If you’ve ever read any of my previous posts on customer service, you’ve figured out I’m somewhat obsessed by it. Since my company, a marketing agency, would go out of business if we did not give good customer service day in and day out, I expect that other companies feel the same way.

One such company, Lowe’s, proved to me recently that they don’t quite get it. Without boring you with all the details, something went haywire with my online payments. Lowes, like most retailers, uses a third party to process their credit card payments. In this case, it’s GEMB. After having used the online system to pay my bills for months, the system didn’t process one, then two of my payments. As soon as I noticed, I contacted customer service directly via the phone. HINT – if you want to actually speak to a live person at Lowes GEMB and not get caught up in their IVR, just don’t enter anything and eventually you’ll get transferred to a warm body.

The first person I spoke with told me that the wrong bank number was in my account and she was nice enough to take my payment over the phone without charging me the $10 phone payment fee. This was good. She also credited one of the bank charges, but had to escalate my case to a manager to get the other one credited. Fine, done…or so I thought.

Then, after checking my account again, the next payment I made online didn’t get processed either and now I was charged finance charges, bank charges again, etc… I resorted to using the online email system to get this resolved…and to this point after numerous emails and phone calls, everything has now been credited. (Note – the online CSRs were very polite and helpful, but I prefer to speak to someone “live” in these situations.)

So I thought, as a business owner, I would want to know if one of my partners or employees was not giving what I consider excellent customer service. I notified Lowe’s corporate home office through their Web site. Long story short, a woman called me yesterday to tell me that their online payment system is “self service” and if there was a problem, it was on my end since I had to enter the banking info myself. That was after she “thanked” me for my “honesty.”

I asked her if there was any remote possibility that their could be an issue with the system and she said no. (And that was after I told her my company develops Web sites for a living and yes, things CAN and DO go wrong all the time). So, basically a customer service rep called to tell me that I’m an idiot and I can’t enter information into a Web site properly. I hung up….more aggravated than ever. And ready to use Home Depot for my home goods needs.

The moral of the story here is that you do not accuse your customers of wrong doing in a situation like this. Could I have entered the wrong numbers? You bet. Could I have done it repeatedly over a course of two months? Not likely. And even if I did, do you Lowe’s, think it was a great idea to call and tell me that? Your corporate office just undid all the good experiences I’ve had in your stores. And for what purpose?

Hopefully someone at Lowe’s will get the point and fix their customer service problems, but not likely as I’ve found these issues usually start at the top and work their way down. But this situation illustrates that all it takes is one bad experience to taint the good that others in the company have done. And enough so to make me spend my money elsewhere.

  1. A well-designed Web site info page would prevent that entry mistake. And wouldn't customer service want to help rectify the issue by pinpointing the error. Because if it's happening to one, it's happening to many. Perhaps they need Active Integrated to help with online services.

  2. One would think, Susan. But the woman who called yesterday sure didn't agree with us…unbelievable!

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