Monday, May 08, 2006

Goodnight from Sydney: The Perils of Shopping at Bing Lee

Tonight's photo: I took this at Darling Harbour, and call it, "Free as a bird".

Pity I stuffed up the shot by missing the end of the bird's right wing. But then again, the blogosphere has more than enough right wings.

Customer Service.

We all know what it means and if you live in Australia, you know not to expect it. Especially if you purchase anything from electrical retailers, Bing Lee. This is especially true when you buy or attempt to buy, anything from their Chatswood store. The same principal of keeping the customer dissatisfied is also shared by their insurance company.

Both parties give the distinct perception that they practice discrimination against the aged and the infirm.

My mother has an oil filled heater and when she purchased it three years ago, she took out an extended warranty. The warranty states that if the appliance is not transportable, service will be on-site. The heater now needs repairs.

According to both Bing Lee and Fortis, their insurance company, a seventy four year old woman in frail health, can transport an oil filled heater that weighs around 23 kilograms when boxed, a distance of about 30 kilometres. As she does not drive, (and neither do I) that leaves taxi or public transport.

Phone calls which were not returned, (that goes without saying) and Alan, a young manager who when he first spoke to me said, "When I was speaking to your mother, or whoever she was", did nothing to improve my mood.

During the conversation he asked me a series of questions - invoice numbers, date of purchase etc. (questions that had been asked and answered previously). When he finished, he then told me, "you shouldn't be telling me all this - you should be telling the insurance company".

Perhaps I was wrong to ask him if that was the case, why did he waste my time asking me for that information in the first place!

Of course, when I told him I would be taking the matter further, he used that phrase so beloved by Australian customer service staff, "don't threaten me". What he failed to realise is that I don't threaten - I act.

Eventually they kindly offered to send a courier at our expense. The carriers insisted at first that we use the original box and packing. Yes, I know we should keep the original packing, but in reality, who one earth keeps cardboard boxes and polystyrene for three years! In the end, the manager offered to give my mother a cardboard box and bubble wrap - as long as she went to collect it.

I have checked the terms of the extended warranty, and nowhere do I see a clause that states the warranty is only available to able bodied persons who have a car.

Buying anything at Bing Lee in Chatswood is always an interesting experience. The last time I was in the store was two years ago. I spent ten minutes looking at fans, then waited for staff to stop talking and offer assistance.

Finally a staff member approached and asked, "Can I help you?"

"Yes" said I, with an optimism that I should have known was misguided. "I would like to know more about this particular fan".

"I'm sorry, I don't work in this department" came the response, "I'm in stereos".

I asked him if it was some sort of new sales technique. How to target potential purchasers of stereo equipment by approaching somebody that has spent about 15 minutes looking at fans.

That was not the first time I or my friends/acquaintances have experienced problems with Bing Lee. Especially those who ask about services advertised by Bing Lee, but which the staff know nothing about.

Bing Lee advertise heavily on Sydney radio. The ads have an irritating jingle, "I like Bing Lee. I like Bing Lee"

Guess what - I don't.

Today's candidate for the "That's a bloody good title" competition is -

The madness that!

Tomorrow, I will be naming the last candidate for the prize of 250 Blog Explosion credits.

Remember, I select the candidate from blogs I have come across while surfing Blog Explosion during the day.

Wherever you may be - be safe