“Liar, liar, pants on fire” is a childhood taunt I used to hear while playing with friends or relatives at their homes or at the village park. I never realized (until I googled it a few minutes ago) that the phrase traces its roots back to this interesting poem entitled “The Liar” by William Blake, which of course is far more descriptive and eloquent.
Here is yet another infuriating example of a simple local service situation gone inexplicably wrong. And I can’t help but wonder if I am just getting older and more ornery or I am in fact witnessing what is tantamount to a national breakdown of values — with more and more folks from top to bottom lying their way (or trying to) out of everyday situations, refusing to be accountable and oblivious of the consequences of their actions? I know I shouldn’t generalize, and I am sure there are lots and lots of very honest upright folks out there, but I just seem to be running into more service situations where I am lied to, and when discovered, they don’t even seem think they’ve done anything wrong, or that a real apology or explanation is even necessary. And I am not picking on front-line service personnel; these days, I almost always try to go up to higher levels, often to company owners to get a proper explanation. Personally, I think the problem definitely starts at the top. Business owners, the buck stops with you, and if you condone these types of situations and behaviors, then it is indeed your fault. Why can’t businesses just apply this simple rule. “Do not lie to your customers.” Yes, it can be as simple as that.
In my most recent experience, I dropped off my “expanded” or “exploded” laptop battery At the Power Mac Center in Greenbelt on July 27th and was told it would be forwarded to a central repair center. I called the central repair center 3 days later, and Ms. “Fabulous” (not her real name) assured me they would escalate the matter to Singapore, and it would take a couple of days to get an answer. I called back 3 days later and she said they HAD escalated the matter and had received no response yet (first lie it turns out), she promised to call me back as soon as she heard (no call for 9 days, so poor service handling there, and lie #2 as well), then when I finally called her again 9 days later, or yesterday August 13, she said “they had just received an email the day BEFORE and the battery replacement was denied by Apple” (lie #3, as they had NOT YET EVEN SENT AN EMAIL to Singapore, some 15 days AFTER I dropped off the battery!!!). While they kept me on hold on the phone for 30 minutes, they ONLY THEN fired off a chat message to Singapore and they received their answer in minutes. Yes, it literally took them a few minutes to get an answer. But they sat on the battery for 15 days without doing anything! Then Ms. Fabulous continued with their lie that they got the notice the day before and while I didn’t know it at the time, I said okay and thought the issue was concluded and I would just live with it… But then I asked for a copy of the email response from Ms. Fabulous and she countered with “my boss says it is against company policy to release that”. I insisted on documentary proof of the serivce steps taken, and Ms. Fabulous got very defensive. And later still, after I insisted, she said her boss was in a meeting and maybe “gagawan nalang ng paraan” or he is trying to do something so you get a replacement battery even though Apple company policy states you are not entitled to one. I told her I didn’t want any special treatment, I just wanted proof of the email to Singapore and the slow answer 9 days later, and she said they would send a copy of the email. They did send a fax, but it was neither an email nor a summary of the service steps taken with dates, staff, etc.
I spent 45 minutes with Ms. Fabulous on the phone yesterday morning. Then I picked up the phone and called Apple (the manufacturer) in Singapore (but the call center was actually located in Manila!) and spoke with two service agents who at the end of some 60-70 minutes of discussing/holding still couldn’t help me out. I told them I just wanted to clear up when the email request was sent to them and when they responded; I requested copies of communications on my particular case number. To make a long story short, they called back a few hours later confirming what I already knew. Ms. Fabulous had told me a bold faced lie, several lies in fact. The Apple product specialists who handled battery inquiries had ONLY heard from Power Mac Center THAT morning, a full 15+ days after I dropped off the battery. And the Apple folks expressed frustration with Power Mac’s answers and readily admitted that Ms. Fabulous and others at Power Mac had apparently lied to me on several occasions and instances. Apple was stumbling all over themselves to offer me a replacement battery for free, but I declined, and Power Mac also tried to offer a free battery (after I told them they had been caught red handed lying) and I declined that as well. LYING in this manner to customers is just wrong. Anyone who thinks this is “normal” behavior is simply wrong. If Ms. Fabulous worked for me, she would be in deep caca. Power Mac staff had no pressing reason to lie to me. None. And when Apple customer service representatives asked me how they could make this right, I asked them to simply ask the Power Mac manager and Ms. Fabulous to write me a letter that explained why they had to lie about the status of my battery repair and include a sincere apology in the letter. I never received one. But they sure were quick to offer PHP15,000 worth of batteries! But couldn’t simply acknowledge their mistake in writing and apologize? Money/goods DOES NOT restore integrity and honesty. Shame on you, Fabulous, and shame on your boss that wasn’t able to guide you to complete this service situation in a reasonable manner. Don’t count on me buying any Apple products from your retail stores, and consider this fair warning to others who may use Power Mac Center for their Apple product servicing requirements.
I had originally written a very detailed timeline of calls and actual quotes of the conversations but I decided to delete it. The details were overwhelming. But trust me, you would be infuriated if like me, this truthful answer:
“Sorry Sir, for some reason, we have not yet escalated the matter to Apple, but I will do it now and call you within one hour with the response…”
would have been much, much better than this lie:
“Sir, we escalated the matter to Singapore last week and we only received an answer yesterday and Apple denied the request to replace your battery.” (All untrue or simply fabricated to cover up their lack of action to date).”
The next time, just tell the truth. Don’t leave a customer hanging for 15 days while you simply do nothing. And don’t deny a replacement for what was obviously a defective battery to begin with (just look at the photos for God’s sake!), but when you are taken to task for lying about the status of my replacement battery, suddenly, mysteriously, override what minutes earlier was “strict company policy on the replacement of exploded batteries,” and now bend over backwards trying to get me to accept freebies to make up for lies and the shoddy service provided. And don’t waste two hours of my time while you try to correct what is a rapidly deteriorating progression of lies. Just stick to the truth.
All photos taken by The Teen. :)
NOTE: Follow-up post with resolution here. For those who are interested.