Thursday, September 21, 2017

How To Properly Deal With Poorly Handled Warranty Claims

poor_customer_service

Never let it be said you cannot get something done when people are playing games with you.  There is a right and wrong way to deal with these situations and in my life I’ve had to go to the extremes in cases to get something done.  This is just my take on how I was able to finally get something that was being mis-handled exposed to the right people.  It’s not a tactic you always want to take but it can get you the resolution you are seeking.

My Metal Roof Field Warranty Claim

Some of you may recall months ago I noticed the paint on my metal was starting to peel. It’s been months now and people have come out to look at, took samples, tested it, and even found it to be a faulty finish.  The basic timeline of what went down is as follows:

  • Roof was installed just about 2 years ago
  • I Noticed paint was peeling, contacted General Contractor early this year
  • He contacted Mike at DBR in TN and they contacted you for a field visit sometime in April
  • A sample was taken, inspected, tested, and deemed to be faulty/failure product
  • Nothing has been done to date for compensation to me the home owner

Now…the manufacturer (Sales rep) out of SC, (not any of the contractors here are at fault BTW it’s all a manufacturing problem), told the contractors (verbally) they would pay to replace the entire thing.  Months go by, hear nothing and find out yesterday they issued a small credit to the metal company in TN that bought it, but that’s it and would not return their calls as the amount was not enough to settle the issue. This is where Chris takes things into his own hands and goes into escalation mode.

Step 1 – Do Your Research On Who To Contact

Yesterday, I got the name of the manufacturer in South Carolina that made the metal.  Turns out they were actually acquired by a company in Ohio 8 months ago. I continued to researched the parent company and found out the Founder and CEO’s name off their website.  I found him on LinkedIN as well as various new articles about how he started the (his) company.  It became clear that his values were not in line with what I was seeing from the South Carolina company.  It sort of made sense as they were bought by him.

In some cases you may need to find a Vice President or head of Customer Service, but at the end of the day….you need to find someone you think will help.  In my case, seeing as the contact I found was the “Founder and CEO”….yeah that’s who I wanted.

Step 2 – Determine The Contact’s E-Mail Address

This is not as hard as you think.  You can Google and try to find their E-Mail address online, but most likely it’s not going to happen.  If you are not an IT person this step should be VERY useful, if you are an IT person, hopefuilly you can guess my process.  Most E-Mail administrators are creatures of habit.  They only use so many variations of someone’s name to create the address itself.  Of course you may have to research the domain itself that the company is using, but the website domain is usually a sure bet.  So the format for most any corporate email will be one of the following:

  • FirstInitialLastname@CompanyDomain (Most Common)
  • Firstname.Lastname@CompanyDomain
  • FirstName@CompanyDomain.com (usually only if they are an original employee)
  • FirstNameLastName@CompanyDomain
  • LastNameFirstInitial@CompanyDomain

You want to record all the possibilities, as this is a bit like the game of BattleShip.  For the sake of sending your e-mail, you will send it to ALL of them at once.  Most likely all but one will generate a Non Delivery Report (NDR) that the address is not recognized.  The one that does NOT come back means HIT!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner and you have a good chance your message go to the desk of the person.

Step 3 – Draft Your Message…BE NICE

This can be the hardest part.  Most likely because you are steaming mad about the issue.  I suggest you write what you want….then trash it.  You don’t want to send that one.  In my experience in having to deal with these things, brevity is key.  You need to get your point made, professionally clearly, and send supporting information.  Know your audience!  As I was sending the CEO/Founder the message I knew most likely he was not even aware of my issue.  He’s most likely expecting others to deal with these things.  My purpose was to educate, inform, and get action taken to solve the problem.  You can read the actual E-Mail I sent Here if you want to see how it was worded.  Take care in your thoughts as your goal is to get something done, not just complain.  Make sure you state what you’re asking for.

Step 4 – Wait And See…

Now it’s out of your hands.  All you can do is hope that someone calls you back.  I have had assistants of the contact respond as well as the contact themselves.  This morning I get a phone call from Ohio.  It was the CEO calling from his house. We have a very calm talk and he proceeded to inform me he was NOT aware of this issue as the Sales Guy has been saying, and this is indeed unacceptable.  He proceeded to tell me he’s been trying to fix problems with the company he acquired for months, and actually THANKED me for presenting this to him. He sees it as an opportunity to fix more problems, while hopefully making my issue resolved.  He gave me his home phone number told me he was going to call me back by Monday with a resolution and if I don’t hear from him to call him back.

Step 5 – Don’t Cry Wolf, and BE NICE

Here is the thing.  You have to decide when a problem is SO big that it warrants this kind of action.  Clearly to me a two-year old roof, with an admitted manufacturing problem, and no resolution from the company warranted it.  You may never get a response, so you may need to try someone else.  I’ve even called the main switchboard and asked for the contact by name.  You’d be surprised when you ask for a direct name you will get transferred to SOMEONE.  The bottom line is you still have to stay calm and collected.  At some point there may be time NOT to be nice.  I’ve had this problem with my water company for example so the next time….the gloves are off.  Think before you hit send and be sure to know EXACTLY what you will talk about if that phone rings back.

Leave your comments and thoughts below.  I’d love to hear how others handle these situations.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is currently a Sr. Cloud Solutions Architect for Tintri. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her decorated apparel business as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years. Now he spreads both the word of technology and fitness along with the Team Beachbody Business through his blogs.

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