A runner scorned

This whole situation started about a month ago when out of the blue I got an email with the subject line "Interested in Advertising with your Blog." Being in advertising myself and knowing that advertising comes with some form of compensation I immediately opened the email. It was from the director of marketing at the New Balance outlet store in Harrisburg, PA. She found my blog through the wonders of the interweb and wanted to know if I would post a link to her store on my blog in exchange for a free pair of shoes.

Well, times being what they are and me trying to be the spendthrift I pretend I am, I figured "why not?" Even though I haven't worn a pair of New Balances in years; even though I would have limited choices (it was an outlet store); even though I wouldn't be fitted at all for the shoe; even with all those points, I still decided to go through with it.

So I posted the link (not sure if any of you noticed it for the week or two it was up). The director of marketing takes a look at the link on the site and says it looks just fine and gives me the promo code. I get to work trying to find the best NB version of my Brooks Adrenalines.

First problem: there was a really limited shoe selection. I understand if you're sold out of one or two styles, but I could only find ONE style out of the 13 stability shoes that was in my size. If I had freak-o tiny or jumbo feet, I would expect that, but I have size 12D feet, which is no an uncommon size.

Fortunately, the one stability shoe style they had in 12D was the one I wanted. Super lucky! So I thought.

Second problem: when I order the shoes with my promo code I get a confirmation that the order went through and that I'll get another confirmation when the order is shipped. However, the next day I get an email saying that "due to inventory issues" my order cannot be fulfilled and has been cancelled. So I guess this is one of the hiccups of ordering from an outlet store--although I've never had this issue when I've ordered from other online outlet stores.

Third problem (this is where it starts to get sketch): the same day I get the order cancellation I try reordering the shoes, you know, just in case they came back in stock. So I order the shoes again and get the same confirmation email. However, the second I get the confirmation email I realize that I forgot to enter the promo code. Yikes! I quickly write back to the customer service email address (as directed in the confirmation instructions) and ask if I can have the promo code applied to my order before the shoes come and if they can't apply the promo to please cancel my order. I don't hear anything back from customer service.

About a day or two later I get the shoes at work. They look similar to my Adrenalines and I take them for a test walk around the office. I tell my co-workers about my fancy free shoes and take random walks around the office. However, I don't take the shoes home because I still haven't heard back from customer service. I check my credit card bill and sure enough, the charge from NB Harrisburg went through for $100.

Fourth problem: I email customer service again, but to cover my bases I try calling them too. No one picks up the phone so I leave a voicemail.

Meanwhile the new shoes are at my desk, taunting me because I refuse to take them home. I email the director of marketing and ask if she can get involved and she replies: "I just got your email and will start looking into this to see what I can do. It just might be better me emailing around first to get things done faster."

Some more time passes and I decide to give customer service another call and email. No luck. So I turn back to the director of marketing.

Fifth problem: her response to me: "Yeah, sorry I haven't got back to you. I'm still waiting to hear back from someone on this. Someone else I work with suggested something that sounds like too much work to me (returning them for a refund and then using the code to get the free shoes, which is all a bit silly in my mind since you have the shoes you want). I'm not sure what's up with customer service at the moment, but I'll send them another email and see where we get on things. She normally responds to me on the same day."

Ok, well, I was already thinking that way, which is why I hadn't taken the shoes home yet. But I found it pretty sketchy that the customer service person wasn't getting back to internal emails. Also, I didn't want to go through the whole return/purchase cycle because that was making the shoes increasingly not free. Whatever. I go with it even though I'm getting frustrated.

I hear nothing for another couple of days and decide to check in with the director of marketing one last time before I throw in the towel and return the shoes for a refund.

Sixth problem: her response to me: "Unfortunately I'm going to have to recommend you return them. From there is it up to you if you want to remove our link from your site and not re-order, or stick with the problems and try to get the shoes. I'm having similar problems to you with not being answered and I'm not sure why.I'm really sorry I don't know what to say about all of this and there isn't more I can do to help."

Um. Excuse me?

If I sent an email like this to any of my clients I would have been fired, no questions. WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE IS THIS? I know it might not be her formal job to handle returns and promo codes, but she is still an employee of that store and therefore represents it. If I, as a customer, am reaching out to her with a problem then she is obliged as an employee to help reach a resolution. That's not considered special treatment--that's called properly completing a business transaction.

And she doesn't just not resolve the problem, she legitimately gives up (i.e., "I don't know what to say about all of this and there isn't more I can do to help"). What kind of work ethic is that? What else does she give up on? If I were her employer my eyebrow would be raised.

Then there's the whole issue of customer service not returning her emails. WTF?? If my counterpart in my office wasn't returning my emails I WOULD GO TO HER DESK AND TALK TO HER. This isn't rocket science, it's basic problem solving skills!

So seeing that I am not going to get a positive response from anyone at NB Harrisburg I packed up the shoes today and put the return label on the box. I am going to just return the shoes and get my money back because if I am going to pay for shoes they are at least going to my friggin brand.

The kicker: while at work today I get this email from NB Harrisburg customer service. I can't believe it. It must be a cruel joke. This comes from the SAME email address that I sent several email to asking to applying my promo code to my order. I have to post an actual screen shot because I wouldn't believe it myself otherwise:

Really, someone in Harrisburg has to be laughing about this.

People, if you don't know me that well then take my word when I say I don't get angry. It takes something really bad to get fired up. Well, this is really bad. I can't believe that this store couldn't follow through with a routine customer service request. I mean they STILL have not responded to a single call or email. What is that? Sure I had a promo code for a free pair of shoes, but that should still merit at least an "oh hi, we got your email" from the people in charge of managing customer relationships.

Screw you NB Harrisburg.


The Laminator said...

Sorry dude, that is severely messed up. I actually got the same e-mail from the same NB Harrisbury rep a few weeks ago. Because I checked out the website and didn't find any of what I would want in my size, I decided not to go through with it. Now, I'm thinking I'm lucky I didn't.

raulgonemobile said...

I just went through the same thing!

Turns out, that inventory availability note is some generic note which is also used for declined credit card transactions. You say your card is OK? Of course it is. They can't process certain cards for some reason, is the only thing I can figure. I was able to get one type through, but not a variety of others.

When it was all said and done, I wound up with 3 bogus charges (of 5.95) on my CC, which are currently in dispute with the CC company.

I did wind up with my shoes, but it was an awful order process. Any notes that go to their e-mail are completely ignored.

Sorry you're going through it. Returning the shoes is probably the wisest move.

Irish Cream said...

Wow. That is SERIOUSLY messed up. I am so sorry you had to deal with all that . . . what a mess! I agree that returning the shoes was probably your best bet.

CyclingDivas said...

Such is the state of the world we live in....that kind of stuff really ticks me off!

RunToFinish said...

OMG!! I work with New Balance and they are generally a very great company.

Adam said...

WOW. That is REALLY annoying. I think that you held back in your post a LOT more than I would have under the same circumstances. I think that I would have let them have it.

Marcy said...

Oh my gawd! What a sheety sheety experience. Dude that totally blows but I thank you for posting this as a warning for the rest of us. Geez.

Marcy said...

You ARE you silly! I stole it from you! I gave you love at the bottom of the post. I remember you using the terminology back in the day (months ago) in one of my comments and I thought it was the funniest shizzle ever!

Kevin said...

I had similar issues with them. I ended up having to return my first pair and reordering. Their selection is nto great either.

Run For Life said...

That is crazy and just poor business.

Joe Garland said...

That explains why I've seen photos of NB shoes on other blogs. I'm sad, however, that no one sent me an email offering me free stuff.

So they want to publicize their stuff on a blog and then they provide negative customer service to the blogger. I guess they figure, "what's she going to do about it?" I don't know, she's a blogger. What do you think? Maybe blog about it? Great brand PR in that.