Apart from being a blogger, I am also both a consumer and a senior manager in a company. As such, I am often left speechless by things that happen within organizations. Here at Classically Educated, we’ve poked a bit of fun at some of the internal things that companies do wrong (most notably here and here).
Most companies, however usually take extremely good care of their consumer-facing image, and look like well-oiled machines to everyone who isn’t directly involved in their day-to-day operations.
But sometimes, they really, really screw up and act in completely clueless ways.
Let’s have a look at the case of LG Electronics in Argentina, a company that has recently shown itself to be a poster-child for incompetent consumer management.
Argentina is currently not the perfect place to sell electronics, especially not brand-name electronics. We’ve explained a little bit about the economic situation here, but perhaps that doesn’t quite give the whole picture. Your average electronic device in Argentina costs between two and three times what it would in the civilized world (which is why smart people bring things from abroad when they travel), plus there is a smaller range to choose from. Convincing people to buy a specific brand is a VERY tough thing to do. Every sale is important. Every customer is important.
So, if I were a company trying to sell electronics in Argentina, there are a few things I WOUDLN’T do, which I list below:
1) I WOULDN’T sell consumers a faulty air conditioner, especially a faulty EXPENSIVE unit. LG Electronics Argentina decided to do this. To be fair, this could have happened to anyone, but perhaps they need to improve their quality control.
2) When sending a technician to the house after being called over to investigate, and finding that the unit needs to be replaced nearly entirely, I WOULDN’T tell the consumer that they have to wait 15 to 20 days for the service department to call them. I would especially avoid this when competitors such as Electrolux Argentina get the same thing solved and repaired in a week. LG Electronics Argentina, in their wisdom decided to do so.
Now, this one is interesting, as the law apparently allows this timeframe. However, as a consumer, I find it unacceptable and a great reason to share my experience, especially when competitors are doing it better. This is a case where giving the lowest customer service required by the law is simply unacceptable.
3) I ESPECIALLY WOULDN’T do this in summer, when it’s very hot in Buenos Aires, and the consumer wants to use the expensive air conditioner that he has bought for this purpose. It isn’t really any use once their idiotic service times pass and the summer is over, is it? LG Electronics Argentina decided to do so, anyway.
4) When the consumer calls the call center to complain about this situation and to tell the company that it is unacceptable, I wouldn’t have the call center person say that that is the process and that the extremely angry consumer needs to basically suck it up. LG Electronics Argentina, in it’s sad, unfortunate wisdom, decided to do so.
This last one really gets to me. Most call centers have backup plans when a consumer is really upset, as I was when I called them. I have managed a call center for an airline, and would have fired the entire staff if they’d been unable to find a solution for a consumer as pissed as I was when I called. That is just incompetence on behalf of the call center management and whoever designed the process.
5) If I were to do all of the above and leave the consumer hanging, I would at least try to remember that each unsatisfied consumer tells seven of his friends… correction, back when there was no internet, each unsatisfied consumer used to tell seven of his friends. Nowadays, many of them tell seven hundred Facebook friends or tweet about it. If you really, really screw it up, you might irritate someone with access to a blogger with tens of thousands of readers. LG Electronics Argentina, in their infinite wisdom, have done precisely that.
Oopsie. But perhaps other companies can learn from LG Electronics’ little mistake, which the consumer is doing everything possible to make bigger every day. Also, this may serve as an example to other consumers who’ve had a problem – there’s no longer any need to suffer in silence!!