The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320


February 23, 2007

Pre-emptive customer service

In the 20 years or so that I've bought and unpacked compact discs, I have repeatedly asked myself whether it is possible for a compact disc to become so stuck on its tray that you can actually break it while trying to remove it. So far, however, all CDs that I've tried to take out of their box, even those that seemed to be dangerously stuck, have shown a remarkable elasticity.

Today, however, I learned that CDs can indeed break apart, very much like knäckebröd in fact, right through the middle, into two halves of roughly the same size, and even emit knäckebröd-like breaking sounds in the process.

It was the crowning achievement of a whole week of customer dissatisfaction, during which I had to return no fewer than five items to their respective sales points because they were either broken or damaged; that's more in one week than I returned during the whole of the past 10 years. I only hope it's a spell that passes soon.

During this week I also received an Amazon order. In the box, I found an empty fat jewel case for 2CDs with a note on which they apologized that the jewel case of one of the items they sent me was broken and they were including this empty jewel box to compensate for it.

The funny thing was, none of the CD cases with CDs in them was broken, but the extra empty one they sent me was.

My only explanation for this phenomenon that does not involve time travel or an intervention from a parallel universe is that they expected one of the jewel cases in the order to break during shipping, because these things often do, and simply included the extra case as a matter of pre-emptive customer service, and ironically, it was the extra case that took the hit.

A shop assistant at a record shop where I got a replacement for an unplayable, totally fogged CD today told me she had had a significantly higher number of defective items this week. I told her about my week of broken items and how a CD cracked into two halves in my hand earlier today, and she said, "well yes, that also happens to us a lot."

Posted by Horst on February 23, 2007 07:29 PM to my so-called life | Tell-a-friend
Comments
Jann said on February 25, 2007 09:30 PM:

Well, I think most companies are looking for cheaper ways to produce their products, and if these shortcuts result in inferior products, they don't really care much, unless, of course, it affects the bottom line. If replacing defective CD's is less costly than ensuring quality to begin with, then this will probably continue. It sounds like Amazon has found a way to save money both on postage and the cost of dealing with customer complaints.

I did have one good experience with a type of preemptive customer service this week. It started when my favorite Mediterranean restaurant incorrectly prepared my take-out meal. I enjoyed the meal anyway, but called the restaurant to inform them of their mistake. The manager was apologetic, and promised me a complimentary meal the next time I went there. It happened that I was back there within the week to have dinner with a friend; the manager somehow recognised me, and insisted that both I and my friend were to have complimentary meals. We not only enjoyed our free dinners, but now have lots of good things to say about this restaurant.

In an unrelated matter, but one that might interest you, Horst, The New York Times announced in an article February 21, that the history department of Middlebury College in Vermont has banned citing Wikipedia as a research source, due to gross inaccuracies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/21/education/21wikipedia.html?em&ex=1172552400&en=b403726dbe838b6a&ei=5087%OA

dieter said on February 26, 2007 10:08 AM:

I hope you got replacement for the knäckebröd disc, Horst.

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