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February 18, 2005

Oven blues

Warning: minor rant.

My oven stopped working in the middle of me cooking a beautiful piece of roast beef (with roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, the works). Four weeks ago.

I know the beef was beautiful because my girlfriend lives round the corner from me and in somewhat comic fashion we drove the extremely rare joint round to her's to finish it off.

The next day I called MilleniumElectrical (sic). I should have made note of the fact that they cannot spell 'millennium' but they seemed very reasonable on the phone: get the parts you are likely to need yourself, they said, so that we don't need to make two visits. It's cheaper for you, they said.

I agreed and then started a telephone Odyssey around the service systems of Electrolux UK, ServiceForce and various contractors. Some time later it was clear I would have to order and could not simply pick up a thermostat and element from a local store. The said items were ordered and were expected within a few working days.

The invoice arrived, duly noting a thermostat and an element.

Then the box arrived. With a cutlery holder for a dishwasher.

I rang them. They apologised and agreed to send the right items.

A week later a small package arrived with a thermostat and a note saying they were out of elements.

Two weeks on the element arrived. I called MilleniumElectical - I'm in Thursday morning, could you come and fix my oven? No problem.

Yesterday I rang them: it's one o'clock. I have to go out, where is the engineer?

He's overrunning and should have called you. He'll make you his first call tomorrow.

This morning I waited an hour. I had to go to work and he didn't appear. Had Tony phoned to say he was running late, had an emergency to fix or even just a hangover I might have been pissed off but mildly accepting. Instead, I was just angry. I rang to find out where he was but got no reply.


The point? Rants don't always have points, but there are two:
a) They lost a customer. Bad news for them. They lose maybe £50-100 now but possibly several hundred or thousand pounds in future. They didn't call to let me know what was going on. I had to do the calling. Customer service is not just about being reactive: good customer service is proactive. If you can't make the appointment, you ring in advance and keep the customer in the know

b) This is more important. I am not happy with MilleniumElectrical. I tell you (some of whom live in South London) and you avoid them too - so they lose some more potential customers. Moreover, because I link to them, with any luck, when someone types in some of the terms 'oven electrical engineer south London millennium millenium electrical poor service' they will get my opinion of the company's poor service. Is this fair? Yup. They are not responsible for the screw-up with the parts, but their poor service means I am justified to warn others that they might get poor service too.

The sooner such service companies, however small, get this and realise the power of the internet to share such information, the sooner they'll improve their service.

There rant over.

February 18, 2005 in Observations | Permalink


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