Two Tales of Customer Service
Two tales of customer service (warning, while these retailers sell hi-fi, there's no hi-fi content in this post!)
Tale 1 - John Lewis.
We bought a kiddies' Role Play Kitchen as the "main" Christmas present for our son (yes, son. He likes pots and pans, but also demolishing stuff...). http://www.johnlewis.com/231774500/Product.aspx#BVRRWidgetID
It arrived with every "outside-facing" panel having a scratch, crack, corner broken off or really poor paint finish. I wouldn't expect this sort of product from argos, never mind John Lewis.
It took lots of wrangling with John Lewis and they offered us a refund or replacment, and a compensation voucher of £10. And we'd have to wait in for their courier guy to collect it (all day on 2 January, although they promised to give us an hour's warning of the likely pick-up time, in case we were out of the house).
They couldn't do a replacement on the same day (so that would mean a second day waiting around, and the reviews posted since Christmas suggested lots of parents had similar quality control issues!), so we just opted for the refund and the compo voucher, which they'd increased to a £30. We'd buy another one elsewhere (see below).
The good will gesture wasn't really worth the time and hassle, but it's the best they were prepared to do. They refused to allow us to return it to a Waitrose (too heavy) or use our own, more convenient, courier (it would be at our risk and they wouldn't cover those return costs).
The collection courier didn't call to warn he was coming (as they promised he would), and he arrived on the wrong day - at 15:45 on New Year's Eve rather than 2 January, without any collection docket or paperwork - only saying "collection of a package from [address]". I spent 15 mins on hold to Citilink while they tracked down a consignment number and verified their driver (who had no credentials).
They then called again to collect it today (again, no warning phone call). A very stressful experience, and a tearful boy not convinced that Santa will bring an even better present in 5-7 working days!
Tale 2 - Amazon.co.uk
I bought a kindle second-hand last December on eBay. It was unused and in perfect working order.
The original packaging contained a receipt from Dixons or (!) Comet or somewhere similar (i.e. not Amazon).
I sat on it and the screen (ahem) failed. In my somewhat shaky defence, I recall the TV ad for Kindle showing someone slipping on into their back pocket - so I was prepared to argue that you can't go showing that without expecting that some muppet will sit on it, so I entered my phone number in the "call me about a problem with my Kindle" section on amazon on Sunday expecting a polite rebuff, but worth a shot.
My phone rang immediately.
4 minutes later they agreed to send me a brand-new kindle and apologised that I won't have it until Wednesday due to the holidays - they never queried how it broke. Not bad customer service, considering:
(a) I bought it second-hand on eBay;
(b) it's 4 weeks beyond the one-year warranty;
(c) the problem was not a manufacturing defect but rather that I sat on it; and
(d) it wasn't originally purchased from Amazon.
Well done Amazon - and we've now bought another play kitchen from Amazon, which cost £130 (i.e. value of John Lewis refund plus good will voucher from JL). It has stellar reviews.