As many readers know, and as has been discussed here in relation to matters of greater importance, I’ve been enjoying an ongoing twitter “conversation” with the social media team at KitchenAid over problems with a built-in refrigerator purchased at ridiculous expense. I’ve kept this completely transparent, all on public twitter, refusing their invitation to discuss this via “DMs” (direct messages) so that it’s out there for all to see and enjoy.
One the one hand, this has been great fun, providing hours of #brandfail and general hilarity, as @KitchenAidUSA trips over itself in its effort to explain away incompetence at every turn. On the other, this serves as a reminder to lawyers that dealing with corporate masters, as run through the hands of children charged with maintaining a happy “customer experience,” is what normal folks suffer regularly without the benefit of being a lawyer.
Matters came to something of a boil yesterday, as the social media team, Kyle, Mandy and Rachel (and, I was told, their supervisor, Mitzy), hit the wall. Having a subcontracted tech show up, putatively to fix the problems but in reality to observe and report back, the bent frame of the fridge was quickly and easily fixed, but meant that the built-in fridge (question: why does a built-in fridge cost 4-5 times the price of a stand-alone fridge? No answer from KitchenAid) had to be reinstalled, or more accurately, installed correctly.
The reaction from KitchenAid was as expected. They had contracted out the delivery and installation to a logistics company called Optima Solutions out of Georgia, who subcontracts the actual work to trucking companies elsewhere. Optima Solutions had few options available to it, as they apparently had but one sub in the New York area, which I’ve dubbed Moe & Larry’s Movers. They are less than optimal, being the same guys who did the terrible installation in the first place, and then failed to show for the reinstall last Monday, as I sat there awaiting their arrival.
This is where Rachel at KitchenAid made a crucial error, attempting to lie her way out of things by twitting that their “records show that 1 service call was canceled by you on 10/4.” She immediately back off when called on it, but falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus. As anticipated, KitchenAid sought the path of least resistance, throwing the problem back to Moe & Larry, Optima’s subcontractor, by trying to dictate the solution, a great solution for KitchenAid but a worthless response for the consumer.
The idea that someone is constrained to take what they’re giving is part of what customer service reps, even those who twit, have beaten into their psyche. By affirmative assertion, the tell the consumer what, if anything, they are going to get. If its unacceptable, even absurd, so what? Very rarely will anybody say “no.” Rachel then acknowledged that bringing Moe & Larry’s back to the scene of the crime was not a reasonable solution, and stated that she was seeking a viable solution.@scottgreenfield They will be the ones who will correct the installation of the refrigerator. -RachelNo Rachel, @KitchenAidUSA They won’t. They blew it. They failed to show. They are not coming back. They were a total screw-up, never again.
It didn’t work. Whether because Mitzy had enough or, as is more likely, no other outside contractor wanted to become embroiled in a mess of KitchenAid’s creation, suggesting that even the people who sell KitchenAid appliances are sufficiently disturbed by dealing with them that they won’t do a favor to help. Ultimately, poor Rachel dropped the bomb :
Aside from the fact that it had already been established that this was unacceptable, the one thing you never want to say to a lawyer is “there is nothing else we can do.” This line was so patently offensive that it picked up by @ATLBlog :@scottgreenfield As the refrigerator is working properly, all we can do is send the original install team out. If you decline this, (1 of 2)@scottgreenfield there is nothing else we can do. My sincere apologies are offered if this is not acceptable to you. -Rachel (2 of 2)
A lawyer knows that this statement is always false. -EM RT @KitchenAidUSA: there is nothing else we can do.
This should be a mantra for all of us, not only because it’s accurate but because we aren’t constrained to tolerate such nonsense. If I was a musician, I might make a really great music video out of all this to drive the point home. Unfortunately, I’m just a lawyer, but there are still a few tricks lawyers have that can prove useful.
Just as KitchenAid wouldn’t accept my “sincere apologies” in lieu of payment for the fridge, I’m disinclined to accept their “sincere apologies” in lieu of performance. It’s hardly unusual for corporations to function under the notion that they get to dictate whether, and to what extent, they’ll deliver what you paid for, but it’s entirely up to the consumer whether they are willing to take it.
And if you think it’s just me, check out Eric Turkewitz’s Homage to U-Haul.
I realize that some have grown bored with this foray into #brandfail, and it’s hilarity has grown cold. I sincerely apologize for that, and fully acknowledge that this is hardly the most earth-shattering issue. It is, however, a worthwhile and transparent opportunity to give some thought to what we can do, what social media can do, what consumers can do and what lawyers can do, to teach a bit of accountability. Social media is a double-edged sword; much as it can be used to announce how wonderful you are, it can broadcast to a surprising number of people what a bunch of incompetent, lying screw-ups you are.
You paid for it. You might as well get it, and get it right. So enjoy the hilarity for what it’s worth, and take from the situation what you will. And if you get too bored, just watch this video and enjoy (particularly noting the guys in the orange jumpsuits. Coincidence? I think not).