By Meredith Farkas | January 21, 2009
Close to a month ago, I wrote about the awful experience I had with Pottery Barn’s customer service. Since a bunch of things have happened since then (and I’ve had people ask if anything has changed), I thought I ought to update folks on this.
I didn’t give up on Pottery Barn the day I wrote that post. I called them again and explained to the customer service representative that I’ve been a really loyal customer for years and already had plans to order other items through them for myself and my child. I specifically asked if they could replace the furniture I purchased from them. The customer service rep said that she would check with her supervisor and get back to me within an hour. She sounded pretty positive, so I actually started to have hope that this would all be fixed.
After waiting six hours for her to call me back, I called again. Turns out, not only had she not called me back, but she hadn’t even logged my call in their system. I was livid. I got transferred to another rep who again suggested that I just drill the holes in the furniture myself. When I said that I didn’t pay almost $1000 for furniture that I had to drill holes into (and also that I didn’t want to destroy the furniture), she suggested that they have a furniture medic come and drill the holes. Furniture medic? Apparently, Pottery Barn has people all over the country who are on contract to fix their furniture when it arrives screwed up. Why this wasn’t a possibility suggested to me by the 6 people I’d spoken to previously is a mystery to me. She let me know that the furniture medic would be in touch with me within a week. I figured I’d update my post as soon as the furniture was fixed.
At that point, I was pretty happy with the resolution, though I still wasn’t feeling too crazy with the company and what I had to go through to get there. So now I was waiting for the furniture medic. I waited a week. One week turned into two. After almost three weeks, I called again. After being on hold for about 30 minutes, I finally got through to someone named Janet who was the first person to be nice to me the entire time I’d been dealing with Williams Sonoma/Pottery Barn Customer Service Team. After kind of blowing up about how ridiculous this whole process has been, how badly I’d been treated and how much I’ve spent with their company, she called the furniture medic herself and arranged for him to come next week. Next Tuesday, I will finally have our changing table attached to the dresser. I’ll believe it when I see it.
I still doubt that I’ll ever buy anything again from Pottery Barn. The fact that I had to talk to close to a dozen people to get any sort of resolution is absurd. Other than in my dealings with Janet (who clearly should have a job whipping their other reps into shape), at no time did I ever feel like my business was valued. Why be loyal to a company that clearly isn’t loyal to me? There are a lot of companies and service people who I will always be loyal to because they’ve provided excellent customer service and have always made me feel like my business was valued. Those are the companies that will get my money and with a new baby on the way, I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of it. It just probably won’t be with Pottery Barn.
Update: Yesterday, I received a call from Melanie Huigen at Williams Sonoma Corporate Customer Relations. She was really apologetic about the experience I’d had and explained that since my order they’ve made changes to the way that customer service is handled with all of the Williams Sonoma brands. She also explained how seriously they take complaints like this at the corporate level and that all issues like this are reviewed monthly by brand managers. I felt like she sincerely cared about my business and my feedback, which was refreshing. While I still feel a bit gun-shy about making major purchases from Pottery Barn in the future, I do feel a lot better about the company and I wouldn’t doubt that I’ll get over it eventually since I really do like so many of their products. I dealt with a some not-so-great customer service reps during what may have been a transitional period for their customer service team (since not calling someone back or suggesting that a customer drill holes into a unit themselves is not good customer service, any way you slice it) and hopefully my dealings with Janet towards the end of this odyssey are a sign that things are getting better. I wish that the first person (or second, or third) I dealt with was as kind and helpful as Melanie, but I’m relieved that this all got resolved. I have a beautiful dresser that I love and now a changing table topper that is actually secured to the top of it. Had I not persisted — had I returned the dresser (losing all the money I paid for shipping) and/or just written off Pottery Barn after my first call — I would not have had a good outcome in the end. It just goes to show that persistence can pay off and that while the person you originally deal with may not have cared about your business, someone in the company very well might.