WeddingDepot’s Nonresponsive, Passive Aggressive, Customer Service

UPDATE: WeddingDepot calls this post libel and requests its removal.

Loren ordered a personalized ornament from WeddingDepot.com on December 16th. Instead, she received a “unity candle holder” on December 22nd. She emailed several times starting that day and didn’t receive her first response until December 28th.

What follows is an exponentially degrading exchange between Loren and customer service rep Shaun. Eventually Loren wears him down this:

    “I’ve tried to offer you a solution, yet you continue to debate it without end and thereby causing yourself further delay. Here ya go – this will work:

    1. Throw unity candle stand in the trash.
    2. We’ll issue a full refund.
    3. We’ll cancel your account with us. Please shop elsewhere.”

It’s all for the best. Loren gets her money back and WeddingDepot loses a customer they’re unable to satisfy. Frankly, their stuff is pretty cheesy so Loren is better off taking her business to another store.

Full exchange, inside…


Loren wants WeddingDepot to pay for UPS to come by her house and pick up the package, and she wants her personalized ornament sent before she returns the faulty merchandise.

Shaun pretty much wants the opposite. He wants Loren to return the items before they will process the refund or ship the correct item.

By law, stores can set their own return and refund policies. However, Shaun does a poor job of adequately communicating these policies and doesn’t never addresses the emotional frustration Loren expresses. If had shown a little empathy, things might have gone over better and Loren wouldn’t have felt like she had to resort to filing a BBB complaint.


Loren writes:

    “I placed an order for a personalized ornament with WeddingDepot.com and unfortunately, received the wrong shipment. It has all gone downhill from there in one of the nastiest customer service battles I have ever been involved in.

    I have included here all of my email communications with the company on this matter. I truly can’t believe the way this customer service representative has chosen to speak to me …

    I’ve already contacted the Better Business Bureau but feel consumers must know about the way this company is choosing to conduct business.

    You have my permission to post these emails, albeit without my contact information or email address.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

    Thanks,

    Loren

    [ed: We think the apparent mixup in the timestamps is due to Loren and Shaun being in different time zones.]

    —– Original Message —–
    From: “WeddingDepot.com”
    Date: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 12:35 pm
    Subject: Order Update
    To: Loren

    WeddingDepot.com

    ** IMPORTANT ANSWERS: Some items – including albums -require special production times. Always check item descriptions first for production & shipping times. Some items only require 10- 14 days while others such as Art Leather albums require 6- 8 weeks. During this time, your order will simply remain in process without further email updates. DELIVERY TIMES: This is different than production times. Delivery times are the time the delivery service has your package. Orders ship from zip code 37064. Most orders ship US Mail. For questions about delivery times, check USPS.com. We cannot control delivery times. TRACKING NUMBERS are only available on FedEx order. Also, check the My Account section of the website for information about your order.

    ——————————————-
    Order Number: 26316
    Detailed Invoice:

    Your order has been updated to the following status. New status: Hooray, order has shipped! :)

    For shipping or delivery times, please refer to the item description on our website, the Help menu on our website, and the My Account section also on our website.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To: LorenWeddingDepot.com
    Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 9:17 AM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    I am STILL waiting for a response on this.

    You sent me the wrong item. I ordered a personalized ornament, that I paid for expedited shipping on, and received the wrong order instead. I am still expecting and waiting for the ornament I ordered and I would like shipping costs removed from my bill … as the item clearly didn’t get here in time for the holidays, as I had hoped.

    Please respond on this. This is the 3rd email I have sent.

    Thanks,

    Loren

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 8:09 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Hello there,

    Thank you for your follow-up. Which item did you receive?
    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 2:25 PM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    I replied earlier today and have still yet to hear back from you.

    I was sent a unity candle holder. I ordered a personalized ornament.

    When can I expect the ornament to show up and will the charges be deleted from my account?

    Please reply asap. I am disappointed with the response time I have received from your company.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006 4:28 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    Hello there,

    Thank you for your follow-up. Unfortunately, we cannot always instantly reply. Sometimes we have to investigate an order to discover what happened to create a mistake. As you seem to be very frustrated and disappointed – because you keep stating that in your emails – how about we have you return the mistaken shipment via US Priority Mail and we’ll refund your full amount including the return shipping. We’ll then discontinue our shopping relationship. When errors are made, we try out best to solve them, but unfortunately if someone keeps telling us of their frustration and disappointment, there isn’t much hope for a satisfactory result.

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 3:56 PM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    My initial email was sent to you on Friday, December 22nd. Without a phone service to answer my call, I was left guessing if I would receive the item in time for Christmas. That is what got me so frustrated.

    I would still like the ornament, as I paid for it, and it was a gift that I had bought for someone very special. It’s frustrating to buy that one special gift and be let down when it is guaranteed to arrive, you pay for it to arrive and then it doesn’t show up at your doorstep in time.

    To end the disappointment, the best resolve would be for me to receive the item that I originally ordered. I will gladly send the other item back, but not until I receive the item that I ordered.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006 5:17 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Hello there,

    Thank you again for your reply. We indeed are sorry to have shipped the incorrect item. Because FedEx only designates the time FedEx has a package in their possession and does not alter order processing dates, orders with personalized items still require their normal time before shipping, so a personalized item placed on the 22nd would not have been guaranteed for delivery before Christmas. Most personalized items require several business days before shipping – although we tried to shorten that when we could for the holidays. Ornaments are usually in the 5-7 business day range for production.

    Please use this information for returning the mistaken shipment and we’ll reimburse you for the US Priority Mail fee, and we can move forward with correcting the personalized ornament shipment.
    Return form: http://www.weddingdepot.com/returns RA# 061227SL

    Thank you!

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 4:20 PM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    I didn’t place the order on the 22nd. I placed the order on the 16th and paid for expedited shipping. I received it on the 22nd and it was incorrect. That is when I originally emailed, at 3:00 and received my first response on this today.

    As I mentioned, I will gladly ship the item I received back, but not until I receive the ornament that I ordered.

    Thanks,

    Loren

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006 5:35 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Hello there,

    Thank you for the clarification. If you would like to keep the candle holder, you can purchase it. If you wish to return it for the ornament, we need it to be returned before the ornament can ship. This is nothing unusual. All your local retailers and major online companies require a return before another item can be shipped. Your local retailer does not offer you another item until you return the previous one. I don’t know why you would want to hold the candle holder as it’s not even a comparable item. It sounds like some sort of “ransom” idea or something… ha, ha. It costs us more for you to actually ship it back to us, so that theory wouldn’t quite work as it would be more cost effective and easier for us to just have you keep it and not to ship the ornament at all. We’re trying to correct the situation for you. You wanted good service and we’re trying to provide it to you. If you choose to complicate it, it only adds more frustration on your end. Trying to play a “I’m not shipping this until you ship that” game will only end in a very messy and frustrating situation that will probably include your not receiving the ornament.

    We’re trying to provide the service you wanted and condemned us for not having. We’re trying to help.

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 4:44 PM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    The form you provided me with is not a return shipping label … I’d have to actually go to the post office, PAY for shipping and hope that you’ll reimburse me …without knowing that is going to happen … or if I’m even going to receive the ornament that I originally ordered.

    I don’t think it’s “standard” to say that I should pay for an item that I never ordered. Standard, would be sending UPS to pick up the item that you incorrectly sent, at your cost, not have me go to the post office, pay for the item and wait to be reimbursed. In fact, any time I have ever been shipped the wrong order, UPS has been sent to pick it up and the right item has been sent to me.

    It’s not an issue of ransom … it’s an issue of why should I go out of my way for your company’s mistake?

    I don’t understand the service I am receiving or the rudeness at all.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006 5:49 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Hello there,

    You are correct. It’s not a label – I did not say it was. Yes, you will have to deliver it to the post office – that is why I previously said we would reimburse you. This was a matter of a mistaken shipment. I am uncertain why you are inflating it to be a situation where you are a victim. That is something you are imagining. We want to correct the situation, but you are working against us in our efforts.

    You may have worked with UPS in the past. We do not. We have provided our method of return and reimbursement. Again… we’re trying to correct the situation for you and we hoped that you would help do so because it’s you we’re trying to help.

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 4:59 PM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    Surely, I hope name calling is not standard in your business operations. I never called myself a victim. I just want the ornament I ordered.

    I will return the unity candle holder. In what form of payment do you plan on reimbursing me for the shipping? Will I receive a check? Will you put the credit on my credit card? Please let me know.

    And when can I expect to receive the ornament that I ordered?

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006 6:41 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Wow – name-calling? Where did that come from? Victim is an ordinary term in vocabulary which described the perception I was getting from what you were telling me. You were insinuating the lack of morals of our company by questioning if you were even going to get reimbursed and repeatedly condemned our service level. That is something someone says when they think they are a victim (being ripped off) and that is what I interpreted your perspective to be from what you were telling from me.

    I promise you we want to take care of this honest mistake but are having a bit of a bumpy road doing so. If we could not back- up my offer and were going to rip you off…. why would we have sent you anything in the first place? The reimbursement will come in the form of a credit back to your card.

    Thank you!

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 8:38 PM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    I do not consider myself a victim and don’t appreciate the use of the term … I am simply being a cautious consumer, and from the type of unprofessional communication that has been coming from your end, I think I have every right to be. I have never in my life been talked to by a customer service representative in the tone that you have chosen to take with me.

    As I understand it, in the customer service business, it is your responsiblity to make sure the customer is satisfied and has received the items that they have ordered, in a timely manner and in the shipping time in which they requested and paid for. Instead, we have wasted an entire day emailing back and forth without a resolve to the problem at hand. So now I have to wait until you receive the unity candle holder before my ornament can be shipped when it should have been here by Friday, the 22nd? Seems to me that I’m the one that is now being inconvenienced even further for your company’s mistake … How is that customer service?

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Thursday, December 28, 2006 10:26 pm
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Hello there,

    Wow… we’re definitely on different wave-lengths and I don’t possibly see how you interpret “victim” to be a negative term. I am uncertain what word you would use for someone claiming to be at the mercy of a company who they suspect and make claim to having done them wrong. The reason you’ve not ever had communication like this before is because most companies train employees to practice activities that are illogical in order to cater to the dreams of customers and that includes telling customers anything they want to hear as long as it makes them smile. It’s an act that companies do to hope that customers will think they’re great and come back. It usually goes beyond what’s reasonable and logical for the situation and pretty soon the company wastes more time and money trying to cater to a customer who is insulting them. That leads customers to have the mind-set that a company should do anything for the customer. After all… why wouldn’t it? The customer learns they can yell and insult the company and look… the company then does anything you ask. That’s ridiculous. Errors do not translate into carte blanche. There are still processes that must take place and procedures to be followed to make corrections to mistakes. Those same customers usually are quick to cast negativity toward companies and then claim the company is being rude to them when it responds to such allegations cast by the customer. They think it’s a one-way street and their purchase entitles them to say anything to the company. Companies are only people too, and half the gibberish that a frustrated customers email would never have left their lips if they had to say that in person… to a person.

    Yes, I agree that today’s communications have been virtually wasted. Early in the day, I offered the solution we are ending on – yet you continued to debate it for the entire day. Not only that, but you continue to ignore the fact that you are incorrect that the item was to be delivered to you by the 22nd. You are creating your own “guaranteed by” time and blaming us for a production and shipping time you’re making up. In fact, you’re even making up the “guaranteed” part totally. We only state approximations for all our products, yet you’re taking it upon yourself to interpret it as “guarantee”. We cannot control your choice to convert our information into what you wish it to be.

    This is definitely one of the most peculiar email exchanges I’ve had with a customer and it amazes me how your failure to understand the correct shipping time in combination with an honest mistake in our shipping department has caused you to question the morality of our company by questioning if we would refund your money. We look forward to receiving the product back so we can rapidly conclude this exchange.

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Friday, December 29, 2006 6:48 AM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    You say I am imagining that I’m a victim here? I am imagining reporting you to the Better Business Bureau. THAT’S what I’m imagining.

    You state ” Not only that, but you continue to ignore the fact that you are incorrect that the item was to be delivered to you by the 22nd. You are creating your own “guaranteed by” time and blaming us for a production and shipping time you’re making up. In fact, you’re even making up the “guaranteed” part totally.”

    Actually, no, I’m not making any of it up. I received an email on 12/19 saying “HOORAY! Your order has shipped!” The production time was clearly through with and the item was on its way. And I received the candle holder on the 22nd. SO…. If the RIGHT order was shipped, it would hold true that the ornament would have been here by the 22nd, no? I haven’t made anything up. “Thank you for your follow-up. which item did you receive?” … that was the first response I received from you after emailing you three times and stating that I was disappointed I had not received the ornament. A simple “We are sorry for the shipping error, we’ll get the ornament out to you as soon as possible” would have gone a LONG way solved this entire debate. Instead, you chose to argue with me about this.

    I am not asking you to bend over backwards for me as the customer. I am asking for CUSTOMER SERVICE, none of which I have received.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Friday, December 29, 2006 10:25 am
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    Thank you for your reply. The reason you received the shipped notice was obviously because the wrong item had shipped because the regular production time for the ornament would not have been complete yet, so my comments about “guarantee” are exactly right. We did offer a solution early on. You chose to debate it, so we replied each time.

    We’ll await the arrival of the return. We will handle the exchange when it arrives.

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Friday, December 29, 2006 9:36 AM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    Regardless, the ornament should have been shipped BY NOW.

    I will send the unity candle holder back COD.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Friday, December 29, 2006 10:42 am
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    We reimburse for postage and not COD fees or additional services you select to add to the return.

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Friday, December 29, 2006 9:54 AM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    You have been reported to the Better Business Bureau.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Customer Service
    Date: Friday, December 29, 2006 11:29 am
    Subject: Re: Order Update
    To: Loren

    No problem. We’ll be sure to include the BCB. We’ll enclose your on-going debate in our response. I’ve tried to offer you a solution, yet you continue to debate it without end and thereby causing yourself further delay. Here ya go – this will work:

    1. Throw unity candle stand in the trash.
    2. We’ll issue a full refund.
    3. We’ll cancel your account with us. Please shop elsewhere.

    That was easy. Have a good New Year’s!

    Shaun
    Customer Service

    http://www.WeddingDepot.com

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Loren
    To:Customer Service
    Sent: Friday, December 29, 2006 10:46 AM
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    It’s not surprising that you’ve been reported before and have an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau.

    I am still unsure of what solution you ever offered me other than for me to go to the post office, pay to return the unity candle holder, and then patiently wait to be reimbursed for that … as well as wait even longer for the ornament to arrive.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Customer Service To: Loren
    Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 10:53:44 -0600
    Subject: Re: Order Update

    Please follow the below solution and discontinue communication with us.

    Shaun
    Customer Service
    http://www.WeddingDepot.com”

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. phelander says:

    This guy makes me want to beat his ass just READING what he wrote to someone else. What an asshole.

  2. Smashville says:

    There is no way that’s real…that’s just…unfuckingbelievable…

  3. kcskater says:

    I dunno. She seems pretty unreasonable. Any time that I’ve had to have items replaced or returned, I’ve ALWAYS sent them first and then later received the new item. It’s standard RMA procedure. I thought the guy was perfectly reasonable but she wasn’t willing to offer any concessions at all. I mean, he even offered to pay for return shipping, which is pretty rare these days…

  4. Greeper says:

    I thought he was totally reasonable. THough I’m automatically inclined to side against anyone who buys personalized ornaments.

  5. RobUsdin says:

    If a customer wants to have a new item shipped before the old item is shipped back – what usually happens is the vendor will charge the customer for that item – then credit the customer back for the returned item when received. This way the business does not risk a loss of the item. That is not unreasonable.

    However, the tone of the customer service rep was absolutely uncalled for. If they had plainly explained the return policy with editorializing, the result might have been very different.

    –*Rob

  6. Greeper says:

    Also, this guy is my hero, for saying what I would want to say (but wouldn’t), and saying it in a much calmer, rational way. She seems like a spoiled child to me.

  7. RobUsdin says:

    The customer did seem a bit inflexible, but the customer service rep here was out of line.

    Explaining things in a rational, non-personal way is a hallmark of good customer service. This customer service rep crossed that line in a big way. Instead of saying “I’m sorry, but this is the way we have to do things” they launched into a virtual tirade against this customer, which only made the situation worse.

    –*Rob

  8. WV.Hillbilly says:

    The guy’s a total asshole.
    I’ve dealt with many companies, that when it was their mistake, shipped me the correct items without waiting for a return, paid the return shipping AND had the item to be returned picked up.
    Shaun Larson is listed in WhoIs as the administrative contact for http://www.WeddingDepot.com, so I’d bet he’s the owner of the company, too.
    It also appears that he has his own blog:
    http://www.larsonart.com/blog/

  9. mackz says:

    It looks from the BBB and site registration data that Shaun isn’t just a customer service monkey, but also the proprietor.

    WHOIS at GEEKTOOLS sez:

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
    Larson, Shaun admin@weddingdepot.com
    PO BOX 605
    Franklin, TN 37065
    US
    9999999999 fax: 123 123 1234

  10. Loren says:

    My whole point from the very beginning of this ongoing email debate was a simple issue of receiving adequate customer service.

    After waiting 10 days for a reply, the only solution I received was to send the incorrect item back, and discontinue our shopping relationship. How does that qualify as customer service?

    In addition … I had no issue with sending the candle holder back. I would have gladly sent it back before I received the ornament had the company sent UPS to pick it up.

    However, I didn’t trust that I would be reimbursed for the shipping costs, nor did I trust I’d ever receive the ornament because of the unprofessional manner in which the customer service representative (and company owner)had been spoken to me.

    Plus, there was no phone number or company address (other than a PO Box) listed on the website for the company … which is something I SHOULD have checked BEFORE I placed my order but didn’t.

  11. dontera says:

    I’ve been on Shaun’s side of this type of interaction before. From his tone he obviously has dealt with a lot of frustrated shoppers and doesn’t feel like toeing the “good customer service” line. Both parties have have a point, but they also are being unreasonable.

    All companies operate a bit differently with regards to returns, and WeddingDepot’s does not seem unreasonable. When she placed an order with them she was consenting to operate by this companies return policies, if she wasn’t happy with them then she should not have ordered. But, Shaun’s nonchalant written tone did nothing to help the situation.

    I think the ultimate resolution was the best one they could hope to get.

  12. MeOhMy says:

    Loren was a bit unreasonable about the return process, but based on the claim of slow response time and the obvious bizarre behavior of “Shaun,” I suppose I too would be a bit hesitant to enter into a situation where the vendor has both my money, cost of return shipping AND the merchandise, especially considering the desire to have it arrive by Xmas. The vendor could have at least made some concession such as charging for the correct item with a promise of a refund when the incorrect item arrives, or sending the correct item upon receiving a USPS tracking number on the return.

    But Shaun’s constant arguing is ridiculous enough to merit going on your personal “Do Not Shop” list. You don’t argue with the customer, you apologize for the inconvenience (even if it’s not your company’s fault) and then you clearly explain the process and that’s it.

  13. I read through it and yeah. I don’t see anything wrong with the way the Customer Service Rep handled it. True, he may have gotten a bit personal in the emails and a “Sorry” couldn’t have hurt. However, the customer is being unrelistic in their expectations.

  14. acambras says:

    Shaun crossed the line. Maintaining a certain level of detachment (vs. arguing and getting personal like he did) would have been much more professional.

  15. phelander says:

    Quit blaming the customer. The customer is what keeps business in business. You people are as predictable as the Talkbacker’s on AICN. This is a sight to defend the consumer against bad businesses. This was a clear cut case of BAD customer service. The customer is at NO FAULT here and you know it.

  16. The CSR Shaun was wrong first:

    As you seem to be very frustrated and disappointed – because you keep stating that in your emails – how about we have you return the mistaken shipment via US Priority Mail and we’ll refund your full amount including the return shipping. We’ll then discontinue our shopping relationship. When errors are made, we try out best to solve them, but unfortunately if someone keeps telling us of their frustration and disappointment, there isn’t much hope for a satisfactory result.

    Shaun decided to take it her e-mails personally. His response sounds like he thinks customers shouldn’t tell them when they are upset about an error they made.

    When the company starts off with, “Let’s just forget it because YOUR attitude is going to make it impossible for us to fix this” what do they expect other than for the customer to not trust them to fix it?

  17. JeffreyK says:

    Would it have killed either party to have simply picked up the phone and talked it over like civil adults? The first sign of trouble warrants a phone call until you get through.

    We’re talking about a personalized ornament… I’m sure the local Hallmark store can hook her up. There’s a lot to be said about brick & mortars when you want customized stuff. I mean, common… when I ordered my personalized Wal-Mart Nazi-skull Christmas ornaments embroidered on black velvet dingle-balls, I went local. Am I wrong?

  18. cynon says:

    Shaun is an idiot. I wouldn’t have had the patience she had, and I would have done a charge back. There was never even an apology for sending out the wrong item. I agree with the first commentor: Shaun needs a wee bit of back alley time for an attitude adjustment.

  19. joopiter says:

    I agree with acambras – I would have a better opinion of Shaun if he didn’t launch into a lecture about unreasonable customer demands. And using the term “victim” is just asking for a customer to go on the defensive (or even more so in this case). Still, the customer was acting childish and seemed to have forgotten the immortal wisdom of Dalton from “Road House”: Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.

    Also, I’m beginning to understand from reading this website that you’re better off not shopping at places with the word “Depot” in their name.

  20. Youthier says:

    Rectilinear Propagation is spot on. The only issue is Shaun took it personally, which you can’t do even if you own the company. Going back and forth on whether “victim” is name-calling or not? Just dumb.

    I think Shaun’s solution was fine but I don’t really like his professionalism (or lack thereof).

  21. JayThree says:

    The only way the CS rep could be seen as reasonable here is if you agree that the customer should be inconvenienced by having to go to the post office on her own time and pay money out of her own pocket to correct their mistake, and then hope she gets reimbursed just for the money spent, not the time wasted. And as we’ve seen here time and time again, who’s to say the company would reimburse her? Who’d be surprised if they came back with “we don’t do that, the CSR didn’t say that or you just misunderstood them”?

  22. WorldofChe says:

    The ONLY thing Shaun had to say of value or intelligence is that she could not expect the ornament by Christmas since it wasn’t a “guarantee” his company provides, and the only reason she received her order on the 22nd was because it was the wrong item and had a shorter production time. However, this point was irrelevant to the problems at hand.

    Why in the world is Shaun doing something special by offering to pay for the return shipping on HIS shipping error? When a CSR makes it sound like he is doing me a “favor” for something that should go without saying, I know immediately the person has no clue about customer service and this experience is going to be hell.

    Shaun’s second response after his extremely apologetic “Thank you for your follow-up. Which item did you receive?” where not only does he not say he’s sorry for the mix up, but he doesn’t even address any of her other points (slow response time, shipping cost refund, that it was a Christmas present) offers a solution: let’s not do business together anymore because I can’t satisfy you.

    He tried really hard up to this point so I can understand his decision…looks like he’s just a prick and enjoys e-arguing.

    Cheers!

  23. Amy Alkon says:

    She ordered with plenty of time and paid for expedited shipping to solve her problem — getting a time-sensitive gift for a friend to arrive before the appointed day. The company threw a wrench in her plans, and it was incumbent upon them to solve the initial problem — getting her the ornament on time, and without making her run around to the post office and such. Time is money. Gas isn’t free. The lady doesn’t work for the “Depot.”

  24. B says:

    Expecting the customer to pay for return shipping when your company messed up the order is unreasonable. And offering to reimburse them at a later date in an unspecified manner isn’t helping the situation. All Shaun had to do is email her a return label and expedite the delivery of the missing ornament.

  25. DTGumby says:

    Instead of discussing the best way to get her order filled out within his store’s policies he decided to argue the definition of the word victim and the the actuality of shipping times (when she was not all that concerned about getting anything by a certain date anymore). He kept changing the subject and demanding she argue the way he wanted to. I’m not sure if her initial request to wait to ship the original item back was completely reasonable but that could have been discussed after he shipped her what she actually ordered. I’ve had a couple online businesses ship me the wrong item and offer to correct things before I returned the product.

  26. Sudonum says:

    They both went a little off the deep end. I can understand the customers frustration at not being able to contact anyone prior to Christmas. This only re-inforces my belief to not do business with any company that does not publish their land line contact information on their website. But she was unreasonable to expect them to ship the new item without receiving the old one. However expecting the customer to pre-pay at the USPS is unreasonable. And yes Shaun went way overboard in his replies. But there have been many times in dealing with the public where you want to ask them if shooting the offending employee and all of their offspring will rectify the situation.

  27. AcilletaM says:

    I’ve had a number of items where they sent out the replacement before or as I sent in the mistake. Made me respect the companies more and gave them a shot of getting my business again. And my recommendation. I don’t think Loren was that inflexible here, there’s a reasonable expectation of what should occur here and if it doesn’t happen, she should just take it? What website are you guys reading?

    And in what world is ‘victim’ not a negative term? Oh, wait, when you’re the one doing the victimizing.

  28. srhbks says:

    Shaun’s patronizing tone would have made me nuts, too. I can’t blame the customer for getting a testy. She received the wrong item and got no response for over a week- it was on Wedding Depot to make her happy, not the other way around.

  29. gone725 says:

    Shaun’s approach is completely obtuse.

    True, I see fault on both sides here. But ultimately, it is the job of the Customer Service Rep to defuse the situation and make sure that the customer will continue being a customer.

    I’ve been a customer service rep and worked at call centers – it is not fun…especially around the holidays. It sucks. But you have to be the better person. There is no need for this type of service.

    It should be noted that a cantankerous customer is more likely to get this type of service. Effective communication skills lack on both sides. However, Shaun IS the one who gets paid to handle these situations he should learn how to deal with them.

  30. brennan73 says:

    Amy is correct. Loren did everything she was supposed to. The company created the problem – they screwed up in the first place. As such, it’s incumbent upon them to fix it, quickly and graciously, and if anyone is going to take on risk, it should be them. They didn’t fix it – not even close. There’s a good reason why they have an unacceptable rating with the BBB.

    The correct answer after her first e-mail was: “You’re absolutely right – very sorry. We’ll ship the correct item to you today, with expedited shipping, and include a label for you to send the first item back. Again, we apologize.” Then, if they didn’t get the wrong item back in 30 days, they could let her know that they would be charging her for that as well. *This* is standard RMA procedure. See? Was that so hard? Apparently Shaun thinks so.

  31. J.D. Roth says:

    Expecting the customer to pay for return shipping when your company messed up the order is unreasonable.

    Bingo.

    I run a small business, and when we make a mistake, we do whatever it takes to correct the problem. If this CSR were in my employ, he’d be fired. Sure there are times that customers get frustrating, but there’s never a reason to argue with them, and there’s never a reason to make them pay for the company’s mistake.

  32. dwarf74 says:

    I was a CSR for over 5 years, and I think Shaun behaved pretty reprehensibly.

    When a customer’s upset, you let them vent – you don’t take it personally. What’s more, you don’t respond in any kind of personal vein. He broke all those rules, plus about a dozen more. A representative is held to a higher standard than the customer; it looks like he just didn’t care. Rather than simply providing solutions, he decided to argue. It’s fine to say what you can and can’t do – it’s not fine to be a dick about it.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think Loren was being obtuse. She sounds like she’d be pretty difficult to deal with from a CSR point of view. That doesn’t mean she deserves unprofessional treatment.

  33. DTGumby says:

    Oh, he’s also a wedding photographer. That may not be an excuse, but I can see how he would get the most difficult to deal with people at the perfect time for them to be at their most difficult. It seems like he has talent as a photographer and less as a CSR. Maybe hire somebody on to deal with orders?

  34. Itch says:

    The quick reply is

    A) quick updates make a happy customer. even if you are blowing smoke up thier skirt.

    B) Never under estamate the power of a “sorry”

    C) Never explain the why’s just the hows. Customers wont/dont care usually.

    And a seperate note, I’d love to know where people shop online that pays for the return of an item. I can’t think anywhere off the top of my head, and what Shaun does in every return policy I’ve ever read.

    =================================================
    Long winded version

    So in reading this I’m having a hard time feeling real bad for Loren. Ya it sucks when you get sent the wrong thing. But things happen. Here is my take on some of this:

    1) We dont know how often she sent those intial email before they responded. Could be 1 a day, or 1 a minute. Yes most likely in between, thats a given. In fact looking at a calendar I’m betting the day it showed up on the 22nd(F), 26(T), and 27th (W). But starting off with the 3rd email sets the tone negatively for the reader. And that same tone follows through with the one from Dec 28th. Loren, you indicate that the wrong item arrives on the 22nd. How is that waiting for 10 days for a reply if you get one on the 28th?

    2) Given that same email it sounds like she wants her cake and eat it too. Yes, I know that in her previous email she just requests shipping charges back but many times its good to be specific what you expect in each email.

    3) Since the virtual confrontation was esculating, Shaun could have easily sent 1 email to help defuse things :

    Got it, Thanks. Let me check it out.

    5 seconds of ‘preventative maintence’ would have cooled things down.

    4) Given the tones of the email, and the appearance of what all Loren was demanding, Shaun made a business decision. Happens all the time. In fact he seemed to offer to return things to zero state. No money, no products. Fair all the way around, and trying to keep things neutral.

    5) Loren still wants her ornament. That’s begining to be pushy IMO, but thats her choice. Shaun has already acknowledged that since he cant provide her the service and items, so why push for something contrary? That’s what gets me about the “best resolve” statement. That’s best for her not all parties. And in that same email is when product hostage taking seems to come up.

    6) Email from shaun 12/28-5:17. Up to this point what went wrong could have been an address swap where someone else got her ornament. And its strongly implied here. If an item is custom made, and gets shipped elsewhere, they are going to have to make it again. Simple as that, and means another 5-7 days. So any type of fix even back on the 22nd may have been moot.

    7) Looks like Shaun tries to inject abit of humor. And sorry Loren, holding on to a product – thats not a standard practice. Every company I’ve dealt with has had the same policy as these guys. And its because of PITA consumers who screw them over. A-holes screw everybody all the way around.

    8) Up to now, I could understand Loren’s frustration and even smypathize with her. But the lack of mutual faith there… its same reasons why Shaun has the policies he does. And I’ve yet to see any sort of rudeness. Emotionless, lacking empathy maybe. But not rude.

    9) The word victim. Joy. I understand the point he is trying to make but the word vicitim has so much baggage that goes along with it anymore…. sigh Which leads to the next few exchanges. He tries to articluate better, she interprets malice and snipes, he responsed with his logic. Hell I’d better good money he was orginally an engineer somewhere. Somewhere at a good sized company, with lots of “process flows”.

    10) Loren is right, her simple statement would have helped. But when he has tried to go and start clean slate, she holds his previous mistakes againist him.

    11) At the end Shaun decides to take a loss. I dont blame him. His confidence in the customer is shot, and its obvious Loren’s confidence in him is too. What else can he do? Neither side feels they can give ground.

  35. Theora says:

    I think what’s even more amazing about Shaun’s multiple tirades is that it took place over email exchanges – I can see (just barely – I work in retail, and have worked in a call center before, to boot, and have never lost it to this extent) maybe, just maybe, losing your cool for a second on the phone or in person, but through email? No way. You have enough time to step back and type a rational answer. Shaun was waaaay out of line, and the Depot deserves all the lost business they’ll get as a result of this.

    p.s. When has victim *not* been a negative term? It’s my understanding that the negativity of the word is why people tend to refer to themselves as survivors of (insert issue here), rather than victims of (insert issue here).

  36. acambras says:

    “Never write a letter when you are angry.”

    I read that in a fortune cookie once. Good advice.

  37. Phil says:

    If I were Loren, I would have insisted on a phone call, and asked to speak to a manager. This Shaun guy is a real defensive jerk and should not be allowed to interact with customers.

  38. Loren says:

    In response to Itch:

    I didn’t send emails back to back expecting a reply in just 10 minutes. I sent an email on the 22nd, on the 27th, and then on the 28th. Then I received the reply “Thanks for your follow-up. which item did you recieve” which I replied to, got no response and sent another email about 3 hours later. Without phone service from this company, I began to lose faith fast.

    As for your quick reply … never underestimate the power of a sorry … EXACTLY! Never once, did I receive an apology, after I stated my disappointment.

    My refusal to send back the holder until I got the ornament only came after I had lost faith in the company and they didn’t provide me with a reasonable method of return. I have never been asked to pay for return shipping on an item that was incorrectly sent to me. Ever.

    With only email as a form of customer service, I belive the response time should be faster. If the issue wasn’t addressed on Friday the 22nd, it should have been addressed on Tuesday, the 26th, after the holiday. Instead, it was only addressed after I sent my 3rd email on the 28th.

    And again, no apology, ever. Just you’re disappointed so we won’t do business with you?? What kind of customer service is that?

  39. What an ASS (Shaun, that is).

    But then, the wedding industry runs on lies, breaking the law, overcharging customers, and terrifically bad customer service because they KNOW they don’t have that many repeat customers so they really don’t have to bother.

    I just have to say, though, this: “New status: Hooray, order has shipped! :)” alone is so condescendingly obnoxious I would have gagged. Hooray? Smiley emoticon? This is NOT a professional company.

  40. MeOhMy says:

    Unfortunately, there is a strong chance that Shaun IS the owner/manager. What else can you do in that situation?

  41. Johann says:

    Both sides let it get personal. However, (and maybe this is foolish of me) I expect more professionalism from the CSR than from the customer. When you add in the fact that it took 6 days to get an email response, I can certainly understand the customer’s frustration.

    I’ve done a fair bit of online shopping over the years. Off the top of my head, I can think of three times I’ve had to make returns because the company screwed up. On all three occassions, the company has always paid for the return shipping up front. I’ve never had to pay for return shipping. Any company that expects the customer to spend money (even with promises of later reimbursement) to fix their mistake isn’t a company I’d want to do business with.

  42. Loren still wants her ornament. That’s begining to be pushy IMO…That’s what gets me about the “best resolve” statement. That’s best for her not all parties.

    Why is it pushy to still want the ornament? Don’t most people still expect to get what they paid for if they get sent the wrong item? Isn’t best for the company to make the sale?

  43. AcilletaM says:

    For the haters that can’t possibly fathom that companies pay for returns, here is a specific example and real, live company. I ordered a leather desk blotter from ReStockIt.com. It arrived looking like shit, ripped box, bent out of shape and creased like it had been rolled up and then squished. Call to complain and they sent out the new one right away, then gave me the instructions on how to return the old one. Basically when the new one was delivered, the delivery person would pick up the old one. No cost to me, I didn’t have to drive anywhere, and I just had to email them when it was picked up.

  44. Sudonum says:

    I’ve also had a similar “exchange” when Compaq actually replaced a defective laptop (before the HP merger). DHL came out with the new one. He waited at the door while I replaced the new unit with the old unit in the shipping carton. I left the carton open so that he could see that there was an actual laptop in there. He took it, sealed the carton in front of me, and gave me a receipt.

  45. pantsonfire says:

    I think we can all agree that the bottom line is this: Wedding Depot is a shitty company.

  46. acambras says:

    @pantsonfire

    I doubt Shaun would agree with you. He’d probably argue with you about it for days.
    ;-)

  47. Kangarara says:

    Itch, I think the simple answer to your query here:

    And a seperate note, I’d love to know where people shop online that pays for the return of an item. I can’t think anywhere off the top of my head, and what Shaun does in every return policy I’ve ever read.

    is that if the consumer decided that he doesn’t want the thing he ordered and he wants to return it, then it’s his issue.

    If the company shipped him something completely different from what he ordered, then it’s not a return, it’s a bait & switch, or an incorrect delivery, or a total cockup or whatever you want to call it and there’s no way the customer should be on the hook for it.

    Hell, if it were, I can think of a great money-machine that FedEx, UPS, etc could set up whereby they set up sham online storefronts, constantly ship people the wrong stuff and rack up the shipping fees (to themselves) forcing people to keep sending it back & forth.

    [Hm... actually, that's not such a bad idea... I think I'll get working on the business plan for that...]

  48. Itch says:

    Just for clarification – Its pushy because the company decided to disengage from the customer. Shaun had stated already that he was going to return her money, and re-imburse her for shipping back the mistaken product. Right or wrong that was his business decision.

    For a customer to say “You must give me ________” … I dont know. I can see it from both sides here. If as a owner I felt I couldn’t meet my customers expecations, I’d let them go. And I’d try to do it as fairly as possible – in this case the Zero Sum is money back to the customer and wrong product back to the company. If someone wants me …. make some shelves, I can do that. But if after I started and they decide they didn’t like the product, so be it. As a customer that’s thier right! But that doesn’t mean I can’t recoup my loss and sell it to someone else. Would you force me to make it as they demand?

    And Loren, I didn’t think you were emailing impatiently. It was more of an estamation of the timeline. Since alot of people are commenting about how long it took for Shaun to respond, I decided to see what those days actually were. It was a “back of the napkin” type of thing.

    So the 22nd is friday, 26th a tuesday after a holiday weekend. I’d expect him to be busy and give him abit more grace time since I would expect customer service people a) not to work a holiday like others and therefore b) be slammed for whatever reason when they come back to work like everyone else.

    And it sounds like that’s what you did Loren. Won’t fault you on that. That was more to makes sure people got a sense of when in the week/month/etc.

    As for the company paying for returns, I guess I’ve been unlucky. My experience has mostly been with Electronics (computer parts etc) and even DOA stuff shipping back has been billed on my dime until proven. Then standard re-imbursement.

    Shrug I don’t have a dog in this fight, just tring to pull out facts from emotions. Johann is right both sides let it get personal. To deal with CSRs as well as working as a CSR requires alot of detachment because both are working within policies created by someone elsewhere. And yes, being that this sounds like a “small” company where the owner is the CSR, you would think there would be room for change. My counter would be again my previous statement about engineers.

  49. 44 in a Row says:

    And a seperate note, I’d love to know where people shop online that pays for the return of an item. I can’t think anywhere off the top of my head, and what Shaun does in every return policy I’ve ever read.

    Amazon, for one. I ordered a gift set from Amazon.com about a month ago, and used the free “Super Saver Shipping”. When I got it about a week later, the shipping box had clearly been opened and then clumsily re-folded shut (whoever got at the package didn’t even bother to re-tape it); the shrink-wrap on the item inside had been removed, and a couple things were missing from the set.

    I sent an email to Amazon about this. They sent out a replacement, the same day, with *overnight* shipping (again, I had gotten free shipping on the order), and emailed me a pre-paid return label. If I didn’t return the original, incomplete item within 30 days, then they’d charge my card.

  50. I dunno. I am kind of on Shaun’s side.

    Instead of extending the exchange on email, I might have made a call, if I was him, in the beginning, but she does seem combative, and not getting what he is saying.

    I have often gone out of my way for customers who fight me, even though what I am saying is what they actually want, but they don’t get it.

    Oddly enough, it is good it was on email, that way it’s documented. That way, when the BBB reviews it, they can see what was actually said. Rather than it be a ‘he said/she said’ thing.

    He was a little unporfessional, but he was being honest. Would you have rather had a ‘canned’ response?

  51. Itch says:

    Kangarara :
    I won’t disagree with ya there. Does sound like a classic snafu. Don’t forget that Shaun did offer to re-imburse Loren for the shipping.

    Individual shipping is often more expensive than being associated with a corporate account. So it was still more loss for him than if he was able to do it through his account with FedEx, DHL, or whoever.

    I re-state : I’m not saying either side acted like angels. But I don’t think both parties acted in animosity either.

  52. madderhatter says:

    Good GOD – this whole ordeal is just giving me a headache.

  53. john_nyc says:

    Shaun talks pretty tough for a guy that runs a website that sells such schlock.

    He obviously didn’t think that Loren was worth having as a customer or he’d have gone the extra inch and issued a calltag with a shipping carrier.

    I’m not thinking that weddingdepot.com thrives on repeat customers. Unless you have some sort of issue, wedding tchotchkies aren’t the type of items you buy again and again.

    I would recommend to Loren that she take this opportunity to start shopping at Tiffany for this crap.

  54. “I’m not thinking that weddingdepot.com thrives on repeat customers”

    No wedding companies do. That’s why they can get away with such awful customer service. David’s Bridal refused to sell me shoes (they were the only retail seller) because I didn’t buy my dress there. (AS IF I’m going to spend that kind of money on a poorly-made dress made of trashy fabric.) I called the manufacturer direct and they sold me two pairs at a steep discount from wholesale and apologized profusely for David’s behavior. But David’s doesn’t care.

    I mean, they sell veils for $80 made with $1.50 of tulle, $1 of tiny fake flowers, $1 of cheapie crystals, and a GLUE GUN. A GLUE GUN, for God’s sake. What does David’s care if they lose my business over bad customer service when their markup is 1600%, there is an endless supply of brides, and very few repeat customers? What does any wedding business care?

  55. AcilletaM says:

    You can cause major damage with an unproperly handled glue gun.

  56. acambras says:

    I loathe David’s Bridal. I had to go to try on a bridesmaid’s dress and it seems that somebody decided not to put mirrors in the fitting rooms. So one has to walk out of the fitting room to be oohed and aahed over, in all of one’s poufy lavender taffeta glory. This after getting no help finding the dress — apparently, since the bride has already selected the dresses and bridesmaids are obligated to buy them, the store has a captive audience.

    When my sister planned her wedding, she talked to friends of hers that had gotten married in the past couple of years. They were very helpful in telling her which dress shops, caterers, bands, florists, etc. were good, and which to avoid. My sister ended up having a lovely wedding without any significant problems. I think word-of-mouth is the only way to do wedding shopping – reward the good companies and punish the crappy ones.

  57. Treved says:

    Itch:

    Zappos.com pays for return shipping.

  58. Antediluvian says:

    I’m siding w/ Shaun. Nowhere in this whole exchange does anyone mention
    — seems like a small company (esp. if owner/techie = CS rep)
    — right around Christmas (maybe Shaun was away for a few days?)
    — Assuming the personalization never happened at all, there would still be a delay from creating that before Loren’s ornament shipped
    — shipping times, as we learned from all the UPS / FedEx postings, are greatly delayed this time of year.


    Loren was willing to pay for something to be shipped to her “without knowing it was going to happen” but won’t allow the company the same courtesy of reimbursing her (yes, courtesy) for the shipping back of the item.

    I think it’s reasonable to pay for return shipping and be reimbursed for it if it’s the company’s mistake. Yes, it’d be nicer to get a pre-paid label but that doesn’t always happen w/ smaller companies.

    I can see her frustration and feel for her, but I think her expectations for service around Christmas time were set WAY too high. Shaun was upfront about making a mistake and seemed willing to work to correct it, but Loren wanted the correction done precisely her way or not at all. When Shaun then said fine, not at all, she didn’t like that either.

  59. mattkorey says:

    Don’t you know Shaun is starting to feel like a “victim” as well, or a “hostage” or like suing Consumerist or something. But he should have thought of that before he completely decompensated in those emails. That was the hissiest of fits I’ve ever seen thrown on the side of the customer relations guy. And, plenty of retailers pay for the shipping back of merchandise, I had that happen with Polo who paid to ship it back and didn’t shed a tear over it or cuss me out either one.

  60. 44 in a Row says:

    Loren was willing to pay for something to be shipped to her “without knowing it was going to happen” but won’t allow the company the same courtesy of reimbursing her (yes, courtesy) for the shipping back of the item.

    I can’t speak to Loren’s state of mind, but I’d probably do the same thing, for one reason: chargebacks. If I pay for something from a retailer, and it never ships, then I can file a chargeback and all will be well. But if I lay out money for shipping (let’s say $10 at a minimum, without knowing anything about distance, weight, size, etc.), and the merchant never refunds me, then I’m SOL. So I can very much see a reason to be firm about this particular issue.

  61. If someone wants me …. make some shelves, I can do that. But if after I started and they decide they didn’t like the product, so be it. As a customer that’s thier right! But that doesn’t mean I can’t recoup my loss and sell it to someone else. Would you force me to make it as they demand?

    But that’s not what happened! She didn’t order a unity candle, decide she didn’t like it, and then demand they eat the cost of shipping her something else instead. She ordered an ornament, got a candle instead, and was told they wanted to drop the whole thing when she complained about it.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on whether she was being pushy before they started arguing about the shipping.

  62. Gopher bond says:

    First of all, I wouldn’t care about the shipping costs, I’d care more about the PITA it is to get to the post office. Have any of you who support Shaun ever gone to the post office? It’s a hellish ordeal.

    So basically the business screwed up, took her money, didn’t apologize and for the pleasure of that told her to run on down to the post office and send the item back at her expense and they’ll reimburse her with the same efficiency they’ve handled the entire shitty affair.

    Sorry, bad customer service, plain and simple. Nothing the customer requested seems even remotely over the top.

  63. jules1651 says:

    I agree that it’s not that unusual to have return shipping paid for. This December I received a shipment from Macy’s.com that was intended for another customer. I called, and they overnighted my original order and sent UPS to pick up the wrong one. They also credited the expedited shipping I’d originally paid for. I didn’t have to beg and plead, they understood that they’d made an error, I was in a lurch without the gifts I was counting on, and they did what it took.

  64. Itch says:

    Rectilinear Propagation>

    I’ll agree its a crappy example, it was just an attempt off the top of my head. Just trying to think of a brick and mortar example.

    So I’ll try to make it generic. You give me money for something, I provide the wrong thing. If, for whatever reason, I am unable to give you what you orginally asked for should I not just give you back your money and go seperate ways? And would it not be fair for you to return what I mistakenly gave you?

    Now if you did what I asked and I never covered the shipping, you could be able to do a charge back on that. At the same time I’d expect you to go straight to the BBB, local tv, court, and who ever else to make sure you get the pound of flesh. (Happened to my wife in ordering flowers online for our wedding. Got a ‘refund’ from the CC company when the return shipping didn’t come through.) If a company doesnt try to do … “good faith efforts” in trying to fix a problem I’m all for nailing ‘em.

    I’ll give you that pushy maybe wasn’t the best word. She was offered a plan of action that was refused and wanted something he couldn’t (for whatever reason) give. What word do you suggest? It’s not bait and switch b/c money is being returned.

    As for an apology, you are right. It’s not explicately stated, which is why I said in my first long post Never underestamate the power of sorry. But Shaun acknowledges there is a problem and he is trying to find out more details. Before the c&d letter was sent, I don’t see why you wouldn’t think that the company was sorry there was a mistake. Now? Shrug He’s been backed into a corner and sees no reason not to strike back.

  65. Antediluvian says:

    44 in a Row & testsicles: you’re totally right, of course, but I don’t think chargebacks were on Loren’s mind, and the PITA factor of the post office is important. My point is that it’s not Amazon or LLBean she’s dealing with — it’s some podunk outfit, and I don’t think expecting a prepaid label is reasonable.

    Once Shaun realized she wasn’t going to be reasonable, he should have dropped the “ship it back to us first” demand, esp. since he even pointed out they’d lose money on that.

    But it’s a lot easier for us to critique from here than it was for either Loren or Shaun, both of whom are people who probably (well, maybe – they should, at least) feel bad the situation rose (sank) to this level.

  66. 44 in a Row says:

    My point is that it’s not Amazon or LLBean she’s dealing with — it’s some podunk outfit

    I think this is an important point, but it runs both ways. Here’s my gut reaction: we know now, after seeing behind the curtain of the operation (so to speak), that “Wedding Depot” is really just the one guy. But if I’m going to their website, my first impression is that it looks very legit. It’s professionally done, looks reputable, with a big selection and a fully-featured e-commerce setup, sales, shopping carts, user accounts, etc., etc. It’s not just some Yahoo! storefront that was thrown up, it’s a place that, based on looks alone, I’d feel comfortable spending my money. Now, we all know that that’s no way to decide where you’re going to do business… but we also all know that that’s exactly what a lot of people do.

    Clearly this place is trying to give off the impression that they’re a professional operation, and I have a hard time letting them off the hook just because it’s the one guy. Especially because, in this day and age of Wal-Mart and Amazon and your huge, corporate, faceless enterprises, dealing with the little guy is supposed to be a virtue. Except the little guy sometimes forgets what his selling point is, and that’s service. A small site like this probably can’t compete with Amazon on cost, selection, speed, or any number of things, but it can have better (or, at least, high-quality) service.

    At the end of the day, and again I’m only speaking for myself here, I might wind up satisfied with Wedding Depot’s “pay for shipping and we’ll reimburse you” plan if — and only if — there was a recognition on the part of the company that they screwed up, that they were inconveniencing me, and that they were sorry. Instead, the impression I get from this email exchange is that Wedding Depot feels inconvenienced by this customer, and that’s when, at least for me, the gloves come off. Mistakes are one thing, and I understand that they happen, but I absolutely can’t abide by a company that makes me feel like I’m bothering them for wanting what I ordered.

  67. Youthier says:

    I want to agree with acambras… I just got married 9 months ago and I’m constantly asked about catering, dresses, flowers, etc. Weddings don’t thrive on repeat business but they thrive on referrals.

  68. etinterrapax says:

    Thar’s gold in them thar bridal veils. I made mine–cathedral, ribbons, finished edges, with headpiece–for less than $10. Even at $50-100, about half of what I’ve seen at retail, you could have an excellent cottage industry doing this.

  69. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Are you sure Shaun isn’t really Steve who runs Amy’s Ice Cream?

    Maybe the customer became unreasonable because she was angry, but as the owner of a small business, Shaun didn’t have the right to turn into an absolute dick and start taking customer service issues personally. I don’t think Shaun should have escalated the e-mail exchange, either. It comes off as very unprofessional.

    One of the best customer service tactics (I think) is to ask the customer what you can do to make things right. Assuming they just want their money back or the right item shipped to them, I don’t see what’s so difficult about this. So maybe you eat shipping and apologize, but you’ll get the customer back.

    I don’t blame Shaun for getting upset either, but he should have kept his personal feelings separate from his business.

  70. Amy Alkon says:

    Here’s customer service and a fantastic return policy:

    I have face powder from Sephora that I can no longer use. I ordered four online. I called to ask about returning the two unopened ones, offhandly sighing that I also had two I’d opened…what a shame…but just being glad I could return at least two of them.

    Well, the Sephora rep on the other end was paying attention, and told me I could return even the opened ones…without me knowing that or requesting it.

    He sent me a return label for free shipping back to Sephora. It arrived in the mail a few days later, and I sent the stuff back out to them…free of charge! Wow.

    I buy a lot of my makeup/fragrance/hair stuff there now, but you can bet I’ll buy all of it there (except stuff they don’t sell) in the future.

  71. 44 in a Row says:

    So I’ll try to make it generic. You give me money for something, I provide the wrong thing. If, for whatever reason, I am unable to give you what you orginally asked for should I not just give you back your money and go seperate ways? And would it not be fair for you to return what I mistakenly gave you?

    Generally, I think that’s right, but there’s also a time issue involved in this case. She wanted the item for Christmas; they told she would have it by Christmas, and as a result she didn’t buy something else. To use your shelving analogy, let’s say someone asked you to build shelves for them, and that person was expecting to have them finished by Wednesday two weeks from now (I’m not making up a time frame here, it’s just a random date). Maybe they’re having a TV delivered on Thursday, and they need the shelving unit. You say, “Sure, no problem, I’ll have your shelves finished by then.” But then the due date rolls around, and you ran out of nails on a big job the day before, and so can’t finish the shelves. Even if you offer a refund, the customer is still pretty screwed, because there’s no place to put their TV. And that, I think, is a big part of the problem here; she was expecting to have them by Christmas, so not only did the company drop the ball in a general way, but they dropped the ball during the holiday season. Again, maybe she’s overreacting, maybe she’s not, but the holidays are a pretty emotional time, and companies should be cognizant of that.

  72. antmuzic says:

    I think sometimes is completely reasonable to fire your customers. It was obvious from very early on in that exchange that nothing good was going to come from it.

  73. madktdisease says:

    I’ve been in customer service for years, even at small companies. I would NEVER treat a customer this way. It’s obviously a one-man operation that won’t last too long because he has no idea how good customer service is run. Whenever my current company makes an error, we compensate the customer immediately. It’s not hard.

    Even when I sell things on ebay occasionally I wouldn’t give service like that, so saying that it’s OK because it’s a small company is unnacceptable. One time I shipped a sweatshirt that I was unaware had a stain on it. I refunded the customer the entire amount of the sweatshirt plus shipping and let her keep it. And I am one person, and it came out of my pocket. So what? I know what’s right, and what’s wrong, even knowing the lady would never purchase from me again.

  74. infinitysnake says:

    It was obvious from very early on in that exchange that nothing good was going to come from it.


    You’ve no way to know that- my guess is, had Shaun done the right thing, the customer would have been mollified- and if not, it was his fault, not hers. His solution was unsatisfactory and he had no business taking it out on her for being upset over his half-assed attempts to fix his own fuckup.

  75. buthidae says:

    That is the worst example of customer service I have ever seen. If Shaun worked as an employee of mine he would be out on his arse so fast it would make his head spin.

    I hope this company is dragged through the mud and flinged out the other side – it’s unsurprising that Loren remarks that the BBB have heard negatively of them before.

    Shaun, if you’re reading this, pick your skills up. You’re unnecessarily argumentative – the customer has a right to be narky with your company, you have NO right to carry on in such a manner with her.

    Absolutely disgraceful.

  76. Auzy says:

    I work for an Applecentre in Victoria Australia, and this is truly pathetic customer service. She’s not being unreasonable. If they made a mistake, they should pay for shipping, and replace the item with the right one ASAP. Here in aus, even though our profit margins for computers are miniscule and we are probably making less on a computer then most the items at their store, I would ensure that we pick up the goods and replace them properly.

    In fact, if the customer was inconvenianced in any way (such as if they lived close and chose to drop the computer off to save us shipping, or even for the fact we sent the wrong product), I’d even be inclined to give them a small award if possible (such as a cheap freebie third party product)

    Why? Because any idiot can see that if you don’t, you will quickly lose respect from hundreds of customers in a heartbeat when the customer tells their friends that you did a bad job. Where I work, we have to try our best to make customers happy, or we cannot win. Even if its only 1 lost customer, you may never know when that single customer is in fact the ceo of a major computer who may end up buying alot.

  77. avatar28 says:

    I work in a customer service type position (technical support for a computer hardware manufacturer) so I deal with customers all day long. The way Shaun treated this customer is completely unacceptable.

    Particularly if his assertion that it would cost him more to return the candle holder she received than the incorrect item is true, the correct response would have been thus:

    We’re really sorry about the mix-up, Loren. Tell you what; since we screwed up, why don’t you go ahead and hang on to that candle holder for your troubles and we’ll go ahead and get your ornament out to you as soon as possible.

    Answering like that after she explains what happened makes the customer happy, it costs the company less money than making her send it back, and it heads off the whole escalation of the issue. I’ve seen this type of thing done by my company on many occasions and even done it myself a few times (when there was call for it). I’ve also been on the other end of this. I ordered a DVD for Amazon before Christmas. I received it on the 22nd or 23rd and it was the wrong disc. I went online to send an message to them and found they had already caught the error and reshipped me the correct item (with overnight shipping no less) and I had it the next day. They never even asked for the wrong DVD back. It was a season one box set of the Waltons and I eventually sold it on ebay for around $35. THAT is customer service in my book.

    At the very least, either a prepaid label or a cross-shipment should have been done. Don’t tell me that’s an unreasonable expectation. I’m sure he uses some sort of computer program to handle his shipping labels and doesn’t just stick a bunch of stamps on there. It would not have been difficult for him to print out a mailing label and drop it in the mail if he couldn’t email one.

    Loren, would I be incorrect in my guess that had he answered like that in the beginning (even after the three emails), you would have been satisfied?

  78. Itch says:

    44 in a Row

    Thanks for fixing my first example! Actually that works perfectly because it shows the same sort of fallacy in logic. Not fallacy. Required change of options.

    You’re correct in that the customer is screwed by the late delivery date. And in that case, there isn’t any way to fix that. Late is late is late. BUT being late is not the end of the world. In your example, the tv can go on the floor. That’s not where it us supposed to go, but it works until the other is fixed or meets the condition required. In the same manner (and something Ive had to do in the past) a gift doesn’t show up you run out, get them something small to unwrap on the day that also contains a note of the up coming gift.

    But anyways a company could only mollify (such as returning expediant shipping costs – Lorens original suggestion) when a time critical failure occurs. There is no way to fix. And said mollification doesn’t always mean getting your item.

  79. eido says:

    The problem here is the shopper does not see this as simply two people working something out together. She is seeing this in the “customer is always right” mentality. As a consumer, she assumes business should bend over backward for her and treat her like she’s this incredibly important person. After all, we’re conditioned to expect that as consumers given corporations suffocate their employees to fit into this mold to compete with other corporations who ALSO treat their customers like royalty, albeit superficially. Mind you, the mentality is only skin-deep, and most communication is basically templates.

    So when this consumer comes in communcation with an actual person who, despite being a rep for a business actually has FEELINGS, she becomes very, very upset and thinks that any expression at all by him is an assault on her fragile, delicate consumer ego. She’s used to dealing with businesses that snuff-out any emotion and real personality from their employees when handling customers.

    I think Shaun handled himself just fine and we need to stop allowing businesses to treat us with these superficial kid-gloves. The guy makes good points. The woman needs to just relax and remember she’s talking to a human being. She’s being unreasonable and I actually find it REFRESHING that WeddingDepot has a guy that kind of replies naturally, not by some suffocating pre-ordained template of “We’re so very sorry that you are not 100% happy about our shopping experience. We will DO EVERYTHING to keep you as a loyal customer.”

    So maybe the problem is really instead we should better define what makes a business “professional”.

  80. gordie10 says:

    Lets’s see…

    1. Order ornament on SATURDAY 12/16.
    2. Takes 5-7 BUSINESS days to make it.
    3. That makes it available for shipment at the earliest on FRIDAY 12/22. At the latest with the holiday and all it could have run out to 12/26.
    4. Even with the fastest shipping the earliest this item could have arrived (provided they would not deliver on the weekend or Christmas)would have been 12/26

    I believe expectations were high to begin with.

    Also sending an email on a FRIDAY prior to a holiday will more often than not take some time to be read.

    I am in no way condoning the conduct of this so called customer service rep but I do think that some of the dissapointment was/is due to higher than reasonable expectations regarding the shipping.

    I will never shop at that place.

  81. bluestone says:

    I was wondering when Shaun would show up to defend himself by proxy.

    There’s a reason businesses use the conciliatory approach. It solves problems quickly and with a minimum of stress. When a person throws fuel on the customer’s fire by acting patronizing or disdainful, nothing positive gets accomplished. It’s actually in the company’s interest to find a solution that leaves the customer pleasantly surprised, because that good will comes back in the form of saved time, energy, and future business.

    It’s not “suffocating” to be treated kindly and with competence, but it is becoming rarer, now that the me-first generation is taking up the reins of business.

  82. Lola189 says:

    Oh my god…This is ridiculous. Don’t take offense (because this seems to be a bit of a testy debate as is) but I disagree a bit with you, eido. As nice as it is to feel like you’re speaking with a regular person when interacting with businesses, I think that the “form letter” emails have a bit more of a professional tone, which inspires confidence in the customer. I work in an extremely customer-service oriented department and, as the “face” of my department, I often have to brown-nose and go with the “customer is always right” aspect.

    The reason is this: When you go with “the customer is always right” mentality, you ensure customer satisfaction. We were taught in my job that if you interact with a customer 100 times and 99 of those times you were pleasant and accomodating and ONE single time, you were kind of a dick, the customer is going to remember that one negative interaction.

    So you’re out $30 for some cheesy-ass candleholder – I think that going along with Loren and making sure her needs were met would be a much greater return than the $35. How many people have read this particular article? You can almost consider that potential customers that Shaun and WeddingDepot have lost. And you can bet that any time Loren hears one of her friends or relatives is getting married, she will mention to avoid WeddingDepot – more money lost. If I were Shaun, I would have looked at the money needed to “fix” the situation as insurance. Insurance of patronage – if not from Loren, at least in the idea that she won’t go around telling people that my company was crap (which I personally think that Shaun’s is…for shame)

  83. aboyd says:

    The bottom line is that this isn’t a clear-cut case of a business screwing over a blameless customer. This is two people acting testy around each other, and getting pissy over small issues.

    Rather than hold this up as an example of a bad business, it may be more credible to sweep it under the rug or file it under “stupid” and forget about it.

  84. Automatt says:

    Shaun Larson is clearly in the wrong business. He should avoid communicating with customers. After reading his responses concerning his company’s mistake in this exchange, I wouldn’t want to work with him at all, via WeddingDepot or as a photographer.

  85. officedrone4 says:

    In terms of customer service and returns… its not necessarily normal practice to require an incorrect or damaged item be sent back before a replacement is issued.

    I ordered a monogrammed jewelry box from Pottery Barn. When it arrived I noticed it had a nick in the lid. I called the woman and let her know that I received the item but that it appeared to be damaged. She apologized, asked if I would like an exchange, I said yes. She then said I could hold onto the box until my replacement arrived, with a prepaid shipping label, to return the item to her.

    She was pleasant, helpful, kind and considerate. I responded in kind. Note: I was pleasant from the very beginning of the conversation, which may have helped.

    Regardless – not all companies get it wrong. Perhaps you should take Shaun’s solution and end your relationship. No doubt eventually most of his other customers will follow suit.

  86. not_seth_brundle says:

    @ Itch, you said:

    “So I’ll try to make it generic. You give me money for something, I provide the wrong thing. If, for whatever reason, I am unable to give you what you orginally asked for should I not just give you back your money and go seperate ways? And would it not be fair for you to return what I mistakenly gave you?”

    Actually, in contract law, absent some other agreement between the parties, the non-breaching party is entitled to the “benefit of the bargain” which in this case would be the ornament, for the price she paid and no more. The remedy that you’re describing, rescission, is only available in limited instances.

    @ eido: I agree that the customer isn’t always right. However, in this case she was.

  87. bearymore says:

    Within the last 6 months, I’ve had to return warranty items to two sellers — one small, PTVUpgrade.com, and one very large, Garmin. Both sent the replacement item first and allowed me to use the shipping carton the replacement came in to return the original item. Both came with paid return labels. This has almost always been my experience when the company was either in error or there was a warranty issue.

    Frankly, I don’t see how a company can stay in business with the policies of Weddingdepot. At the very least they should have immediately informed Loren that they would refund the expedited shipping charge and gone on from there. Good customer service generates repeat sales and new customers through good word of mouth. Need I say more.

  88. weiner says:

    They should just get it on. I mean come on, the amount of heat and tension in those emails?? I think someone needs to get laid.

    And, btw, I am a CRS, working in a call center overseas (the price you pay for wanting to travel the world!) I agree that most people in Customer Service would love to do what he did, because after all, he is a person too and as humans we sometimes want to stand up for ourselves. (In this case there was nothing really to stand up for though – your comments, as true as they are, were wasted and mis directed on this client! You should see the poo that I have to deal with!!)

    I would have my ass canned if I spoke that way to a client, or emailed. And as for even THINKING of laughing at a customer or a customer’s comments (HA HA; as Shaun did) I simply step away from the PC, remind myself that this is NOT personal, it is a JOB, and I’m not 12 years old. And then I move on. It really is that simple.

    This company must not have that many clients, because if I took the time and effort to respond that in depth to all my whiny ass customers, I would be working 24/7 for the rest of my life.

    Hint for Shaun, make yourself some templates that you can just cut and paste, modify in 5 minutes. That way, you don’t have to sit there and compose emails on your “bad days”. Apparently, your bad days are really really bad.

    Or, if you have a personal vendetta against regular, expected, customer service, this should be clearly stated on the website, and not offered on a one by one basis, to specific customers only.

  89. Itch says:

    @not_seth_brundle : Huh. Interesting to learn that. Thanks! I admit being an engineer, I tend to approach things that way. I know it doesn’t mean I’m right.

  90. Tonguetied says:

    The fact that this Wedding Depot doesn’t provide a contact phone number speaks volumes already. Email is a great tool but if that is the only way you provide for your customers to get in touch with you then you are hiding from your customers.

    Yes business is a two party transaction but the fact of the matter is, is that the customer is the one with the cash and thus is the one who deserves satisfaction if the person who wants the cash really wants the cash…

  91. Goodnightbabytron says:

    Of all the jaw-dropping statements and claims on this thread, I think I’m most surprised by the number of us who have ordered an item and received the wrong one. I shop online quite a lot, and I’ve never received the wrong item shipped (I’m actually more likely to get home from a brick and mortar store and have my wife say “you were supposed to get the low-fat whatevers, not the non-fat whatevers.”) Have I just been uncommonly lucky? (I mean lucky in my online shopping experience…I already know I’m uncommonly lucky in the patience and love and total hottiness of my wife).