I often blog about truth-in-advertising, but in this case the subject is truth-in-phone-numbers. The particular phone number that’s the subject of this Monday morning’s rant is 1-800-GE-CARES, which, based on my recent experience, could not be a bigger farce. Here is how that experience went:
On Thursday, the day before 12 houseguests were to arrive for my daughter’s high school graduation, our 6-week-old GE microwave simply stopped working. I called GE to schedule a repair and was told they would be happy to fix the problem–in one week. I explained that we needed a working microwave to help us deal with a weekend’s worth of meals for 12 houseguests plus a graduation party on Saturday night for about 50 people, and asked the customer service rep if it would be possible to schedule our appointment for the following day. I was immediately told that this was impossible. I then asked if I could speak to the rep’s supervisor, but after about 10 minutes on hold I was told she was “at lunch.” (I thought GE was a large company, but apparently GE has only one customer service supervisor.) I was assured, however, that the supervisor would call me upon her return. She did not, and four days later, I have yet to receive a phone call. By the way, anticipating that this might be the outcome, on Thursday I also went to GE’s website and asked to be contacted about this situation. After four days, GE’s online customer service people have yet to contact me. Before starting this post, the morning I naively decided to give it one more shot by calling customer service again, but after over 30 minutes on the phone, the call got disconnected. I won’t insult your intelligence by asking if you think the person I was speaking to called me back.
I really didn’t expect anyone at GE to grant me special dispensation and move my repair appointment up–although it they had, that pleasantly shocking experience would have been the subject of this morning’s rave. I did, however, expect to at least get the satisfaction of speaking to someone with some degree of decision-making authority and submitting my relatively reasonable request.
Your brand isn’t what you say; it’s what you do. To tell your customers that you “care” is both insulting and unethical unless your actions demonstrate that you mean it. Not surprisingly, GE’s brand equity has taken a huge hit with this particular customer–first, because of the poor quality of their product; second, because of their exceptionally poor service; and third, because they have the audacity to lie to me by claiming that “GE CARES.”
It’s well-known that GE corporate is trying to sell its appliance division. As a business person, I’ll be interested to see what buyer attempts to turn this organization around. But, as a former GE customer, I couldn’t care less.