Thursday, December 19, 2002

Treo Customer Service Hell

Well, so much for being excited about my Treo arriving. I ordered the Treo on Monday morning, around 9:30am central. By about 4pm, T-Mobile had approved me for service and I was told:

See that “awaiting shipment” in the right-hand column? Just in case you weren’t sure what it meant (I sure thought I knew what it meant), here’s the helpful explanation in the Status Message key below:

Here’s where it gets interesting. When nothing happened on Tuesday, I didn’t worry – after all, they told me it would be 3-4 business days to ship. But I’d at least have it by Friday, right?

Wednesday came, still no change in status. So I called – and was told that it was shipping that afternoon. When there was no change on the web site “order status” page by 8pm Wednesday night, I called again. That rep told me it would probably ship tomorrow (i.e., Thursday).

Here we are on Thursday, and I called again. This time I get told that in fact the Treo 180 has been back ordered and won’t be shipping until tomorrow, but that once it “ships” it will be 2-3 days and I probably won’t receive it before Christmas. I asked why the web site didn’t tell me it was back ordered. “Don’t know.” I then asked why other reps told me it was shipping yesterday or today. “I would never have told you that,” was her helpful reply.

Whatever the order status, I was also puzzled over her 2-3 day additional shipping time statement. Here’s the explanation of their “express shipping” option:

(You can read the whole policy here.) In their defense, they do include this catch-all caveat:

NOTE: Above dates are suggested latest order times only. Credit check or other issues may cause additional delays. We cannot guarantee the delivery times or services provided by our carriers. If there is a problem with your credit check, additional time may be required to process your order.

So why am I so annoyed? The “other issues” in their caveat in this case are their own delays at shipping the product – because it may or may not be backordered!

At this point, I’d about had it. Either it was shipping or it wasn’t. Either it was overnight delivery or it wasn’t. “Can I speak to a manager?” I asked. “No.” A minute later, I asked again. Apparently I wore her down – this time I got through.

After a few minutes on hold, I spoke with Jerry, a supervisor. Jerry kindly explained that they’ve had a lot of orders for the 180 (did he want me to congratulate them?) and that he was in Utah. That’s relevant because the Treos are all in Indiana – not in Utah, where he would be able to help me. Thinking this was a game, I asked to be transferred to Indiana. “ Nope – can’t do that. Don’t have their phone number.”

I asked him to elaborate. “They don’t give us that information. And even if I had the number, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to give it out.” Uh-huh. What about my shipment? “Well,” he said, “the product might be back ordered.” “Might?” I asked. “Yes. I can’t tell where your order is in the queue, or when it will ship.” He has no idea if my order is back ordered – apparently that’s not something they thought to include in their customer service application. He got a bit defensive at that point, telling me that I was asking for information that was “impossible to track.”

I pointed out that I’ve been ordering items from for six years, and that every order I’ve made has included exactly that kind of information. “Well, that’s Amazon.”

And, I’m sorry to report, Handspring is no Amazon.


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