Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

Customer Disservice, Pt 1

Posted on by arlen

Went looking for a light bulb. Oh, not just any light bulb, but a dimmable compact flourescent. Yes, they exist, despite the fact that everyone up to and including Home Depot tells me they don’t. I know they exist, because I have one, and I want more.

So I find that GE makes one, and I get their list of possible places to buy them. I’ve already tried the over-the-counter places, so I check the web vendors they list.

ARRRGH! It’s really not possible for me to find out. I’m looking for “GE Soft White Dimmable Light Bulb”, which is the only description GE’s website gives for the bulb. So I go to Bulb Man, Bulb Direct and Specialty Bulb. (No links for you, crappy websites all!) All the bulbs are listed only by part number! No description, not even a manufacturer name. Just part numbers! I don’t have a part number, you moronic website! I just know the name of the bulb I want!!

All three of these vendors have lost my business, simply because they didn’t have a clue about how to deal with a customer. I would have purchased a case of those bulbs, at least, considering I can’t find them in any store within 50 miles of my house. But their websites were too stupid to help me find what I was after.

The Storal of my mory is this, my children: When you’re building a website that expects to sell things to people who are not experts in the field, give them more than one way of locating your wares. Had any of those sites allowed me to find the bulb by name, they would have had my credit card number within seconds. Heck, if they’d even included a single sentence of description of the bulbs, without making me click individually on eleventy-one part numbers in a vain hope of finding what I wanted, it would have made the sale. But noooo. It’s just part numbers for you; if you want more, you’re going to have to beg and wait. I’m in the middle of a basement redesign, and I don’t need to spend a lot of time searching for light bulbs; I want them now.

As it is, I’ll go on back to one of the local suppliers and special order a case or two (so that I can have replacements when these burn out, considering how hard they are to find). Am I likely to go back to those web sites? Not very. Their URL’s are indelibly associated with the frustration I felt, so why would I want to go back for another helping of it?

It only takes a little ignorance to lose a customer for life.

2 Responses to Customer Disservice, Pt 1

  1. Perhaps you are looking for the wrong thing?

    I think that there are special dimmers for fluro globes… feel free to prove me wrong 🙂

  2. Oh, they exist. I have one from Philips installed at the moment “Earthlight Dimmable” is the label on it. GE also makes one in their Soft White line. They aren’t globes, though. For some reason the dimmables all seem to be in those looped tubes, rather than globes. Doesn’t matter to me what shape they are, as the bulbs themselves are hidden inside the fixtures. I’m redoing the basement and using them for lighting.

    But more to the point, a customer is *never* “looking for the wrong thing.” The customer is always looking for what he wants the only way he knows how to look for it. In the case of light bulbs, I’ve *never* known anyone who can tell you the part number of the light bulb they need. They’re always looking for them by brand, wattage, and occasionally by socket sizes. So it’s just plain dumb to list them by part number on a website.

    Imagine going in to Home Depot and finding all the bulbs hidden in boxes. All the boxes would be carefully labeled with the part number of the bulb, but there would be no indication other than that of what bulb is in which box. You would have to reach into the box and pull one out before knowing anything more about the bulb than the part number.

    I suspect Ace Hardware’s light bulb sales would triple overnight.

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October 2004
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