No need to explain why I’m sending this letter to them – just have a read:
Dear ‘Customer Service Department’,
I am writing regarding the above-referenced case which to date has not been satisfactorily resolved. Towards the end of last year I returned an Acer AL1715 TFT screen for repair. The screen was flickering horribly and occasionally just blacking out. After a lot of mucking around with CitiLink (who were beyond useless), the unit was finally collected and returned to me a couple of weeks later, seeming to be working fine.
It may be interesting to point out that just before the unit was returned, I received an email reply from your customer services department in response to my initial query with the hardware fault. This was fully four week after I had mailed them, and hence why I then decided that all future communication with Acer would have to be by telephone. Three to four weeks’ turnaround to respond to a customer email is utterly unacceptable and dives well into the territory of appalling. Unfortunately, it leaves me without a paper trail.
Within a few weeks, the same problem was re-occurring, so I arranged to have the unit shipped to you again. Of course, I didn’t bother emailing this time â€“ I arranged it all by telephone. My reasons for this were twofold. Firstly, I didn’t want to have to wait four weeks to get a reference number with which to return it as per my experience with your emailed support. Secondly, I was in the process of emptying my house out as I was moving abroad. At the time the unit was collected, I was working out the final week or so of my notice period with my employers, from where the unit was collected.
Fortunately, or so I thought, the person I spoke to on the phone accepted my parents’ address (where all my things have been stored) as a return address for the unit. This was given to them at the time I was getting the collection/delivery codes for CitiLink and therefore should have been entered on your system at that time. I really couldn’t give you any more notice than that.
We now fast forward to June this year. I checked with my parents and they had not received the screen. Unfortunately, I was currently in New Zealand and could not find the paperwork with the reference number on which I was sure I had with me. Regardless, on the 8th of June, I emailed your Euro Support people asking if they knew what was going on and where my screen had got to.
On the 19th of June, I received a reply from â€œJimâ€ saying he could find no record of this from the information I had provided. I would have thought my name might have been enough, but no. On the 20th of June, I replied to â€œJimâ€ with my old address and the full name and address of my former employers.
My next reply was nearly a full month later on 14th July, this time from â€œDarrenâ€ saying he couldn’t find anything on the system from those details. He asked if I knew exactly what model the monitor was and what date it had been returned. Given that I have only ever returned one thing to Acer I find it unbelievable that with the name and address of a customer and the fact that it’s a â€œTFT screenâ€ your staff are unable to find the relevant records.
Regardless, I replied on the 15th of July (notice how I pretty much always manage to reply within a day or so? A shame your staff can’t). I confirmed that the model was an AL1715 and also gave him my parents’ address to where the unit should have been returned. In addition, I mentioned that some months ago I’d made my initial query using the web forms and perhaps there’d be a record there including the serial number. You know â€“ things I would have expected someone in a support department to already have checked.
Incidentally, by now I was in Hanoi. Nice scenery, lovely people, still no sign of a monitor that was supposedly being dealt with in a country with a superior infrastructure.
On the 21st of July, I was shocked to get a reply. A timescale measured in days rather than weeks! Sadly, it was a message of apology. â€œRichardâ€ had found my case on the system (in all, this had taken Acer an astounding seven weeks, give or take) and the unit had been returned. To my former employers in late March.
My next email on the 22nd pointed out that this wasn’t much use as my parents are in Perth, I’m in Hanoi and therefore neither of are in a position to get to Halifax to collect a wrongly-delivered unit. I suggested that Acer figure out why this had happened and to deal with it accordingly.
Richard replied on the 26th. Rather than paraphrase, I shall quote:
â€œUnfortunately we are not able to assist in this case. The unit was returned after repair to the address that the case was logged with. I have not been able to confirm that your request to change the despatch address was received before the unit was repaired and despatched, if the details were amended in our system before despatch it would have gone to the revised address.â€
Now, obviously, this is wholly unsatisfactory on several points. Let’s go through them.
1) â€œ…returned… to the address that the case was logged with.â€ Yup, the wrong address. I made it clear when I logged the issue that I wanted it returned to my parents. I even chatted for a few minutes with the nice guy on the phone about the reason for doing so. He seemed quite jealous of the fact that I was jetting out of the UK on a one-way ticket!
2) â€œ…not been able to confirm … your request to change the despatch address was received before the unit was repaired and despatchedâ€. This implies that your internal system is incredibly, perhaps unworkably, slow. Simply as I gave the address details to the aforementioned chap on the phone at the time I booked the item in for repair. It wasn’t as if it was an afterthought 2 weeks later. I physically could not have given him the information any sooner. Therefore your system is at fault as it must take several weeks for details entered during a telephone conversation to actually filter into said system.
3) â€œif the details were amended … before despatch it would have gone to the revised address.â€ See point 2 above. I gave your staff the information in as good a time as was possible, i.e. when I was reporting the fault. Therefore if they weren’t entered into the system it’s your fault. Not mine. The only alternative is that the undertone perhaps suggests that I didn’t provide the information. In which case your staff are insinuating that I’m a liar. I’m not going to jump to this conclusion, but it’s the only other option.
So, to sum up. Either your staff can’t do their job, your system’s too slow to accept an address change within a reasonably length of time (I would have though minutes if not seconds on a decent database engine), or I’m a liar and I’m trying to cover up a cockup.
Well, I know that I’m not lying. It’s up to you whether you believe me or not, but frankly it’s rather pathetic customer service to assume that all your customers tell fibs. Especially when number two looks like a decent option as shown by the initial three to four week turnaround on an initial email enquiry. Or maybe your staff are trying to cover up a cockup when one of them didn’t hit the â€œApplyâ€ button to make an address change?
Frankly, I think it’s the last one. It’s an honest cockup by some poor guy at desk who takes 200 calls a day. It happens. All I ask is that you sort it out. The problem is at your end and I maintain that. I will continue to maintain that. All I want is my monitor back or a suitable replacement for it. I want it delivered to my parents’ address (the one at the top of this letter) and I want it done speedily and with no further mistakes.
I have been in touch with an old work colleague who has been down to â€œgoods inâ€. They have no recollection of the unit, but in fairness to them this was several months ago and they deal with a huge number of items. Frankly, it’s not up to me to liaise with them regarding recovery of the unit. Your company screwed up and returned it to the wrong address therefore you should deal with it.
As it stands, the monitor has been out of my possession since the early days of March this year. That’s five months. When it was returned to me in the first place, the fault I reported it with hadn’t been fixed. Your support staff seem to think that three weeks is an acceptable turnaround on email enquiry and they don’t know how to search your support database. When they spot something has gone wrong their initial response is to blame the customer.
Is it understandable that I currently have next to no faith in your company from my recent experiences? I’m writing this letter on an Acer laptop before emailing it to my father to mail it within the UK. I wholeheartedly hope that nothing goes wrong with this machine as I really don’t want to have to deal with your abysmal â€œsupportâ€ again.
A reply by email would be appreciated, though I feel I may as well wait for you to send a letter to my parents and get them to forward it to me. Ideally, though, I’d expect my screen â€“ or a replacement â€“ delivered to them forthwith.
Yours faithfully and with disgust,