On the 2nd January 2017, something very exciting happened with my wife and in our married life, a first. After twenty three and a half years of marriage we brought a new bed. The beds we have had were previous to our marriage or discards from other family members. We always make do, we have never been too fussed, but as we have become older comfort is now more important. Therefore the day after the New Year festivities (hangover free and feeling refreshed ) we travelled to our nearest bed shop, which is Bensons for Beds. We had already half decided which frame we wanted, and seeing it again cemented that decision. We now just had to find a mattress. After trying almost every single one in the shop, (including those that we could not possibly afford), we decided, unanimously, (a great achievement for us) on a mattress. We were very pleased with ourselves and now just needed to order and pay for it. We found a sales person who took the order, and then announced that it would be an extra £39.50 for delivery. Me, I was just happy to swallow it and get on with the paperwork, but Kerry, my wife, had other ideas,
“What we have to pay to have it delivered? Can we pick it up instead ourselves? We can’t, but we still have to pay? That sounds stupid.”
The sales person buttered up the sale (and quietened her down) by throwing in a couple of over-priced pillows to compensate for the delivery fee. Sales person happy, Wife happy, I was happy, and the delivery date was set for 26th January 2017, anytime during the day, it was a £44.50 charge to specify AM or PM delivery.
The said day arrived and I was up early to deconstruct our old bed, and vacuum the mountain of dust that had accumulated underneath. In addition I cleared away 14 books and three Ordnance Survey maps from underneath Kerry’s side! Of course my side was completely clear. Space was created to construct the new bed when it arrived. At 10:40am I had the call, they were 20 minutes away, and bang on 11am there was a knock on the door. The two delivery guys were stood there and said there was a bit of a problem, not all the packages had been loaded for my order. They said they don’t load the vans, and that this was the third one that day where something had been missed. They delivered what they had, (basically the slats for the bed had been left out) and told me to call the customer help line and they will sort it out. I got the booklet out that we got at the time of the order and I will quote directly from the booklet;
“If your order is incorrect or we deliver the wrong product then (as long as the right one is in stock) we’ll contact you to rearrange delivery. Where possible, this will be the same or next day”
Well, I was to find out that statement is pure fantasy, and impossible for the company to for fill with their procedures.
As I was telephoning customer services, after reading the statement, I felt hopeful that we would still be in our nice new bed by the weekend -it was Thursday. Apparently they were exceptionally busy and I could press 1 to save my place in the 20 minute queue. I duly did press 1 and waited and a call did happen after about 20 minutes, I was quite impressed, not like BT. Anyway problem explained, they could not tell me anything, they could not book anything, they just sent an email to another department and told me,
“You will get a call sometime.”
“When ?” I asked.
“Don’t know”, was the reply,” it’s chaos at the moment in the warehouse, and they are making loads of mistakes like this.”
I asked to speak to a manager and they arranged for one to call me. They eventually did and said there was nothing they could do for 24 hours as that’s how long it takes to get a reply from the department that sorts out deliveries, so she said she would contact me the next day. Of course that call never came the next day, so I rang up late just before the call centre closed. I was told of course, nothing new and sorry if the call did not happen as the manager was really busy sorting out lots of complaints, not just mine, it was inferred that I was being a bit selfish and the guy actually shouted at me saying they had taken over 2000 calls in the centre that day. I did remind him that I was the customer and he calmed down a bit.
Our bedroom is now full of bed boxes, and we are sleeping in the spare room, actually the spare bed, although a bit small, is very comfy, but it is a bit of a way to our bedroom which has become a very big and cluttered dressing room!
It was not until the following Monday that I received a call from Bensons saying that the missing box from the delivery will be delivered on 17th February. To say we were unhappy with this is just a minor understatement. They told us they would sort out some compensation once it was delivered, but could not tell me what it would be or who would sort it out. I therefore called that local branch where the manager agreed to refund the delivery charge plus £100. I then asked if I were to cancel the order how quickly could they pick up the parts that are here. He did not know I would have to call customer services. So I called them again, and I was told it was the branch that sorts that out! It turns out that the bed frame was an incomplete order so it was customer services that sorts that out, but the mattress order was complete so the branch had to sort that out, you really could not make this up. Anyway the earliest they could pick the stuff up if I cancelled would have been 21st February. We therefore decided to wait it out for the delivery on the 17th. The next day I reported the company to the Advertising Standards Agency for making false claims in their literature. I also emailed Bensons to let them know what I had done, and also to inform them I was writing this article which I will give them a chance to reply to before I publish. Later that day I get another call from Bensons to say that they will pick up the bed on the 7th February as I had cancelled! I pointed out that I had not cancelled and they then said they could deliver the missing box on the 7th instead now. In addition the branch is going to sort out a fitter to make it all up for us free of charge as well.
On the whole there is nothing wrong with Bensons staff, they are all doing their jobs to the best of their abilities given the structure and procedures the company operate around. It is the inflexibility of this structure that causes the problems to customers and stress to the staff, as they really cannot do anything apart from operate to this inflexible system. This type of operation and system are very efficient when they work, I have seen this a lot from my time in the financial services industry. It is fantastic for the mass market, however when things go wrong, and that is a certainty as not everything fits the system, it can go horribly wrong. The test of a company’s customer services is not when things go well, it is when there is a mistake; that is when a company’s true customer service skill comes through. Bensons customer services involves trying to shoehorn you back into their already overstretched system, it just does not work. But this comes from being part of the multi-billion pound furniture goliath that is Steinhoff International. Profit of course is their driving force, it is all a number s game to them and a bit of bad service to a few customers is inconsequential, they know that it is cheaper to provide a bad service to those few customers as it is all about the numbers. Of course the millionaire suits at the top of the tree don’t have to engage with unhappy customers; they pay people the minimum amount possible to do that on their behalf. They have to ensure the rich can get even richer, and we all play a part in this game, we really do not seem to have a choice. If you trace the ownership of many high street brands they all lead back to a handful of companies, so you see we have the illusion of choice, but that is it.
Bensons have decided they did not want to respond to my request for comment. In addition I received a phone message late on the evening of the 6th February saying the missing part will not be delivered on the 7th now as it is not in stock!
Part two of this saga will follow.