Fish and Phips: the end (of the trilogy)

An open letter to the management at Fish and Phips*

Dear management at Fish and Phips,

 

It is approximately 2 1/2 years since the day I requested a call back from management at your customer service centre, about the servicing of my Fish and Phips dishwasher. I know when it was, because I was so angry at the time that I was moved to write about it here, and again here.

On that day, I phoned you, because I missed a call from your technician by approximately 30 seconds – just enough time to see his voicemail message arrive, telling me that as I hadn’t answered the phone, I would have to reschedule the service.

This seemed too ludicrous to believe, so I phoned expecting to confirm that I was waiting for the technician to arrive, as agreed, and have them come on over. After all, even if he was so incredibly efficient that he had phoned me while driving, and, upon finding that he got my voicemail, had immediately swerved onto another route and continued to the next job booked, he could not have been inconvenienced by more than 2.5 minutes out of his way by the time I called back.

The customer service assistant I spoke to said she’d talk to management and “see if the technician could move his schedule forward” (to when?? It was only about 10 past 12 – the agreed timeframe for the service was between 12 and 5pm) and she said she’d let me know. I optimistically waited for a call back. In hindsight however, I can see that her offer to “check” on this was just a case of her putting the phone down after my call and then answering the next call that came through.

By 3.25pm I’d had no call back, so I phoned again, to see what the deal was.  I tried not to be unduly annoyed that I’d had to chase YOU up, after being told I’d be called back. To my utter astonishment, I  was told the technician had “gone home”.

Perhaps, dear Fish and Phips, since you are not a human being, you don’t know how it feels to be treated with such arrogance.

Well, I didn’t take kindly to that news. Clearly, the technician was able to have an early night because he’d skipped the service that I’d booked! This is despite the company knowing that I was at my house waiting for him. (A reminder – the service was scheduled for between 12-5pm. He’d rung at 12, I’d phoned back at about 12.02 to confirm that I was there. It was 3.25pm when I was told that the technician had gone home for the day.)

At this point, I stated that I wanted to make an official complaint, wanted it to go to a manager, and wanted to receive a call back. My ever helpful customer service assistant assured me that it would be passed on, and that I would receive a call back from management.

Well, Fish and Phips, 2 and a half  years have passed since then, and if management phoned,  I must have missed their call.

I did not even consider the notion of  “rescheduling” a “service” with you, dear Fish and Phips, as it appears that somewhere along the line, you have lost any understanding of what both those words actually mean. “Scheduling” means slotting in a time and sticking to it. I kept to my part of the agreement – what happened to yours?

After that, a local tradesman came around and did a small fix on the dishwasher. It worked a bit longer and then died. I made do without a dishwasher then, for approximately 2 years, because I am not at all excited about spending money on boring things like whitegoods. I would rather save it for fun things like going on a holiday, which is what I did.

Now, here’s a little bit of customer profiling for you, F&P. I grew up in a working class family with 5 siblings and only one income-earning parent. My father worked at hard manual labour until late. He did his share of chores, including, unusually, the grocery shopping, cooking Sunday lunch, and dishes on the weekends, but probably didn’t chip in much on weeknights. My poor mother reached a point, after a few “nervous breakdowns”, where 8 people’s dishes to wash and no-one old enough or responsible enough to help her, was too much to cope with (and fair enough!) so they forked out and bought home a huge dishwasher that was freestanding and took up half the kitchen. It sat in the corner of the kitchen by day, and was wheeled over to the sink and hooked up to the taps at night, where it would rumble away noisily for a few hours until it was done. I don’t know how long they used it for, but in the end they gave up on it and went back to washing dishes by hand.

So although these days it seems to be an expectation that everyone has one, I still feel aware that a dishwasher is a luxury, not a necessity – it is quite possible to do dishes without one. (In fact, if you are one of those people that rinse and scrape all the dishes before you put them into the goddam dishwasher in the first place, it’s no easier at all). So that’s why I wasn’t going to lose too much sleep about not having one for a while when I was thinking about taking an overseas holiday, a luxury that my parents have never had.

The reason for my diversion into the past, Fish and Phips, is that in the past, plenty of people like my parents made do without a dishwasher. But also, in the past, people expected to receive a certain standard of service from companies with an international reputation. What’s more, in the past, they usually received it. When something went wrong, the company would take it upon themselves to sort it out. They didn’t just tell bald-faced lies to get the customer off the phone. They didn’t say that they would make certain that a manager phoned you, but then throw your file in the bin when the phone call was finished.*

I guess you think these are old-fashioned notions, Fish and Phips, and there are certainly other companies that would agree with you. Yet I’ll bet that when you advertise for staff for your call centre, one of the Key Selection Criteria in the PD is “Excellent Customer Service skills”.

What a shame that you have such arrogance as to treat your current customers that way, F&P. Such treatment leaves a really bad taste in the mouth of people who would potentially have bought your products again.  Such incidents make customers start to suspect that a company is changing for the worse.

Potential customers also put a lot of weight in buying products from companies that had built up a good name in the industry, such as yourselves, F&P.

Today I finally went out to buy a new dishwasher. Interestingly, despite the incident above, and my rage about it at the time, I was willing to consider buying a Fish and Phips product! Proof that a good name in the industry goes a long way, as does the customer loyalty that comes from being happy with products. I’ve had a F&P washing machine for about 12 years now and never had a problem with it. (Thankfully – just imagine if I needed to have it serviced!)

Due to the incident above, I was not completely surprised when shopping for a new dishwasher that not one, but two different sales people, in two different whitegoods stores, without any prompting, told me “confidentially” that Fish and Phips have moved their manufacturing from their first-world home country, to a second-world country, where it can only be assumed that they are now using sweatshop labour, or certainly benefitting from paying lower wages and making products more cheaply.  (why else move there?). One pointed out where the interior of the Fish and Phips dishwasher was plastic where the better products were stainless steel. They helped me make up my mind and I let go of any attachment I’d previously felt to the brand.

I’m glad to be able to say it was they who convinced me. I didn’t go in there with revenge in mind, or intend to deliberately boycott F&P products, but taking into consideration the comments of sales staff, along with my experience of the company’s service, I put the pieces together and came up with a revised perception of the company. Clearly the Fish and Phips name is no longer a “hallmark of quality.” I made my decision and bought another brand.

So in case you’re in a flurry, don’t worry about that follow up phone call, Fish and Phips. Thanks for nothing – which was pretty much what you offered me 2 1/2 years ago.

From: a past buyer of your products.

*

*Not the real name of the company in this story.

*Throwing my file in the bin was a metaphor. My “file” would obviously be computerised in 2013, so it would be shut, or deleted, rather than thrown in a bin. In this case I can only assume that if there was any real “file” the people I spoke to must have flagged me as “annoying customer” for expecting their technician to arrive within the appointed timeframe rather than go home for the day – within that timeframe.

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5 Comments

  1. A sad situation we have all experienced. Again and again!

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    • Some companies treat their customers with arrogance, for sure. It’s a bit depressing that they get away with it.

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  2. If the F&P you’re talking about is the same F&P that closed their plant near my home town recently to the loss of several hundred jobs… I’m sorry. We’re mostly really nice people over here. But it seems to cost a lot to make things here, and especially to export them, because it’s a long way from anywhere. Perhaps the customer service was outsourced as well?

    I can only hope.

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    • I suspect that it is the very same. What a shame to hear of the job losses as well – on top of all the other negative info about them (of course it fits with what I was told about them moving operations to China).

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