Blovember #8 – Not Bovvered…

When a fairly young, groovy and ethical brand like Clipper Tea has an email address of you kind of expect a reply to a polite email with a very polite gripe. So far at 1 3/4 days I haven’t even received an acknowledgement. I’d set up my “reach out to my customers” email address with an automated reply setting expectations for a human reply. If you are a small firm – why not give yourself up to 5 working days? Hardly unreasonable is it?

Before I wrote this I checked the email address, time of sending, any bounceback etc. There is nothing to indicate it hasn’t been received. I am trying not to leap to judgement but due to the website being up I am guessing there hasn’t been a catastrophic IT outage. I think the issue is a human one, which is sad. @clipperteas C-, could do better

In the interests of big/small balance I ought to note that Mercedes Benz Oxford also disappointed the other day. Made me wait 15 min to see a “specialist” after saying “someone will be right out” and not “it’ll be 15 min if you don’t mind holding on Sir”. I then end up explaining the difference between camber and toe-in to a real mouth-breather and am left wondering about said individual’s area of specialism. It sure as hell wasn’t wheel alignment on an E-class, that much I know for sure. Not making me want to rush there for a service anytime soon. I was then called by an “expert” who then perpetuated the whole thing by giving duff information. I know because I had the car on an inspection pit today w. a man that services coaches and builds race cars as a hobby. We looked and looked and looked for 20 min. No adjustment bolts for setting the rear wheel camber on an E-Class Estate. No shims either  and according to The Internet there is no way to adjust the rear camber on a W211 except by buying aftermarket kits. @mercedesbenz_ir – D, be straight w. customers.

Addendum: after a v nice lunch with #MusingsFromTheSofa the point was made to me that I was failing to make a point about MB Oxford. I agree that I meandered around and that, at best, the point was inferred. I apologise. The point was to contrast that even the big guys like Mercedes were not necessarily better than the little guys like Clipper Tea. In both instances I expect to be not only satisfied but hopefully delighted. Both obviously lack a Social Media Strategy or I expect to have been contacted in some form by now….

Please Talk to Me – Wiggle

The big British internet retailing success story – Wiggle – has sold me an item that is faulty. Not their fault that it failed. It is their responsibility to deal with me as their customer. Where I choose to shop for bike bits is suddenly now up for grabs.

I bought a pair of very expensive tires as I know from prior experience that they are nearly puncture proof and v. well made. Unfortunately one suffered a catastrophic and very obvious failure due to a manufacturing fault. This means I can no longer ride my bike as I don’t have any other tires as I was counting on these. Check out the picture to see. It was a bit of a hairy moment as it was on the front and I was descending and braking on my fixie.

However, when I try to contact Wiggle and upon looking on their site they expressly state that they DO NOT take calls. Odd – people need to talk sometimes. Especially those pesky customers with all their pre and post sale nonsense enquiries.So much for personal customer service. I chat with an agent online who swears they are not a machine but a person (I am unsure) and get real vanilla cookie cutter replies. Despite being in the middle of some serious training and having sent high res photos of the blown kevlar bead in a £40 tire they insist on having it back before they do anything to help me out.

I don’t expect them to refund me without examining it but I do expect a replacement to be dispatched asap upon the proviso that if the warranty claim doesn’t hold up then I will be further billed for the replacement item. No…they expect me to wait a week and a half for the wheels to turn slowly before issuing a replacement. They have a way of making it sound like they are doing you a favour when all they are doing is meeting their minimum legal obligations under the Sale of Goods Act 1989. I am grateful and loyal if they go a little bit above and beyond, not the bare minimum.

A couple of points to internet retailers: – have a phone number (Amazon do, Chain Reaction do); empower your staff to make common sense decisions; don’t take the default position that customers are just shysters trying to get one over on you.

Why do some retailers use the internet to hide away from their customers? It seems Wiggle view this method of transacting as absolving them from treating you in the same way as a high street retailer. It has cemented one thing in my head though. I’ll never buy from Wiggle again. I have a choice and anything that requires technical advice I buy from Beeline as I value the personal service and their expertise. Commodity items like tires get bought online for the lowest price as I have 30 years experience of fitting them.

Here is the text from the Human called “Josh”. You decide. If Josh is a human then he is relying almost entirely on pre-written scripts.


Please wait for a site operator to respond.

Hello my name is ‘Josh’. How can I help you today?

Josh: Hello, how can I help you today? Please could you enter your registered wiggle email address to help us locate your account?

Dominic: Morning. Are you a machine or a human being?

Dominic: Josh, I had a “chat” once w. a machine that was v. unhelpful so excuse me asking

Josh: I am a human

Dominic: 🙂

Dominic: good

Dominic: can you see my order number?

Josh: How may I help?

Dominic: I have just sent an email w pics. I wanted to know how Wiggle handled obvious warranty issues?

Josh: One moment please while I find that information for you.

Dominic: I am mid-training for an event and bought v. expensive tires and now the tire has failed catastrophically (the kevlar bead went BANG yesterday) so I need a rapid replacement of one tire even though they were bought as a pair

Josh: Apologies for the problems with this item.  Please send it back to us using the returns system found on our website and we will refund your returns carriage if found to be faulty. If the product is out of warranty we may only be able to offer a repair service which may incur a fixing charge.  Let me know if there are any further issues with this and sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Dominic: Josh, If I understand this the onus is on me to package at post it at my expense and in the meantime be without a specific tire? The pics aren’t sufficient?

Dominic: It is not out of warranty as you will be able to see from the order date.

Josh: I can confirm that we will need the tyre back to get a warranty claim processed for you

Josh: I apologise for the inconvenience.

Dominic: Whilst not holding Wiggle responsible for the faulty Continental product I was hoping for a more flexible and responsive reply.

Dominic: Will Wiggle sent me a single Continental GP400 All Season 700×28 in the meaNTIME SO I CAN GET RIDING AGAIN?

Josh: I do apologise but we do need all faulty item back to get a warranty claim processed for as they do all need to be inspected and deemed faulty

Dominic: sorry about the caps – I hit the caps lock by accident

Dominic: you are saying that the pictures accompanying the email are insufficient?

Josh: These are helpful but we do required faulty item to be returned so that we can get a warranty claim raised for you

Josh: I apologise for the inconvenience.

Josh: I can confirm that as this is a folding tyre you can return this to us using the collect+ service.

Dominic: So in the meantime it is tough luck for me? How long does this take?

Josh: Returned parcels through collect+ must have specific dimensions of no larger than 50cm x 30cm x 30cm.

Dominic: Collect+ – so it will be 4-5 days before it even makes it you guys?

Josh: I can confirm that once we have received this back this shhould be processed the same or next working days for you we will then be in contact by email.

Josh: If you would rather return by an alternative method for quicker return time to us please do this and we will cover the return postage costs for you

Dominic: So what you arte saying is that I will be at least a week and a half w/out a tire. I only have a pair. Thank you Wiggle. Way to lose a customer.

Dominic: I’ll post it back and stick to Chain Reaction in future.

Josh: I do apologise for the inconvenience and we will get this resolved as soon as possible

Josh: I have not heard from you for a few moments.  Are you still with me?

Josh: Sorry we were not able to continue our chat. Since I have not heard from you for some time, I am going to close this chat.  If you need any help in the future, please do not hesitate to chat with us again.

Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.