Michael's Great House Hunt: A Tale of Box Trucks and Customer Service
Topic: Indianapolis Living
My house hunt is indeed at an end and the great exodus from apartment to home was well under way. I was able, with much help, to move everything except the "big stuff" and planned to do the "big stuff" via a box truck myself (with more help) even though I had originally considered hiring movers.
Why? Well, the real estate company (begins with an "R" and ends with "max") who handled my purchase had a box truck available for its clients free of charge.
What a great deal! Sure - it sounded like it.
Until it actually came time to get the truck. Anyone who has ever moved in their lives knows the hassle of packing, organizing the help and getting the transportation. Any minor glitch could send the plan spiraling. Any added expense can stress your budget beyond constraints.
So I was happy when R***X called me hours after closing to schedule the truck. (Wow - what service! They must really care!) I had no idea what my plans really were at that time, so I told them I'd call them back.
Which I did, a few weeks later, when I knew I'd have help and a date everyone could agree on. The gentleman whom I had spoke to with R***X and had been instructed to call, was not in. I left a voice mail.
Of course I never heard from him.
Having about a million other things to take care of, it was all I could do to find a second of time to email my agent with R***X and ask her to look into it. She responded saying that the truck was indeed scheduled for me on July 30th, and I would need to pick the keys up on the 29th. Groovy.
Fast forward to the 29th. I believed everything was fine and dandy, and arrived at the R***X offices in beautiful Westfield. I stated my business and to see what I needed to do. They had no idea I was coming in that day, as the manager of the office indicated, but I was indeed penciled in "the book" for a pick up on Saturday - which I could do. Except...
The story was that they had just gotten the truck back from "the shop" and the only key returned to them was ignition key. The key to the padlock on the back door of the truck was missing. A plummeting sensation occured in my stomach. It was July 29th. I needed to vacate my apartment on July 31st, otherwise... well - I don't know. I assume it would have been expensive.
And locating a new truck with less than 24 hours notice? Impossible.
I asked the manager what she might be able to do. She indicated that they had phone calls in with the repair shop, but had only been able to leave voice mails. If the key were to turn up, then they would give me a call.
I left the offices stressed, frustrated and completely helpless in the face of this dilema. At the time, the manager seemed like she was really intent on resolving the situation for me. At the time...
Several hours passed and I received a call from the desk clerk at R***X, as promised. They had still been unable to contact the mechanic in order to locate the key to the padlock on the truck. So I asked if they might do what many of my friends have suggested since - would they cut the lock off in order to provide some sort of customer service - seeing as I had just made them a small sum of money by purchasing a home through their agent? I mean - how much is a padlock in the face of a several thousand dollar commission? Seriously?
They would call me back.
And they did. The manager called me back - annoyed. They would "absolutely not" remove the lock (even though the would need to anyway if they never get the key back). The best she could do was to suggest that I come in the next day and maybe the key would turn up. Uh... no - it doesn't work that way.
I really don't know if the manager had ever moved before, but there are certain absolutes you need - the main thing being transportation. There was no way I would show up and hope to have a truck. I needed a guarantee. The end result of a heated exchange was that R***X had promised me, as a customer, a service which they were now no longer able to provide. And even still they were unwilling to save face by providing a solution.
These solutions are immediate and expected from everyone I have talked to since the incident, so I do not fee like I am being unreasonable -
a) Remove the lock, buy a new one so that the promised service is delivered.
b) Reimburse me for the expenses of a rental truck, since I would now have to track one down on one of the busiest moving week-ends of the year with less than 24 hours notice.
More than once the manager told me that she wished she could help me (to which I said "then please do") and that she had "more important things to deal with". Which only tells me, as the customer, that she cares little for her clients once she has their cash. Their offices dropped the ball, and a third party who provided a service to R***X (the mechanics with the key) are to blame (which relfects poorly on R***X and how the office handles its help) and she was completely unable to own up. This is my own opinion, and I'm sure she thinks I was a jack-ass and being unreasonable. But I believe I am right.
How has she made it this far in business with practices like this? With her parting good-bye it was a slap in the face to someone who made her money, she could have easily helped, but chose not to.
The AgentMy real estate agent called me, furious about the situation. She made me promise to send her the receipt for the rental truck and she would reimburse me. I wanted the R***X office to do it, and I was certainly grateful for the offer. We both agreed that R***X probably never would do anything to remotely right this situation, so I went ahead and accepted her offer.
I wish my agent luck as she leaves R***X for a more caring agency.
To Sum UpA message to Sheila Knight of RE/MAX United: If you, as a business, offer a service to a customer - even to the pursuit of soliciting the customer for that service (i.e. calling them to suggest it), then you should be fully prepared to deal with any circumstances that arise from that service, which includes...
- Communication with the customer when something occurs to affect that service.
- A plan or promise in place to secure the rights of the customer in the event of a problem (a back-up plan if you will).
- If you are not prepared to support the service you offer, which people will actually depend upon, then do not offer the service. It reflects poorly on your business when your inaction could possibly cost your client large sums of money just because they have relied upon your promise.
As far as I understand it, all Remax offices are independantly owned and operated, so I hope this is not indicative of all RE/MAX offices. However, in the future, when I go to sell this home and buy another, I absolutely will not use RE/MAX United at 526 State Road 32 East in Westfield.
The Silver LiningThe boys over at U-Haul at 2701 North Shadeland Avenue really came through for me. After an hour of dead-ends, calling every rent-a-truck joint in the city, they were able to find a truck for me.
It was only available for two hours, but it was exactly when I needed it. They got me in the truck early and on the road quickly. They were polite, friendly and down to earth - even when swamped with customers. I highly recommend this U-Haul location.