I live in Massachusetts and my oldest son just started college in North Carolina. Late last week, he notified me that his allergies were acting up and asked me to send him some Clariten tablets. I of course agreed and proceeded to place an order with online retailer, Drugstore.com. After filling out the order form, I was presented with several payment options. I chose the most prominent method, PayPal. Although it doesn’t provide reward points, I have always been a big fan of PayPal and appreciate the security that it offers.
It was a short time after the order was placed, that I received a confirmation email from Drugstore.com. My order had shipped–Good News! However, after studying the email, I realized that the medicine was on its way to Massachusetts and NOT North Carolina. Sure, this made me a little frustrated–but I chalked it up to my tendency to multi-task–despite what the experts say.
I decided that my next move was to attempt the order again. Instead of ordering the bottle of 70 tablets, I would order a package of 10. When the larger bottle arrived in my mailbox, I would just reship them to North Carolina.This time, however, I slowed my self down and methodically went through the ordering process–paying close attention to the shipping address. When this was complete, I clicked the PayPal button–and everything was perfect!
Soon after, the confirmation email for the second order arrived. Yes, the second order had gone through and the package was being shipped to…
I immediately called Drugstore.com to find out what had gone wrong for the second time! The customer service representative was very polite as I explained the series of events. He kindly explained that, yes, this was a problem and that they were aware of it. The way that their online system was set up, if you select the (extremely prominent) PayPal button as your payment option, the delivery address is automatically changed to your default PayPal address. In other words, upon entering ANY shipping address, whenever I pay with PayPal, my Drugstore.com order will be chipped to my Massachusetts address.
The customer service rep, with some hesitation, finally agreed to send me postage-free shipping labels so that I could immediately return the two orders, once received. Once the packages were received, I would receive a refund to my PayPal account.
So, from a customer service standpoint, if Drugstore.com realizes that this is a problem, why don’t they discontinue the use of PayPal until this issue is fully resolved?
This whole experience has caused me to rethink my business partnership with this online retailer. In fact, I was able to place an order for the 70 Clariten tablets through Amazon.com. I have received confirmation that my package is North Carolina bound–and not only that–I was able to make my purchase for almost $10 less.
On Friday, I received an urgent email from the college’s health office. They were checking through his medical records and questioned the date of when he received a particular vaccine. According to his medical records, he had received the shot at four months of age–when in most cases, this particular vaccine is not given until the child is at least a year old. In fact, because he received it so unusually young, the health office insisted that he immediately receive a new vaccine–if he wished to continue attending classes. It was the health office that suggested that I speak with his pediatrician, in order to confirm that a mistake was not made in transcribing the date of the vaccine.
After hanging up the phone with the college health office, I immediately picked up the phone to the office of his pediatrician.
We love our sons’ pediatrician and feel very fortunate to have had him as a doctor. However, as the years have gone by and his practice has grown–breaking through the communication barricades of his office have become extremely impossible.
Last Friday, I appeared to be on a lucky streak, as I hurdled the phone tree and was fortunate enough to speak with a live operator. A second point was scored when the operator proved to have fairly decent control of the English language. Actually, she gave every indication of understanding my problem and immediately put my call through to the Nurse Help Line.
Three points! I was on a roll.
Unfortunately, that is when I skidded and hit the wall. After being placed on hold for almost 20 minutes, I was asked to leave a message so that someone would return my call. That was Friday. Today is Tuesday. My son has already received the shot and everything is fine with the college health office. Will I ever receive a call back? I am guessing not.
Drugstore.com has poured millions and millions, into their marketing efforts, My son’s pediatrician is a wonderfully talented and dedicated doctor. Unfortunately, in both cases, the organizations will eventually fall victim to their own sloppiness, when it comes to servicing their customers. As a business owner for myself for nearly all of my 30+ years of professional experience, I know how much easier it is to work with existing customers, than convert new ones. Something that took years and years to build–can be gone in a nano-second!
For further discussion of this topic, I suggest that you download David Meerman Scott’s new ebook: Agile, Real-Time Customer Service. You will probably also want to check out his new book, The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to use agile selling, real-time customer engagement, big data, content, and storytelling to grow your business. –Doug.