:

"Brian Slick."
"Mr. Slick, Phone Guy from Kemper Design Center, and I've got a fax here from you, looks like Sales Associate filled it out..."
"Um, is this an order?"
"Uh, yeah..." (note: I'm 95% certain this was the same guy from the morning call)
"Oh! Well then I'll need to get some billing information from you."
"I wondered. Here you go."
"Thanks, we'll give you a call when it is in."

Despite repeated prompting from Teri, I was so caught off guard by the odd question that I forgot to ask for a more specific timeline regarding arrival of the tile. "Is this an order"? What else would it be? And you're the guy who told me to fax it in! It's your system, buddy, not mine.

A few days later, my credit card is billed for $80 even. I'm trying to decide what that is. Maybe pay for half up front, pay the rest upon receipt of tile? Maybe the quoted price of the tile was wrong? Who knows. I'm not too worried about it, as I'm fully expecting to pay ~$160 by the time this is all done. It just struck me as curious.

A little over a week later, I receive a voicemail message indicating that our order has arrived, and may be picked up at our convenience.


We head back to the showroom the next day, which conveniently happened to be a Saturday. We have our order sheet in hand, credit card primed and ready. And no receptionist this time. So we mill around for a couple of minutes before finally attracting some attention.

"How can I help you?"
"Yeah, we got a call that our order is ready to be picked up."
"Your tile order?"
"Oh, well you need to go to our customer service center to pick that up."
"Yeah, unfortunately, they closed at 1:00" (it is 1:45)
"Where is this place?"
"Down the end of the street there, and then off to the right. Basically we've run out of room in our warehouse, and that's overflow."

At this point, I'm really mad. Really mad. But I didn't see much point in launching a profanity-laced tirade at this person, since I hadn't dealt with her up to that point, so Teri and I left quickly before either one of us said something unpleasant.

So let's recap and count the number of opportunities that KDC had to inform me that I would not be picking up my order from the same location that I placed it.

1. Sales Associate, while writing out the order sheet, could have made a point to indicate we would be going to a different location, and provided directions.

2. Phone Guy, either while taking the order or when leaving the voicemail -- or better yet, BOTH -- could have made it a point to inform me that we would not be picking up the order from the showroom, and here's where we should go instead.

I want someone to tell me how I should have known to do this. This system is seriously broken.

And to top it all off, the "customer service" center's hours are anything but convenient. They close at 4:30 on weekdays (no chance of getting there), and 1:00 on Saturdays, closed Sundays. So it looks like it will be another week before we can go pick up our order. I'm actually hoping they call at some point during the week to remind me that my order is ready for pickup, because I'm going to tear somebody a new one.

Again, I'm paying at least three times as much for this as I would have for a more basic option. I'm really hoping the product is worth it, because the service certainly is not. Assuming we do succeed in claiming our tile at some point, I will be firing off a nasty note to this company. Tune in next time...

1 comment:

Susan said...

Next time, get tile from Home Emporium off of Ridge Rd. & 71. Call me and I will install. Did all the tile in my home. Will cost you a total of $50 TOPS and no headache! Only post will be how awesome it looks. Promise!