Buyer Beware! (urgent warnings about products/services to avoid at all costs)
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Review of "Buyer Beware! (urgent warnings about products/services to avoid at all costs)"
This is an account of 5 hours of my life spent dealing with HSS - the online and offline goods hire service people. It is up to you if you want to do business with them after reading this. Make your own mind up. It should become obvious to you what I think during the duration of this piece.
Rupert and I are being married in Somerset, in his parents parents back garden on July 17th in fact, this year. With less than a month to go, I wanted to hire a few things to finish the marquee off properly – a bar unit, some bar serving utensils and the high chairs to put under the nappied bums of the eleven two year olds who will be in attendance. Here is the story of what happened to me whilst dealing with the 'Event Hire' division of HSS.## Saturday 12/06/2004 - Made an order for the necessaries on http://www.hss.com.
A few minutes later, there is an email in my in in-box called: “Summary of order/reservations”
It listed the item details, the billing address (London), the delivery address (Somerset) and said that someone would contact me to confirm all the details. I go to bed and sleep happily that night. I know now that this is akin to the half-naked teenager running about the haunted house in EVERY American horror film.
## Tuesday 15/06/2004 10.30am. ‘Jane’ rings from Park Royal branch of HSS in London. She wants to talk to me about my order. I miss the call as I am weeding the garden but pick it up at 10.45. So I ring back using the number she has provided and no-one out of the three people I talk to has ever heard of Jane. I give the last of them my Internet reference number and they confirm my address. The whole exchange ends on a sunny “We will look at your order and ring you back” – an hour goes by, no one does.A summer shower I think.
So I ring the helpline number on the email; 0870 606 0968 and explain that I would like it confirmed that the order I had places on the Internet was available, would be delivered and to arrange payment. EU-UH, “wrong number for YOUR enquiry” I am told; “we’ll put you through” Then I have to explain myself all over again – three more times to three successive ‘put throughs’ who have received no inkling about what my call concerns from the button pusher before them. Finally a friendly New Zealand lass comes on the phone with a printer shrieking so loudly in the background I can hardly hear her. She was notable because she was only one of three pleasant voices I heard that day, the rest went from mildly bored to downright frustrated and malevolent. “Ah, we don’t deal with that, we’ll put you through to …..” phone goes dead.Rain has got a little heavier.
Ring the helpline again, am put through to the Internet section only to re-tell my tale and be told;
“I’ll put you through”
“WhOOOOOAAAAAGHHHH, whoa, whoa, sweet child of mine” I cried, “Where am I being put through TO”
“Your nearest Event Hire outlet, which is Park Royal in London” they reply.
“Aha, but” I say “I want the equipment delivered to Somerset, so surely I should be put through to a branch near to the delivery address”
“No”, explains the voice at the other end “it is all arranged centrally and delivered nationwide”
(REMEMBER THIS STATEMENT! – we will come back to this later) Am cut off as I am being transferred to the nearest branch. Fall over with shock.
Ring back the branch myself (Park Royal) using the number Jane has provided (the non-existant entity from paragraph four) I go through two more people – explain things to each of them in turn, having, as I do, the speech off pat by now. I explain that all I want to do is confirm that the order I made on the Internet on Saturday has been received. After the third time girl goes “Oh you want ….” and the phone goes dead. “NO, stop, wait!” I shriek, “WHO do I WANT? Aaaaargh!!!!!”Thunder and lightening storm
In the meantime, ‘John’ from Park Royal has rang the phone and left a message WITH HIS DIRECT LINE, according to his voicemail he "can help me out" He is my saviour. I ring back, at fever pitch and daft enough to feel there may be a resolution in all of this. The bloke ‘wot sits beside John’ answers the phone as ‘John is on the other line’. He can’t help me but promises that John will call me back. An hour goes by and YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT – John doesn’t call. Am now a shrieking harpie, prone to darting eye glances and a distinctive toe twitch.Thunder and lightening storm joined by all-consuming blackness of dark clouds
I ring the branch again because this process has not knocked ALL the blind naivety and optimism out of me. I get the nice Kiwi again – She puts me through to someone. I explain myself again “made an internet order, just want confirmation that it will be there on the day I and to arrange payment" and guess who is it? The elusive JANE who rang me in the fourth paragraph and then disappeared from the consciousness of everyone she worked with. “I rang you at 10.30 this morning” she said in a cold hard annoyed voice.....
We were not going to end up in a loving relationship - I could feel it somehow.
I tried to explain that I rang back but she was not having it so we moved on to the order. I gave her the Internet order number which everyone else so far had accepted as a reference. “That’s no good” she sniffed “I can't access that system on my computer, you need a number beginning with 970-something” I looked at the email – there only reference number was 100-X-100. I cried. Somehow she found my order after making me feel like a total wasting-her-time twerp. Some of the items I wanted were not available for hire. Fair enough. Then we came to the delivery address. It was in Somerset. “Oh” spat out annoyingly the girl on whom YEARS in charm school had obviously not been wasted “We can’t take that order HERE, we don’t deliver in Somerset”. (What did I say in paragraph six??) Again, I felt that implied the words “you bloody idiot” off the end of her elegant customer-friendly dulcet tones. She promised to transfer the order to Somerset. “But WHERE in Somerset??” She couldn’t tell me.
Fed up with the London crowd and their so-called 'customer care', I went to the hss website and did a search for the nearest branch to where we were having our wedding – found the shop and rang them. A nice man answered the phone and explained that the event hire part of HSS was now been taken over by a company called Johnsons and things were liable to be a little confused. (No Shit Sherlock!!) He could not look after my order but he knew ‘someone who could’ and he would get them to ring me. There was something about his relaxed Somerset drawl that made me trust him… so I put the kettle on to make tea and waited for this call. It was now 14.04, three and a half hours since the start of this epic.I was poised mid-pour with the kettle when the phone rang… surely not?
Well that is one window salesman with a fly in his ear.
I made the tea.
The phone rang.
It was my new best friend Linda calling from HSS event hire in Bristol or Johnsons as it is now known.
In one foul swoop, Linda sorted out all the items I wanted, reserved them for me so I would absolutely have them on the date, listened to my sorry tale of woe and commiserated me (balm to the soul of any complainer). Furthermore she explained that the website was little more than a window front that people were to use to view the items and not really there to make orders from, that there was a new system in place since the takeover that was only days old and so there was bound to be a ‘little’ confusion. (Never has the word little represented so MUCH!!) More than that, she had a lovely calm ‘can do and will do’ manner about her, rang back when she said she would and was fair enough to admit that the new system had people under pressure but there was little or no excuse for the way that I had been spoken to when I was dealing with London and to make up for it, she was going to “try to do what I can do to sort you out” which she more than accomplished as well as giving us a 15% discount and flirting something rotten with Rupert as he gave her his credit card details.What a woman!! If I were HSS/Johnsons, I would send her to London to do staff training for their customer service hooligans but then demented customers like me driven to lunacy by their inefficiency elsewhere would never get to hear the capable voice of this sanity saver.
I think the moral of the story is not to use the HSS website or the customer (can’t) care line as they are both paradigms of uselessness and buck-passing but what do I know? It is 15.15pm and I have just tethered over the precipice of insanity and am now crawling back from the edge.I also think I proposed marriage to the sainted Linda, this may need some explaining to all our guests.
I am REALLY going to enjoy my first drink tonight.Thanks for reading
Product Information : Buyer Beware! (urgent warnings about products/services to avoid at all costs)
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Listed on Ciao since: 27/09/2000