Is good customer service a thing of the past?

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Forum topic by bendwriter posted 02-23-2018 08:30 PM 2241 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 1152 days

02-23-2018 08:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: customer service shopping complaints bad service

I’m curious as to whether I’m alone in my experiences with companies these days. I’ve been doing a lot of revamping of my shop in recent months, so I’ve been doing a lot of shopping and research with a variety of companies – in person, by phone, and by email. I subscribe to the “more flies with honey than with vinegar” philosophy, so I’m always polite when I deal with people.

Without going into lots of details, Penn State’s customer service people were totally snotty on the phone. Their tech people didn’t respond to three different emails, and disconnected two of my phone calls. Woodcraft never responded to two different CS emails. Rockler CS is hit and miss. Filters Fast said they didn’t carry something, and when I pointed out that it was on their website, the woman seemed surprised and just said she didn’t keep up with all the numbers. A lot of the stuff I’ve been getting from Amazon lately looks like it’s been packaged by people who totally don’t care – stuffed in too-small boxes, no padding, held together with reams of tape, etc. I’ve even been shipped stuff that’s “new” but is obviously a repackaged return from someone else.

On three different occasions I’ve been in stores and been told by disinterested millennials that “they don’t carry that” or “they’re out of that” (always without checking), and then I find it on the shelf a short time later. Harbor Freight gave me a box of parts from one item and another box of parts from a different item, then when I went back they just gave me another box of parts and told me to keep everything else, meaning the next guy is going to get a box with the wrong stuff in it. I returned a malfunctioning item to Home Depot, and watched while they started to put it back on the shelf. When I told them not to – “it doesn’t work!” – the clerk seemed put out that I’d corrected her.

These are just a handful of examples, and they’re more the norm than the exception. The notable bright spot – and you woodturners will know this – is Craft Supplies USA, who has the most incredible customer service of any company I’ve ever dealt with.

Anyway, just venting a bit, and curious if others have the same experiences.

-- "Rescuing one dog won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one dog"

22 replies so far

View Fresch's profile


500 posts in 2779 days

#1 posted 02-23-2018 09:20 PM

Yes, customer service is terrible.
I needed a replacement fold for my truck bed cover call local gave them the part numbers, called cheapest dealer online gave numbers, online after long time on hold could only sell it if they revamped their website? Local guy I’m still waiting for call back, called factory- parts are sitting in my garage waiting for install.
I think that the self absorbed, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, people believe they are owed respect having never earned or shown any; a failing of their upbringing, schooling, and mainstream media, I think it will only be getting worse as time goes on.

View Woodknack's profile


13477 posts in 3238 days

#2 posted 02-23-2018 09:41 PM

And it wasn’t great at most places in the past either.

-- Rick M,

View ajshobby's profile


103 posts in 3167 days

#3 posted 02-23-2018 09:55 PM

Customer service has pockets here and there. Over all I have seen nothing but a state of decline since the turn of the century. Though my recent experiences makes me think there maybe is a start to the resurgence of customer focused companies out there. I recently bought a new house and of course the wife wanted new furniture, a bed and kitchen appliances. Happy wife happy life and all that. Out of everywhere we went JC Penny’s actually not only met what i would consider acceptable customer service but they went way above and beyond. Totally surprised me as I would have assumed just normal big box type crap service from them. They actually took care of dealing with the shipping snafu’s for me without me even having to ask for them to do that. I also find our Bloomington Wood Craft store is exceptional but the local Rockler’s are comparable to Lowes. Another way i find good customer service is through some commercial and industrial company sales reps i have access to, mainly for tools and supplies, due to my work. I utilize them whenever I can and usually get better than online pricing.

AJ in Mpls

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5828 posts in 2246 days

#4 posted 02-23-2018 10:51 PM

I bought a variable speed motor from PSI last year. It was defective. I called them and had a replacement within 3 days. If the Chinese factory had decent quality control, I would not have had to call for customer service but when I did, I was very pleased. Their tech guy that they transferred me to was a little gruff but I was only on the phone for 5 minutes at most. Your mileage may vary.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View corelz125's profile (online now)


1549 posts in 1835 days

#5 posted 02-24-2018 12:37 AM

Amazon is one place I have no issues with their customer service. I find the opposite with the packing the stuff is usually way to small for the box it comes in. It’s hit and miss in other places but in home depot i dont expect good customer service so it’s a surprise when I do get the occasional person who actually is helpful.

View pete724's profile


71 posts in 1667 days

#6 posted 02-24-2018 01:18 AM

customer service.

*warning 7 minutes long.

View lightcs1776's profile


4258 posts in 2512 days

#7 posted 02-24-2018 01:24 AM

Yes and no. I find customer service is low or non-existent in many stores. However, there are some that are still quite exceptional. For example, Wynn Environmental provided incredible customer service. Highland Woodworking also provided impressive customer service. Outside of woodworking, I purchase shave soap from Sterling Soaps (yes, I use a safety razor, brush, and shave soap). No one has beat their customer service. So there are companies that realize that they will keep customers by providing exceptional service. They are just far and few in between.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View LittleShaver's profile


690 posts in 1478 days

#8 posted 02-24-2018 04:09 PM

Lee Valley and Lie Neilson have some of the best customer service I’ve ever run across. HD and Lowes are spotty. Usually do better asking someone with gray hair for help. Youngsters can barely find their way to the store. I’ve been shopping through Amazon for 12-15 years and have only had to return one item that arrived broken. Not Amazon’s fault, but the return couldn’t have been easier. We had such bad service at Sears a few years ago that my wife refuses to even enter the store any more.
For the worst customer service, call a doctor’s office or wait for them to make you an appointment with a specialist. You’d better call six months before you’re sick or you’ll be dead before you’re seen. (rant complete)

-- Sawdust Maker

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 3891 days

#9 posted 02-25-2018 02:29 AM

Yes & No. It depends on the particular store. Overall? YES!

I went to Home Depot & Canadian Tire. I asked for the whereabouts of 2 Items. “We Sold Out of that.” and “We’re Out Of Stock on that.” After looking Myself, I found them BOTH!

I Went to the Manager, told him. “Did you get their Names?” NO! “Nothing I can do about it. Good Help is hard to get these Days.” “OH! Thank you very much!” He says “No Problem!” ( I hate that answer to “Thank You.”)

DONE: Rick

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View marc_rosen's profile


175 posts in 4039 days

#10 posted 02-25-2018 03:52 AM

Hey Bendwriter,
I apologize if this is a hijacking of your thread but in addition to bad customer service I get annoyed with many of the companies’ websites. Some of you may think I’m impatient or intolerant but it really annoys me when I “add an item” to my shopping cart and this huge pop up , which is supposed to be my cart, obliterates half the viewing page and does not go away unless I click somewhere else on the page or click “continue shopping”. Woodcraft and Rockler are the worst- and I have complained to them by phone and email, to no avail. I now refuse to spend my money with those site. PennState had been like this but I did not see this when I just “tested” it a few minutes ago. I did complain on my last order, don’t know if that had any effect. Even Lee Valley suffers from obtrusive ( or is it intrusive?) shopping carts.
My favorite sites do not invade the webpage with these interfering carts; Highland Woodworking and Lie Nielsen both have subtle shopping carts that I can view if want to see what’s in them. They don’t get in my way and I can check out when I want without having to be reminded with each item I enter into it.
So to me crappy customer service can also be defined as annoying websites.
Back to my shop now, Marc

-- Windsurfing, Woodworking, Weaving, and Woodducks. "Most woodworkers are usually boring holes"

View bendwriter's profile


15 posts in 1152 days

#11 posted 02-25-2018 06:56 AM

No apologies necessary Marc, because you’ve touched on another sore spot, and here it is. I casually look at one thing on a website – say a router fence on Rockler or maybe a shop vac on Home Depot – and for the next week I can’t turn on my computer without a dozen ads for router fences and shop vacs popping up everywhere. It’s especially irritating around the holidays, when I shop online for my wife. Suddenly my computer is taken over with ads for cloths and shoes and especially quilting items (you might guess she’s a quilter – and you think woodworking is an expensive hobby!) Like Marc I’ve complained, but apparently these pop-up ads work, so they keep using them. Hate ‘em!!

-- "Rescuing one dog won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one dog"

View bendwriter's profile


15 posts in 1152 days

#12 posted 02-25-2018 06:59 AM

Oh yeah – it unfortunately happens all the time here on Lumberjocks as well. As I post this, an ad for the shop vac hose I looked at today on Rockler’s site is now staring me in the face at the bottom of this page. I guess it’s the way of the modern world….

-- "Rescuing one dog won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one dog"

View Woodknack's profile


13477 posts in 3238 days

#13 posted 02-25-2018 07:21 AM

Pop ups are the work of the devil. I’m pretty sure a 10th level of hell is under construction where nerds will have to click through a 100 pop ups every time they want to do something. And all passwords will be 100 characters long minimum and will have to contain at least 1 capital letter, 1 number, and 1 special character; and even though it’s your home computer the password will be asterisk’d out so you can’t see it.

-- Rick M,

View JCamp's profile


1224 posts in 1409 days

#14 posted 02-25-2018 01:22 PM

To me the very worst is Menards. They are cheaper but they just about could fire everyone but the cashiers and I wouldn’t notice any difference. Lowe’s ain’t great but it’s better ( not sure if it’s connected but my Lowe’s tends to higher older folks) Locally my two Ace Hardwear stores (one is a nice lumber yard too) are the best. I rarely get in the door 10 feet without a employee asking if they can help. There is also a Carter lumber near me and they suck. Their prices r 3 times (literally) of Menards and CS sucks. I hope they put a Home Depot in front of that store and run them out of business

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Pixxture's profile


44 posts in 930 days

#15 posted 03-22-2018 12:40 AM

From both sides now
I have a love/hate relationship with rockler. Ordered a laguna ts. A week later i called to verify order status, NOT delivery date. The cust srvc rep told me i needed to wait two more weeks b4 she would check order status (ie order was placed?, order is back ordered? etc). I called back 1 day short of my 3 weeks and was told i was 1 day short of 3 weeks. I talked the lady into checking my order status and found it was on back-order for another 7+ weeks. I cancelled. Yet on their products, not drop shipped ones, they are very good, order status is automatically sent within hours.
At the same time i work at a big box store in tools and hardware, and find that with low staffing there is no way i can give proper service to all.

Very frustrating being on both sides

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