Be sure to see the update to this post at the bottom of the post.
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.
I wonder if the customer service people you spoke with actually work for Pottery Barn. I find that a lot of places contract that work out, and it dramatically changes the level of service you get. If they don’t work for Pottery Barn, what do they care how loyal a customer you are? It’s got nothing to do with them really. It doesn’t excuse the poor service you got, and you persevered far longer than I would have – but it may explain why they weren’t terribly responsive to your loyalty.
The Consumerist.com blog, which is now owned by Consumer Reports, has scores of similar stories about poor customer complaints. They suggest doing a Executive Email Carpet Bomb(EECB)if you are not getting anywhere:
Consumerist also has daily sales. Planetbargains.com and Dealnews.com also have daily sales as well.
After a too long career in call centers – if you are getting bad service get to the supervisor/manager asap! Much more effective than an EECB.
In my past experience, it was policy that if anyone even asked to speak with a supervisor or manager the representative was required to connect you. Some place really don’t want to do that since it is much more expensive, so the representative will then have the authority to do exactly what you are asking, or they’ll connect you and your chances of the problem getting taken care of appropriately go up significantly. Use it on the first call instead of getting into a loop of repeat calls. Also, if you are having a bad call or are hesitant about where where it is going – get the representatives name. They’ll be less likely to fail to document your call if they think you can check up on them.
Also, remember, every call you make costs the company money – the figure we used circa 2002 was $6 for every call to a representative and $11 for every escalated call. So, if they had just shipped the new furniture right away they probably would have spent as much on the shipping as they did dealing with your repeat contacts and that medic fellow.
I had a similar issue recently:
Me and my two sons Justin and Jonathan were shopping for a bunk bed. Justin was playing with a pizza and the kitchen set. Then the Store Manager Cirus grabbed the pizza out of his hands and said “you can’t play with that!” and then walked away. It’s not like a glass vase, its a toy.
I cannot believe some one in that position could just do that. She must not have kids. She showed lack of customer service and had no regard for anyones feelings but hers. I contacted customer service and no one has responded. Justin does not want to go into the store or the mall anymore.
Thanks for you attention,
Stay at home Dad
I had the same problems! We ordered a wall unit, it didn’t come in as promised, they then lost it, had to wait another 10 days and then when it was delivered they refused to assemble it…the “white glove” service I paid for didn’t seem to exist. I went through the customer service and received no help, went back to the person who sold it to us and she was at least helpful, but things seemed out of her control. Bottom line, won’t spend a penny there ever again, will let everyone else know how terrible the service was for an expensive piece of furniture that’s not much above particle board. Thanks for letting me vent!
i’ve never had any problems with pottery barn. if you didn’t like your purchase, why didn’t you just return it? i believe you have up to 30 days to return the item for any reason.
here’s the link:
James, I’d asked Pottery Barn Kids’ reps if I could exchange it for a replacement dresser that had the right holes to attach the changing topper and was told that was not possible. One rep told me I could return the dresser, but would have to pay the shipping (which is hundreds of dollars for a large piece like that). So that would have left me out of several hundred dollars and without a dresser for my child’s clothes. Didn’t exactly seem like a good solution.
Note from author: this comment was moved here from another post
i just called pottery barn. the return policy i got was that, yes, you would lose your original shipping charges that you already paid, which is usually 10% on items over 200 dollars. furthermore, pottery barn would charge you 13 dollars to come out to get the item, but then pottery barn would refund the entire purchase plus any taxes paid.
if, as you say, you’ve been purchasing pottery barn items for years, i don’t see why one bad experience should ruin your loyalty as a customer. surely, you cannot expect them to eat the shipping and handling on a large item you need to return for whatever reason. incidentally, for my pottery barn purchases, the shipping and handling has usually ranged anywhere between 50 and 100 dollars. no big deal, really, if you can afford to shop at pottery barn.
when my first child was born, we kept his clothes in a second hand dresser and he eventually slept (when not in bed with us) in the same crib as me and all of my cousins had when they were babies. during my son’s infancy, my wife and i kept our own clothes in rubbermaid containers. we eventually worked our way up to an ethan allen armoire.
bruce springsteen produced two pretty crappy albums during the 90’s. it’s good to see that haven’t given up on him.
James, my parents taught me an important saying when I was growing up: don’t count other people’s money.
Regardless, I did not want to give up the dresser and changing table topper because I needed a dresser and changing table and really liked the one I had. When I persisted with their customer service reps, I found that there was a much better solution, which was having a furniture medic just come and fix the problem. When a solution like that existed, why would I have wanted to return the items, losing money and also then being in the position of having to find replacements?
As you’ll see, the post has been updated to reflect my recent conversation with a member of their corporate customer relations team. Whether I choose to purchase from PB in the future is my prerogative and I’m not sure why exactly you care so much about it (do you work for them???). We all make choices like this every day — deciding to never eat at a restaurant again, to use a plumber again, to get our hair cut at the same place again — and we each have different thresholds at which we will write off a company/serviceperson/etc (and usually the thresholds differ for different things). It’s a personal choice and we all need to do what feels right to us. But, as I said before, it was not about returning the item or even about the problem with the item. It was the poor customer service I received from the first several people I dealt with. When two people suggest that you drill holes in a unit yourself and another person says they’ll call you back and never does, it’s not good customer service.
meredith, this is earth, customer service is hit or miss no matter where you go, and has been that way for as long as people have been serving, trading, buying and selling. your public complaints are not going to change that fact.
however, i have found that i usually get the best customer service when i, as the customer, appear calm and cool about the issue at hand, even if i’m actually seething inside after having cursed the situation a million times. also, when it comes to purchases that require any kind of customer assembly, one should always be prepared to improvise.
but you are correct, we all have these customer service stories. i usually end my association with the business i have a problem with, or i continue to press them for satisfaction (especially if it’s a company that has a monopoly on my business, such as a utility or cable company), which is what you’ve done. good for you.
p.s. not a fan of changing tables at all. they are relatively high in the air (from a baby’s perspective) and have a small surface area. most babies are pretty squirmy, especially when getting changed. using a changing pad, i always preferred changing my kids on the floor or a low bed, much wider surfaces which lessen the potential for human error and a nasty fall.
regardless, thanks for the response and good luck with your son.
Just had a very bad experience with Pottery Barn Kids myself. Placed an order for a Glider with Ottoman 2 days ago..now receive an email for a 10% offer on all online orders. Called customer service to see if it could be applied to my order (since it wasn’t even process/shipped yet) and was told “no it’s too late”. I said, “what if I just cancelled the order and replaced it?” The guy says, “You could do that but since orders for gliders can’t be cancelled you’re out of luck.” I will never buy from them again.
kelly, the reason you received the coupon was not so you that could get 10% off the item you just purchased, but rather an incentive for you to purchase another product from pottery barn. it’s a very simple marketing strategy that is becoming very popular amongst retailers, especially with the current technology and economy.
I work for a Pottery Barn Kids, and I’ll be honest with you: customer service is not the main objective here.
Firstly, the furniture sold here is not real wood. It’s made of MDF – medium-density fiberboard
It hardly stands up to the rigors that children may put upon it. I have seen desks that we sell literally break in half just by dropping it. Yet, the sales staff will tell you it is made of wood. If you ever get the opportunity to see the cross-section of a chair or shelving unit sold at Pottery Barn Kids, you’ll see it is nothing more than over-glorified plywood.
Pottery Barn Kids is only concerned with the numbers and the bottom line. They will tell you anything to sell you their less-than-quality items. Managers have a practice of telling customers anything to get them out of their hair.
I have personally seen phone customers and catalog customers be put on the back burner for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time. I will never understand why anyone would spend their hard-earned money just to be abused by someone who has no compassion, understanding, or product knowledge.
This ‘do whatever it takes to sell the item’ tactic will negatively affect the line. This poor business practice, combined with the suffering economy, will ultimately lead to this company’s doom.
But you can’t tell them that. Their theory is once they have your money, they’re done with you. The best way to handle is sad state of affairs is to avoid shopping at Pottery Barn Kids. I get a generous employee discount, and I wouldn’t shop here. I have never worked at a place with such low levels of ethics before in my life.
F.Y.I. – stay at home dad, customer complaints are not taken seriously ever. I’ve seen associates be downright rude to customers. Later, if they call to complain, they are largely ignored or laughed over. In the time I have been employed at Pottery Barn Kids, I have never heard or seen of one disciplinary motion being carried out over a rude associate.
Kelly, gliders and ottomans can be cancelled at ant time. The customer service representative you had the misfortune of talking to decieved you.
I had a very nice experience with Pottery Barn Kids. I bought a twin quilt that was on ‘Super’ sale. The only problem being that all the pillow shams were sold. When I got home later that evening I tried every re-sale website known to man with no avail. I pulled up the store locator list and randomly began dailing numbers for West coast PBK’s in search of my lost sham. (I live on the East coast and it was 11pm when I begain dailing) I called one store in Washington and another in Utah and both times the person that answered the phone were very polite and both informed me that this particular line had sold out months ago) I then dailed an Oregon store and the women that I spoke with checked and double checked her entire store for me! Then she located the missing sham in NJ! It may or may not be there when I call tomorrow morning, but I VERY pleased with the effort this employeed took.
r.d. the pottery barn website specifically states that gliders are special orders and cannot be cancelled or returned:
I work for pbk and customers like yourself make the job a lot harder than it needs to be. Your dresser included in home delivery, your topper did not. Plain and simple. So get a screwdriver and put the topper on yourself! Your barage of calls and the calls from others like yourself waste so much time. We laid off thousands of people this year and your calls waste our time creating unproductivity. It was your responsibility to put the topper on. From my store you never would have gotten a furniture medic.
Wow, Sarah; if I were your supervisor, I wouldn’t be thrilled that you were writing an offensive comment like this to a customer. You also seem to have missed what the actual problem was. I’m perfectly capable of taking a screwdriver and screwing screws into the pre-drilled holes if those holes existed. The problem was that THERE WERE NO PRE-DRILLED HOLES, which were supposed to be both in the topper and the dresser so that I could follow the directions and screw both together. This made it impossible for me to secure the topper to the dresser without intervention from someone who really knows what they’re doing and can drill a hole into just the right place in both units to ensure a safe and secure connection. There is no way I could have done what the furniture medic did since I don’t have a drill and never would have attempted doing something like that myself and potentially wrecking both pieces.
Meredith, would you suggest writing to Melanie Huigen at Williams Sonoma Corporate Customer Relations in order to get anywhere with a Pottery Barn Kids issue? If so, do you know if she is in the San Franciso office? Thanks, Lisa
Lisa has a good question. PBK just lost a glider that we ordered eight weeks ago. Wife is three weeks from delivery. PBK has agreed to restart a new order and consider some sort of credit (nothing concrete). Would be interested in an emailable address, as well.
Hi Lisa, I don’t know where she’s located as she provided me with an 800 number, but I’d be surprised if Corporate Customer Relations wouldn’t
be in SF.
Melanie was very pleasant to deal with and seemed genuinely concerned about about customer satisfaction. I filled out the Williams Sonoma
email forms https://www.williams-sonomainc.com/contact-us/index.html for PR and Pb Kids Customer Service and received a response from her a week or two later. You could probably also call PB’s corporate number and ask for her or someone in Corporate Customer Relations.
Hi. I’m in the second week of working with Pottery Barn Kids customer service. I will return to this site, Meredith, next week and tell the whole story, when I see what customer service supervisor Chris in Oklahoma City ultimately does to make amends on my order. Meanwhile, I have to say that I’m stunned by the ridiculous comment of “James”: surely, you cannot expect them (pottery barm) to eat the shipping and handling on a large item you need to return for whatever reason.
Is James nuts? If Pottery Barn has sent you a defective item, I sure do expect them to pay for the return shipping charges AND the charges to ship the new, non-defective item. That’s known as customer service. Obviously, James has some vested interest In Pottery Barn Kids, no matter what he says.
Best of luck in resolving the situation to your satisfaction, Elizabeth!
I just had an unfortunate customer service experience with PBK as well. I posted it to another blog. Here it is:
Pottery Barn Lost
(Me as a customer that is)
I dont have to write an intro for this post since I can just use the first paragraph from this post by meredith farkas. Long time customer, every room has Pottery Barn furniture in it, etc.
We bought our son the Pottery Karn kids Kendall Crib and dresser set two years ago. Over the past two years, the surface of his crib has gotten pretty badly banged up, but hey, it’s his crib and he likes it. In the past year or so, the dropside had gotten increasingly difficult to raise/lower. And one day last week, it completely broke. Upon inspection, both spring loaded latches at the bottom of the dropside had gotten worn out and they eventually just broke at the same time, rendering the dropside useless, and forcing me to convert it to a toddler bed immediately.
My son was not ready for a toddler bed. Sleepless nights ever since.
I spent the better part of last night on the phone with 4 different people in Pottery Barn furniture – three of whom tried to get rid of me by putting me on hold immediately after answering the phone for a long time. The last one couldn’t, since I refused to be put on hold. This person said that since the Kendall is no longer under warranty, they couldn’t help me out.
This part is at the bottom of the thousands and thousands of cribs they sell every month. It probably costs Pottery Barn less than a dollar. But unfortunately it’s an essential part to a functional dropside. I explained the situation, and asked the person if I could buy the part so my family can all get some sleep. Nope.
Apparently, Pottery Barn furniture carries a 30-day warranty. After that, you are f-ed – no matter how ridiculously simple the fix is, even if you want to pay for it (I would pay big bucks for this little part – sidebar, a secondary market for these things might be a good little business). To top it off, the person I talked to was totally rude (I assume the others who did the “please hold” trick would have been as well) and offered no assistance.
Wow. Apparently things are so good at William Sonoma (parent co. of Pottery Barn), that they can afford to be rude and lose customers, good for them. I’m happy to take my business elsewhere. I just can’t believe how ridiculous this is – they must buy these by the shipload from China with the volume they run. AND I’d pay them for it!
In the meantime, does anyone know where I can score a spring loaded latch that fits a Pottery Barn Kendall crib? I need some sleep.
Ordered a storage unit from pbkids and one of the parts arrived without drill holes. The staff were not very helpful, but after several calls to the store(none of which were returned) they did agree to provide me with a new part to replace the old one. Never mentioned that they would need the defective part back, so I had to make 2 trips to their store to get the issue resolved. Nothing was offered for the inconvenience, frustration, or loss of time, but at least I had the part. I wouldve loved to have stopped doing buisness with them at that point, but I had another storage cubby left to assemble. This one had a dowel missing. No replacement part was available at the store, so my options were to wait until an entire replacement cubby was shipped there, or to wait up to a few weeks for a label, to return the part, and wait for a replacement. After(I should say if) I get this storage unit in place, I dont plan to do buisness with them again!
Thank you for posting this. I am glad to know that I am not alone. I have spent so much money at PB and PBK that I feel like the world’s biggest sucker. We have had several problems including:
-Kendall dresser set with an inoperable drawer and broken handall.
-Area rug that smells like burned rubber. (After two years the smell has finally subsided.)
-The last straw was this: I purchased window treatments for my son’s room, came home and found out that they didn’t match; after a month of trying, I cannot find 4 matching panels anywhere. No one at the store is willing to help, but, they will give me a store credit!
I am not only tired, I am done. From now on, I am staying away.
Yep, the customer service is badly managed. I went back to return a puzzle that I purchased 2 days earlier because it was missing a piece. Becky, the sale person from the Stanford location was very rude and said that I cannot return an open box, except for the same thing. Well…how could you know that a puzzle is defective until you open the box? She was extremely rude and became nervous and in the end, after reading to her the conditions displayed on the receipt she became nervous and it was very clear that she did not wanted to comply because of her pride, I guess. It was very disappointing too, but I am sure that I will not put my foot in that store again – simply, I cannot understand her behavior. I was never treated like this in my entire life at any store.
Eric: Did you find the part to the Kendall Crib? I worked for PBK for 4 years. I know we used to be able to order replacement parts for the cribs, but when they changed manufacturers, replacements parts became unavailable. It was maddening that the vendors did this but that’s what happened. The Kendall did go through a vendor change so maybe that’s why you cannot get parts, but it is certainly no excuse for how you have been treated!!! Or any of you on this board. Very disheartening. Perhaps you could try another store to see if they might help any more, or the replacement parts person was located at the corporate offices in SF. Good luck!
Wow, it was interesting to read all these comments. I feel sorry for Meredith for going through the struggle with the baby furniture. As someone who raised her kids with hand-me-down furniture, I’ve never worried about any of these issues, changed my kids on the floor and honestly I only remember the kids – not the furniture. I suppose people like PB for their great style, but I didn’t know they can have so many (to me unrealistic) expectations and unnecessary worries.
[…] Customer service problems with Pottery Barn Kids – Part Deux … […]
[…] 7. Customer service problems with Pottery Barn Kids – Part Deux … […]
[…] 5. Customer service problems with Pottery Barn Kids – Part Deux … […]