The Rant: Customer Service

I recently wrote about my pet peeve of businesses being open and ready for business during the hours they post as open. (  Now I'm moving onto a rant...

When it comes to customer service I don't like to rant.  I KNOW how hard customer service can be.  I've worked in customer service.  It's not easy and a lot of things are out of your control. Customer service workers are so often put between a rock and a hard place. So this rant isn't so much about the people who provide customer service as it is about the lack of training they often receive AND the constraints they face.

This time I AM calling at the company that needs some serious customer service help: Music and Arts.  My son has been playing trumpet since 4th grade and this is the company that he school music program works with to get the instruments.  Towards the end of the school year, I got the same letter I get every year:

And every year I send in the renewal form and select option three.  I've wondered IF I should purchase, I but I'm not sure how long he'll be playing.  (I've probably already missed the boat on this one.)

This year I DID send it in a little later than usual.  My son was on the fence when it came to continuing with instrumental music, but the check for option three was put in the mail on June 21st.  Nine days should be enough time to get a check from NJ to MD and processed, right?  (Please note there is NO option or opportunity to pay for the annual renewal on line or with a credit card.)

Yet on July 2nd, I happened to check my credit card charges on line and:  07/02 MUSIC & ARTS 1 C 888-731-5396 MD 36.25.  Hmmm...what was going on here?  (Please also note that with the original rental they HAD TO HAVE a credit card on file.)

I called the 888# and was told all customer service were helping other customers and my wait time was one minute.  I am an impatient woman, but I CAN wait a minute.  However, the one minute went on for more than 60 seconds and eventually the recording came on to leave my name and number and someone would get back to me.

No one called me back.  But the 4th of July holiday was coming up and did fall in the middle of the week, so I gave them some slack.  By Thursday afternoon (the 5th) there was STILL no call.  So I went on their website and contacted customer service by their on line form. (There is no email address listed on their website to contact them directly; there IS a snail mail address.)

Friday, July 6th, I DID get a call (although I'm not sure if the person calling is doing so because of my voice mail or because of the on line form; I suspect the later). I explained to the woman that I had sent in check 2658 on the 21st of June, it has yet to be cashed AND I've been charged the monthly renewal fee.  Do they have my check?  This poor woman was a mess and obviously had not been well trained.  (This is NOT her fault.)  She says they've had a large amount of renewals that they haven't gotten through yet and NOW I am offered the opportunity to renew over the phone.  So wait a MAY or MAY NOT have my check for over $300; you've already charged my credit card $36 and now you want me to put over $300 on my credit card for the annual renewal?  I had some problems with this.  How did I know they wouldn't cash my check AND charge my card?  I had a big trust issue...especially (and this was NOT the fault of the customer service rep) since I could hear the customer service rep on the phone being told what to say, I'm guessing by her supervisor.  I told them I'd wait to see if they found/cashed the check.

A week went by.  Check is STILL not cashed.  I called the customer service number AGAIN.  This time the wait time for a customer service rep is 9 minutes so I leave an agitated message.  A message that WAS polite(although I will admit I had an angry tone) and asked for a return call that day.  (I made the call in the morning.)

No call back that day or the next so...I use their customer service form on line to leave yet another message and then I copy and paste the message to their Facebook page.  (Which is actually NOT posted until their administrator approve you think that happened?)

On Saturday afternoon I got the below email from Eric (I wish I could do this as one long email chain, but my emails are never included in their responses.  Emails are copied verbatim.):

Dear Elizabeth,
Hello Elizabeth! Thank you for contacting Music and Arts!

We apologize for any inconvenience this renewal issue may cause, but rest assured it is being taken care of. Especially this time of year, there can be delays.

In regards to the issue you stated with the coach and trainee, I have notified a higher up to make sure this is avoided in the future.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 888 731 5396 or email us through here. 

Thanks and have a great day!

My reply:  

Thank you Eric.  My question is WHEN will my check be cashed for the annual renewal and WHEN will the charge to my credit card be reversed?

We are nearing a month here with no resolution.

Eric emailed:

Yes, unfortunately at this moment, I do not have a date of when the renewal info will be assessed and in the same motion, the charge reversed. This is dependent on where your renewal is along side all of the other customers.

I do promise you though, we are attempting to get through all of them as thoroughly, yet as efficiently as possible

I don't think they ARE dealing with this efficiently, Reply:

Thank you Eric.  You are the first person who was actually seemed to care about the customer.

I am curious why this IS taking so long THIS year, when I’ve been renewing with a check for 3 or more years.

And Eric’s final response:

Thank you!

So, while I am not certain of the PRECISE reason for the extended delay, I do know that we have had a large influx of customers . More so this year than any other.

Ok, so here we are nearly a month later and still no resolution to the problem.  I have to say that I'm impressed with Eric's responses.  If only he had more authority.  (Based on is responses alone, I'd thinking Eric is supervisor material.)

Music & Arts you have failed.  You haven't failed me; you've failed all your customers.  (I'm suspecting that I'm not the only one who is frustrated at this point.)  You've failed your own customer service team.  Management:  it's time to get your A** in gear and solve this problem...or you just may have an even bigger problem on your hands.


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