Monthly Archives: January 2014

Amazon’s amazing customer service

Amazon has received accolades in recent years for its customer service, including awards from J.D. Power and Associates, the National Retail Federation Foundation and The Temkin Group, a research and consulting firm focused on customer experience. This week, I got to see firsthand why Amazon earned these high ratings.

I recently purchased a mop cover from Amazon. I took a risk when I bought it, because it was difficult to tell from the online listing whether it was the right one for my mop. I decided to take the $7 plunge and purchase it, figuring I could return it and get some of my money back if it was not the right fit.

Unfortunately, the mop cover was too small for my mop. I went into my Amazon account to initiate a return, but the only return shipping method offered was the United Parcel Service (UPS). The cost of sending it back via UPS would have taken a big chunk out of my refund amount. I emailed Amazon on Monday afternoon to ask if the company could add the postal service as a return option, so I could reduce my shipping costs.

I received a reply to my message within an hour. The customer service representative told me, “Because the cost of returning this item would be prohibitively expensive, there’s no need to return it. You’re welcome to keep, donate or dispose of the item –whichever option is most appropriate and convenient for you. To help you with this, I’ve requested a full refund in the amount of $7.47 to your original payment method.”

I was very pleasantly surprised. I expected Amazon to tell me UPS was my only option. Instead, the company gave me all my money back, without putting me to the trouble of returning the item. This is excellent customer service.

I realize Amazon is a huge company that can afford to eat $7.47, and I may not get a refund in similar circumstances in the future. But the company did not have to give me a refund at all. I’m the one who ordered the wrong product, and the responsibility to return it was mine.

Amazon’s gracious response in circumstances like these is sure to enhance customer loyalty and keep it high in the rankings of class-leading customer service experiences.

Have you had a great customer service experience recently? Please share it here.

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Customer service is slipping at Kohl’s

In a previous post, I commended Kohl’s for making things right when a Christmas shipping snafu led to the delayed arrival of my sister’s Christmas gift. Unfortunately, it seems that snafu was the start of a trend for Kohl’s. Since then, two more orders I’ve placed have not gone well, either.

On Dec. 21, I placed an order for three sweaters and a tank top, taking advantage of some great pre-Christmas prices. According to the Kohl’s order status system, my order should have arrived by January 6. On January 7, I clicked the “tracking” link in my order status, and it showed Fedex had received shipping information for these items on Dec. 27, but the log reflected no other activity. Kohl’s simply showed the order as “shipped.”

I called Kohl’s on January 7 to inquire as to whether the items had truly shipped. This was my first experience using Kohl’s telephone-based customer service. My call was answered promptly by a pleasant customer service representative, and I explained the situation. She asked if I had contacted Fedex about the order, and I said “no.” I told her if I called Fedex, they’d probably tell me what I could see on the screen: that the company received shipment information for the order but apparently never picked it up. She offered to cancel the order, issue a refund and then reorder for me at the same price any items that were still available from my order. Two of the items were still available, and one sweater showed online availability in a different color. Unfortunately, while I could see the sweater online in a different color, the representative’s system did not reflect this availability. So, I was only able to reorder two of the items. Ironically, I had applied to this order my $25 Kohl’s credit from its Christmas-time apology to me; I was told this amount would be credited to my credit card.

During that same phone call, I brought up a problem with an order I’d placed on Dec. 26. This order contained a pair of shoes and a pair of pants. I had received the pants, but not the shoes. On Dec. 29, Kohl’s sent me an email indicating it had cancelled the shoes from my order, but the order status on Kohl’s.com showed as “partially shipped,” making me thing maybe the company intended to send the shoes when they were back in stock. The representative confirmed the shoes had been cancelled automatically by the ordering system because they were no longer available. It is frustrating that the system did not know at the time of my order that the shoes were not available. Then, I could have spent those 11 days between the order date and the day I confirmed the order status looking for a replacement pair of shoes.

Overall, I had a good experience with the Kohl’s customer service representative who assisted me with these two problems. The call took 20 minutes, and the representative was very polite throughout the experience.

I hope my three most recent Kohl’s orders are not a sign of things to come and only represent a string of bad luck for Kohl’s. The company should improve its ordering system to prevent orders for out-of-stock merchandise and to alert customer service staff when an order is scheduled for shipment but never shipped.

What have your recent shopping experiences at Kohl’s been like?

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Product review: The best oven mitts I’ve ever used!

They may not be the most exciting item you’ll ever purchase, but oven mitts are an indispensable part of a cook’s daily routine. Whether your preparing a roast for your family’s dinner or baking cookies for an office party, quality mitts protect your hands from the high temperatures you encounter when removing items from the oven.

In the past, I’ve mainly used cotton oven mitts. I liked them because they were easy to toss in the washing machine. But I found that over time, that washable fabric started to wear thin from its trips to the washer, eventually resulting in heating make its way through the mitts way to quickly. I tried some cotton mitts with silicone insets, but they didn’t fare much better. Another problem with cotton mitts is that they can pick up permanent stains, despite washing.

Finally, I decided it was time to give silicone mitts a try, and I picked one of the highest-rated designs on the Chef’s website: the OrkaPlus silicone mitt with a cotton lining. Doubtful as to how well it would work, I only ordered one at first. The OrkaPlus quickly proved its worth. It reliably protects my hands from heat, and it’s easy to wipe food off the outside of the mitt. The mitt’s grip area can be harder to clean, because it has tiny silicone “ribs” that help you grip pans securely. Thankfully, the entire silicone mitt is dishwasher safe, and I’ve found the dishwasher does a good job of cleaning those grips.

Inside, the OrkaPlus silicone mitt has a cotton lining that spans the length of the glove. This is easy to remove and can be washed in the washing machine.

According to the Chef’s website, the OrkaPlus mitt is waterproof, even in boiling water. I have not put that claim to the test, however.

The mitt is available in red, green, blue, purple and charcoal hues on the Chef’s website. Amazon offers all those colors as well, plus a raspberry shade.

There are a couple of downsides to the mitt. The first is that it is only available in one size, and that size is rather large. People with small hands may find it too large to be practical, but it has worked fine for me, even though it is loose on my hands.

The other downside is the cost. One OrkaPlus mitt sells for $15.95 at Chefscatalog.com, meaning a pair will cost you about $32. By comparison, you can get a pair of cotton oven mitts for less than $5 at discount stores. But I submit that the OrkaPlus will pay for itself over time. It offers much more stain resistance and durability than cotton mitts, and one pair of OrkaPlus mitts is likely to outlast several pairs of the cotton variety.

Do you have a favorite kitchen product you want to tell others about? Please leave a comment with your product recommendations.

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