“Outsourced” doesn’t always mean that work is shipped overseas. An outsourced call center can be anywhere. Well, anywhere with a low cost of living. What it always means is that the people doing outsourced customer-facing work are stuck reading from scripts and have limited information. That’s what Charles’ wife discovered this past weekend when dealing with an issue with her Scooba floor-cleaning robot. When she tried to order a replacement core for her broken Scooba, she received cryptic e-mails telling her that the company was “unable to complete [her] order” and that they would be “unable to assist [her] with this or future orders,” according to the corporate office. Wait, was iRobot breaking up with her?
Mrs. Charles had to wait until Monday, when she could call iRobot corporate and find out why the outsourced customer service representatives had fired her as a customer. People actually working for iRobot… had no idea.
Charles sent us this original email on Friday evening:
My wife is a dedicated iRobot customer, owning a Roomba and a Scooba. Over the years that she has owned them, she has ordered over $500 of parts and supplies. Recently, she had been having trouble with the Scooba. After troubleshooting with customer service, rather than repair the out of warranty unit, they offered to sell her a replacement core for about $200. She agreed, gave them her details, and supplied her credit card information. After a day or so, she received an e-mail stating:
“We regret to inform you that we are unable to complete your order. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.
“Your satisfaction is very important to us. If you have any questions about your order call Customer Service at
. We will be more than happy to assist you.”
She called the number and the rep told her that it was possibly an issue with her credit card. Since she knew that there was no problem with the credit card, she was a bit incredulous, terminated the call, and contacted the credit card company. As she suspected, the charge had gone through with no problem. So naturally, she called Customer Service and informed the rep. He told her that he’d check with his higher-ups and give her a call back. Instead of a call, she received the following e-mail:
“Thank you for contacting store.iRobot.com.
“We appreciate your interest in purchasing our products. Please accept
our apologies that your order, [redacted] was canceled. It has been
determined by upper management that we will be unable to assist you with
this or future orders. This determination was established through our
corporate office. If you would like to contact this office with further
questions please refer to the information provided below.
8 Crosby Drive
Bedford, MA 01730
M-F 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST
Thanks again for contacting store.irobot.com. We value your business and
look forward to assisting you in the future!”
That was it. No further information was supplied other than the insanely passive-aggressive termination e-mail above.
If they’re not going to accept any further orders from my wife, I’m wondering how it can be that they value her business and I’m really curious as to how they plan to assist her in the future.
Since it is already after hours on Friday, she can’t follow up with the corporate number they gave her until Monday. I’m curious to find out what kind of assistance they are planning to give her.
So were we. We waited patiently at Consumerist HQ for an update from Charles, cleaning our floors with mops like a bunch of Neanderthals. Then he sent us the good news: people at iRobot had no idea why the weird message had gone out, and said that they wanted to see the message so they could figure out what had happened.
She called Corporate this morning. They told her that they were incredulous and that they didn’t understand how that could have happened. They asked that she forward the e-mail she received and told her that they would have the problem corrected and get her order on the way.
My wife’s theory is that they just didn’t feel like handling the issue over the weekend at the Philippines call center.
That’s possible. Or someone hit the wrong automatic e-mail macro button. Either way, we’re glad to hear that the robot will be fixed, and that Mrs. Charles really is a valued customer of iRobot. Her credit card wasn’t the problem: outsourced customer service was.