... even when he's clearly lying through his teeth.
Ahh, customer service... the job where on a daily basis you walk a fine line between doing your stated job purpose (serving the customer) and acting in the best interest of your employer.
My final call of the day today was from a gentleman who was very confident in his rightness as the consumer, very matter of fact, and very infuriating in his conviction that I could do nothing to change the outcome that he was aiming for.
At the outset of the call he made it clear that he was in the car on his cell phone - he travels "all the time" - and he was "far too busy" to deal with these petty matters like following up on orders he placed and never paid for. He was looking at a statement we'd sent him for a past due balance. He informed me that he never received the order in question. I pulled up his order history and was immediately dumbstruck.
The order (for diabetic test strips) was placed on May 27th. This was his first, and only, order with us. The code on the order in our system indicated that it was originated by a call to us asking us to contact his doctor's office for his prescription. The order was shipped on June 2nd by first class mail. The amount due on the order was $130.00. And the customer insisted that he never received the order.
Since the order was from almost 5 months ago, I expected there would have been a history of at least a handful of phone calls logged from him asking about order status, or responding to previously mailed statements (which would have been sent once per month since the order was shipped).
Nope. This man called us once on May 27th, and has not bothered to contact us again until today, when he decided to deal with the letter we sent him threatening to send him to collections for the past due balance on his account.
His answer was basically that 1) he didn't know what phone number to use to follow up with us and so he first contacted his doctor's office to ask whether they had ever sent us the prescription, which they had. I'm not sure how he managed not to know how to contact us, since as I mentioned the origin code on the order indicated it was an incoming phone call. They use a different code for orders generated when we call out to potential customers and try to sign them up. Even if we contacted him first, he would have had to be given the telephone number to call us back and place the order for us to have used that origin code. Plus the phone number would have been on the back of his prescription ID card.
Then, 2) he vaguely indicated that he "left two messages for us" and nobody ever called him back, and he was far too busy to sit on hold for ages so he gave up on reaching us. I informed him that our operation is 24/7 so he shouldn't have had to leave any messages whatsoever... and asked him who he left messages with and what number he was calling, because clearly he wasn't calling us. There were ZERO records of him contacting ANY department at our company whatsoever since May 27th. But still he managed to make it sound like we'd provided horrible customer service by not returning his phone calls that we never got.
Then, 3) I swear to you he told me that he had to buy some test strips at his local pharmacy, and after this he decided that he would just use his willpower to control his diet and exercise better and got to the point where his blood sugar was under control and he no longer needed to test.
And then apparently after ignoring multiple statements of balance due, this brings us to today, when he flat out told me that he didn't receive his order and is not going to pay for it. Period. "You can't make me" and "whatcha gonna do about it" strongly implied but not explicitly stated.
Right then I understood that his goal was to have us credit him for this order, so I gathered the information I could. I checked for a note on the order that would indicate the package had been returned to us. No dice. I verified with him that we had shipped to the correct address. Yes, that is his address... however, he informed me, he lives in a fairly rural area and his mailbox is out along the road - and he regularly finds pieces of mail in his box that do not belong to him, so he blithely assumes that his package was similarly misdirected. And of course whoever ended up with it neither returned it to sender or tried to have it redelivered to the correct person.
I came back again to the lack of phone calls checking on his order - this bothered me quite a lot. I asked him what number he had tried to call us on, and he stated flatly that he had no idea, this was weeks ago after all (more like months) and he was on his cell phone in his car, he couldn't access any records of what number he'd called. This was clearly not his fault. It was his first order with us, and as he never received it we have permanently botched our repuation with him and he's just going to lay the fault on our shoulders.
And then I told him I would see what we could do for him. I took a deep breath, and called the supervisor headset... which rang.... and rang.... and rang... and rang.... I hung up and tried again, and it rang.... and rang... and rang... and rang... and finally the manager on duty (let's call him ManagerJ) walked up to my desk and said "what?!"
I gave him the rundown on the situation, and he asked me if there were any records in our insurance program of the customer purchasing the test strips at his local pharmacy. There was one, from a month before his order with us... then there was our claim for the 3 month supply we sent him... and nothing else. The manager was convinced our caller was trying to pull a fast one, and told me "This is how sure I am he's lying. Tell him that if he can produce a receipt for purchasing test strips at a local pharmacy after our order that 'never arrived', he can mail it to your attention at our main office, and as soon as that arrives you will gladly credit him the $130."
And then ManagerJ wandered off somewhere (not taking the supervisor headset with him, of course), and I got back on the line with the gentleman and started by telling him that we were looking for a record of him trying to purchase the test strips at his local pharmacy... and he pulled that rug right out from under me immediately. "Well of course I haven't," he matter-of-factly announced. "I told you I decided to change my diet and exercise." Then he informed me of what his blood sugar has been lately since his healthy living crusade, and offered me his doctor's phone number so the doctor can verify to me that he hasn't been back to the doctor since we the order that never arrived, etc., etc..
I swear to you he said he'd bought it at a local pharmacy earlier in the call. And it makes no sense to me - if you're recently diagnosed as diabetic, and you decide to buy a 3 month supply of test strips but never receive the order, you don't bother to buy any more, you just stop testing your blood sugar entirely and kick up the fitness routine? And somehow know that it's getting better without testing it yourself but not going back to the doctor? Huh? How does this work again?
But hey, the customer is always right, and I'm flat out not allowed to tell the guy I don't believe his story. So I put him back on hold again, and made another call to the supervisor headset, which rang... and rang... and rang... and rang.... and rang... and then I saw the manager slipping back to his desk, so I kept the guy on hold while I walked over to his cube and gave him the latest story. MangerJ was seething. He knew our hands were tied. We had no proof the guy was lying, and we weren't going to get anywhere with him. He was going to get what he wanted.
So, after ManagerJ sternly insisted he'd better not plan to be ordering from us again, and an adamant declaration from the customer that he didn't ever want to do business with us again (apparently the feeling is mutual), I submitted a credit request to have the balance removed from his account.
Now get off my phone so I can go home.