Thursday, April 09, 2009

Haband: Trust me, you just dialed the wrong number

I work for a fabric designer. We have just one product and that's fabric. So, if someone calls advising me they need to return a pair of trousers or slippers, I know I quickly need to nip this in the bud. I advise them that our numbers are just one digit off as this hapless customer attempts to reach Haband.

From what I can gather, Haband appears to be some sort of mail order and web based store geared to the elderly and fashion unconscious. Please take a moment to visit their site just to get a feel for who their customers might be. The models don't really describe them, but the styles and prices do. They are the type of person who make simply dialing a wrong number, as all of us have done, a harrowing experience which it needn't be.

Haband seems to be a company of poor customer service as I find myself berated by customers who, by a slip of the finger, end up talking to me. Apparently Haband's usual customer service line is automated which proves most difficult for these people who are clearly already suffering some kind of impairments, so judged, simply on the merits that they think it's a good idea to shop there. On the occasion that I, a real live person answer the phone, they are so relieved to finally get some help after whatever Haband has put them through, that I am bombarded with their complaints with barely a chance to explain what they've done. Even after the conclusion of their monologue when I tell them they have in fact NOT called Haband, they seem desperate to make this work somehow. Senility appears rampant among the Haband customer.

The most striking feature of the misguided Haband caller is their insistence that the mistake was not theirs. Why is that so hard to accept after I've told them we are not who they are looking for? Why must the blame be on the number they have rather than a misdial? Clearly it's a common mistake as I usually tell them who they were trying to call before they can tell me. A classic conversation goes like this:

Me: (Company name), how may I direct your call?
Customer: I ordered a brown sweater and you sent me blue and I need to return it.
Me: Oh, were you trying to reach Haband?
C: Yes...who have I called?
Me: (Company name). We just sell fabric.
C: Well, I'm trying to reach Haband and this was the number they gave me. (As though I need to help them anyway because they dialled the number they were given)
Me: Our numbers are very similar, you've just misdialed. (They don't believe it could happen)
C: Is this 1-800-*** 1674?
Me: No, this is 1-800-*** 167 ONE
C: But that's not what I dialed!
Me: Yes you did, the numbers are similar. If you hang up and try again, you should get the right one.

I wont go into the ones that call right back. I use to allow them to engage and manipulate me into their bullshit until minutes of debate had gone by but I realised enough was enough. I had to take the firm approach, state the facts and get off the bloody phone.

After being slightly embarrassed a few times by transferring these calls to other places, missing the cues that this person is lost, I have become quite adept at identifying the Haband individual. If someone simply asks for customer service, they will win as I will instantly patch them through. But if they open with "I'm calling about a return.", if there is a little quiver in their voice, then yes, I confess I am age profiling and marking this individual as a potential Haband customer. "What was it you needed to return?" is my next question, politely putting my feelers out. "Well, I ordered a clock and it doesn't work..." There. They said the magic word. "Clock". The magic word can be any noun that isn't "fabric". Only once has someone gruffly responded "FABRIC!" like "Duh! What else would I be returning?!" but they just don't know what I go through if I don't ask. Any other positive fabric identifications have been polite and that one abrasive reply was worth it for all the time wasting I have saved by controlling the missteps of the elderly.

Here are some treasured Haband examples from the last few months.

Me: (Company name), how may I direct your call?
Customer: Hi, yes I received part of my order and on the invoice it said on it "rest to follow" but I still haven't received it...
Me: Oh, did you speak to someone about it? (Sounds like it could be one of ours, though not likely)
C: No, I haven't, I just got the order with that on it and I didn't complain about it, but I ordered another pair of oven mitts... (Magic words! Oven mitts.)
Me: Oh, were you looking for Haband?
C: Yes...
Me: Oh, well you've called 1-800-***-1671, and misdialed. Our numbers are very similar.
C: Oh no, I've got 1-800-*** 1674, is that you?
Me: NO. We are 167 ONE, you've just misdialed.
C: Oh...

Me: (Company name), how may I direct your call?
C: Is this customer service? (It's not, but since she sounds old and crazy, I say yes so I can screen her a little more)
Me: Yes.
C: Oh good. I'm calling because I saw on the internet a quilted handbag...
Me: Oh, are you looking for Haband?
C: NO! (indignantly) I said HAND-BAG.
Me: Oh, sorry.
C: Is this Haband?
Me: No, you've just misdialed. Our numbers are very similar.
C: What number is this?
Me: There's one number different and you've just misdialed. If you try it again, you should get them.
C: I dialled *** *** 1674
Me: Yes, we are 167 ONE.
C: Oh, I'm sorry.

Me: (Company name), how may I direct your call?
C: I CAN'T HEAR YOU (deaf)
Me: This is (Company name)
C: Is this Habaaaand?
C: What number is this? I dialled 1-800-***-1674
Me: Yes, we're 167 ONE.
C: Oh, sorry.

Me: (Company name), how may I direct your call?
C: Oh! A person! I can't tell you how long it's been since I've heard a person. You don't know how hard it is to navigate your system! Your name is Britney?
Me: Um, no. It's Simone. Were you trying trying to reach Haband?
C: Yes and I now that I have you...
Me: You've actually dialled the wrong number.
C: Oh, I'm sorry!

Customer then proceeded to complain to me about Haband and how they claim they didn't receive her return when she has confirmation that they did and how bad their customer service is. I tell her I guessed as much from all the wrong numbers I get. As she immediately believes me that she dialled the wrong number, I am happy to sympathise with her.

Me: (Company name), how may I direct your call?
C: Is this Haband?
Me: No, this is (Company name). Our numbers are very similar. You've just misdialed.
C: Well somebody ELSE dialled the number.
Me: Oh, well then THEY misdialled.
C: Can you dial the number for me?
Me: Um, no, I can't from here.
C: You can't?
Me: No, sorry.
C: Oh...okay..... (Doesn't trust me)

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