I finally figured out what the definition of customer service is over the holidays. It means the customer is responsible for working their ass off to get any service they can possibly squeeze out of the company from which they have bought goods and services.
Case in point -- Target.com. I ordered a playhouse for my son for Christmas -- the big plastic kind that you put in your yard in which children can pretend to be homeowners without any of the actual hassles of homeownership. I ordered it on November 28, figuring I'd be more than safe in getting it in time for the Big Day. This was the only thing he had asked for, his Christmas 2004 Holy Grail. Every single time he ran into Santa he said the same thing: I want a toy playhouse. This item was the linchpin, the key to my enjoyment of Christmas morning.
I received an email from Target informing me the house would be delivered somewhere between Dec. 9 and 16. I called Target on Dec. 20 (call #1) to find out why it hadn't yet arrived, and after calling the number back three different times until I figured out what magical combination of numbers to press, I got a real person. This very nice person called the shipping company, Eagle Logistics, and was told that the shipping company had had the item since Dec. 13th and had been calling and calling me to schedule delivery and had not heard back. Amazing, considering I had been home all week and hadn't heard a peep. Helpful Target Guy gave me the number for Eagle Global Logistics. I called them (call #2) and ended up speaking to a somewhat snarky woman who basically admitted someone lied to Helpful Target Guy, because they didn't even have my phone number on file. I asked her whether anyone had planned to eventually call Target to get my number, or if they just planned to leave the playhouse sitting there until it crumbled. Well, I didn't actually say that. But I thought it. She said she'd have someone call me to schedule delivery later that day. No one called. I called again that afternoon (call #3) and was told that the driver would call me to schedule delivery. No one called. In the meantime, I sent an email to Target's Customer Service department complaining. They responded by giving me a 50% refund on my shipping costs. Nice, but all I wanted was the product I had paid for, and they didn't offer me any further help on getting it. So I called Eagle again on the 21st (call #4). I eventually happened upon Helpful Eagle Guy Steve, thank St. Nick!, and he put me in touch with someone (call #5) who put me in touch with someone else (call #6) who delivered the playhouse to me on December 23. And not a moment too soon. Needless to say, I will never order anything from Target.com again.
When I filled out my order form and paid my $640.46, I thought I had done all the work necessary. Clearly, I was mistaken. Anybody else work hard to get decent service this holiday season?