Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Customer service is something I shudder to deal with. They are mostly bad. Mostly difficult to deal with. But there are gems too. Here's a list of what I can recall enduring, scaring, threatening:

Let's start with 'The Ugly':
1) Oakley's Malaysia distributor, Revelstoke
My, weren't they a pain. SF's Oakley glasses (his sixth pair? ninth?) broke while we were in Penang and when we sought a replacement part, was told that wasn't available anymore. No further explanation. Probed further, we figure it's because that frame wasn't the best they made, hence it was discontinued. Revelstoke would only go as far as giving us a 200 ringgit credit for a new pair of frame. That was an almost new pair, may be about a year old. Why should I fork out more than 800 ringgit to get a 1,000 ringgit Oakley frame and still pay for prescription lenses? That got me furious. It was a battle threatened with complaints to the Consumer Claims Tribunal.
Revelstoke relented in the end, and gave SF a new frame onto which he could still attach his existing Rx glasses.

2) Ipa-nima's Malaysian distributor, CarmenZ
I bought a leather handbag from them, the second in my Ipa-nima collection, for a little less than 1,000 ringgit, and discovered the silk inner lining was frayed along the stitching. I called CarmenZ's Hazel, and was told I should just get it fixed on my own. This is a brand new bag, and I'm not even asking for a replacement, just for a fixing. I called the Consumer Claims Tribunal and was told I have a case against them if I choose to file an official complaint.
I chose to write to Ipa-nima's founder, Christina Yu, in Hanoi and she was simply helpful, arranging for me to send my bag to CarmenZ for fixes. Bag came back good as new.
I've, of course, sworn off CarmenZ but the lure of Ipa-nima bags made me go back for more. I don't know why I bother. After all, SF was basically living every weekday in Hanoi at one point. Ipa-nima bags are one of a kind and I have five in my collection now! The first a gift from SF, and the rest my gifts to myself ;)

The Bad
1) Car Distributor
Actually, this isn't so bad. It could even go under "good." The experience started right after I took delivery of the car. A dent on the door made me curse the sales manager for dismissing my complaint with the excuse that my car's fully imported, hence the company can't do much for me. He trapped himself with that reasoning. I had my dent sprayed on his account.
There was also the air recirculator problem. First Mercedes Benz Malaysia (or Daimler then) refused to entertain my requests for a re-programming. Did I write to Stuttgart, Germany? May be I did. Or may be I threatened. It was re-programmed, in a hurry too, and after the work was done, I was told I owed them 150 ringgit or so for inspecting the electronic connections. Not being told of this costs earlier, I told them they can hold my car ransom.
More came when the car central locking failed, after three years and a bit of owning the car. Pretty shocking. But CCB's great service advisor pulled me through this, when from a 50% liability absorption, Mercedes Benz Malaysia went on to take up the full costs.

The Good
1) For something totally inexpensive, this comes as one of the best, if not the best! I own Cocoons' OveRx sunglasses since 2006, and the case was frayed from the inside since I had it. Never bothered me till lately, when the bag won't shut. I wrote to Cocoons in the U.S. No response for days. Then an e-mail arrived. No trouble, I was told..just go to the place I bought it from and get a replacement. Easy as that. Wow! Hats off to Cocoons for great customer service.

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