Pottery Barn Saved Christmas With Good Customer Service

Pottery Barn rescued Reginald’s Christmas gift from the clutches of incompetent delivery people who forgot to hand over all the pieces to his Lawyer’s Bar & Hutch. Reginald was fuming, ready to tell Pottery Barn that he would never shop with them again—but then he spoke to Jim.

Reginald writes:

For Christmas, my wife bought me a lawyer bar hutch (Order XXXXXXXXXXXXXX). She also paid extra for delivery and setup.

The delivery company scheduled the delivery for between noon and 2 p.m. on 2007-12-26. I planned my day (including re-scheduling a family event) so that I could wait for the deliverers.

When I arrived home at noon on 2007-12-26, I learned that the deliverers had dropped off the piece 45 minutes earlier (and it was just pure luck that someone happened to be there to open the door for them). Furthermore, the setup was incomplete.

Needless to say, I was fuming. I called the Pottery Barn number that I had. The call service representative was nice, but apparently this particular call center did not handle this type of issue. She gave me a phone number in case I was disconnected, and of course, I was disconnected.

Unsurprisingly, I was livid and at that moment frankly not someone from whom you’d want to get a service call. Fortunately, I reached Jim. He was polite, sympathetic, and seemed generally concerned about my situation. More importantly, though, he solved my problem: He quickly reached the delivery company and had them return to complete the setup later that day.

What Jim did was great service. Then he provided stellar service. He followed up. He called me to make sure the deliverers had properly set up the bar. He also sent a gift card to compensate me for the inconvenience.

Too many companies view call centers as just cost centers and neither empower nor adequately pay their customer service representatives. But that kind of thinking is counterproductive in the long term: Every company makes mistakes, but great companies fix their mistakes and turn potentially disgruntled customers into their ambassadors.

And Pottery Barn, through Jim, showed me that it was a great company. Before this incident, I was ambivalent about Pottery Barn. The millions the company spent on advertising were mostly lost on me. Before speaking with Jim (and after the deliverers’ mistake), I despised Pottery Barn. I planned on telling everyone in the world about how Pottery Barn ruined my Christmas. Then Jim intervened. I hate to sound so fawning, but not only did he defuse the situation, he solved it. I now will tell everyone how great Pottery Barn is.

I would like to thank Jim for his help. I also hope Pottery Barn shows Jim its thanks.


Great customer service can save more than customers. It can save Christmas, too. Great work, Jim!


Edit Your Comment

  1. mantari says:

    I like it. Can you provide the URL were this hutch is for sale?

  2. mantari says:

    Disregard. Found it! [cgi.ebay.com]

  3. mantari says:

    Oh crap. Wrong URL. Apologies. It is here:

  4. DrGirlfriend says:

    I am picturing a Jim that is cool and collected on the phone with Reginald. He then puts Reginald on hold to call the delivery people. With them, he turns into a badass who promises to do unspeakable things to the person on the other line if the delivery guys do not return on that very day and finish the job. Jim has a history – they know he will follow through. A scared rep sets up the return visit, and Jim returns to Reginald sounding cool as a cucumber. “Sir, I have secured a second visit to complete the setup. I trust this will be satisfactory?”

    Also, that is a lovely hutch.

  5. rbcat says:

    @mantari: I like the Pacman PCB a lot better than the piece of furniture. I’m still looking for a Space Invaders board and companion, at a price I can afford..

    /on-topic: Kudos to Pottery Barn!

  6. Propaniac says:

    I can’t say I’m a connoisseur of bars and hutches, but that is a gorgeous bar and hutch!

  7. coachelio says:

    I manage a Jos A Bank Clothing and we do this all the time, today it’s all about customer service
    great looking hutch also

  8. ExtraCelestial says:

    @drgirlfriend: lol

    i was looking at houses today and this couple had THE cutest bar style cherry wood table and chairs. they were from none other than pb

  9. starrion says:

    Jim, of course, was fired immediately.

  10. sburnap42 says:

    I used to work for them, years ago, as a software contractor. They took costumer service very seriously to the extent that they’d let people rip them off to avoid the potential for angering a customer. For instance, it used to be, with their old paper gift certificate system, policy was to issue a new one if the customer claimed to have lost one, despite the tracking system not being good enough for store personnel to confirm it. (I say this in public only because they’ve long since replaced that system.)

  11. ShadowFalls says:

    I have said this before, I will say it again.

    It is not about how many mistakes you make, it is how you handle those mistakes.

    Naturally, one would figure you should learn from your mistakes so they do not repeat. But, trying to ignore them like they never happened is a disservice to your company, your customers, and your stock holders.

  12. BartLee says:

    Allow me to throw one more log onto the Pottery Barn lovefest fire. We called about ordering a bunch of patio furniture. There was a store opening in our area in another month, so we asked if it would be available in store. The phone rep said no, the only store that carried them in store was the Palo Alto location, so we ordered it all online.

    One month later, our local store opens and lo and behold, they carry all the stuff we bought. I wrote an email explaining my displeasure with paying about $900 in shipping charges when we wouldn’t have had to, expecting maybe a partial refund or a gift certificate or something. I received a call the next day and was told they’d be refunding our entire shipping fee. They definitely earned our repeat business with that gesture.

  13. Moneypenny says:

    I worked for PB for 8.5 years. Customer Service is their bread and butter. I’ve carried that with me to my next job, and people are blown away by how thorough I am, etc. It just makes me sad realizing how many businesses are coasting through providing lackluster service when the customers are writing their paychecks.

    There’s a local restaurant where the motto is: “The answer is ‘yes’…what is the question?”

  14. thalia says:

    That is a pretty sweet hutch.

  15. SadSam says:

    I have ordered a bunch of PB furniture over the years… and about 5 years ago I had a problem with furniture I ordered from the same line (the stain was much darker on some of the furniture). The whole process was a pain, furniture had to be returned, reshipped and returned again. I complained and they sent me a $500 (yes $500) gift certificate to PB for my troubles. As a result, I’ve remained a loyal customer.

  16. DAK says:

    @BartLee: Holy hell, $900 in S&H? Was it delivered by prostitutes?

  17. lexipup says:

    Thanks for this info- I was debating between a bed at Pottery Barn vs one at Crate & Barrel- this just put me over the top to get the PB one!!!

  18. erica.blog says:

    @DAK: It’s *furniture* not notebooks. Heavy, bulky furniture. It isn’t in the same price range as a box of books or something.

    (That being said, $900 is an awful lot.)

  19. kimsama says:

    @SadSam: That makes me smile. I got a $200 giftcard for PB for my wedding and the only things that cover are like pillows, lamps, etc. $500 would at least make a dent in a bigger purchase!

    I love PB but they are expensive — it’s good to hear that their customer service is fully worth the higher price.

    Also, DAK, I seriously cracked up when I read that.

  20. JMH says:

    This will probably be the only story ever posted on Consumerist to contain the word “lawyer” and not have people complaining about lawyers in the comments.

  21. BartLee says:


    Haha, sadly – no. And the guy who delivered them wasn’t really my type anyway.

    We ordered a large teak sofa, cushions, outdoor dining table, and eight chairs. It was 17 boxes total. We seriously considered renting a U-Haul and driving it all back from Palo Alto but decided it was too much effort to put in just to save a few hundred bucks. The cool part is – if we’d have bought it locally, it would have been a major task to get everything from the store to our house, even if I borrowed a truck. So we basically got everything hand delivered into the back yard for free.

  22. PermanentStar says:

    I hope that letter made it to the correct people at Pottery Barn – it’s great to see somebody raving about good customer service turning a bad situation into a better one.

    We’re all pretty quick to complain when something goes wrong, but kudos to Reginald for bringing our (and I’m guessing pottery barn’s) attention to great customer service.

  23. SuperSally says:

    I also have Pottery barn love. It was a really small thing, but totally awesome. I’d ordered a Halloween treat bag from PBKids (with my daughter’s name on it) and when I got it two letters in her name had been inverted. I called the customer service number to ask about exchanging it (and expected to wait extra long b/c of the monogramming)but instead the rep ordered me a new free one on the spot, got it put at the top of the monogramming list, and told me to keep the one I had because, “one treat bag is never enough.” I had the new one in a week’s time.

    Totally awesome.

  24. lvlyash says:

    I work in the furniture team for pottery barn ay the las vegas call center (with jim) He is a great guy he allways calls back to chek on deliverys with excel. i am going to print this out and let him see it thanks so much for taking the time to care and post somthing good about us!