The next day, I sent an email via the company’s website, and included a copy of my purchase receipt showing that the product was still under warranty. What followed was a 10-day e-mail odyssey.
Here’s the pattern that evolved after I left that initial message: a customer service rep would respond and within a few hours, I would send a reply as I tried to get the situation handled—i.e., get a replacement work bowl. About 24 hours would pass before I’d get a response from a different rep (hello Clint, Douglas, Staniel and Rachel!), then the cycle would start again.
Along the way, I learned:
*Cuisinart’s warranty does not include paying for “shipping and processing fees. We ask that you cover the cost of shipping the defective bowl to Cuisinart.” As I related to them in a later email, those fees make it cost-prohibitive to make use of the warranty.
*Sending an attached photograph of the defective bowl wasn’t enough—they needed the defective bowl in their possession as “proof” that it was, in fact, defective.
*Repeatedly, they encouraged me to call a toll-free number, although the customer service agent “will not have access to your e-mail information.” In other words, I got a recurring invitation to go back to Square One.
*Although I paid $70 for the entire processor, the replacement parts altogether amount to nearly $200—a tidy mark-up for sure.
*When I returned the defective bowl, I would need to include “a brief description of the issue (I was) having.” Yep, after spending so much time corresponding to secure this one part, composing yet another summary was exactly what I was hoping for.
*That I am a “valued customer.”
(Well, at least that’s how they started out each email, with no salutation. Not a “Dear.” Just simply, “Valued Customer,” rather than use my name, which I included at the end of all of my correspondence.) Does anyone actually feel valued when they are referred to in this way?
About two weeks after my initial inquiry, having persevered through this process, I finally got my part.
I should be clear that I absolutely love the Cuisinart food processor—a point I made in my initial email to the company. Three or four times a week it makes my life so much easier and helps me create healthy, well-rounded meals for my family. And, in fairness, their customer service is probably on a par, or even better, than many companies out there.
So I suppose this saga, more than anything else, highlights how much I am spoiled by the excellence of customer service at companies like Costco, Whole Foods Market and Amway.
With Whole Foods, just one of many examples of being able to return food items: I bought some protein powder that proved to be horrific-tasting. Open container—full refund—no hassle.
With Costco, I just returned two chairs that I bought last September, but did not use. Again, full refund without a hassle.
With Amway, after hearing from World Wide Group leaders that the company’s customer service was beyond just about anything else out there in the business world, their rave reviews have been confirmed time and again with one remarkable story after another of a committed Customer Service Department.
One that comes to mind is when I broke the glass top of one of my iCook pans. I called to order a replacement, and needed a SKU because I couldn’t find it online.
I was told that they weren’t for sale, and that Amway would send me one free of charge. I was insistent that I should pay, reiterating that it was my fault because I dropped it, and that it wasn’t defective or worn out. The Customer Service rep, even more insistent, sent me a new lid, free of charge.
These businesses treat customers with respect and trust. As customer service issues pop up, they don’t view the customer—the heart of why they continue to exist—as someone to be treated with suspicion and skepticism.
Instead, they go to great lengths to make sure that we come away from the experience feeling appreciated and genuinely, highly valued for our business. They don’t tell us that we are valued customers—they show us through their actions.