For those of you who have never heard of Woot.com, there's an entire culture you have been missing. Woot is notorious for selling random electronics, household items, and well… junk. They only sell one item per day, and about every month or so they have a Wootoff where items are continually sold until sold out for a period of 24-72 hours.
The significance of the Wootoff is that one of the items will be a "bag of crap", which is a mystery bag that could contain just about anything they have been selling. You get three items generally (it really is random) and these get sold out within a matter of seconds because loyal Wooters buy them up in hope that their bag of crap will contain a flat-screen, iPod, or something valuable.
All of this is great, until you want to return something. I don't mean the bag of crap, because, well you just take a chance on those. But the regular items. I have purchased two things from Woot (aside from the bags of crap), and it's been a miserable experience both times.
The first time I bought a hand held Dirt Devil Kurv vacuum. The thing never worked right from day one. The suction was weak, and what little it did suck in (small dust pieces) it spit right back out from the air vents. Vacuuming essentially meant wearing the dust from your floors.
So, I wrote to Woot, explaining that the product was defective. Woot tells me to go talk to the product manufacturer. Of course this is difficult, considering the manufacturer simply told me to return it to where I got it from. Woot then said, if I really needed to return it (no duh, I just love emailing you because I think you guys have great writing talent which shine the most through emails), I could pay for shipping back again, and then they could take another two weeks to process and refund me my money. No thanks. It's going to cost me half the amount of my return just to ship the stupid thing, plus weeks of my time. I just let the issue go, and threw away the vacuum.
Many months after this, I (against my better judgment, bought another item off Woot). The day I did this, I found the same thing for much cheaper somewhere else. So, I once again emailed them (just one day after placing the order) asking them if it would be possible to cancel the order since it hadn't shipped yet.
"We have already processed the order to ship this morning. We will not be able to cancel." -Bob
So, you're telling me it's impossible to unprocess something you just processed? No wonder returns are so difficult with you guys then. It's pretty clear Bob just doesn't want to be bothered to cancel an order, and it's much easier to just send a curt reply than to actually do the work to provide customer service.
I then checked my credit card statement. They had billed me twice for the purchase, amounting to close to $600. I emailed Woot again. Their response? Because I entered the wrong 3 digit security code initially, the order went through twice (once for the wrong security code, and once for the correct one). The initial transaction put the funds on hold in my account.
So, it's my fault I entered the wrong number, which caused their system to charge me twice. Well geez, if I had shaky hands, their system could have charged me thousands from all the errors!
Here's what I believe: the customer is always right. I have worked in customer service before, and whatever the customer wants, I do my best to make it possible. If Woot doesn't really have a legitimate return policy, they need to just make that clear by saying don't expect to be able to return anything once you buy it. Instead, they just make it as difficult as possible for you to return it, and hope you give up. That's not customer service, that's just being lazy. So Woot, be nice to your customers, and then they won't write long reviews of how bad your service is.
(Photo courtesy of Target).