How Kitchenaid Proved to me that the most expensive does not equal the best quality or service

I work as a Customer Support rep, so I know that it can be a tough job and you sometimes (often) get flak for things that are totally beyond your control.  That said, poor customer service is often a result of company policy that constrains the employee from meeting an obvious need.  I’m going to tell you how KitchenAid (via Whirlpool Canada) really let us down over the last few weeks.

In September of 2010, a couple months after Eden was born, my mom hosted a baby shower in which our main (i.e. most expensive) gift was an immersion blender from KitchenAid; we chose this gift because we wanted a high-quality blender with which to prepare food for Eden, who would be turning 6 months old in January.  To save money and have confidence in what we were feeding her, we wanted to make our own food.

The blender worked really well, I’ve gotta say, for the first 4 months or so.  We made a few batches of hummus, some delicious smoothies, etc. and were quite impressed with its speed, power, and overall effectiveness.  In February of 2011 though, while blending some cooked chick peas in the container the blender came with, the motor suddenly died.  It was disappointing not to have that batch of hummus, but we thought, “oh well… things happen, at least we went with a good brand so we know there’ll be a warranty on it!”.  We called them up, they sent us a pre-paid shipping label and off it went to be replaced.  This was sometime in mid/late February.

In that same month (February) a situation came up with the tenants in the other house on the property we’re living at, and the landlords asked us if we’d be willing to move from 377 (“the little house”) to 383 (“the big house”) – literally, across the driveway.  In fact, here is the view from within our new entryway to the main entrance of the old place:

It was an offer we couldn’t refuse – the big house is really nice – so around the end of February we decided to make the ~30-meter trek across the driveway with our stuff, and settled in the new place.  We officially moved in on March 1st and began the process of unpacking, cleaning, etc.  Somehow, in the midst of all this, it hadn’t crossed my mind to contact Whirlpool Canada and let them know that I’d moved across the driveway.  When I did remember that we had been expecting the package about a week into March, I thought, “whoops!  oh well, even if they did bring it by they wouldn’t have left a package without having somebody sign for it.”  So I waited a few more days.

Finally, I think it was around March 10th or so, I decided to call to find out what the status was on our order.  According to the customer service rep at Whirlpool, the package had been “released” by the driver (Sameday Worldwide) on March 4th.  I asked what “released” meant, because neither of us had seen a truck or signed anything, and it turns out that released can be defined as “left on the deck.”

“Oh…. okay….”

I walked over and checked around the deck, but it wasn’t there.  Of course, it had been almost a week and we’d never seen it despite looking over pretty well every day for one of those door handle thingies (“come pick up your package between this and that time”). They gave me the number for the courier and I called them up.  Turns out they aren’t required to get a signature – I have an issue with this too! – but they told me I wouldn’t be able to make a claim anyway since I wasn’t the one who had contracted their services – Whirlpool Canada was.  When I called Whirlpool Canada to explain the situation, they told me a couple of things:

1) First of all, they had “fulfilled their obligation” by sending out the replacement

2) After I explained that their courier had left the package sitting on a deck with no signature and it had gone missing, and that I was unable to make a claim since I hadn’t paid for the service, they said they’d call me back

3) Several days later they called me back (yesterday, March 24) only to tell me AGAIN that they had fulfilled their obligation and would not send a replacement or make a claim because I had moved without informing them.

Let me show you another picture of the house we moved FROM and the house we moved TO:

The house we lived in before (left) and now (right)

I explained to the rep exactly how close the houses were to each other, and the fact that I had a clear view to the deck where the package was supposedly left, but that didn’t seem to matter.  He told me I’d have to follow up with the courier, even though the courier clearly already told me that they could only process a claim from the company that contracted their services.  The courier ALSO told me that they process claims from Whirlpool Canada on a regular basis, and it makes perfect sense that Whirlpool would be the entity required to make this claim.  Therefore, attempting to pass me back to the courier was obviously just a way to get me off their (Whirlpool’s) back.

So now Eden is 8 1/2 months old, at the exact age where we need a blender to make food for her practically every day.  Fortunately a friend of ours was kind enough to lend us a blender for a week or so, so we made a bunch of food and froze it, but that’s only a temporary solution.  On my income alone we can’t afford another KitchenAid blender, that’s for sure, but we also don’t want to waste money on a cheaper product that won’t do the job right.  I just don’t understand why KitchenAid isn’t willing to be reasonable in this instance and process a claim on our behalf.  I’ve tried to empathize with them on the matter (more than they have with me!), but as a customer support rep I’m just really disappointed with their lack of effort.

Am I being unreasonable?  Should I just accept the fact that – in moving and failing to inform them – I messed up and deserve not to receive my replacement blender?  I’m not freaking out and I never did on the phone, because I don’t want that to be what it takes to get the service I expect… should I just give up on KitchenAid and avoid all of their products in the future?  Does anyone have a decent blender they’re willing to sell us so we can make Eden’s food?

"Daddy? What do you mean this is my last KitchenAid-blended meal?! Noooo!!"

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11 thoughts on “How Kitchenaid Proved to me that the most expensive does not equal the best quality or service

  1. You could always check on kijiji.ca- there always seems to be something there that could do in a pinch without having to shell out tonne of money.

    I’m not sure if you’ve considered writing a formal letter to their customer service/retention. When I got stuck here in England during the blunder that was Heathrow in December, I wrote AirCanada about how displeased I was with their service, and said that if at all possible I will always choose another airline. I also asked what they were prepared to do with regards to changing their customer service. They wrote me back, and while not directly answering my question about their customer service they did offer me a discount on my next flight.

    Putting things in writing seems to get their attention and CC-ing a higher up in the company doesn’t hurt either!

    Good luck!!

    • I did email them a link to this blog post and just explained that I was really disappointed.

      This thing is, I honestly don’t even know if I want a discount or replacement anymore. It’s not that easy, you know? I feel so disappointed that in a way I want nothing to do with their company anymore, and just hope that this experience makes a difference for how they manage cases in the future.

      Not to say that I wouldn’t appreciate something in return, it just feels like being bought out…

  2. Great blog post Tim! Sad story though. And thoroughly lousy customer service. I’ve never been impressed with Sameday either – although they treated us better than you did. UPS, for instance, tries to deliver 3 times, and doesn’t just dump it on your deck. Sameday didn’t dump it on our deck, but they did only make one delivery attempt and then I had to go pick it up at their depot which is a fair ways out of town (Saint John).

    As for Whirlpool – they need to get realistic and understand that saving a hundred bucks isn’t worth an unhappy customer. Penny wise and pound foolish.

    • I didn’t want to put too much blame on Sameday in the post because their customer service was actually pretty impressive. In their case, the driver actually called me personally the day after I first called the customer service line, and he explained exactly where he’d left it and such. He was really nice about it, it’s just – in my opinion – a poor business practice to leave stuff sitting out in the open, especially when it has any kind of value. The customer service rep at Sameday completely understood that, hence the recommendation that we ask Whirlpool to submit a claim with them.

      Thanks for your comments, and congratulations on being a new dad!!

  3. That’s SOOOO not right!!! On the other hand Sunbeam is a cheaper yet still wonderful quality product to invest in!

  4. I would say that whoever is at fault for the leave-the-package-on-the-deck-and-hope-nobody-steals-it policy is the one to be mad at here… I’m not really sure how company policies work, but I would agree that if the mailing company is at fault for their laziness, it probably isn’t the manufacturer’s fault. Then again, any big company worth their salt knows that customer service is key. People talk bad about Dell, but I’ve seen them jump through hoops more than a few times to satisfy their customers…

    So yeah, probably a different brand might do well… I think even a cheaper one should be able to do the trick, eh? Top-o-the-line doesn’t always mean “the only one capable of doing what you want”, so I wouldn’t worry too much that you won’t find a cheaper one that will blend those suckers up to mush enough to make Eden happy again.

    • Like I said, I’m disappointed with the courier company’s policy, but at least their customer service was good. The problem is that – since Whirlpool was the one who contracted their services – I’m unable to make a claim with the courier, and Whirlpool is refusing to do so because they already sent a replacement. It’s weird that the courier was willing to receive a claim for it but Whirlpool wasn’t willing to make one, and THAT is what makes the customer service so poor in this instance.

  5. Pingback: “Rule #1 of Public Relations: Don’t [mess with] creative people” « K & T

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