"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

An expensive customer service lesson learned the hard way

Under perjury of the Customer Service Gods, these photos are real and were not altered nor photoshopped

I’ve been doing dishes by hands for the past 3-years since we’ve lived in our apartment. I thought I could continue doing so, but as most of my friends know, I don’t do a very good job of washing dishes and because of the high calcium content in the water, my hands break out with eczema pretty badly. I’ve tried wearing gloves, but they’re so clunky that I have a tendency to drop and break dishes.

There’s this little machine we have back home, it’s called a “dishwasher”.  Almost all homes have a dishwasher in the US, in fact I would be surprised if they didn’t. In Paris, you can buy dishwashers, but the biggest factor is whether or not you have the space to build in or have space for a “portable” model, that can double as a counter-top.

I found space in my already tight kitchen, and if you thought I made floor space, you’d be wrong. I found space atop my washing machine, imagine that. I’d have to get a stepladder to load the top of the dishwasher, but it’s a small price to pay to have clean dishes, n’est-ce pas?

So I decided to search online. Most of our appliances came from Darty, well known in France for their excellent customer service and return policies.  I wanted to save a few Euros, so I can spend more for some wine perhaps?  So, I searched on Amazon.fr (France). I found the perfect dishwasher (not from Darty). I checked out all the reviews and they were perfect.

I received a note stating that the dishwasher would be delivered on Thursday by the Post.  On Tuesday morning (2-days prior to the scheduled delivery) our doorbell rang. I NEVER answer our door unless I’m expecting someone. But JJ decided to answer the door, and here’s the postman with a box in front of our door. Didn’t even have time to say boo! and he scooted out faster than Joan Rivers heading for a sale at “Plastic surgeons are us”. 

Brought the box back into our apartment, yeah, I’m excited, it’s our dishwasher. Took the dishwasher out and this is where the trouble began.  I could’ve sworn the dishwasher was rolled down the Grand Canyon and retrieved to be resold.

Not even an hour later I’m emailing Amazon. The vendor asked me to send pictures of the damage, which I did immediately. They stated that they would request a refund from the Post Office.  A day later, nothing, so I wrote and asked “What’s up”? Their response was, “The post office has refused the claim.  If you do not want the dishwasher, you need to return it?”  Of course I want something that doesn’t work, all busted up, after all it’s a piece of art. So my NORMAL response was, “of course I want to return it, you stupid idiot!”

So, the following day a woman called, and left a message. She spoke faster than the speed talkers in television commercials. A friend was coming by that afternoon, so I asked if she could call for me, cause clearly I didn’t understand a word the vendor said, plus when I get upset, the only language I can remember is “Vulgarity.”

So our friend Gianna called for us and this is what I learned about the French customer service system as it relates to the Post Office:

  1.  In most cases, returning an item delivered by the Post Office is at your expense.
  2.  If a post-person comes to deliver a package, and wants to leave immediately, ask them to wait. If they say they are in a hurry, tie them to the doorpost, or cuff them, or sit on them.
  3. Tell the post-person he will be released as soon as you inspect the goods.
  4. If the good(s) are OK, then release the post-person and send him on his way. Remember to thank him and tell him to have a wonderful day.
  5. If the good(s) are damaged, keep the person “tied up” until you have time to tape it back up and tell him specifically, YOU REFUSE TO ACCEPT IT BECAUSE IT IS DAMAGED.  If need be, record the conversation, and take photos on the spot.
Note:  we were not asked to signed a received receipt

So, I had 3 choices:

  1. Keep it.  Not an option.
  2. Schlepp it to the post office. It weighed a ton, but would’ve been cheaper and only cost 25 Euros, but then I would probably have broken a body part trying to get it to the PO.
  3. Arrange for a transporter (not the Post as they don't pickup) to come pick it up for return. I chose this option at 45 Euros.

In Summary:  What I’m upset about is that neither Amazon nor the vendor ever told us to inspect the goods first before letting the postman go. Apparently, it’s a well known fact and common practice that this is done here, who knew? Obviously the French know this.  In fact, our friend Gianna kept telling me, this is not the US, this is France, we do things differently.  No lying there.  And, the vendor of the product does not pay the shipping cost to return the item as would most commonly be done in the US.  The vendor basically said they would be willing to refund the money we paid for the product when they receive it back (as if refunding money for a damaged product is a favor….. perhaps it is in France!)

I want to stress, not all appliance delivery places are this bad, as I mentioned I’ve ordered a washing machine and dryer from Darty and they were excellent. They even installed our washing machine for us. I use Amazon a lot. I’ve spent thousands of dollars, but have learned only to order small items from Amazon France, and leave big ticket items to the stores, e.g, Darty, better known for their customer service and refund policies. 

The transporter for the return of the dishwasher was supposed to call to arrange a pickup time, but they just showed up in front of the building with no advance notice.  Fortunately we were home.  One person, no dolly.  The guy (very nice, friendly) had to carry the box (around 50lbs) to his truck.

Yes, indeed it was an EXPENSIVE/HARD LESSON learned!

1 comment :

  1. I'm so sorry about your shopping experience. I've purchased all of my appliances from Darty and have had not one bit of trouble so I'm sorry too that Darty is having deep financial problems because so many people are ordering "cheaper" from the internet. I wonder if their "cheaper" solutions will cost purchasers as much extra as yours did.