It was my mother’s birthday last month. I went on proflowers.com and ordered her a dozen long-stemmed roses in pink, her favorite color. The gift was supposed to look exactly like this.
Instead, she called to thank me for sending red roses.
Nothing wrong with red roses. They just weren’t what I’d ordered. I called customer service at proflowers.com. They apologized for their mistake and offered me a refund. Very nice, except that the next day my mother called to say the roses were half-dead. Proflowers had guaranteed they’d last a week. I got back on the phone with them and said I wanted another order sent to my mother asap.
“It was her 94th birthday,” I said. “Help me out here.”
“Sorry, but we already gave you a refund. We can’t send out another order.”
“But the flowers were pathetic,” I argued.
“Policy is policy.”
A few days later, I got an email from proflowers asking me if I was satisfied with their service and would I fill out their questionnaire. Oh, you bet.
I did not hold back in my evaluation of the company.
Today I got a call from the head of their customer service department.
“We’re very sorry for the way you were treated,” she said. “We want your business. We want to make this right. May we send you a gift coupon to use whenever you’d like?”
Now that’s the way to operate a business. When there’s a problem, you make it right. I will definitely give proflowers another chance.
A similar situation happened a few months ago. Michael and I went with friends to a high-end restaurant in Ventura called Watermark on Main Street.
It’s in a beautiful old landmark bank building, and we’d been there before and loved the food. This last time? Not so much. Everybody’s orders came wrong – from the fish that was overcooked to the beet salad that had exactly one beet in it. To top it off, the waiter brought us someone else’s tab when we asked for the check. Just a miserable evening. I was so disappointed that I went on the restaurant’s web site as soon as I got home and wrote to them about my experience. I didn’t expect to hear back. And yet….the next morning there was an email from the general manager.
“We want you to give us another try,” he wrote. “I’m sending you a gift certificate for another dinner.”
Wow, I thought. Of course I’ll give them another try.
I don’t consider myself a chronic complainer, but I did write to a company once before these two incidents. It was back in 2002 or so. I had opened a can of Bumble Bee tuna and found a huge bone in it. I could have choked! I taped the bone to my stationery and wrote a letter to Bumble Bee. The result? They sent me a dozen cans of tuna with their apologies. And that’s not all. I used the anecdote in my novel “Lucky Stars,” which is about a struggling actress and her pushy mother. After the mother finds a bone in her can of tuna, she visits the tuna company to inspect their quality control and ends up becoming the spokesperson in their TV commercials, which leads to stardom, which leads to conflict with her daughter, which leads to….Anyhow, the book was optioned for a feature film.
The point of this post is that contacting a company when you feel you’ve been wronged can lead to free flowers, a free meal, free tuna and maybe even a movie deal. You just never know.