Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Left Hand, Right Hand


We bought a range cooker.  After much research we decided NOT to go for the Britannia, but to go for a Stoves.    According to their specialised "Range Centre" website, Stoves had a promotion on, offering a 2 year guarantee (instead of their standard 1 year guarantee), if you bought a range cooker (excluding mini ranges) through one of their authorised range centre specialists between December 2010 and 31st March 2011.   We had a participating dealer near us, the price was reasonable, and we paid for the new cooker on 30th March.

Said range cooker was delivered today. I phoned the number supplied to register my warranty.  In common with most manufacturers, the warranty is actually handled by Domestic & General; they denied all knowledge of this promotion, telling me it must have been something offered by the shop.   I explained that it was a Stoves warranty, and the chap I spoke to suggested that I take it up with the manufacturer.

I phoned Stoves.  The lady I spoke to denied all knowledge of this promotion, and told me that it must have been a special deal offered by the shop.  I explained that it was a Stoves warranty, the literature was Stoves, and that it had been advertised on their website.    Apparently I was mistaken, they do not offer 2 year warranties, apart from on a certain model (which I'd never heard of). I explained that that was NOT what the leaflet said.  Apparently I was mistaken.  She suggested I take it up with the retailer. I could feel myself getting cross; I really don't like getting cross with customer service people as it's not their fault, so rather than risk taking out my rising frustration with her, I agreed that's what I would do.

I phoned the retailer.  The salesperson I had dealt with wasn't there, so I left my number.    I went back to Stoves' web site to see if I could see the information on the promotion, maybe as one of their old news items.  I couldn't.  I cursed my stupidity for not taking a screenshot at the time.  Then I clicked through to their specialised RangeCentre website, and there it was!

So, I phoned Customer Services again.  The lady I had spoken to previously was on another call, so I went through the saga again with a helpful chap called Stuart.  Initially he told me that it must be a retailer promotion offered by this RangeCentre company.  I told him that Stoves was RangeCentre.  We had a bit of a surreal conversation, where he assured me it wasn't.  I told him it was, I'd just clicked through to it from the Stoves website.  I gave him the  web address. He looked at it online.  We both agreed that it it was a Stoves website.  We both agreed that the promotion did  exist (fortunately it was on the home page, even though it has expired) and that my product qualified.   He asked if he could phone me back.

Some minutes later, he phoned me back to say that he would sort it out. Took my details, and is going to ensure that my guarantee is registered.    

My retailer phoned me back shortly afterwards as well, so I went through what had happened.    I explained that I was very happy with the cutomer service chap who helped me in the end, but that it was really overall a bit of a poor show that (a) D&G didn't know about the promotion and (b) that Stoves own customer service didn't know about the promotion, nor that they now had a specialised "range centre" which had authorised range centre dealers.  

He's going to feed back my experience to the people who manage the range centre bit, as clearly the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. It doesn't even know there is a right hand, in fact.

As long as I get my warranty, I'll be happy.  That was one of the final deciding factors in my purchase decision.

I'm pleased to have been able to buy a British made product (one of the numerous small factors in my purchase decision)

The oven it replaces was also a Stoves, which gave me many years of trouble-free service.

I'm reassured that Stoves has a UK Customer Service centre (another small factor). I like to think that I can always go and stand outside a company with a placard, if things get really bad. Not sure I'd ever do it, but I like to know it's an option. 

Stuart was very helpful, I'm confident that he will get it sorted out. 

The area manager, who was contacted by both the retailer and by Stuart  has phoned me to apologise, and to let me know that it is being escalated and resolved to make sure it doesn't happen to someone else.

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