Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Brands take heed: Third party companies can harm your reputation

At the end of last week, I had a rattan apple daybed delivered for the garden.  It’s something my husband and I had been hankering after for a while but, while we’re over the moon with our purchase, its arrival was marred by a real lack of customer service. 

We ordered the daybed from a well known national furniture company.  I don’t wish to name them in this post because their customer service was impeccable.  However, the company they used to deliver the product was not.  Far from it. 

Although this isn’t the fault of the furniture chain, I'm afraid to say that it does reflect badly on them.  In this web 2.0 world we’re all living in now, a bad experience will spread like wildfire on social networking sites and via the more traditional word of mouth method.  If you’re a company, it doesn’t matter if the incident was your direct fault or not, it will be linked to you and that in itself can damage your brand and reputation. 

Let me explain my experience.  When we purchased the daybed, we were told that the delivery company would deliver, unwrap and set the product up for us.  We were also told that, although they couldn’t confirm an exact time of delivery, the company would call us one hour before they arrived.

Last Thursday arrived and at around lunchtime I received a call from the driver to tell me that they would be arriving within half an hour.  Great, fantastic.  Being at work, I then called my father-in-law to tell him about it because he had agreed to meet them at our house and take in the daybed for us.  Everything seemed to be going smoothly so imagine my surprise when I arrived home to discover the delivery people had been unhelpful and rude, going so far as to call my father-in-law an a**ehole! 

The full story
It all started when the delivery company arrived.  They complained that the daybed was too big and that they couldn’t get it past our car, which was in front of our garage where they had been asked to put it.  My father-in-law scooted inside to get our car keys but by the time he returned, the delivery people had somehow managed to get it into the garage (thankfully no scrapes on the car!).  But that’s only a minor niggle.  Everyone moans now and again about things and I completely understand that.  No, the really bad customer service was just about to happen. 

Contrary to what we had been told by the well known, national furniture company, the delivery driver refused to unpack the daybed or help to set it up, saying that they were only obligated to do that with sofas.  My father-in-law accepted that but insisted on signing for the item as being ‘unchecked’.  I think this was fair enough, considering the amount of packaging on the thing which meant a proper check of the product couldn’t be done there and then without any help to get it unwrapped. 

The delivery company insisted my father-in-law also sign a satisfaction form.  The form asked if the delivery company had offered to unwrap the product.  My father-in-law naturally queried this because he hadn’t just not been offered it, he had point blank been refused it.  The driver reiterated that they only offered this when handling sofas.  My father-in-law asked to speak to the driver’s manager to double check and make absolutely sure.  The driver stalked off to get his mobile, muttering under his breath and that’s when my father-in-law heard the rude remark (you know, the 'a**ehole' one I mentioned earlier).

Now, my father-in-law isn’t one to let these things slide.  Up until then he had been pleasant and courteous but firm.  After the rude comment was made he confronted the driver about his language.  My father-in-law told me that the driver’s manner became aggressive and rude.  When he was able to speak to the driver's manager, the tone that greeted him on the other end of the phone was very defensive and unhelpful.  My father-in-law was once again told they are only obliged to deliver the product, not help in any way to unwrap, check or assemble it, although I don't believe language this polite was used.

After that, my father-in-law was just keen to get them gone.  Once their van had vanished from our road, he called the customer service division of the national furniture chain and told them about the experience; how he had been verbally abused by the driver and how the experience had been intimidating.  The furniture store's customer service team was very calm, polite and apologetic.  They had received a number of complaints about the delivery company in question, they said, but were unfortunately tied into a contract with them for the time being. 

The moral of the story is...
This experience really goes to show that it doesn’t matter if your customer service team is the most fantastic team on earth, if you outsource some of your services to third-party organisations then their actions are inextricably linked to you and your company.  If they do a bad job, that reflects badly on you.

But, here’s a word of caution to companies who win contracts like these but then don’t value customer service; be careful who you’re rude too.  Unbeknownst to the company who delivered my daybed, my father-in-law knows the boss of the national furniture chain from which we ordered from.  I suspect the last laugh will be with my father-in-law.


  1. I have had similar experiences myself. In fact, I used a well-known online shopping website for years but after they changed to a very poorly run delivery service, I have stopped using the website altogether. If they are losing loyal customers, like myself, then I can't imagine new customers will bother with them. Companies need to be very careful about this. 

  2. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I've also had bad experiences with well known websites (possibly the same one!) who use delivery companies that just leave the packages outside the house, we've had quite valuable items left on the doorstep. We recently returned from holiday to find a large package in a cardboard box by the side of the house, luckily it hadn't rained or else it would have been ruined.

    Your experience was shocking, I hope that your father-in-law receives an apology.

  3. It's a shame when other companies like this perform badly because it can really affect those bigger brands who use them. Like you say, it can really turn people off

  4. Thank you. Some delivery companies can be fantastic but others really could do with upping their game

  5. This truly is an exciting blog. Thanks
    for the valuable information.

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  6. This kind of thing makes me so mad! I feel like buying crapservice.com so we can name and shame them all! It is totally inexcusable!

  7. I LOVE that idea! Let's do it!


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