Using Social Media to Get Pottery Barn Kids Customer Service to Finally Listen

by Kevin on February 14, 2013

I’m new to this Dad thing; my wife is almost 19 weeks pregnant with our first child. As you might imagine there are lots of new experiences we are having along the way. For example, we find out on Friday what the gender of our baby is. Nonetheless we have already ordered neutral bedding because, well, that’s what my wife wants. We know paint colors to target and what the overall theme is going to be. We’re making progress.

One thing we don’t know? Which stores are good stores to shop with for baby related items, and which ones should be avoided.

Pottery Barn Kids Customer Service Failure

As I do from time to time on this blog, I’m going to share a cautionary tale with you about a company we recently did business with, how the situation went sour, and how I used social media to get a fast response. I’ve successfully used social media in the past. Here are some of those posts:

Most of my issues have been with service providers like AT&T and DirecTV. I’ve unfortunately had to use AT&T multiple times as we’ve moved: once because I felt like I was bait and switched (which is detailed in the post above) and several times after that because a landscaping company  (and then a fence company) cut the line to my neighbor’s house that sits in my yard not once, not twice, but three times due to the underground cable not being where the plans said the cable should be. (So when the “call before you dig” service came out, they didn’t mark the right spot.) DirecTV wanted to charge me a cancel fee when I moved and I was able to get it removed as well.

I’m also happy to report that my experiences with the social media teams at AT&T have been especially better than in the past. The company knows it is a big deal and is working on improving their service.

So it’s time for a new tale. Another time of me being held in disbelief with my jaw hanging open. A tale of dealing with Pottery Barn customer service.

A Warehouse Packaging Mistake on Our Pottery Barn Kids Order

As I mentioned we ordered some bedding for the nursery; specifically it was a set from Pottery Barn Kids.

When we were browsing their items online, we found what we wanted but had to be careful with what we ordered. There were two packages of items that were very similar:

  • Package 1
    • Crib sheet
    • Crib skirt
    • Bumper
  • Package 2
    • Crib sheet
    • Crib skirt
    • Quilt

Reading comprehension and a little math shows that 2 of the 3 items or 66% of the package is identical.

You can imagine what happened next, right? We ordered Package 1 with it’s unique item number and received Package 2. Our invoice inside the box even had Package 1’s item number listed.

It was a simple mistake. Someone in the warehouse grabbed the wrong item and threw it in the box to ship out to us. A simple mistake with an easy fix: let me mail the quilt back to you and you send me the bumper.

Oh, if life were only so easy.

Should Pottery Barn Kids Customer Service Argue with My Pregnant Wife?

I was extremely busy during this time period and so even though I typically handle the angry-customer-calling-politely-into-customer-service calls, my wife handled this one.

She called in while I sat next to her doing work. It did not go well. Before the end of the call I was about ‘this’ close to grabbing the phone, screaming at the rep, and asking for a supervisor.

Here’s how it went down. She gave her order number and explained we had received the wrong item. He looked up the order and asked what we received. She told him. He said well that’s what you ordered. She informed him that no, that isn’t what we ordered because online there are two different item numbers that are very similar.

He didn’t get it. In fact, he so badly didn’t get it that he started talking down to my wife like you would talk to a child. He kept saying, well if that isn’t what you meant to order then you shouldn’t have ordered it. She repeated several times that she had the second item number handy so he could pull it up and see the difference, but it fell on deaf ears.

Finally, after explaining four different times that there were two packages with one item different, and we got the second package, and I have the item number so you can see it, he finally looked it up.

Suddenly his tone changed when he realized his mistake. He started speaking at lightning speed, set up the exchange, and promptly ended the call. No apology for his tone or actions, but you could tell he realized how far in the wrong he was.

Pottery Barn Kids Social Media is Slow

My blood was boiling. I hopped on Twitter to see if the company had a social media presence, and they did at @PotteryBarnKids. It looked like a profile that talked about upcoming deals, but I also saw some replies to upset customers to send in their information via Direct Message.

I tweeted about our situation, and waited.

And waited.

And waited…

Literally 24 hours later I got a response telling me to email [email protected] so they could make it right.

Long story short I told this whole story again via email, got an email response and a phone call (that I couldn’t answer, so they left a voicemail). It was the typical apology, this shouldn’t happen, we’ll make it better, etc. They offered us a $50 PBK gift card which we received a week later.

That’s all well and good (except that PBK charges $15-20 for shipping, so we’ll likely have to buy in-store the next time we’re in Atlanta to get some true value from the gift card), but I was disappointed with the social media response. AT&T and other big companies have dedicated teams set up to monitor and aggressively communicate with unhappy customers. They understand the firestorm that comes from having some posts go viral on social media. Taking 24 hours to respond to a customer on Twitter is literally aeons.

The end result is we got the bedding we wanted, we didn’t pay return shipping, and we got $50 out of the deal. What was most disappointing was this was literally our first experience with Pottery Barn Kids ever. We are new parents and don’t have a PBK in my city. We had never shopped there before. This was the prime opportunity for the company to earn a lot of our business moving forward, but through an epic fail of customer service they’ve damaged our faith in the brand. Why would I shop someone where if something goes wrong you are going to argue with my pregnant wife?

We’ll try them again when we’re in Atlanta and hope to avoid any chance of messing up the order by purchasing in store rather than online.

What companies have had a customer service failure with you recently? Did you get it resolved?

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