Wilkinson Plus Hardware Store: a terrible customer service experience.

A week and a half ago we moved to our new flat with a lovely garden, ideal for Toby’s first birthday party last weekend. So as soon as we moved in we ordered a gazebo from Wilkinson Hardware Store’s online shopping site, Wilkinson Plus, to provide a little shelter for the festivities. They said it should arrive by courier within two working days, so assuming the order was processed on Monday we should have received it by Wednesday, in plenty of time for Saturday’s party.

By Friday it still hadn’t turned up, and aside from the original confirmation email we had heard nothing from Wilkinson, so I gave them a call. It turns out that although they had the correct shipping address in the confirmation email, they’d managed to send it to our billing address (our old flat). The new tenant then gave them a wrong phone number for us, so they “couldn’t” get in touch to arrange re-delivery (despite having both our email address and correct telephone number on the original order). All this wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that we’d ordered it specifically for Toby’s birthday party!

A very helpful lady called Keira in their call centre accepted that it was their fault, and was very apologetic. She promised to refund the delivery cost and give us a third off the price of the gazebo, and looked into ways of getting a delivery to us in time for Toby’s birthday. The nearest Wilkinson store with stock was 46 miles away in Epsom, and she proposed getting it taxi’d from the store to us at their expense. She called the Epsom store, but I was told the store manager was unwilling to take the expense of such a long taxi trip (a cost he could later claim back from the web department, and which they had already approved)*. There was no other way of getting it to us in time.

I explained that this was an opportunity for them to turn what was essentially a really bad customer experience for me into an example of great customer service. I’d be telling the story one way or the other, so it’d really go in their favour if I had a positive story to tell. Unfortunately they didn’t want to take that opportunity so I was left with no gazebo for Toby’s first birthday, and Wilkinson Plus accepting responsibility and with the ability to correct it in time, but, at the whim of one store manager*, refusing to do so because of their own internal procedure.

In a further development, Wilkinson had arranged re-delivery for us today (Wednesday) and my wife changed her plans so that she could definitely be in to sign for it. I called Kiera to check that it was definitely being delivered today and she chased up their chosen courier, Amtrak. Keira was once again very apologetic, as it turns out that now it’s Amtrak’s turn to mess up, and they haven’t got it out for delivery today, but will try to get it out to us tomorrow.

Incompetence all round. We’re not holding our breath. But we are holding a housewarming party this Saturday, and they’ve still got two business days to get it to us.

UPDATE Thursday July 5th – I called Keira again today to check that its definitely on its way. It had been arranged that Amtrak would deliver it today but if we weren’t in they would leave it in the back garden. The decided that they didn’t want to have to leave it in the garden, so they didn’t even pack it on the delivery truck in case we were in! The ineptitude of these companies is unbelieveable.

UPDATE Friday July 6th, morning – The gazebo has finally arrived. Thanks to Kiera for being very helpful, apologetic, and friendly all week. Its a shame the order fulfillment ability of your employer, and the customer service skills of the Epsom store manager aren’t up to your standards.

UPDATE Friday July 6th, afternoon – Debbie, a manager from Wilkinson Plus, called to apologise and to say that they would be sending a letter of apology and some vouchers in the post to make up for the inconvenience.

* I’ve now been told that this was incorrect information given to me at the time. The decision not to send the gazebo by taxi was not taken by the Epsom store manager, but was made at the customer service centre. No alternative explanation for the decision was given, although once the gazebo was delivered it was apparent that it wouldn’t have fitted into a standard sized car anyway (they hadn’t realised this when they’d offered to taxi it out).

20 thoughts on “Wilkinson Plus Hardware Store: a terrible customer service experience.

  1. Delivery companies are essentially, for want of a better word, scum. They seem completely uninterested in making their customers’ lives easier, perhaps assuming that customer satisfaction is not at all important as if we want to order online we have no choice but to bow to their whims.

    It’s a real shame, because it shouldn’t really be that hard a problem and because it’s really damaging to online stores.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Bruce.

    Thanks also to Wilkinson Plus for making good with a letter of apology plus £50 of Wilkinson vouchers. Ironically, the vouchers can only be used in-store, not via their online shop.

  3. I work as a manager for Wilkinson and may I say that the Epsom Manager is not typical of our type of management. I believe that the customer always comes first and it is our duty when something goes wrong to put it right and ensure that your shopping experience is only a good one.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Paul. To clarify, the footnote mentions that despite what I was told earlier, it turned out that the decision not to send the gazebo by taxi was not taken by the Epsom store manager, but was made at the customer service centre.

  5. Frankly I think they fell over themselves backwards to try and help you, and if you had given the corect billing address none of this would have happened. If you used this store regularly as we do you would know what good value they are and how they try very hard to help. Your posting came up on a Google search for Wilkinson Plus so you are giving a lot of people an unfair view of this excellent store.

  6. MDSDerby – You misunderstand. I gave them the correct billing address and the correct shipping address. Their first mistake was to deliver it to the billing address rather than the shipping address. And you’re right that they “try very hard to help” – if you read the blog post you’ll see that I have publicly thanked their customer services assistant Keira for doing her best to resolve the situation.

  7. I still think you are unfairly stigmatising them as it is an easy mistake to make and after that they tried very hard to correct it. Still some people are hard to please, but it is a shame that you have chosen to broadcast it so widely. And no I don’t work for Wilkinsons.

  8. I’ve done nothing more than write an honest record of what happened, just as I would regale my friends in the pub with the story. I even told Wilkinson’s that I would, and that they had the opportunity to correct their mistake on time and have me tell a positive tale instead. But they didn’t take that opportunity.

    I haven’t “chosen to broadcast it so widely”. It sounds like your issue is with Google, as it is they who have chosen to list this page next to Wilkinson’s own website on a search for Wilkinson Plus.

  9. I work for Wilkinsons and I know from experience that the staff and management of the store where I work bend over backwards to solve any problems that may arise. Many people do not see or hear the abuse that we take on occassions.Yet we still treat them with respect which at times is more than they deserve.

  10. Thanks for your comment, Jan.

    I agree, all the customer service representatives I spoke to were polite, and did “all they could” to solve the problem. As a customer, getting angry and hurling abuse is never the way to solve a problem. At the very least doesn’t endear you to the customer service rep, and at worst its downright offensive. I assure you that I, too, was polite throughout our calls – I even had the courtesy to let them know I’d be blogging about the experience, and have since sent them a link to this page to read themselves.

    You comment has provoked thought, though. As a result I’ve changed the title of this post from “Wilkinson Plus Hardware Store? Bad customer service” to “Wilkinson Plus Hardware Store. A bad customer service experience”. Hopefully this clarifies the fact that it relates one personal experience, rather than generalising that all of their customer service is poor.

  11. Thank you paul for your reply. I just had to put my experiences forward to show that the majority of Wilkinson staff are courteous and prepared to go to extra lengths to solve any problems. I also wanted people to think twice before coming at us on the Customer Services Desks around the country like raging bulls. Yes we are there to provide a service which I think most do well and we are not prepared to be treated like dirt and be sworn at or threatened.
    To many people these days just have no respect towards their fellow human beings.

  12. If the gazebo was that important, the time you spent on the phone you could have driven there and picked it up yourself.

  13. Has Bryan ever seen the size of the gazebo’s displayed in the stores? As we know they are rather large items and are unable to be broken down into smaller parts by either the staff or manufacutures.
    Also from his attitude I would go as far as to say he would be one of the customers we very often come across and have named the Raging Bull.

  14. If it was that important you would have got it yourself then called wilko all the names under the sun. i`ve worked for wilko i`ve put up gazzebos taken them down fitted them into micras, fords, & simlar types of cars, even the biggest of them can break down. I`ve also worked for delivery firms & these days you will find they wont leave anything without a signiture. I never did because then people say it was`nt delivered or it did`nt turn up, my point is if i wont something thats simple to go out and buy, i go and get it or you can have it put on hold in 90% of shops to pick up at a later date.

  15. dear Paul, just a couple of points that should be pointed out, you could go in-store and and spend your £50 of vouchers on-line just let the assistant do the ordering for you, it’s no different than ordering at home, and i am sure that wilkinsonplus have now changed there delivery firm to a more reliable one, what everyone forgets is that every new service has teething problems, and wilkinsonplus is no different, there is one large gazzebbo that wouldnt fit into the car but it did have the size displayed on it, but it did fit onto a roof rack, which funny enough wilkins stock.

  16. Hi Paul
    Well things are really hotting up with the comments you are recieving.
    As an employee of Wilkinson is it very interesting to see how we are viewed.
    I just hope that the other people who have commented have also taken into consideration what flack the staff take and are more thoughful when dealing with them. As we are all very proud of our good track record in customer services to date.
    As I have previously said some people will never be happy regardless of what we do to accomodate them.

  17. hi Jan
    you probably guessed, i work for wilkos too and wilkinson+ .you wouldnt belive some of the flack i have had, people standing shouting with there finger pointing in you face, but unlike some of the customers i manage to keep my cool and stay polite, so NO i dont like it when people dish the staff we try very hard to please the customer, as i said before teething problems happen (to all firms) if you want bad service try commet paul you would love them

  18. I would believe it as I to get the threats and bad language quite a lot of the time plus the finger pointing.
    There should be a code of practise in all the stores saying that if the customers behave in such a manner they will either be removed from the store or be issued with letters banning them from all stores in the country.
    Why are they allowed to get away with this behaviour so often?

  19. I think you’re mis-understanding the point. If you read the article you’ll see that I have nothing but praise for Kiera, the customer service rep I spoke to. I was polite the whole time and so was she (you don’t get anywhere if you go in with all guns blazing).

    You say I should have expected teething problems. Why? Is this a new service then? How would I know that?

    In response to the comment about if I wanted to spend the vouchers online then I should take them to a store and ask customer services to spend them on the website on my behalf: what would be the point of that? If I want to spend them online, its to avoid that trip – if I’m going to go to the store anyway I might as well spend them in-store.

    Anyway, this was all 6 months ago now so I’m closing the comments. Thanks for all your feedback!

Comments are closed.