Merchandise purchase experience
MODESTO, CALIFORNIA -- I wrote the following letter to the CEO of the Levitz furniture company, Mr. Larry Zigarelli on 8/26/2007 regarding my purchase and delivery service issues hoping for response from him or someone in his office to help resolve a very unsatisfactory delivery service issue after I attempted to resolve through other company management levels and the customer service department. After waiting for a response of any kind which never came, I wrote him again in hopes of a response but still no response to date. Pasted below is the original letter to Mr. Zigarelli, and the other parties involved who were cc'd on my letter:
Dear Mr. Zigarelli,
On July 31, 2007 my wife and I made a purchase of a matching couch, love seat and chair from your Levitz store in Modesto, Ca. For us, having purchased from Levitz many times in the past, it was a no brainer to return to your store which had provided us with many pieces of quality furniture for our family of 6 over the years. As much as price and value, we had never experienced anything but the finest in service as well, which is the reason I am writing you today.
When we had made our decision to buy from our visit the previous day, we returned and talked with your sales associate, Monica.
When we informed her that we would like to purchase the floor sample of sofa and chair she had showed us yesterday, she told us that there was still a matching love seat available but not in the store and not at the savings of the pieces we were purchasing immediately available (she did say that she could work with the price, however). We were interested as we needed to replace our love seat also and she went to locate one on her computer. She came back and informed us that they had one in the Sacramento warehouse and she could arrange to have that one delivered for a fee by Friday, August 3rd. This was important to us as we had informed her that the prime reason we were in today was that my wife was hosting a baby shower on Sunday, August 5th for her niece who was expecting her first child.
As this was a little more than what we had planned to spend in cash, she persuaded us to fill out a credit application and inquire about financing it instead, which we did. The end result was that we made our purchase, took away the 2 pieces in the store that day and went home, anticipating the arrival of the final piece. We also made some other purchases that day to accent the new look our living room would take. We were very excited and had zero reservations about the $2300.+ purchase we had made from your store.
Thursday, August 2nd, I received a call from Monica who informed me that there was an error in the inventory records and they did not have the piece we had purchased available in the Sacramento warehouse, but that she would find it elsewhere and get it delivered as soon as she could but it would not be there before the baby shower date of Sunday. She apologized and offered to take $100 off the purchase price for our inconvenience, when I stated that wasn't very much, she revised it to $200 after getting approval from her GM which I accepted. She told me she would get back to me as soon as she could. Meanwhile, I explained to my wife, who is in restaurant management for many years, what Monica had told me, and though upset, understood and agreed to be patient until Monica had gotten back to us.
On Saturday morning, August 4th, I received a call from Monica who was pleased to tell me that they did have one after all in the Sacramento warehouse, but couldn't get it to me until Thursday, August 9th at the soonest. I told her that was fine if that was the best they could do, she apologized again for the misunderstanding and inconvenience and told me I would receive a call soon to confirm the delivery time window/information.
On Sunday afternoon, August 5th, during the baby shower, I received an automated call from your delivery system to tell me when I could expect the delivery to take place and when it had stated my address, I noted that it was incorrect by one digit, and proceeded to go the menu to speak with a customer service representative to get it corrected. The first representative I spoke with refused to take my information, stating it was policy to have the customer go through the salesperson at the store, even though your system had called me. I asked to speak with a supervisor, who refused to consider the illogic of the policy under the circumstances and in the end, at great inconvenience to me, the customer, I was forced to return to the store to correct an address that could have been easily resolved at the time of the call. The 40+ guests, mostly women in your key demographic, that witness the entire phone call and it's absurdity are shocked that we as customers, would be treated this way by a company of your reputation.
I had also asked the person on the phone to have their supervisor call me on Monday in my office, hoping to discuss the issues that I am now having with this process. They said they would have her call me but that call never did. Having been in customer service for over 30 years, I am now furious with the events/failures that have transpired in the past few days but resolve to stay calm as at least my love seat will be delivered soon.
On Thursday, August 9th, I take a PTO day to be home to receive the much anticipated loveseat. The window is between 3-5 p.m. and the drivers show up at approx. 4 p.m. As they are unloading it from the truck and remove the bubble wrap from it, the driver stops and asks me to come and examine the piece. It has scratches, gouges deep into the leather (not imperfections that are customary in leather, but rather like cat claw marks throughout the back cushions), color missing from the side where it has been rubbed up against other items and clearly not in an acceptable condition for a new piece of furniture. I tell the driver that I cannot accept it in this condition and he agrees, but needs to inform his dispatcher, which I understand. He calls her and she tells him to put me on the phone, proceeding to tell me that I have to take delivery, that it was clearance and purchased as is, and that I had no choice in the matter.
I reiterated that I would not take delivery, I wanted to speak to her boss immediately and he could call me at my office number (in my home). Within minutes, I received a call from Eric Swanson, who identified himself as the Director of Operations for this area, and inquired what seemed to be the problem. I told him the condition of the furniture and why I wouldn't take delivery, as well as all of the events that lead us up to this point. He said he would be happy to inspect the piece upon its return to the warehouse and get back to me. Within 2 hours, he had called me back and apologized profusely for the condition of the unit, and all of the circumstances of poor customer service my family had received to this point.
He told me he was personally involved with finding me an acceptable piece, placing several calls to warehouses in the vicinity and asking the supervisor to inspect and get back with him with what they had found. He told me he would get back to me that evening of which I gave him no time restrictions as I wanted to know when I could expect my love seat. He did not get back to me that evening as promised, but rather the next morning. He apologized for not getting back to me as he promised, but that he also didn't get a call back from the other warehouses as he expected. He stated that he had found several pieces but as they were in the Mira Loma warehouse, he needed to have them shipped to Sacramento, where he would personally inspect and then have delivered, the finest piece available.
He asked about delivery times, dates and tailoring them to our convenience and I informed him that I was going to be out of town attending my company's annual GM- trade show-convention being held in Anaheim, Ca. and my wife's work schedule didn't allow for her to be home before 6 pm. He said that it would be no problem, just let him know what works best for us and he would arrange the rest. He also offered to send us another $100 gift certificate as a means of further apologizing and to earn back our trust, business for the future. Confidant that we finally could put all of this behind us, I agreed and told my wife the newest arrangements as I felt Eric was very sincere in his efforts to assist us and resolve this fiasco after the purchase. Against her better judgment, she agreed, as she wanted to return and undo everything about this purchase and go to another retailer. This is where it gets worse.
Eric calls on Monday morning to inform us that he has selected a piece and that it will be delivered on Tuesday, August 14th, between the hours of 6-7 p.m. He tells me (or my wife, Samantha) to call him as soon as it is delivered to confirm everything is satisfactory to which we agree. We tell our children that it will be coming, and as they (all teenagers) have witnessed all that has transpired, are told under no circumstances can they sign for anything and that their mother will be home to take care of the delivery, that is why the delivery window is so tightly defined. We are very happy that Eric has put all of this in place and that we can finally enjoy the full set we purchased now 2 weeks prior.
On Tuesday, August 14th, I am on the trade show floor when I received a call at approx. 4:30 pm from my wife who is livid. She had just gotten off the phone with my 16 year old daughter, Devyn, who is home alone. Devyn had received a call earlier in the day about taking the delivery earlier, which she politely refused, stating that she couldn't sign for it anyway as she wasn't a legal adult. A short time later at about 4:15 pm, she received a knock at the door and it was the delivery drivers telling her they were here to make the delivery and that she needed to sign for it. She refused to open the door, explained again why she couldn't and went to call her mother at work. While calling her mother, they knocked again and told her to open up so they could deliver. She did not, so they told her that they would just wait out in front of house until she did. She is understandably frightened as these strange men are outside our door insisting she take care of the delivery. She finally gets through to her mother and tells her hurriedly to come home, that she is very uncomfortable with this situation which brings me to the point of my wife calling me in Anaheim with the newest development.
I immediately call Eric and leave him a voice mail as to the situation, my wife is calling the dispatch to get these men away from our house until the agreed upon time, that this is unacceptable. She also leaves work immediately to hurry home to be with my daughter. While all of this is transpiring, the drivers knock at the door again, and give my daughter a phone number and tell her that will return when my wife calls, so apparently someone had gotten a hold of them and told them to leave until my wife was home in the delivery window. My wife arrives within minutes of their departure and calls them to bring the loveseat, which they did. She calls Eric and he is mortified, embarrassed that we have yet another issue, when simple execution of the plan he laid out, would have resulted in a satisfactory resolution for all. Instead, I had another interruption to my business day adding to my stress level of this whole purchase, my wife left work early and suddenly, costing her valuable overtime and adding to her stress level. Now, my underage daughter, is very stressed due to the driver's insistent and aggressive manner to force her to take the delivery of the item, when the driver's should not have even been near my house, letting alone calling several times and knocking at the door several times. It can quite intimidating for a young girl having strange men demanding access to the inside of your house which is now a major concern.
When I finally speak with Eric, he cannot find the words to satisfactorily apologize, but tries to anyway, stating that he would take decisive action against the delivery company, with whom he has had several issues prior to this with, and taking care of us, stating "even if he had to buy us a bedroom or kitchen set" and he would get back to us soon with the resolution. My wife told him that she is will now consider legal action especially due to the nature of the delivery drivers inappropriateness with how they engaged, intimidated my daughter and he said as a parent, he could certainly understand her position. The next morning, I get a voice message from Eric, stating that the delivery drivers are claiming that my daughter told them they could deliver when they spoke with her, in effect, calling her (and us, your customers) a liar. He needs me to call him back so he can speak with me, that he thinks he knows what actually went down, but has to look into it.
After we discuss it, he told us that they said they spoke to a female named Samantha at 858-248-5378 and that is why he (Eric) knew that they were trying to cover up what they had done, as my wife Samantha, could not have spoken to them on my company cell phone, as it was with me in Anaheim. Eric tells me he is getting another person involved and will be back in touch, he also has another conversation with my wife as well so she is now in the loop too.
Eric calls me on August 17th, Friday afternoon at the agreed upon time and tells me that the person he needs to partner with is on the East Coast, but I could expect a phone call from that person that afternoon-evening PST to discuss. Surprise, no phone call. Instead, on Sunday afternoon, 2 days later, I receive a call from a Mike Serth, who I believe is a Director of Traffic. He apologizes for my inconvenience, but doesn't seem too sincere or too interested in the circumstances of the situation, and immediately asks me what I want, as if the whole thing was something I orchestrated to get something from Levitz. I tell him repeatedly that I do not know what I want, that he should offer something he thought would be satisfactory. He stated that he didn't want to offer something less than what I thought would be satisfactory and again, insisted for me to answer what I wanted to clear it all up, so I replied, $5,000. to which he promptly informed me that he would have to take it up to another person, that he couldn't authorize something like that.
I told him that I was tiring of all this run-around, that he needed to get back to me promptly with a resolution as I was beginning to feel like an attorney might be interested in this due to the insult to my family's integrity accusing us of being liars, intimidating my daughter to the point that she is uncomfortable being home alone fearing retribution from your drivers for getting them in trouble, lost wages from work for myself and my wife and the stress that this has caused us since we made the purchase and that I expected a better sense of urgency from all going forward.
The next time I hear from Mr. Serth, another 2 days has gone by and I am on the sales floor of one of the stores I supervise for my company (I am a District Manager for Petco Animal Supplies). I excuse myself from my mgmt. team and go to the office to have a discussion with Mr. Serth, who also has a person from Risk Management on the call with him. He dismisses my offer and tells me that he can only authorize a 20% discount on the purchase, which is a joke, given that I could have negotiated that at the time of purchase if I was inclined to haggle; even the salesperson indicated that the price was negotiable. He asked me what I thought might be more satisfactory then, I replied that you should zero out the balance of my purchase and to furnish another entire room (and make good on Eric's offer which he may not have been aware of).
They replied that they would get back to me, that they would have to discuss it with another person to which I say fine, but time is now of the essence as my patience has worn thin and that I considered their offer to be unacceptable and insulting given all my family has endured. He contacts me again 2 days later on Thursday, August 23rd and offers me 30% off my purchase, which I refused on the same principles. 30% off this purchase is no consolation, no resolution after the way your company has treated me and my family since we came into your store to make a simple purchase and delivery. This has been painful, stressful, embarrassing, insulting and demeaning to us, who only had intended to buy furniture from a place we gone many times before and received quality service and product. Your warehouse attempted to "dump" a poor quality piece in an attempt to clear the warehouse and demanding I take it as is, sight unseen, the drivers were inappropriate in trying to force my daughter to take delivery on the 2nd attempt before the prescribed time, and finally, the lack of concern by Mr. Serth, who dismissed my daughters fears perfunctorily as without basis, giving us his assurance that he would not allow retaliation from his team. Given the lack of control from his team so far and their inability to execute, his assurances have no value in calming my wife and daughter's fears.
Frankly, Mr. Zigarelli, I still do not know what I want exactly and would be curious to hear how you would feel and what you may expect if the circumstances described above happened to you. I have been in retail mgmt. for 30 years and have never experienced anything like what I have had happen to me in the past month inflicted on my family, nor even have heard of any other experience approaching similar. I do know that while at my recent trade show, we had several breakout sessions on customer engagement/satisfaction upon which I had the opportunity to administer to more than 50 GM's personally. We discussed several instances of poor customer service which they shared with each other and the impacts they could expect. I also, was asked to describe a memorable poor customer service experience and was met with absolute silence when I completed my story.
I'm sure in some way, this may impact any buying decision they have in the future when buying furniture as the best advertising is a happy customer, and conversely, the worst advertisement is an unhappy one. I do know that whatever resolution finally happens, it should hurt and have future impact, not something as minor as a 30% discount and pushed under the proverbial rug so nothing as egregious as my recent experience can happen to any of your customers ever again.
Thank you for your time,
I want the general public to know that the Levitz company does not care about the customer once the purchase is made. The quality of the pieces of furniture I purchased is fine, my issue is that once the final delivery was made, no one from the Levitz organization has made any attempt to resolve this in a more satisfactory manner. The Director of Operations has not returned any of my calls to follow up since he turned it over to the traffic department mgr, nor has anyone from the customer service department or finally, anyone from the CEO's office including the CEO, Mr. Zigarelli. I would not recommend that anyone purchase merchandise from this retailer for these reasons as there are several alternative companies that offer similar quality goods and prices. I was a former repeat customer but I will never shop there again. Every time I see the furniture I purchased from them, it makes me sick to think that I have spent my hard earned money with an organization that places so little value on their lifeblood, the customer.