Monday, April 13, 2009

Walking Away From The Children's Place

The Children's Place lost me as a brand advocate tonight. I know, I know - who am I, really? One of millions. But for me, it's very personal and I'm aggravated. And for the local store, they've lost a steady customer.

We have four kids ranging from three to ten. We are an extremely busy family with two parents working outside the home, kids involved in extracurriculars...you know our drill, it's yours with a Weist twist. Just like you, we don't have time to waste. If we do find a few moments to spare, we want to spend that blowing bubbles with the kids or reading one last bedtime story.

Well, tonight I'm wasting time...a lot of my time actually.

Sidebar - I'm wasting it because when you walk away from a brand you love, you are walking away from a relationship. And if you are me, you have to write about it, because well, because I'm upset! We have history, Children's Place, you listen to what I say (at least you appear to through surveys, feedback on your site, your in-store associates)and you reward me when I come to visit and bring you...well, cash...but you reward me with durable, well-priced clothing and discounts. Your in-store team is fantastic, your online shopping great.

Did I mention I'm a swarm shopper? I have to be, I don't have time to not be and your store is fantastic for that...but wow...tonight's customer service issue...it's brought me to a halt. I'm having to spend time thinking about and fixing a problem that's not mine and your processes to address it, well, I'm hoping you can resolve them quickly so you don't lose another brand advocate.
Back to the story...

It started with my Children's Place bill that came in the mail. The Children's Place charged me a late fee of $25 and a finance charge of $2.80 as they claimed I hadn't paid my March bill.

You know I had to think about it, but I knew I had paid the bill in-store and this was just The Children's Place oversight, so I called The Children's Place customer service. The CS rep assured me they had not received my payment. I informed them I did an in-store payment. The CS rep told me to contact the local store to clear up the issue.

Children's Place Statement on 12seconds.tv

This all unfolded within 5 minutes of getting home tonight. Four hungry kiddos, Dad working late...I started dinner, the younger kids played school with the older kids and I did some investigating.

I called The Children's Place local store. The manager said I would need to call the 800 customer service number on my bill to get the issue resolved because their in-store system did not allow them to go back a month.

I tracked down my in-store payment receipt (3/27) and March bill for The Children's Place.

Children's Place March bill on 12seconds.tv
Also, I validated my payment cleared our bank on 3/30, the date the March payment was due.

Children's Place Proofing I Paid on 12seconds.tv

We ate dinner and while the kids played I called customer service again.

After walking through my payment scenario with the next The Children's Place CS rep, my bill, the extra charges, my in-store receipt, and my bank validation of payment clearing. He informed me that I have to fax my receipt and my bank validation to a The Children's Place fax number: 866.533.8590.

He, very politely, told me it would take a few days for The Children's Place to review my paperwork and then I would need to call back to validate the issue had been resolved. He did, very kindly add, that I am a valued customer of The Children's Place and that they truly appreciate the business that I do with them and that if I wanted to pay my minimum April balance on the phone with him, he'd do me a favor and remove the late fee right then and there. Yeah, that went over well.

I, very politely, told The Children's Place rep that I would fax all of my paperwork tomorrow as was The Children's Place's policy and that I would be getting the late fee and finance charges removed as this unfortunate situation was not my fault and was The Children's Place's oversight. I had to keep reminding myself that this very polite CS rep was just following The Children's Place's policy. Very unfortunate policy.

So I'm sure you have had something like this happen to you - something that has driven you to break it off with a brand. Please share your story or link.

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8 comments:

Jenny said...

Wow. Now I know why I don't shop there anymore. I had forgotten.

I had a similar issue with Bank of American online banking a few months ago, where because of outages with their online payment system which prevented me from making a quick payment, I was charged a late fee. (It was internal.) They took care of it before I had even gotten to the middle of my story - practically cut me off with a "don't worry, we can take care of that." They knew it was their fault, they had the log of the outage. Children's Place is still faxing? There's the problem, right there.

Goofy Girl said...

How much money in future sales did they just lose?! And you're only one customer. I would think WAY more than a $25 late fee and whatever your monthly payment was. Very short-sighted on their part.

Give the CS folks some authority to make the customer happy - it's ALWAYS worth it!

Simon said...

I try not to generalize, but many companies seem to have gotten too big to adequately integrate all of the data from all of their channels. So ironically, even as the age of CRM systems has passed, more and more of them do a poorer and poorer job of managing their customer relationships. And the bad debt that has no doubt escalated as a result of the recession causes companies to doubt even a good customer.

Anonymous said...

Zena, Children's Place is VERY fortunate you have posted this and that you called them. Why? Because you have told them what they did wrong and now, they can fix it, if if they are so inclined. I do "sales quality control"... via a hidden camera, for all types of sales and customer service industries. The worst thing a client/customer can do is... nothing. They don't tell the store what went wrong and why you will tell everyone you know about the experience. You've told them... let's see what they can do now, to make this right. You'll have to follow up! My interest is more than piqued!

Alexis Ceule

lindsay said...

i actually work for The Childrens Place and unfortunetly i do hear quite a few problems with them TCP credit cards, however it isnt The Childrens Places' wrong doing, its Citibank....The credit card provider. They are a nightmare!! i cant believe The childrens place even does business with them! i hear more late fees from customers for no reason with them time and time again! so sorry. Im just an assistant manager for one of the stores in seattle washington googling around late at nite here and came across your blog. im very sorry to hear your frusteration. i had a recent incident with my doctor and a refill on a medication. All my doctor had to do was fax a prior authorization sheet back over to my insurance company AND THAT WAS IT,we wouldve been good to go! No,i waited 4 days without no meds, and they presumed to tell me had to go up to the office to pick the prescription up. Ok, when i get to the pharmacy after picking upthe prescription up, the pharmacist then tells me that she didnt need the prescription it had been faxed already.REALLY??? ISNT THAT WHAT I HAD SAID THE WHOLE STINKIN TIME??? Anyways....i sure hope you will continue to shop with the childrens place,jus cancel that citibank card....and i will get a new doctor!!! =] hehehe have a better day..and let me know if theres anything i can do to fix the problem?-Lindsay (425.831.0454)

Zena said...

Lindsay,

I really appreciate your post. Thanks for taking time on your off hours to reply. I hope Children's Place realizes what a gem they have in you!

It's extremely unfortunate that Citibank is reflecting so poorly on The Children's Place brand. I think Children's Place should consider moving their credit card program to another financial institution that aligns more with their core corporate pillars including customer care.

Cheers,
Zena

Cassie said...

I as well am an assitant manager at the childrens place in austin tx. and like lindsay said the place credit card is not under our control. I have actually had to talk to citi banks customer service because its frustrating when im trying to help a customer with issues like yours and they act like theres nothing they can do, because like you said it reflects badly on us and our customer service, with i can assure you is #1 priority. but heres some advice. i have banked with bank of america for about 5 years now and have figured out that there is always someone higher ranking at that bank that can do whatever it is i need done. Im gonna guess its the same with citi bank. DON'T LET THEM TELL YOU NO!!! if someone says they can't do something for you ask to speak to the supervisor. please don't let this incident ruin your shopping experience at TCP.

Anne said...

I'm considering walking away from CP as well for failing to fix an issue on their end. I've been incorrectly charged tax on the shipping cost for online orders. In NJ, there is no sales tax on clothes or shipping fees when the items ordered are not taxable.
Initially CP issued a refund ("as a courtesy") but I continue to be charged sales tax on shipping fees (not the clothes, just the shipping cost) and lately they will not issue a refund claiming the shipping fees are subject to tax in NJ. I have responded repeatedly with links to the NJ Dept of Taxation web site confirming my claim. CP response was that I'm wrong. So, I emailed the State of NJ directly to be sure of the law. They confirmed that I was correct and I sent their reply to CP and am awaiting their response. I'm giving CP one last chance to fix the problem. I hope they will take the time to confirm this issue and fix the automatic checkout calculation for NJ residents. It's not a lot of money we're talking about here but it's my money. And if I want it back I now have to fill out a state tax refund form.