Even in the pre internet era I loved long distance shopping. Yeah, I admit it, I like mail order. I am probably one of the few women who do not like shopping at regular stores. It is crowded, warm, and there are never enough fitting rooms. So when I go, I go early in the morning. Which I did the last time I went shopping. Unfortunately, I fell in with the Viktor & Rolf siege of H&M (which took place all over the world). Top designers Viktor & Rolf created a limited line of clothing for H&M. More convicted than ever I realized that I really do prefer internet and mail order shopping.
So I went on a little shopping spree. Ordered some stuff, returned some items, exchanges one item for a smaller size and got presented with an invoice which I paid. At least I thought I paid it. Two months later I received a reminder that there was a balance due. I checked my online bank statements and certain that I had paid I threw out the reminder. This week I received another reminder, and two days later another reminder. So yesterday, I checked again, saw that I had paid and called up Heine.
The friendly lady from customer service listed the items I bought and added up the cost of these items. Conclusion: they hadn’t received my payment and one of the items I had purchased was not on the list. I of course wanted the issue of the payment to be settled. The customer service lady was more focused on the fact that I apparently had an expensive item of clothing hanging in my closet which the system didn’t show and for which in her mind I had not paid. I had paid for it of course so she really did not have to worry about that. But she did.
Eventually I was asked to send them a copy of my bank statement so they could confirm the payment. When commented that – however understandable – the fact that I regretted having to spend even more time on this because the burden of proof lies with the customer if the systems of the business fails, is was transferred to a supervisor. She ran through my bank statement with me, checking bank account number and reference number. Apparently I had filled in the wrong reference number. This puzzled me as I am not some kind of random number generator, but eventually succumbed to the fact that I would have to find my official bank statement, copy it, black out the non-relevant stuff and fax it. Tomorrow, I thought when I hung up the phone.
Fifteen minutes later I was called back. It turned out that I had two customer services numbers. I probably had attributed their website a higher level of sophistication than it has and had assumed that I would be recognized as an existing customer. So I had two customer services numbers and one order had been booked on one number, the other order had been booked on the other. My payment had been booked on one service number and not on the other. The lady on the phone assured me several times that I did not have to pay fines and interest as this really was not my fault although – she said – it was obvious that I had ordered in the wrong way.
After everything was solved and settled three things stayed with me.
- Why was the customer services lady trying to convince me that it wasn’t my fault. She said it so often as to comfort me it seemed. I really didn’t care whose fault it was, but it appeared that it didn’t even cross her mind that it could be her company’s fault.
- If according to their system I owe them money they send me letters and charge me interest. If according to their system I paid too much I hear nothing from them and they just keep my money. I wonder how the lady would have reacted if I had told her: it is not your fault, I will not charge interest. She probably wouldn’t have had a clue.
- This form of apology has no place on Seth’s apology ranking. I rank it between 2 and 3: “It’s not your fault and we won’t hold it against you. Isn’t that just grand of us?” Customer services here is well meaning and friendly. They are helpful in solving what they consider to be a mistake of the customer. They magnanimously forgive the customer without any repercussion. At no point in time does it even cross their mind that they could in any way claim responsibility and act accordingly.