How I Fought “Customer Service” and Won

PalmThis was going to be a tirade against the incompetence of the Palm support department, but again, I’m in a bit of a holding pattern.

As recounted earlier, Palm had agreed to send yet another replacement m505, the fourth in this ongoing fiasco. Unfortunately, they were a little slower in getting the device out than they had in previous incidents, and the device arrived while I was away on the Des Moines video shoot. No problem — I’d be back in the office for at least one day, Tuesday the 18th, before heading up to Boston, and I could pick it up then; still plenty of time to get the unit, transfer my data, and package and send the defective one back. Well, then the snowstorm hit, and the office — along with the rest of the city — was closed. I came in anyway, since I had a lot of prep work to do before my Wednesday flight, and I had to pick up that Palm.

Mission accomplished — I got the new unit, transferred my files (though I wasn’t able to do as thorough a double-checking as I would have liked), and sent off the old unit, braving a poorly-cleared parking lot to get to the Airborne drop box. Then it was off to Boston; nothing more I could do about it. Upon my return, I checked the Airborne tracking system and confirmed that the package had arrived at Palm on Friday morning. All taken care of.

Until I arrived at work this morning, and found a fairly terse e-mail message from Palm saying that the unit had not been received as of Monday morning, and my credit card would now be charged for the full amount of the replacement unit.

Needless to say, I was livid. This was the last straw. I didn’t mention it before, but this was the second time Palm had claimed they hadn’t received a unit that a simple tracking check showed they had. The first time, I sent them a moderately peeved e-mail; they never responded directly, but they did send the standard form notice a couple of days later saying whaddaya know, they had received it after all. This time, I was in no mood to remain so polite. I debated calling, either the standard number or the so-called “corporate escalations” number I’d received last time, but neither option seemed likely to produce any rational results.

So I composed an e-mail. A scathing e-mail. I won’t reprint it here, but it made clear that any attempt to charge my credit card would be considered an act of criminal fraud, and I would do everything in my power to ensure that nobody I spoke to would ever buy a Palm product again. Of course, I figured this would mean nothing if sent solely to the support department...

Palm’s website didn’t list the e-mail addresses of the senior executive management team, but a little poking around did allow me to crack the address naming system. Insert the appropriate names and... voilà.

The letter had now been copied to the entire Palm executive suite.

I got a call two hours later. Not from the support department, but from the corporate office. The caller apologized profusely, and said that they were anxious to get me “out of the 500s” right away.

They’re overnighting a brand-new Tungsten T in exchange for the m505.

Can’t say it makes up for everything, but it sure feels good to get a little attention for a change.

“Classic” reader comments:

Hillary · Tue, Feb 25th 2003, at 10:34AM

Bravo! Ingenuity will get you everywhere.

It's truly amazing what kind of results you can get when you figure out the right people to contact. I have done this with several companies (restaurants, computer stores, clothing stores) and in each case I was more than compensated when I talked to the right people. It's not always too hard to find them.

Geoffrey · Fri, Feb 28th 2003, at 12:40PM

That's AWESOME. Heh heh heh.


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