What Brown did for me

This is an example of how treating customers right (or at least correcting errors) not only avoids a United Breaks Guitars fiasco: it can actually lead to positive social media buzz.

As I reported in October, Meredith Gould is a great humanitarian, having bailed me out by recovering the Flip video camera I left on the podium at a speaking engagement in Philadelphia. She sent it to me via UPS, and said she would let me know the cost when it showed up on her credit card statement.

I was more than a little surprised, however, when she sent me a direct message tweet in early December, with the bad news:

Although I was shocked at the bill, I told her I would of course reimburse her, but asked if she could send me a scan of the statement. As I tweeted:

I just want to use it as a graphic for a fun post: “What did Brown do to you?

I figured that if it was going to cost me nearly $80, I should at least get a blog post out of it…especially since I had forgotten my iPod in Florida in mid-November and the FedEx bill for that shipping was $17.97. But then Meredith said:

In subsequent consecutive tweets, I told her:

  • “If you wouldn’t mind calling UPS about it (and telling them the FedEx charge in a similar situation was $18) it wld be cool”
  • “And depending how it works out, we’d either get a smaller bill or a better story to tell on my blog ;-)”
  • “Might as well have some fun with it…like I do when I run out of gas.”
  • “Between leaving a Flip and an iPod behind, and running out of gas, maybe I should stop and think a bit.”

(By the way, here’s the post I did about my out of gas experience.)

Meredith’s response:

Two days later, I got this happy email:

Lessons:

  1. If you think a bill is outrageous, don’t just pay it. Contest it. It may be a mistake.
  2. If your business made a mistake, fix it, and you’ll not only avoid the bad word-of-mouth, but will instead get kudos. Fixing a mistake can be better for you marketing-wise than not having made the mistake in the first place. If the UPS bill had been correct originally, I wouldn’t have been the subject of my conversations, much less a blog post.
  3. Don’t make mistakes on purpose so you can benefit from fixing them. If you’re systematically overcharging and hoping people won’t notice, it will catch up with you.
  4. Hire more customer service people like Tiffany, and fewer like Ms. Irlweg.
  5. Don’t mess with @MeredithGould!
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1 thought on “What Brown did for me”

  1. If I were willing to spit into a tube, I think we’d discover that dealing with customer service reps and billing departments is part of the Gould genome.

    Both my parents had long successful careers making huge corporations and even non-profits repent and restore the cash their billing departments had eaten.

    I still have my father’s early 1990’s correspondence (carbon paper copies) with Englewood Hospital (NJ) where he shoved back after receiving the bill for kidney removal and cancer treatment. He was in his early eighties and fully capable of making them very very sorry.

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