I Come From the Land of Nordstrom Customer Service

OK, I’ll admit it:  I grew up in the land of Nordstrom.

Pretty much anyone  from Seattle (who has a pair of ears and a brain between) has heard of Nordstrom’s reputation for extraordinary customer service.  Reportedly, as the retail giant overtook the industry as far as excellent customer experiences goes, there were stories about people bringing in pairs of shoes that were years old, in poor shape, and definitely not from Nordstrom.  These people approached the sales desk, demanding a refund for the shoes they no longer cared for.  They got what they asked for.

In Nordstrom Land, the customer is always right.

OK, so that may be taking it a bit far.  As a person who cares A LOT about customer service (I’m married, after all, to a man who works for a software company whose sole purpose is to improve other companies’ provision  of customer service) the Nordstrom thing about customers always being right may be a bit over the top.  Especially having heard stories told by my cousin, who is a paralegal for Nordstrom, in which customers have taken that right to always be right a bit too far.

But here’s my rub for the day:
Yesterday, on my way home from Spokane to Bozeman, I stopped in a Starbucks (another Seattle company, y’all) mid-drive to get my kids out of the car, indulge in a quick snack and re-caffeinate myself before completing the six hour drive.

At some point during the brief stop, I dropped my cell phone (my work phone, the phone I’m hoping to receive a call from a literary agent on any day now) in the store.  I realized I couldn’t find my phone upon returning to the car.  I went back into the store and searched.  No luck.  I asked the gal at the counter to keep an eye out for it and, if it happened to be found, please notify me.

By the time I got home to Bozeman, the phone had been found.  It was safe and sound behind the counter.  It is three hours away from where I live.

When I got the girl on the phone who’d located the cell phone, I asked if she could, pretty please, stick it in an envelope and ship it back to me–postage to be paid upon receipt, or at least expect my immediate reimbursement for her efforts.

She said she couldn’t do it.

“I’m not sure how we handle that.  I’ve never had it happen before.  Call back tomorrow morning after six and ask for the manager.  He’ll be able to help you.”

OK, so a Starbucks underling doesn’t know the corporate policy for returning a customer’s misplaced cell phone to them.  Logic and basic humanity aside, I can accept that.

I called back this morning at 7:30.  The manager wasn’t in.  The guy who answered the phone told me, “we’re swamped right now.  I don’t have time to write down your name and number.  Can you call back in, like, an hour or two and ask for the manager?  He can help you then.”

OK, now I’m starting to lose my patience.

If I were working at that store and happened upon a person’s lost cell phone–one which the owner had already contacted me about–I’d screw corporate policy and take the damned thing to the post office myself, buy a $2 padded envelope and send it on its merry way.

But I possess common sense.

A professor of mine once told the physician assistant class of which I was apart, “Common sense isn’t so common.”  Boy, was she ever right.

I don’t exactly feel naked, vulnerable or disconnected by having my cell phone out of my possession like some people I know might feel if this happened to them.  It’s a cheap bit of technology, and I do have a land line, after all.  I can do without a cell phone for a few days.  My basic biological functioning does not exist by cell phone alone.

But, come on.  If you worked at that Starbucks, what would you do?  Would you consult corporate policy?  Punt to the manager?  Tell a customer you don’t have time to help?  Huh?  Huh?  Or would you mail the thing back to its rightful owner, just because that would be the most logical, the most sensible, the most helpful and humane thing to do?



Filed under travelling with kids, Uncategorized

11 responses to “I Come From the Land of Nordstrom Customer Service

  1. gowell

    I probably would mail it back to the owner myself regardless of corporate policy. However, I will mail the phone back insured, so in case of a lost in transit, me or my employer is not liable.

    • sam who

      starbucks is not responsible for ur loss, u are, at least u find ur cell, what are u doing now is making it worse if an employee find a cell next time he will keep it or throw it in the garbage so be thankfull don’t think just of ur self

  2. gowell,

    It’d be nice to think the Starbucks crew would be conscienable enough to think of insuring the package–whether for their sake or mine. Will keep you posted.

  3. gowell

    Honestly, it’s not just being considerate, but to take into account of liability.

    What if an employee sends the phone back without insurance and the package is lost and the customer sues either the employee or Starbucks. This is America, we are talking about here. A country that loves suing everything under the sun. Not saying that you will sue, but corporates probably have rigid policy to protect themselves from any unnecessary liability.

    Anyway, good luck getting your phone back.

  4. Shelly

    A few things to consider.
    1. Never call a Starbucks in the morning. This is their peak busy time and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Try calling around 2 pm.
    2. I am sure the manager will mail the phone back.
    3. I know it seems like the employees were not helpful but an you imagine how much stuff is left at a Starbucks on any given day? If the employees had to mail back all this stuff they would become more of a Mail Box Etc. than a Starbucks. And 90% of the people who say they will send them payment for the postage after the item is shipped will not. Sad but true. Then if you want to send it postage due that is whole big issue with going to the post office. Who has time for that when you are making $6 an hour and going to school and barely putting gas in your car, etc. You get the picture. Here is what most people do when they lose a cell phone… call your provider and turn off that phone and get a new phone at your local cell phone store. It will probably even be free. Good luck.

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  6. Yoru

    Callous as it sounds I agree with Shelly. That fact that you attribute the poor service or inconvenience to the company as a whole, not the employee, is exactly why a low totem pole employee couldn’t be bothered to go out of his/her way to help you. The low wages, recent layoffs and likely less than respectful treatment of such employees at the workplace give no incentives to make the place you work look good.

  7. After reading this article, I just feel that I really need more info. Could you share some resources please?
    p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

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  9. I can’t agree with the above post, and would like to highlight a few of the OP’s points. Not everyone will agree and though I am one of them, I do respect your right to have your view. Either way I have enjoyed reading I Come From the Land of Nordstrom Customer Service | Writing My Way Through Motherhood and Beyond.

  10. I usually learn something once i end by here, Eric. Many thanks!

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