Friday, March 27, 2009

Customer Service - American Home Shield

We've been using American Home Shield for over 10 years now. They're a home warranty company - one of those plans where you pay a premium every year and if any covered item breaks down in your home, you pay only a service fee for the visit and they fix the item - or replace it, if it can't be fixed. And you can get them to look at more than one item - for instance, when we had to have the plumber out recently (our water heater ended up needing replacement) we had him check some slow drains at the same time and only paid one service call.

I have to say that over the years we have definitely gotten the better end of this deal! Adding up the cost of the plan and visits vs. getting items fixed or replaced ourselves, we've gotten our money's worth more years than not. And over the years we have never had a single problem with them. I have seen sites with tons of complaints about them, but they have been really good with us - never quibbling over replacing something, although they will try to fix it first. We have had many items replaced, including the outside electrical box, a gas stove top, a washing machine, and a gas water heater.

This past year we had the fan and then the light go out on our stove vent hood. The house is over 30 years old and the unit is original so they had trouble finding parts. Finally the fan was fixed, but the light was constantly "on order". We paid the service fee almost a year ago and several different providers came out to look at it. We had no idea what was wrong only the light "didn't work"! We figured that eventually it would need to be replaced since they didn't seem to be able to diagnose the problem.

Following is the letter I wrote to AHS after this claim. Rather than repeating the entire story - it's told in the letter:

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the results of my claim for my range hood light. This claim has been dragged on and on for almost a year (I can't remember the first date we called) with multiple providers coming out and stating they could not service our range hood light. Finally I was told by AHS that the model numbers were in the attic and no one would go in the attic to get them. We were told to find our own service person willing to go up and we could get reimbursed for the job.

Today we did have our own choice of service company out. FIRST OF ALL - the model numbers were NOT in the attic. They were right there on the unit where I had pointed them out to the last one who was here. Apparently he did not agree they were the correct numbers - but they are. ALSO, going into the attic was not required, nor were the model numbers. He opened the unit and found the switch to be damaged. The switch was cheaply and easily replaced and the light is working perfectly now. I DO NOT understand what the holdup has been for all these months, or why the several people who have looked at it were unable to diagnose something so ridiculously simple. So that is my first complaint.

Here is my next one. The repair man mentioned to the AHS employee he spoke with this morning in the Outside Authorization department, that we had been struck by lightning last year. For that reason this claim was DENIED. I then spoke to her myself to protest that this was not caused by the lightning strike. Clearly she did not believe me and in fact sounded quite accusatory. I don't know why the service person mentioned the lightning - but the way we know him is because he serviced what WAS damaged in the lightning strike. You see, we would never have dreamed of trying to get AHS to cover those repairs. Besides being dishonest, we were paid in full by insurance. There is no reason we would ask AHS to repair something that insurance would have paid us fully for WITHOUT us paying the AHS service fee.

She then made comments regarding the range hood fan, seeming to accuse me of havinng cheated to get that repaired as well.

Besides those facts, the light was NOT damaged by the lightning. The light went out around the time of the strike, but if it had been diagnosed as having been caused by the lightning, we would have had it repaired and been paid in full for it, rather than call you.

I have been very happy with AHS for the many years we have been your customers. I have recommended your service to many people. I am disappointed to have had this claim denied for no reason other than the man mentioning the lightning strike. I was also upset by the accusatory tone taken toward me by your agent. This is the first complaint we have ever had with AHS, and I would like to hear back from you about this.
I am happy to say that we got a phone call from AHS the day they received this letter. They reimbursed us the cost of the repair (we paid the man $30 for coming out and he showed hubby how to fix it - the switch itself cost $4.00 and took 5 minutes to put in). They are also sending us two coupons for free service calls - worth $60 each. She said the woman who had denied the claim would be reprimanded, particularly for her accusations.

I am satisified with the resolution of this complaint, and with the AHS Customer Service department.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's Just a Phone Call...

We had two parties to attend this weekend - two different parties, two different kids. One at a home, one at the gymnastics place. As usual, I was later than I had planned with the RSVP, but I did call. I always call - it's a promise I made to myself years ago.

Party A was the home party. There were lots of people there, adults and kids, and Stephen had a blast! Here he is doing the limbo:

Look at that tongue sticking out! What concentration! He does a mean limbo!

But notice the people around him. Adults, a big kid, little kids. Where are the first graders? That's right, the birthday girl is in the picture, but other than that - out of 22 kids in the class - Stephen was the only kid to show up. I was the only parent to call!

I was sitting talking to the girl's Grandma, who was hosting the party (she was my age! I couldn't decide if that was sad or funny!). She wished some more kids from class had come. The other kids at the party were cousins or neighbors, and a friend from a different class. The girl noticed, but it didn't seem to ruin the party for her. But the adults were bummed.

At Party B, there were also plenty of kids, but only 2 from the classroom. Makes sense. After all these years I can definitely tell you that there are more people at "cool place" parties than at home parties. As often happens, I was told (unsolicited) that I was one of the few to call.

We've had this problem at our own parties. It was especially bad for the triplets, who shared a party, put out the same number of invites, and had varying numbers of guests show up. But the worst was not knowing. I had to prepare 60 goody bags - just in case. With 45 left over - let's just say I could have put a lot more into a few goody bags if I had only KNOWN.

Here's the worst example:

There was a party at Chuck E Cheese last year. This poor Mom had reserved the party package, which required a minimum of 10 guests. Once again, I was the only one to call. So we got there and they were sitting at a regular table. They had cancelled the party package and just ordered pizza and drinks and gave each child (mine, bday girl, 2 sibs and a neighbor) some tokens. Why pay for 10 guests if 5 show up?

You can probably guess what happened next...people started showing up...she ended up with 12 guests total. The Kid was happy; the parents, not so much. It cost more for them to do things this way than with the package deal. I remember well - she was pissed! She even said "I am NOT buying tokens for anyone who didn't call!" But of course she did. It's not the kid's fault. The kids had a blast, the Mom was bitter and upset, and I don't blame her. One parent actually said "sorry I didn't call, I thought we had plans". Ugh, nothing like being told flat out you were last choice, and anyway whatever happened to calling in your regrets?!

After our own party this year - we reserved the pavilion at the park, which we certainly would not have needed for only 8 kids - I was happy at the thought of having separate parties from now on. A movie date - a sleepover - whatever; a few guests each, we will call each parent individually and even offer rides! Our day of whole class parties is over, thank goodness. But I will always call - no matter what. It's only a little phone call, and it really makes a difference. Think of your own child - their birthday party is a HUGE deal. It's their day!! I don't know why it's such a big deal to call, but I understand the big deal of planning a party that no one cares about unless nothing better comes along!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Look

As you can see, I've changed my background. Unfortunately, there are not too many choices available for the wide format I was using and they are all sort of "blah", so I switched to a centered one to get the cute backgrounds. The unfortunate part is that the pictures I posted from my Photobucket are now cut off on the right side. Now that I know how to upload the pics directly yo Blogger so they can be clicked on to enlarge (D'oh) it won't be a problem in the future...but for now if you notice any cutoff pictures it's just the tradeoff for having a cute blog.

Mary picked the current background and the boys will get their turns every few weeks or so. The picture in the header right now is a group of ducks we saw while camping a few weeks ago. They came by every day for their "daily bread". Matty LOVES duckies - he has an extensive collection of various types and sizes - and they were all most excited that there were THREE duckies, two boys and a girl, just like them. So when they saw the header this morning, to them it was like a picture of themselves as they told me which duckie was which.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Customer Service - Nintendo

I've written about our experience with Nintendo's Customer Service before (Click the link for story). We recently had to send our Wii back again, and this experience merits another mention.

Maybe you're thinking it can't be as good this time? That's certainly what I was thinking! The kids were having a problem with the "Brawl" disk. It worked, but some of the characters were freezing up. Now, normally, I would assume any disk problems were user error (scratches, etc.) and tell them oh well, save for a new one. I don't know what made him decide to call. Brawl was the one giving the problem before, so maybe that's why. At any rate, he called, and was told to send both the Wii and the game in to be checked.

Remember how, after the last time, they extended the warranty by a year? Well, that was almost up again. No problem. They e-mailed a Fed-Ex shipping label immediately. All we had to do was package the unit and game together, and drive it across town to the Fed-Ex place. I delivered it on Monday, January 26, and it was returned to my front doorstep by Friday, the 30th - in time for me to jump on Animal Crossing before the kids got home from school. Photobucket

AND!!!! They extended the warranty again for ANOTHER YEAR!! Photobucket

Son says, let's make sure we send it in every year when it's almost up, it will be under warranty forever. *wink*

I have to admit, I am amazed. You just don't see customer service anymore. I can't tell you how many people find this blog by doing a search on "Quiznos Customer Service" -- so I imagine I am not the only one to have ever had issues! Anyway, if I am quick to criticize, I also want to be quick to praise.