Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I’m a loyal customer and strong supporter for my brands.  I’ve shopped many for most of my life – you know, that old Kraft Mac and Cheese thing. I grew up on that product and have purchased it all my life and am doing so now for a member of the newest generation – as well as me.

I was Christmas shopping for my Family on line as I did last year with Brookstone and found an item I wanted to purchase.  It was marked down to $149.00 and with the advertising material received in my e-mail was a coupon with a “promo code” (12BO9I - numbers and letters) that I could use for an additional discount (from $5 to %50 dollars) plus free shipping.  Yikes – what a deal!

I popped onto their site and found the item marked as advertised at the $149.00 price. When I added the item to my cart the purchase price changed before my eyes to $179.00.  I tried several times to process the order but the same inflated number kept popping up.  I finally told myself that price was still $20 below suggested retail so go for it – after all I still had that coupon for an additional discount.

When I entered the “promo code” I was told that it wasn’t valid.  I repeated the process several times with the same results. 

Then, it dawned on me… RIPOFF TIME - bait the customer then change the price.  I wrote Brookstone’s customer service department complaining about my experience and received a generic acknowledgement and a day later an e-mail from "Wendy" asking me to detail my problems.

Against my better judgment I responded and think that will be the end of it – and told them so.  For me it’s not about the money, rather about feeling exploited and manipulated. I went back over on their site and the same item – today - is still being offered at $149.00 and changes to $179 when you cart it.  If they offered me the item – free – I think I would turn it down.  I said - think… 

Well, lo and behold, one “Gary” from Customer Service responds to my reply indicating that the black and blue (colors seem appropriate) versions of the product cost more while the red and gray versions are the ones that are going for $149.00.  As for the coupon that wouldn’t work?  Gary offers that Brookstone’s Customer Service Department, “Would be more than happy to assist you with applying the promo code that you are experiencing issues with.  They can be reached at….” And so it goes. They never indicate on their site that the colors are priced differently and the only way that a shopper would know there was a difference is to wade through each and every color.  One top of that I, yes ME, has to contact the department that I am already communicating with to resolve the coupon/promo code problem. Hello?

Buyer beware and keep your guard up if you think that Brookstone is a square shooter.  My most recent experience reflects otherwise. Please also understand that many retail walk-in stores will be moving to virtual formats in the future. Motivators are less overhead and greater profits where they become warehouses and movers of product and not the builders of dreams and ultimate customer interaction. Customer service exists only where faceless and probably fake monikers engage a call center environment where metrics become the only relevant business indicators. No store with a smile, handshake, greeting and a “How can I help you?” Business has changed and the memory of that neighborhood corner Mom & Pop grocery store will soon fade and the new generation that never received real service won’t know the difference.

Goodbye Brookstone and please (if anybody is listening), expect to be the subject of future posts offered by this writer.  I’ll pay (heavy sigh) full retail before I ever shop you again. By the way, I did buy the item from – Amazon - at the $149.00 price (any color).  Ho, Ho, Ho and Merry Christmas.

Ned Buxton


Please note that this writer traded two more e-mails with Brookstone "Customer Service" before I penned the following final missal.

"Brookstone "Customer Service"

The fact that my initial inquiry and my replies have been handled not by one Customer Service (CS) agent, rather three (Wendy, Gary and Courtney) - shows me part of your problem.  The lack of continuity and consistency in knowledge, approach and demeanor relates a major part of your problem. 

You are running your organization like a call center, queuing up customers by number and first come, first serve and then using preformatted, blueprinted boiler-plated verbiage.  OK, it probably is a call center.  Each and every CS Agent has to refresh themselves and reinvent the event that originally prompted the issue over and over each time they engage that customer.  It will never work as all the data gets more and more stale and diluted as each day passes.  That approach may work in a Dunkin Donuts, and even if you may be counting on that memory loss it will ultimately spell doom for you or any other major retailer pledged to a consistent and positive approach to customer service. 

As a customer I want to talk/communicate to the same person each time and be assured that someone out there really cares enough to handle my situation through from start to finish.  At least I would be assured that my communication really meant something.  In this case, you are chasing a number (*******) without a face or personality or set of needs that you will never ultimately meet.  Life and retail is more than ones and zeros though that's the approach many try and they now occupy the retail dust heap. It's all about establishing business relationships and engaging each customer one-on-one.

You have fallen into a bottomless pit from which you will never extricate yourselves unless you change your approach - and that starts with the way you market your products and how you engage your customers, especially after you screw up... Of course, you first have to admit you have a problem.

And why the heck am I going to this much trouble preaching to a company that probably doesn't even give a damn?  Go figure...


Ned Buxton"

I have not heard from Brookstone "Customer Service" since though it was communicated that my concerns had been forwarded to the appropriate parties... NB   12/19/12

No comments: