It seemed real simple, but it turned into a customer service slapstick comedy

Yesterday, the subzero trek to the mailbox yielded a nice surprise — one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple.  But wait, there’s more!  There were actually THREE copies of Real Simple.  The name and address on the labels were exactly the same.  But one also had a note that it was a gift from a friend, and the other was a note that the copy was a gift from me.

No problem, I thought, I’ll just call customer service and ask them to combine all into one subscription.

25 minutes later on the phone, I am left shaking my head at one of the most ridiculous customer service experiences I have ever had.

First, I was put on hold while they located the three accounts.  Then they went into great depth to explain to me what the three accounts are.  When I asked if they could all be combined into one account, I was told no.

Then I was told that because my friend hadn’t yet paid for my gift subscription, they couldn’t do anything about that one.  Finally, I committed some sort of unallowable act by giving myself a gift.  I explained to the person on the phone, that I received a two for one offer and wanted to give SOMEONE ELSE a gift.  Can I correct the record and make sure she receives the gift?

Honestly, it was 25 minutes of  holding and explanations about why it couldn’t be done, and several consultations with higher authorities. When it was all over, she said, “I have now corrected your problem.  You should only receive 2 magazines next time.”  AAUURRGGHH!!!!!!!

When I said that seemed ridiculous, she said until my friend pays for the gift subscription, they cannot change the record.

So, my fellow circulation professionals:  I suggest you immediately enter a regular subscription.  Then have someone give a gift to you.  Then give someone else a gift.  And see if your fulfillment system blows up. Also, call the people who handle customer service after you do all that just to see how they can handle so many donor-recipient transactions.

Our gift donors are our most loyal customers. From a lifetime value lens, they can make a big difference to your business. It seems to me to be a real simple idea:  treat your most loyal customers well.