Adventures In Customer Service: Loose Screws


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Rod says:

    I feel your pain. There was an interval early on in our married life when we moved eleven times in ten years. Sometimes on our own and sometimes by pros contracted by the navy.

    Screws go in a Ziploc and that gets taped to some big piece of the whatever. Took a while to work out something like a system and it never went perfect. The more stuff we accumulated the worse it got.Report

  2. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Our crib was also from a LaJobi subsidiary. We purchased it through BuyBuyBaby. I made several phone calls to the company when we were researching the product to ask questions and always received prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable service. We have not yet had to order replacement parts, fortunately. There was a mixup in our initial order, in which we were sent the conversion bedrails instead of the toddler rail we had ordered. It is unclear whose mixup this was, but it was resolved relatively quickly. And since we did not have an urgent need for the missing piece, “quickly” is a very relative term.

    Did you need specific LaJobi screws? My brain tells me you probably could have found equally secure screws at Home Depot. But my gut (and the entirety of my wife) tell me to use the exact screw when it comes to things like baby furniture.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      We were about to try to go that route before the screws turned up. The tricky part was the washers, which appeared to be very much designed for the crib.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


      I’m not sure if that’s the best business name ever or the worst.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Worst. After visiting the site and finding out what they really sell, I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be able to easily purchase all the necessary materials to complete this Halloween “witches’ cauldron” now.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        My wife and I joke that if we went in there, we would find racks of blister-pack babies ready for purchase, like My Little Pony toys. Try the special Blind Box Baby–one in ten gets the Secret Type! Collect them all, trade with your friends!Report

  3. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    I’ve noticed this phenomenon. Some companies seem to understand that customer service is important and encourage their employees to go above and beyond for the customer, but that doesn’t always translate into competence.

    The flip side of that is some companies that people perceive as having great customer service never actually interact with their customers (e.g. Amazon).Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      If I had to guess, what I think happened is that the agent scrambled to make the situation right, and then a supervisor found out what they did and squashed it. Which is understandable, but the right thing to do in that situation is to call me back (they had my number).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I will say I’m somewhat surprised the overall experience wasn’t better, given that you were dealing with a company specializing in baby materials. Given the vast harm that can and will be wrought upon these companies if they do screw up, my assumption (and experience) has been that they work really, really hard to “do the right thing”. It is simply bad for business to end up with baby blood on your hands.

        Even the $35 charge surprised me. As I wrote about a few months back when I had a run of amazingly positive customer service experiences, we had a baby specialty company send us something that we weren’t necessarily even entitled to for free because of a miscommunication somewhere in the chain between them, Amazon, and myself. My hunch is that as a company that A) specialized in baby stuff and B) which was trying to outcompete a company whose product was the Kleenex* of the market, they had every incentive to write up $20 to maintain positive buzz.

        * Boppy seems to be the common term for those C shaped pillows nursing mothers and babies use. We bought from a non Boppy competitor but still call it our Boppy. That is what they are up against.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        Eh. I would say that baby thing makes it *less* likely for them to send you the parts. What if they send you the wrong kind by accident and it presents a safety hazard? Or they send you the right ones but not with the instructions again?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        FTR, they did send me the instructions again (a PDF by email). That part went swimmingly.

        The potential liability is probably why they would never, ever recommend that I get regular screws. I would have been fine if they’d said “Here’s what you can get from Home Depot”… but I can see why they didn’t.

        It’s also, probably, why they wouldn’t really do much of anything for me until I could identify the precise crib. Not just model number, but also manufacture date because I guess even the same model numbers are changed up over time. Also, by giving them a product serial number and a manufacture date, they could be absolutely sure that I was a customer and that I was relaying the correct information.

        On the other hand, the cribs are self-assembly, so people Doing It Wrong is either something they have a degree of indemnity from, or have factored in to the costs of doing business.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        My thought is that if I ever needed a crib, I’d make one with a plexiglass side.

        Of course, I’m not really anticipating anyone asking me to make them a crib, but I think it’d be kind of cool.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


      Re: Amazon.

      I love their customer service. It’s only mattered once, but they did a great job. Someone in the Middle East hacked my account and tried to order an expensive video game or some such. When I checked my email one morning I had a notice that the some such had shipped, which was a puzzler since I hadn’t ordered it, and I had a subsequent email from Amazon saying they had stopped the shipment and refunded my account because there was fraud. They caught it and fixed it before I knew anything about it. So in that case great customer service meant I didn’t even need to speak to them.

      Contrast that with BillMeLater. I had somebody hack my account, reported it, was told they didn’t see any evidence of fraud and refused to refund my money, when I wanted to cancel my account I had to call them, and when I explained why I was canceling my account the person said they didn’t see any record that there’d been any report or investigation of fraud. Somehow that person thought making a report might persuaded me to keep my account, but as I pointed out to them, to me it only meant the company had fucked up multiple times.

      It’s a curiosity to an old-fashioned cat like me, but speaking with someone turns out not to be the primary indicator of good customer service.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        Yep, exactly that. People *say* they want to be able to call customer service and talk to a human in English without an accent, but what they actually want is to not need to call.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I’ve interacted with Amazon customer service multiple times and always come away satisfied.

      Of course, I have rarely (in comparison with total number of transactions) needed to, which is even more satisfying.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      I’ve read several articles talking about the latent growing Amazon threat but man it’s hard to get very worried about it when they are so easy to use. If Amazon conquers the world maybe we’ll see some efficiency improvements at least. Or maybe I’ll see my left wing brethren protesting to protect Walmart.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I, for one, welcome our new Amazonian overlords.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        You do know that they recently just increased their free-shipping threshold to $35, right?

        Of course, people love Amazon so much that in a thread I saw about it, people were talking about how much more valuable it made Prime for them.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Prime is los pijamas del gato. The components for my Dr. Horrible costume rolled in today.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I just discovered that now when I went to place an order. Thankfully, I found something else I needed for cheaper than it would cost me in the store, and which allowed me to get the other thing I wanted with free shipping, also cheaper than in the store, and all of this without any driving. Wow.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        “I’ll see my left wing brethren protesting to protect Walmart.”

        At least Walmart keeps the jobs in the community.

        It’s funny how localism used to be something free-traders used as a reductio for protectionism, until it became a real thing. Now we’ve been forced to retreat to using household autarky as the reductio. But it’s just a matter of time.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    You do realise you’ve generated something any corporation would pay thousands of dollars to get. You may bet the farm this has already reached LaJobi’s PR/SEO people.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Do you mean free advertising BP or something else?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        You can’t buy a review like this, North. It’s the holy grail of SEO.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I think he means knowledge about what bothers customers. There is probably no single place where an experience like Will’s is documented within the company. Should the company find this post though, they will be alerted to multiple areas in which they weren’t doing as good a job as they might have thought they were doing. Internally, they were probably treated Will as three different cases all resolved appropriately, but Will’s explanation destroys that illusion.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Vikram has hit the nail on the head. This post will be handed all around that firm, what went right, what went sideways.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The LaJobi people would probably have preferred that I focus more on their good crib and less on the gaps in their customer service, but it’s not a total loss.

        They were aware that I was the same person. On the second call, they looked up the first call.

        If they take this criticism constructively, the lesson is probably “It’s not a bad idea to have more screws on-hand” and “We shouldn’t let customers wait for screws that aren’t going to arrive” and find out why that happened.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Thing is, if it were merely a compliment, the Bayesian algos would probably treat it as a paid advert. But it’s not. The screws got there. That’s what’s important, the customer was satisfied. But their system didn’t turn the problem around as quickly as you’d have liked, which now lets the firm examine their CRM system to lag trace why you didn’t get them sooner. Failure analysis, with a happy ending. Almost unheard of. That’s why it’s a holy grail.

        Someone demonstrated some initiative and broke protocol to keep a customer happy. The Graco -> LaJobi connection is working. The CRM system coped, found your first call, means their CRM is working. LaJobi broke open a box to retrieve a set of screws. Knew where to find the box to break it open. Probably had to get some sort of override to get into Inventory to do it, that will be noted, too. Next time, they’ll have a bin with packets of screws in them so they’re not breaking into inventory. That will go up the production line. Lots of stuff to learn from this incident.

        Watch and see. Betcha someone from LaJobi will turn up here shortly.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My post was not clear. I never got the screws. Rather, I found the ones that I had lost. I’ll go fix it for clarity.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Ah… that’s different. The screws turned up at your end. Now the decision tree in the flow chart of failure leads to the Search for Culprits, ha ha.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @will-truman, I totally got that you found the loose screws — both the ones you lost and the loose screws in their customer service.

        My comment to this whole post is that the complex, industrialized supply chain is not very efficient at helping individuals source parts when they need them, despite the blessings of the internet.Report

  5. Wow, 1 year old. Time flies.Report