Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer

Dearest Readers:

Today is Sunday, November 02, 2014, a beautiful, but chilly day in Charleston, SC. Undoubtedly, this week has been a week filled with much stress, starting with last Sunday. Late that afternoon, I drove my car to dinner with my husband; I heard a distinctive ‘ding’ noticing my engine light was on.
“Oh no…what is wrong with my car?”

I purchased the car from Car Max in Charleston in March, 2012. A beautiful gold 2010 Dodge Journey with everything I desired in a car. Although not brand new, it was affordable. I gave my old car, a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo with 92,000 miles to one of my sisters in Georgia.

I pulled the file for my car, reading through the warranty, phoning Car Max, leaving a message. Since the office was closed, I waited for a return phone call early Monday morning. I left an additional message with the local Car Max Service Center. And so, the wait began. On Monday morning I waited…and waited…and waited. Deciding to be pro-active, I drove to the local Car Max Service Center.

Instead of parking my car in the parking lot, I pulled up to the service center and walked inside. Two customer service reps were at the counter. One, a woman, was moving a computer mouse around the screen while glancing at the computer. The other, a guy, was assisting a customer. The woman never looked at me, or acknowledged me. She continued to play with the computer mouse, never acknowledging me. I was curious if I was invisible. I pinched my wrist. Nope I’m not invisible. I feel the pain. I cleared my throat, hoping the woman would acknowledge me. She was more concerned with playing with the mouse! The phone rang. Quickly, she answered it.

After her conversation, I approached her. “Excuse me,” I said. “I need someone to check my car. The engine light is on.”

“Do you have an appointment?” She asked, in a condescending manner.

“No. I’ve been waiting for a return phone call this morning. When no one phoned, I decided to drop by.”

“You can’t just drop by. It’s been a busy morning and I only received one phone call.” She said. Reaching for her mouse.

“Excuse me…Didn’t you hear me. The engine light is on. I need it checked.”

“You have to have an appointment and it will take two weeks to get an appointment. You can’t just drop your car by for service. You MUST have an appointment.”

“The only service I need is the engine light checked. Something is wrong with my car.”

“You need an appointment…” She repeated.

“No…I need to have the engine light checked.”

By now I realized I was getting nowhere with the tall woman who had the customer service skills of a mouse. Maybe that is why she and the computer mouse were so closely connected.”

“You can take the car to Dodge. They’ll check it for you.”

And then…this woman with the customer service skills of a real mouse returned to her mouse, ignoring me!

I was livid! No one else approached me. I left Car Max with the visual discussion playing in my mind, recognizing that this woman, whom I shall refer to as Ms. Mouse, had reprimanded me? She truly had the customer service skills of a robotic mouse!

I drove to Dodge. When they checked my car, I was informed that the engine light was not on. Nothing could be done. By now, I am ready to attack the next customer service person that walks nearby. I drove the car home. Less than five miles from the Dodge dealership, the engine light winked at me again.

Thus began one of the most disappointing weeks for 2014 for me. When my husband arrived home from work, he wanted to know if my car was repaired. I rolled my eyes, explaining how lacking customer service was at Car Max. “Funny…” I said sarcasm spilling from my lips. “When I bought the car their customer service was terrific.”

I should say, I have a history with customer service, both in retail and the educational industries. I’ve won awards for my customer service skills!

My husband phoned the service manager at Car Max. They placed his call on HOLD…….!

For over one hour, he held on his cell phone and the home, cordless phone. Deciding that one of the calls would be answered. He was mistaken!

When the phone calls disconnected, he slammed the phone down. “Let’s go to Car Max,” he said. I did not want to go back to them. My discussion with Ms. Mouse played in my mind, and I felt like a little girl filled with shame because she did something unforgivable by driving to the Service Center at Car Max, in anticipation of ‘customer service.’

We returned to Car Max. The engine light still on and my lack of confidence growing. I should say, I am one of the rare people who actually does maintenance service faithfully. In August, the oil was changed – every 3,000 miles…the air filter replaced…cabin filters replaced…and the fuel maintenance performed. The engine light should NOT be on!

Arriving at Car Max, Ms. Mouse was still – standing tall – PLAYING with the mouse! The service manager was at the end counter. My husband approached him. Of course, he was on the phone!

When he hung up, we approached. I shared my experience of the morning and how I was reprimanded for ‘dropping by without an appointment…’ Now, I asked, “What is one to do WHEN the car engine light is on and she cannot get a simple phone call returned or someone to check her car?”

“Customer service is a busy, unpredictable service,” Fred began…I interrupted him.

“I have over 18 years of service in the customer service industry and I returned phone calls quickly…”

Ms. Mouse’s ears appeared to be stretching to listen to our conversation, but NEVER…NO NEVER…did she approach. She probably knew I was not one to intercept with her thoughts.

It was suggested that since Car Max was ‘overbooked’…with only four technicians to service cars, we should go to Dodge.

I had an appointment booked for Dodge…for November 3, not until. “I have two important appointments this week. What am I to do? Continue driving my car with the engine light on, in hopes the car does not blow up?”

Fred discouraged me to drive the car. He phoned the Dodge dealership, managing to get me an earlier appointment for this Wednesday.

Rejoice! So much for customer service!

On Wednesday, the car was repaired; however. When the customer service rep at Dodge made the attempt to contact Car Max to get approval for the manifold repair, it took him almost one hour just to speak to someone!

Car Max reported that I would have to pay for the repairs, $477.21 — minus $100 deductible, since I did not take the car to Car Max and they would reimburse me within two days of the receipt of the invoice. Returning home for the evening, I wrote a letter to Car Max, faxing the invoice and letter to them.

Remember – that was Wednesday! I am hopeful that my check will arrive this week – however, considering the customer service at Car Max – I DOUBT IT!

Perhaps my next blog posting will reveal the date I receive the check! Something tells me it will probably be sent to me – via Pony Express, or a slow train!

Whatever happened to customer service in America! Yes…Indeed. Customer service? What a JOKE!

My suggestion for anyone buying at Car Max – I say – think twice! The customer service to make a purchase is most professional. Customer service when you REALLY NEED CUSTOMER SERVICE – well, let’s just say, let us hope you do not meet a “Ms. Mouse…” She cares more for her mouse…not the customers who approach her!

2 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To Customer Service In America???

  1. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any recommendations? Cheers!

  2. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get
    home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, awesome blog!

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