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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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* 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).