This E-Mail Basically Sums Up Why JCPenney May Be On Borrowed Time

wtfjcpLike the dorky kid in a high school sitcom who tries to change his image by showing up one day in leather pants and frosted hair, JCPenney has spent the last year desperately trying to make over its image as a place people used to get dragged to by their mom every August. But all the across-the-board price cuts, logo redesigns and iPad-toting cashiers in the world can’t cover up sheer incompetence.

Consumerist reader E. had sent a rather simple e-mail to JCPenney’s Customer Care department asking how he could unsubscribe from the retailer’s automated e-mails. Should be a simple issue to resolve, but rather than getting a response saying he’d been unsubscribed or explaining how he could do so, he gets the above auto-generated message.

Not only does the message have absolutely nothing to do with his question — he made no mention of an any online order — whichever CSR-bot sent it couldn’t even be bothered to choose whether or not the change he never requested had been made to the order he never placed.

At least E. has a sense of humor about it.

“This email response is just a hilarious extra bonus which I got for trying to communicate this to the ‘Customer Care’ team.”

We wonder if maybe this is just new JCP CEO Ron Johnson’s attempt to innovate by creating the first ever choose your own adventure customer service team?


Edit Your Comment

  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    …so until their ill-fated attempts to become cool, your high school dorks didn’t even wear pants?

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    (Insert “LOL” or “HaHa” here)

  3. Banished to the Corner says:

    Our company has these too, it automatically sends out the response as soon as the company received the e-mail – it doesn’t matter if a person response immediately. It also doesn’t matter if e-mail is from an internal or external user. I get annoyed when I forward an e-mail to the correct person – in our customer care department, and I get the e-mail response.

    While it looks like it came from a person, because it has a name, that may not be true. One of our groups has each e-mail “signed” with the team lead name. The other uses a generic name. In both cases, it’s the computer that is responding.

  4. eccsame says:

    Entirely possible that it could be both. Just like it’s possible to have tea and no tea.

  5. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    Why did E not click on the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the email? This is not an alarming email to me at all. If the number 1 request they get is to change a previously place order – which I am betting it is up there – then this is perfectly normal. I don’t see it as a message of doom anyways…

    JCP is going to continue to struggle as they reinvent themselves. I hope they come out on top and better for the lessons and the changes.

    • Coles_Law says:

      That doesn’t work with JCPenny. I’ve tried numerous times. It’s quite annoying, actually. hence, I’ve flagged it as spam.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      That is, generally, the worst thing you can do. Granted that JCP is, or is supposed to be, a legitimate company, they *should* recognize that and delete you from their system. Usually though, with spam emails, clicking that link does nothing but confirm to the spammers that they are really reaching a human being with those messages…and then you get more spam, not less.

      • psm321 says:

        You have to differentiate between spam spam and corporate or other mailing list spam. If it’s a legitimate mailing list, clicking unsubscribe is generally the BEST way to get unsubscribed. If it’s “get your v1agra here” spam then yes, the unsubscribe link only confirms your e-mail address to the spammer.

        I really wish people would differentiate between the types of e-mail. One is not really spam/UCE (“unsolicited commercial email”) because you signed up for it in the first place, even if you forgot you did or it was fine print. I _hate_ when those e-mails (that I signed up for) end up in my spam box because too many idiots hit the “this is spam” button instead of properly unsubscribing. That button is supposed to be used only for true spam, not a mailing list you regret signing up for.

      • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

        ok 1995

  6. SerenityDan says:

    Schrodinger’s Email?

  7. Press1forDialTone says:

    I actually got one of these emails. It had “have” rather than “have not” fortunately.
    Boilerplate emails are always hysterical to me.

  8. cameronl says:

    So, a screwed up automatic response = death knell? Oooooooooo-kay….

    I like Pennys. Great prices, decent middle of the road clothing. Killer clearance prices.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      No, this is a symbol of what’s been happening for the past several years. If this form letter were the only problem, then no one would care.

  9. Difdi says:

    Perhaps it’s time for whoever designed JCP’s system to be subjected to an experiment we can call Schroedinger’s CSR…

    He may or may not be alive in the box, and we won’t know unless we open it…

  10. CrazyEyed says:

    This is a non-story. If E simply clicked on unsubscribe or manage my scubscription links in his email, this would be accomplished relatively quickly. Simply emailing JCPenney’s Customer Care department is the wrong way about removing yourself through an email list. It may help getting answers to an order but email lists and newsletter topics are usually controlled by a marketing department, firm or software. I would hope by now JCP has this automated througha list management service. The CAN-SPAM Act disctates how companies maintain email lists and send emails and if the OP simply clicked unsubscribe, they wouldn’t get a canned response from the CC dept.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      As Coles_Law mentioned above, the unsubscribe link does not always work. Furthermore, simply violating the CAN-SPAM Act means nothing. Who’s going to pursue the case? Attorneys general don’t care unless it’s a major problem. Taking the company to court costs time and money, neither of which are worth wasting over this. Spammers (not that I’m accusing JCPenney of being one) have been taking advantage of this lax enforcement for years.

  11. do-it-myself says:

    As funny as that email response was, at least it wasn’t Sears selling broken appliances and taking forever (or never) to deliver. They will be gone LONG before JCP.

  12. oldwiz65 says:

    It’s not just JCP, many many retailers and others simply don’t read or pay attention to e-mail. Citibank has a secure e-mail system, and you can send them a message and get a “reply” that often says “Please telephone us so that we can assist you” or a canned message that makes no sense at all. Even banks often do not even bother to reply when you write about problems with the electronic banking. I think that 95% of businesses will only listen to you if you telephone them. I fine it extremely rare to e-mail a business and get a reasonable response within a reasonable time.

  13. PragmaticGuy says:

    Did Penney’s merge with Sears???

  14. mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

    The problem appears to be that they forgot to put an end quotation mark on “HAVE NOT”. I would also expect the command, INSERT, to appear outside of the parentheses. They evidently have not only been cutting back on their CSR staff, but their IT and programming staff as well.

    /Still dorky, but no longer a kid.

    • psm321 says:

      despite other people’s comments, I’m still pretty certain that this is not an automated response but rather a template/form letter with instructions to the CSR, where an end quote would make no difference (unless it’s a particularly extra-robotic CSR)

  15. Uncle Don says:

    wait a minute…..JC Penny’s is still open??? Come on, next thing you know you’ll be telling me Sears is still open….

  16. MidwestConsumer says:

    People complain because they can’t get customer service…well, since everyone wants everything cheap, retailers can’t hire employees to provide customer service. Because everyone wants everything cheap, companies have out sourced their customer service and help phone lines to India…and because everyone is sooooooo freaked out that they get someone with an accent, or find out the help line is in India…companies then have to go to autobot email or self help automated response phone systems…We’ve done it to ourselves people!!! Stop Complaining or trash talking companies that are trying to do their best to provide to us with out going bankrupt!

  17. ams199 says:

    You can update your email and text preferences if you log into your jcp account and go to:

    You’re welcome.