It's no secret that customer service is vital to any and all business. Jane gets a bit weary hearing industry writers and journalists harping on the necessity of this all-important business tool, mainly because it all sounds like hype today. Back in that Dick and Jane world of the mid-20th century, all acorss America, from the East coast, through the heartland, and all along the West Coast, customer service dictated that the customer was always right.
Baby boomers learned that lesson on their parents' knees. Our parents expected excellent service--and got it--from every merchant or store they visited. Returns were cheerfully accepted, and replacement products were offered without comment. The overall atmosphere was one of mutual respect. Customers did not try to take advantage of merchants by returning items for frivilous reasons, and merchants did not question customers' intent, beyond wondering why the customer was returning the item.
Somehow, customer service, despite its popularity as a topic in business magazines and newsletters, has fallen by the wayside. Let us tell you a story, dear readers, to illustrate our point.
A few years ago we bought a new car--well, not really new, it was a used car, but it was new to us. We chose a Volkswagen Beetle. Not turbo charged, much to the children's disappointment. The color was (is) a bright, mustard yellow. In a test drive, we found it handled well, and since our goal was to get into a smaller car (we were driving an Intrepid at the time--a car we dearly miss now), we were persuaded to purchase the 1999 Beetle-- which only had 15,000 miles on it, at the time.
Not a day has gone by that we have not lamented over our poor choice! Not only have we come to realize that we were "taken to the cleaners" by the car dealership which sold us the car--they took advantage of us because of our gender, dear readers, there is no doubt of that! But, we have had more trouble with this car than any other car we've purchased in our 30 years of being a licensed driver.
Jane is not going to go into the mechanical problems, nor will we dwell on the numerous times we had to take this vehicle in for work, all covered (luckily) under warranty, but time-consuming and annoying, nonetheless. We won't even mention the stupidity of the German engineering which prevents us from putting anything but the smallest juice glass in the cup holder. No, we would like to write about the LACK of CUSTOMER SERVICE we have received from Volkswagen.
The dealership promised us an operator's manual, only to feign ignorance when we called a month after purchase to ask where the manual was. "You need to write to Volkswagen and ask for a manual," we were told. The previous owner had not provided the manual when he or she traded the car in and the dealership had better things to do than to serve one of its customers by handling this small issue.
We wrote to Volkswagen. We emailed Volkswagen. We received no reply. BUT, we did receive a newsletter. We did receive an invitation to buy toys for our vehicle. We were encouraged to open a VW account online, where we could get the latest information on all the cars VW makes, to prepare us for our trade-in, when that time came.
As the years went by, the car behaved more and more like a machine possessed. The automatic locking system no longer works. As far as Jane is concerned, the car NEVER got good gas mileage, a fact we were assured of when we bought it. Additionally, last summer when one of the headlights went out, it took four men, one of them an automechanic, two hours of scouring the car, then searching through the operator's manual (did Jane mention that her fiance PURCHASED an operator's manual at an auto parts store?) before they could locate the place the headlight was attached to the car, and then replace it.
<sigh> Jane wishes this story had a happy ending, but it does not. Jane is ready to dump this stupid car. We checked our bill over the weekend and logged into the website noted on it, where it said we could set up and account to pay our bill online...thinking we could also, then, get the payoff amount there.
No such luck. The online account is not for anything more than building yourself a new VW! The website does not offer access to your account anywhere. Jane and her fiance looked and looked for it...it was not there. Jane resorted to using that old-fashioned method of contacting people, the telephone, but...she was merely rewarded with an endless string of punch two for this, hit one for that, and finally, "Call back on Monday."
<sigh> We called back on Monday. By golly, that's today, isn't it, dear reader? Yes, it is. We called. We hit the right buttons, we gave them our account number...three times before they would acknowledge it...and when they asked for the last three digits of our social, we punched it in, and--FINALLY-- we got the payoff amount! Oh the hoops they had us jumping through!
We are done with Volkswagen. We are buying an American car. (picture compliments of http://www.b4usplashcash.ocba.sa.gov.au/car.html -- and we paid LOTS more for ours!)
Jane wants Volkswagen to know that in the burgeoning women's market, automobile purchases are a priority--today's woman is very savvy about purchasing a car. We know what we want, we do our research before stepping a foot into the local dealership. We expect to be treated fairly, and with respect. And, we expect service... on-going service...good service... the kind of service and attention you would give to your Mother.
Volkswagen does not get it. Jane cautions all readers to carefully consider their purchase if they are looking at buying a VW. Owning a VW Beetle has been nothing short of a nightmare for us.
There is NOTHING to like about that!