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Batavian’s multiple calls yield little from Borders

Updated: May 6, 2011 4:46AM



Dear Fixer: You helped me years ago with a problem, so I am answering your call for “customer service” issues.

I ordered a book online from Borders.com on Dec. 9. When I had not received the book by Dec. 21, I sent a comment through Borders.com. I was promised an answer within 24 to 48 hours.

When I had not heard from them by Dec. 28, I went to a local Borders store and asked for a phone number to talk to a real person. I called that evening.

I was on hold for 45 minutes, listening to really irritating music.

Finally, a pleasant lady with a heavy accent came on and told me my order was “in process.” At this point, I asked for a supervisor.

Again, I was on hold with the irritating music. At last, the supervisor came on and said my order “wasn’t in the system.” Then he said it was in a warehouse, but I would have to cancel and re-order. I asked him to simply forward my existing order so I would not have to go through this process again. He agreed to try and said he would call me back within 20 minutes.

By this time, I figured I was talking to a customer service firewall in India. After a couple of hours, I called the number again (another 45 minutes, plus more irritating music). This time I got the location of the warehouse and the name of the supplier — though this information became moot, as I received an e-mail the next day saying I “had canceled the order or the book was unavailable.”

Oddly, the book was still listed online as “in stock,” and I had not canceled.

On Dec. 31, I received an e-mail from Borders.com concerning my Dec. 21 complaint. I responded the same day, and received another e-mail from on Jan. 9 stating that this problem “should not have happened.”

I should note that everyone was polite and apologetic, but no one helped and no one kept their promises.

In the end, I re-ordered the book from a competitor and received it within four days.

Thanks for all you do for us.

Richard Kwiatkowski, Batavia

Dear Richard: Thank you for providing our latest installment of customer service horror stories. The nation’s CEOs could learn a lot from hearing what ordinary customers go through.

And we’re thinking Borders is missing a potential revenue stream. They should market that phone music: People could order a CD of irritating music to give to an irritating relative. And if the order gets lost, they could call and hear more irritating music!

Duct-cleaning alert

The Fixer has warned before about making sure an air duct-cleaning company isn’t trying to clean out your wallet. Numerous consumers around the country have complained that various duct-cleaning companies have scared them into buying costly and ineffective treatments for their home air systems.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently sued the owner of two Schaumburg-based air-duct cleaning companies, accusing them of charging for work that was never completed and misleading some customers into paying for services they didn’t need.

Madigan’s office says it received 16 complaints against Air Duct Cleaning Pros and Warranty USA, both of which are alleged to have charged customers for expensive mitigation of mold and mildew damage that didn’t actually exist in the customers’ homes.

Prospective customers were shown fake photos of extensive mold or mildew damage to convince them their homes required costly cleanup work, according to Madigan.

The Better Business Bureau gives Air Duct Cleaning Pros an “F” rating, noting that 40 consumers have lodged complaints.

With winter heating season in full swing, here are some tips from the AG’s office for dealing with dirty ductwork:

Check out the company with the BBB or attorney general’s office.

Be cautious of coupons or fliers offering deals for services that seem too good to be true.

Get a written quote before the work begins. For orders over $1,000, home repair service providers are required to provide a written estimate and to state the total cost, including parts and materials, before the work begins.

If you sign a contract in your home, you have a right to cancel for three days.

If the provider declares that there’s a serious problem such as mold growth, you should always get a second opinion before agreeing to additional service.

Pay with a credit card, if possible.

For more tips on air duct cleaning, check out epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html.

Getting the runaround about a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at www.suntimes.com/pcds/ssl/scn/fixer.html. If you don’t have a computer, you can mail a brief description of your problem, along with your name, address and telephone number, to: The Fixer, The Beacon News, 495 N. Commons Drive, Suite 200, Aurora, IL 60504. Don’t send original documents. Due to the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t make personal replies. Letters are edited for length and clarity.



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