If you were to put Tastecard and Marks & Spencer in a boxing ring, who do you think would come out on top? You would think that M&S, being the retailing powerhouse that it is, would win … and you’d be right. Bearing in mind they are two very different companies, you can’t compare products, but the one thing that M&S have over many many companies, is the quality of their service.
Tastecard, on the other hand, offer shockingly terrible service and need to listen to what I’m about to say.
In the space of a week, I had the opportunity to test out three companies’ customer service. The first was TSO Host – a website hosting company. The idea of migrating my blog’s hosting over to another company filled me with dread but after being dicked about by my American host once too often, I bit the bullet. TSO Host’s service was impeccable from the beginning. They offer an online chat service to talk you through the process right from the start and for someone like me who, shall we say, can be a little technically challenged, it was a lifesaver. Within 3 days, everything was up and running and there was no downtime at all. They even emailed and called me to check I was happy the service.
A ruddy high five to them.
Secondly, was Spidergate. I had bought a punnet of strawberries from Marks & Spencer for £1.50. I like to do most of my shopping in M&S and the quality of the food is always fantastic – you get what you pay for I guess. As I washed the strawberries, however, a lovely friendly spider popped his head up. I dropped the strawberries, screamed like a baby, rescued the spider, took him outside, picked up the strawberries, gave them an extra (5) washes … then ate them.
I joked about Spidergate on Twitter with no intention of complaining – after all, as much as it wasn’t ideal, I’d eaten the strawberries. Bloody lovely they were too (Kent strawberries are the best – FACT.) Anyway, M&S picked up on my comment, asked for my address (even though I said not to bother) and within 5 days I’d been given a £15 gift card for my trouble.
It’s service like that that makes me keep going back to M&S time and time again. I don’t ask for much in life other than to feel valued I guess, and they care about their customers. Such a simple concept.
And then there was Tastecard.
Oh Tastecard, how I wish I wasn’t writing about you – our relationship could have been so different. I tried Tastecard out last year, the premise being you get discounted meals in certain restaurants if you present your card. Unless you want to go at the weekend that is, then you’re screwed. Anyway, I never used the damn thing – a real waste of £30, but that’s on me. The card is what it is and if it doesn’t suit my lifestyle, that’s not their fault. So when I got an email saying my card was up for renewal, I didn’t hesitate in trying to cancel the damn thing.
Christ on a bike … why do companies make it so difficult to cancel something? (It’s a rhetorical question, they make it so difficult so you have no choice but to retain their services – and they retain your money.) So, back to Tastecard. To start with, you can’t just click a button on their website and click ‘cancel’ … because that would be too simple. You have to call them. On the three occasions I tried to call them, there were at least 9 people before me in the queue – no doubt trying to do the same thing I was doing. Each time I waited in the queue I thought, ‘I’ll call back – it must be quieter later.” And yet every time I called back, I had the same problem.
So I took my issue to Twitter and tweeted them, asking if there was a quick way to cancel my renewal. Bearing in mind I’m a Community Manager and dealing with queries on Twitter is my job, I would expect an answer – preferably that day. Alas, I didn’t get a response until a week later (after I Tweeted them again.) Only to be told someone would email me.
Five days after my email to them, they responded that they wouldn’t be refunding me my renewal fee. They reminded me they’d emailed me (helpfully giving me the date and time of said email,) and told me that if it went into my junk folder the onus was on me and my email provider (not sure how they got involved!) to ensure I received this email. No mention of wait time on the phone, or that their Community Manager hadn’t replied to my initial tweet.
They then said this, which really got up my nose: “Please make a special note of point 5 – Term”, and proceeded to copy and paste their T&Cs about how I have to call them if I want to cancel.
It’s not about the money, it really isn’t. I can handle a £30 loss, but it just astonishes me how WRONG companies can get customer service. It’s not rocket science. Employ more staff if you can’t answer your phone or tweets but above all, give a toss about your customers.
When I mentioned Tastecard on Twitter, another disgruntled customer got in touch with me to say her and her husband had had the same problem with them, so I know I’m not alone. And I don’t think I’m Victor(ia) Meldrew … I’m a pretty laid back person, but I have to say poor service is a real bug bear of mine.
So to take the bad taste out of my mouth, I’d love to hear your stories about GREAT customer service. The companies that went that extra mile to make your experience a good one. I’m off for a lie down.