Many in the past and some still today look to the better business bureau to guide them to reputable companies and in case of problems help them receive the service they paid for. In the previous post we talked about the eight steps important to being a member of the BBB.
- Build Trust
- Advertise Honestly
- Tell the Truth
- Be Transparent
- Honor Promises
- Be Responsive
- Safeguard Privacy
- Embody Integrity
Moving to step three, tell the truth, again we run into the same problem we did with, advertise honestly. Keeping this in the realm of computer companies I will offer an example. A customer may ask about a known issue regarding a piece of hardware within a computer not working with an operating system. The company knows full well it is an issue they were caught unaware of and are scrambling to fix. However, they do not want to stop production and will continue to sell the product knowing it has the issues hoping they will find a fix in the near future.
An educated consumer will pick up on the issue and ask about it before purchasing and many times sales agents are instructed not to even acknowledge the issue and instead focus on up-selling the customer to a part that does not have the issue if at all possible. When pushed on the specific issue the agent will state a fix is forthcoming which is on the edge of truth, but he or she will sell it as an absolute. This can convince the purchaser to buy the unit only to be stuck dealing with the issue when it arrives.
If you were to contact the BBB the company will be able to easily state that it informed you of the issue and are working on a fix. Since your PC has a warranty and the company is working on the issue you have little recourse. In fact, if you have a no return after thirty day policy and are not vigilant it can pass during the time you are waiting to have your system fixed and this enters us into step four, be transparent.
Transparency in the computer world is clouded by trade secrets and the fact that so much can go wrong with a computer that many companies rather just replace your system than troubleshoot and fix it. Also, many companies will release a product knowing it has issues from hardware to software to even the build design and not release any of this to the public.
The problem is that it is hard to track down if the company knew of the issues before the system shipped. Just like the issue in the earlier paragraph the key to the BBB, at least for computer companies, is that they are trying to fix the issue and are honoring their warranty, which leads us to step five, honor promises.
As long as a computer company is at least trying to fix an issue with a product they sell the BBB will turn a blind eye. Most computer companies do not want to spend too much time on warranty issues. Most companies consider support a losing department which explains why it is outsourced and more often than not, not well staffed.
Larger companies have even replaced total units because to continue to support the product would be far too costly not only in man hours and parts, but in the press and PR. As issues arise today’s consumer turns to the internet to post about them and as it spreads it can become a PR nightmare even for the giants of the industry.
In these instances companies rather give the customer a new and different unit they believe will work to silence the cries on the internet and hopefully lower the calls in the call center.
For those who don’t receive a new unit many times they are trapped because the company is doing something (even if it is the minimum) to fix the issue and as long as they are there is little a customer can do even in contacting the BBB.
Again during this time your return window may close and in many cases even if it does not you will have to pay a hefty fee if you choose to return your system. This ties in to transparency and honoring promises.
Many times the parts you return will be sold again in one form or another netting a dual profit for the company and since the policy is stated (somewhere on their website) the BBB can do nothing to help you.
Warranties like insurance are looked at by the companies that issue them as rent for a home they hope you never use. When you call in a claim it costs the company money which is why you get the low end of the totem pole first. Unfortunately, the best tool to fight against these companies is not the BBB, but the internet and specifically social media sites.
In the next installment we will cover the final three steps and talk about how the internet and social media can and has brought justice to those who have witnessed the death of customer service.