As you may recall, I had an unhappy experience the other day getting a home delivery from Albertson's Market
via their website. The shipment was incomplete, no one told me it was incomplete, and calls to the company's customer service line involved spending
intolerable hunks of my life on hold. I am pleased to say the situation has gotten better...but before it got better, it got a lot worse.
Last night, I discovered that several of the items I had received were spoiled. So after going out to the market (not, for obvious
reasons, an Albertson's) to buy the rest of my order, I later had to go out again to the market to buy the items that seemed dangerous to eat. This,
of course, defeats the whole point of getting a home delivery. Calling their toll-free number to complain something was absent or rotten only caused
me to wait a long time to speak to a low-level employee with no power to do anything more than say, "I'm sorry...we'll credit you back for those
Often in such incidents, I opt to cut my losses. Why spend hours on the phone just to get a lot more apologies from strangers and a few
bucks refunded? This time, for reasons I cannot quite explain, this matter seemed to demand a follow-up. Last night, I called the local Albertson's
store (from which my order had been dispatched) and spoke to the Night Manager, and I also spent some time chatting with folks on the 24-hour
customer service line. This morning, I called the company's corporate headquarters in Boise, Idaho.
Almost everyone I spoke to was very nice, very apologetic and eager to do everything within their power. Unfortunately, it took me a
long time to reach anyone with any power. It also took me a long time to reach the people with or without any power. My first call to Boise, I was on
hold for five minutes before I got to talk to an actual human being. That call finally resulted in me reaching someone in the "corporate customer
service" department who promised me that his superior would call me back within two hours. I still haven't heard from that person. Later though, I
called Boise again, where it took seven minutes to reach someone (this is their corporate headquarters, remember) and I kept being routed around the
organization, spending plenty of time on hold between brief conversations with people who could do naught but apologize and put me back on hold.
Finally, I was connected with a lady with some authority to make things happen. First thing I told her was, "Well, my main complaint
used to be about missing items and spoiled food, but now it's about spending twenty-two minutes on hold. (This would have been even more annoying if
not for my trusty phone headset. I put the time to good use by sitting here and catching up on e-mail while the "hold" music played. Appropriately,
the last tune I heard was a stirring rendition of "You Keep Me Hangin' On.") The lady assured me that within five minutes, I would hear from the
Vice-President of E-Commerce for all of Southern California...and sure enough, within three minutes, I did.
Have to hand it to the guy: He did about as good a job of appeasing an irate customer as anyone could have done. I explained that a
home delivery from Albertson's should not then necessitate two trips to the local Ralph's Market to make up for their mistakes. I told him that I'm
sure he and every Albertson's exec would be shocked if they realized how tough it was just to get someone from their company on the line. I told him
I'd ordered $105 worth of groceries and wound up with about $78 worth of edible food. I even asked him my outraged question: "How is it possible for
a huge supermarket to be out of Campbell's Tomato Juice?" In response, he said all the right things, took notes and gave me a full refund plus a nice
credit towards my next order, should I be inclined to try them again. He also gave me his direct phone number in case I have any problems with that
or any other order.
I was impressed. I think the company is woefully understaffed in the phone-answering department but, unlike some times in the past when
I've tried to complain to a big corporation, I think I actually talked to someone with the capacity to rectify problems. That does not always happen
and it makes a big difference.
How big? Well, I'm thinking of giving Albertson's Home Grocery Delivery another chance. I'll let you know how it turns out.