Friday, February 5, 2016
Ace Hardware: An Update :)
Well, people, you know how frustrated I have been with my LED bulb purchase at Ace Hardware (and if you don't know what happened, I'm detailing the frustration pretty much every day since 1/19/16 so look at the archives to the left and read on!) and how I ended up writing a 5-page letter to Mr. John Venhuizen, CEO of Ace Hardware, detailing my ordeal, contrasting it with making a purchase from Lowes.com and a Customer Service situation I had just encountered with Amazon, telling him that they had lost me as a customer of acehardware.com and suggesting changes to their processes.
It truly wasn't my intent, in writing the letter, to get something for free. I'm passionate about Customer Service. First, having worked at for the Walt Disney Company for 15 years, starting as a Guest Relations hostess in the theme parks and working in Disney University Professional Development Programs where my department was hired to facilitate training sessions on Disney Customer Service for outside companies, that's in my blood. Second, as a customer, it irks me to support companies that don't support their customers.
So my intent in writing the letter was to highlight my frustrating experience as a loyal Ace Hardware customer who just wanted to buy 40 LED light bulbs from their website to spur them to make changes.
I mailed my letter last week and told them NOT to call me. I hate phone calls. I also told them that I wasn't interested in having a P.R. person contacting me with such platitudes as blaming the store employees, who were actually all quite wonderful (if sometimes a little clueless) or their training.
Late last night, I received an automated email from AceHardware.com telling me that my 40-bulb order had been cancelled and that my Discover card would be credited. A tiny part of me was hoping that this would be followed by a message explaining that the CEO's office had requested this, but a huge part of me (the one that simply isn't expecting anything great from Ace Hardware anymore) was fearing that it was the latest fiasco in a long list of fiascos with that order. I especially wasn't looking forward to having to write another complaint letter if my $120 rebate got cancelled because of the order cancellation (since I had just gotten, the day before, an email confirmation that my rebate had been received by the rebate center) because I seriously doubted that my Discover card would indeed get credited.
This morning, there was no explanation email. I told myself to be patient, wait a week to see if my Discover card was indeed credited (it wasn't as of this morning but I know from experience that those things sometimes take several days before the credit shows up online) and then advise.
I'm so glad I didn't stress too much about that last development, because at about 3:20 p.m. this afternoon, I received an email from Michelle at the Ace Care Center:
Wow. I'm honestly floored. This is very generous of Ace Hardware not only to fully refund my order (I did get the bulbs, remember?) but also to tell me to keep the rebate check and I thanked her and him.
Does this mean that I will start shopping on Acehardware.com again? Well, not so fast. Until they change the systems and processes that caused all the aggravation, no, I will not be shopping on their website. Ace Rewards customers should be able to see the rebates applied automatically to their online orders, much like they are applied automatically to their in-store orders. Their website shouldn't tell me that a store has merchandise to sell me and charge my credit card until the store management has confirmed that they do have the merchandise to sell. Yes, the people in the Tavares store seemed completely clueless and they probably need to make changes to how they manage their stock so the website has the latest information, but the customer shouldn't get stuck in the middle of that.
So, until I hear that the processes and policies are changing, no, I won't be shopping on Acehardware.com again. Why risk the stress? But I will continue to patronize our local Ace Hardware store because they have great employees, they're close to our house, and their prices are pretty good.
If I hear that their policies actually have changed, I will share this with you as well.
In the meantime, I urge you to not take bad customer service as the cost of doing business with a company. We are their customers. Without our business, there is no company and no profits. Many times you will not get a refund or an exchange or even an acknowledgment of your letter/message, but you will have done your part to share with the CEO how the company she/is manages is performing in the eyes of the customers.