Monday, 8 June 2015

The Tale of a Truck : Part The Second

It was Busted!

See yesterday's blog (read again).

fbb's model truck, dating from about 1960, duly arrived per post, well packed as ever, from Hattons of Smithdown Road, Liverpool. In 1955 they were at number 180, whereas today they have moved to bigger premises at 364 to 368.
Their logo (established 1946) is comfortingly old-fashioned.
But fbb's truck was broken. One of the drop sides had dropped off!
The little plastic hinge was obviously snapped clean off ...
... hence the sticky out bit. The box was also well bashed but for a 55 year old model that might well have been expected.
So began the process of resolving the issue.

"The truck must have been damaged in transit." Not so. The parcel was well packed and well sealed; there was no dropped-off drop side therein.

And then, sadly, fbb made his big mistake. Having established (by email) that a refund was standard procedure, fbb spotted a replacement identical vehicle in the on-line pre-owned list. So he sent a second email.
And what a palaver ensued. 

"I cannot find you previous email." "Are you wanting to add something to your order?"

More typing from fbb. Also a suggestion. To save cost and hassle why don't Hattons send the replacement and fbb will throw the unsaleable item in the bin.

"Oh no! Oh no! We can't do that!"

By way of intermission, a tale of customer service from Mrs fbb.
A few years ago, she bought (on line) some storage boxes from Lakeland. But, being old and thus incompetent, she had clicked on he wrong button and ordered the wrong size. She rang Lakeland.

"No problem at all, Mrs fbb; we will send the replacement boxes today. Just give the others to a charity shop." Which she did.

Back to Hattons.

"Under our warranty**, you will have to send the broken truck back to us, give us your debit card details and we will then refund the £6.50 and recharge you for the replacement (which was 50p more - shock horror!). We need to do this to keep our stock records and accounts in good order. Oh, by the way, we cannot hold the replacement so it will be  subject to it's  being unsold on receipt of all of the above."

So fbb had to pack up a broken truck, take it to the Seaton post office; pay £3.30 postage; do all the card numbers bit, all in a tentative hope that someone else hadn't bought he replacement in the meantime.

All for 50p and because of  "the system".

Thus tortuous and ludicrously expensive process produced 12 emails ...
... so thanks to C, Sophie, Bryan, Chelsea, Katie, Paul, notify (twice), Natalie, notify (again), Thomas and Chelsea (again) for making a simple task almost unbelievably complex and unnecessary. Perhaps invite the Lakeland people to give you a short course on Customer Relations?

To be fair, it's not the staff's fault. fbb expects that it is an over-engineered computer system and b*d m*n*g*m*nt. Several practical suggestions occur to fbb.

1. Ensure that emails on one topic are given a unique reference number and always routed to the same member of staff. Common practice elsewhere.

2. Empower staff to make sensible decisions. To recoup the 50p difference in price it must have cost the company several tens of pounds in staff time.

3. Don't use the word warranty. Warranty is irrelevant. Under the sale of goods acts, a product that is not "fit for purpose", whether second hand or not, MUST be refunded or replaced.

4. Although you are not legally required to do so, you should, morally, refund postage on damaged goods. And yes, fbb did email pictures of the damage.

5. And, of course, you MUST reserve a replacement immediately you receive notification of the fault.

Anyway, having paid £3.30 to put right Hatton's failings, plus, of course, the 50p difference, a parcel arrived promptly. A big box ...
... with mega bubbles ...
... and mini bubbles ...
... and it's in here somewhere! Yes, hooray ...
... a replacement truck. You couldn't fault the packing and the speed of return once the convolutions had convoluted. In fact, this version is newer than the busted one. It comes from the Triang Hornby era (1964 to 1971) and has a better chassis without the axles poking through the axleboxes.
And, of course, both drop sides drop; they haven't dropped off.

Will fbb shop with Hattons again? The trouble is that they are so good with prompt delivery and good packing that fbb will doubtless have to forgive them the tortuous process of replace and/or refund.

And save the £3.30 by buying cheaper on his next purchase.

And here it is with and without sides dropped.
And the Good News
Just for the record, fbb was off to Brum on Saturday last to visit a chum who is not in the best of health. It was hardly an exciting visit; but compensation was ever present in the form of on-time and trouble-free rail journeys.
** In fact fbb strayed from the computer's advice. Technology said 1105 from New Street to Butlers Lane because the bits and bytes apparently need longer than 7 minutes to trot from one platform to another. Creaky fbb managed it in three. Equally the system suggested 1534 from Butlers Lane; fbb would have gone for 1524 to allow at least one train's worth of safety margin, but actually left earlier to enjoy a visit to Ian Allan's book and model shop on Stephenson Street.
Mrs fbb went to her monthly Bible Study and Prayer day at Wimbledon on the same train from Axminster and arrived back at 2003.

Delicious. It was such a pleasure to be driven at speed through gorgeous countryside; reminding fbb of the privilege of living in this "green and pleasant land".

 Next tube blog : Tuesday 9th June 



    "he cost of return postage will be reimbursed in the instance of faulty or incorrect items, if requested in the covering letter, and returned by the appropriate option of:
    Royal Mail Second Class with "Proof of Postage" for parcels below 1Kg
    Royal Mail "Standard Parcel" for parcels weighing more than 1Kg
    "Proof of postage" certificates are available free-of-charge from post offices, and avoid the need to use services like "Signed for" or "Special Delivery". They ensure that, in the event of a missing parcel, you can prove it was posted to us."

    So you shouldn't have had to pay the £3.30, but only paying it back if you request it is very sly business practice indeed.

    I would go out of my way to cease using that supplier on that principle, and would tell them why.

  2. Thanks Neil. None of the twelve emails mentioned it. Surprise, surprise! I have sent them the blog.

  3. An alternative would have been to ring Hattons. Email is good for some things, but when a situation needs resolving it is always better to speak to a human being. It's a theme you've often used in your musings about public transport information: it also applies to customer service.

  4. I agree entirely and I wish I had. But having stirred up a hornets nest on email, the possibility of matching a subsequent phone call to the relevant electronic "conversation" seem unrealistic! Isn't "electronic" supposed to be the answer to all ills?

  5. Your experience is precisely why I won't deal with Hattons anymore via mail order.
    I have had part of my orders mispicked, and the cost of returning the goods was 50% of the value of the part of the order so no point returning the 'wrong' goods.
    Any 'saving' on the models is outstripped by these postal charges - I prefer instead to shop locally (the joys of a free staff bus pass!) and spend a little bit more than the Hattons price buying my model and getting it on the day of purchase.
    Hattons make their real money via mail order - they're incredibly helpful on the phone as well and even more so should you pop into the shop (which is worth dropping into if you're ever up there) but as with all 'bargains' there is a price to be paid.
    You don't get owt for nowt as they say in Yorkshire.