rant

"Customer service" at ConsumerReports.org

Faking it!

I've subscribed to Consumer Reports for years, even though I don't find the magazine of much immediate use. I mean, How often do you buy a new HDTV set? When I do want to see what Consumer Reports has to say about a product, I usually go to their website, for which I pay an extra charge, because many reports there are kept updated with current information. The organization provides a useful consumer service that I like to support, so I have kept up my subscriptions to both. But

Today I received an e-mail from ConsumerReports.org:

email

Now on the face of it, this looks like a consideration action on their part. After all, who can remember everywhere they've used a particular credit card for recurring payments?

Except— I received this exact same email three months ago when the card actually expired, and I dutifully updated my account on their website!

OK, I might just think I remember updating the site and it's a good thing they've caught it. But no, no, no. When I logged on, there, bold as brass, was the updated expiration date of May 2011. What's up with that?

I fired off a reply pointing out that I had already updated my card and expressing dismay and surprise that they wouldn't bother to check their records before sending off such reminders. (Of course, I did use somewhat stronger language than that.) And just for good measure, I pointed out that the fine-print at the bottom of the message —

fine print

— was not a satisfactory explanation. For a programmer, it is a no-brainer to check the dates in the database before generating the emails.

I got back an automated reply telling me, "Unfortunately, we are unable to process Customer Service requests at this e-mail address. However, please be assured that we want to help you with your inquiry." They directed me to the Customer Service tab on their website.

customer service home page

Note that there is no obvious provision to "Contact Us" on this page. But if you read carefully, you'll find there is a procedure.

find answers

To serve you faster: I'll be served "faster" if I spend time clicking and searching through FAQs?

Once you have viewed one of our FAQs: It's not good enough that you go to the FAQ page and see if there is a relevant FAQ posted. No siree! You must first read one of them and then, and only then, will the Contact Us tab even appear on the page.

razor wire Consumer Reports hides behind byzantine processes

After clicking Contact Us, you are offered a form in which to compose your message. Can you fill it out and click Submit?

You can, but first you have to fill another form with your first and last name and your email address, twice! Surely this is the end of the rig-a-ma-role, right?

Wrong! Next you are forced to look at shorter list of FAQs and agree that your issue is not one of those!

Finally you can click on Submit and be notified that the email was sent. This is accompanied by an assurance that Consumer Reports is thankful for comments, which they welcome. BS!

ConsumerReports.org logo Also— User-Unfriendly • Un-thinking