Tuesday 17 July 2012

The good and bad of big business

If you know anything about me you must know I am no fan of big business.   Hearing recently that disgraced Barclays boss Bob Diamond is to fore go his £20m bonus and leave with just £2m as severance pay does nothing to improve my impression of the way things are done at the top.
I've recently had a debacle with that once doyen of British retail Marks and Spencer.  I ordered on line a plant to be delivered to my sister in law for her 60th birthday, the order duly acknowledged and the day before it was due I received an email to say that the gift was on its way.  I didn't hear from SiL until a couple of days after her birthday when she told me her gift had arrived, 2 days late and the decorative terracotta pot was smashed to pieces. 
I phoned M&S who were very helpful, apologised and said they'd send another immediately.   Next day SiL phoned to report that the new plant was much fresher and a completely different variety to the first one.  I'd ordered an alstromeria but they had initially delivered a zinnia, strangely at complete opposite ends of the alphabet.  I was a bit put out by this and spoke to M&S again, extracting from them £5 compensation which since they put this onto my online account would probably incur £3.50 delivery cost so not much compensation after all.
I then received an email from M&S asking me to review my purchase, I wrote that the gift arrived 2 days late, the pot was broken and the plant was not what I'd order so basically everything was wrong.  M&S rejected my review as it didn't meet their guidelines, again causing me some irritation. I rewrote my review giving the lowest scores possible and saying simply I'd been disappointed, they published this but really it was no use to anyone, readers might imagine I was simply a fussy shopper.   Much of the fault here may lie with the courier but my contract was with M&S and delivery on the right day was a big part of the product.
Recently M&S published reduced sales figures, why am I not surprised.  It never fails to amaze me that in these days when money is in short supply the paying customer is not more valued.
At the opposite end of the scale, Mr FF had a pair of Timberland shoes he bought at least 5 years ago and loved very much.  The soles started to come away and despite his attempt to glue them back he couldn't fix them so he spoke to Timberland asking for advice.  They suggested he return them and they'd take a look, reporting back that the shoes couldn't be fixed but he could select a new pair to the same value from their website and they'd send them out.  The ones he decided on were more expensive than the originals but he was happy to pay the £35 difference after all he'd already had good wear from the old ones.  Timberland wanted to deliver the new shoes while we were away in May but as this wasn't possible they agreed to wait till we came home.  Unfortunately the shoes went out of stock and couldn't be delivered until late July so they said they would waive the £35 extra charge to cover his inconvenience.    Today a brand new pair of Timberland shoes arrived by courier, no fuss, no argument and customer service beyond what we expected. 
Finally, on a slight tangent, Mr FF though retired is still on some online networking site and received notification the other day that one of his contacts has been promoted to Chief Imagineer and Ideation (though shouldn't that be Ideationer).  I had to google these job titles as they meant nothing to me and guess what both have references to Walt Disney, yes the magic kingdom, the world of make believe.  Personally I'd rather be called the Office Twit that the Imagineer, but then I'm from Yorkshire where folk can't be doing with flannel.  Come on business giving each other fanciful names and ignoring the customer won't get you anywhere, the great majority of the public is not as stupid as you seem to think and this one and her husband in his brand new Timberlands will be giving M&S on line a wide swerve.


  1. M & S has been a most dismal shopping experience for years, in my opinion - all those acres of fabric purporting to be clothes. Sleeveless dresses and blouses for women of a certain age? Of course they won't sell, where is their knowledge of what women buy?

    I am so happy to know that there are companies like Timberland who know how to treat customers.

    Good for you sticking up for yourself, too.

  2. With all that wrong with your order I cannot believe that M&S would have the nerve to refuse to publish your initial review. Shame on them, but I suppose they just did not believe in transparency...

  3. M&S have definitely gone downhill, service wise, in the last 10 years or so. I've had a couple of dreadful experiences.

  4. Great post! I could feel my own spiky shackles rising as I read!I seldom go into M and S, save the food hall. What great customer service from Timberland though. Ros

  5. I can't bear poor customer service, good for you for persisting. When will people recognise the importance of treating customers well?

  6. So they will only publish your review if you say nice things about them!! What's the point of that!! Customers don't come first anymore and haven't for a long time. Kudos to Timberland though, I run across a company like that once in a while too. On a more positive note though, have you unglued your bum from the sofa and your eyes from the tv after all those amazing stages of the Tour de France? Le Wiggo c'est magnifique!


  7. Couldn't agree more about your assessment of M&S. I don't shop there anymore. The fabric quality is very poor zand I'm tired of throwing away clothes after a few wears.

    My father ordered a custom upholstered left-handed chaise longue once, and after the second time a right-handed one turned up and was rejected by him, he was told he was too fussy and should just move his living room furniture around to accomodate it.