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Suzi Shopper: Make Sure Your Outsourced Services Work

Suzi Shopper: Thoughts on business from a consumer’s perspective

This is a sad tale illustrating how a poor outsourcing decision can hurt your company’s reputation and business. Recently I ordered a new mattress from a company I’ve shopped from in the past and been pleased with. The reason I decided to go back to this company was because of price; the other was because they offered free delivery and pick-up of the old mattress. Perfect.

This retailer used a third party for delivery, so when it came to schedule it, the delivery company called while I was away and left a voice mail with a date and time. The message also included a call-back number in case there were issues with the proposed delivery arrangements—which there were. I called the number, which was an automated attendant (grr). I pressed 2 as instructed; however, I was unable to use the attendant to re-schedule a more convenient time. The other option was to go online, but the recording stated the URL only once, and it was broken up, so I couldn’t understand it. I was stuck.

My only option was to go back to the retailer that sold me the mattress. After telling them about my issue with the delivery, the mattress retailer (I assume) contacted the delivery company, who called and left me a message again with a phone number. Again, I was not able get to an actual live person. The automated attendant hung up on me before I could enter any information about my desired delivery date and time. Again, I was stuck.

The following Wednesday evening, I picked up a voice mail from the delivery company informing me that my mattress would be delivered between 1 and 5 PM on Thursday. I had not requested this date and time…and I guess it’s a good thing I work from home, because they did not leave an after-hours number, so it was too late to do anything about it at that point. I was moderating a webinar at 1 that day, so that timeframe wasn’t exactly convenient, but I figured I would just have to make the best of it.

I did have one ray of hope. The driver of the delivery truck was supposed to call 30 minutes prior to arriving at the house. I figured I could be at the ready, grab the phone as quickly as possible when he or she called, and coordinate as best I could while not missing anything important during the webinar.

I probably don’t need to tell you that they arrived without calling first.

Did I mention I have THREE dogs that go ballistic when someone arrives at my door? Let’s just say it’s a good thing I wasn’t in the middle of my webinar moderator monologue when the truck arrived. Three crazy barking dogs would have made quite an interesting backdrop.

Anyway, at 4 PM, the truck pulled up in front of the house. From my vantage point in my office, I could see that the driver was trying to call me from the truck. I had to scramble around, set my “Be Right Back” on Lync (thank goodness my webinar was done), get the dogs locked away in a back room, and get to the door.

As I stood there, trying to recover from my mad dash, one of movers apologized for not calling first, explaining they did not have cell service. (Was he referring to the 30 minutes prior as promised or the attempt from the front yard? I’m not sure.)

Here’s the sad part: I don’t even know the name of the delivery company. My bad memory is associated with the retailer from whom I purchased the mattress, and it certainly has made me question whether I will purchase anything from them in the future that needs to be delivered.

Do you use an outside party for services such as deliveries? How do you ensure they’re representing you well?