MACY'S REDEMPTION, MY ELBOW GREASE
So if you haven't glanced through the original post in this series, "Macy's: How to Wreck a Brand in One Easy Lesson" I invite you to catch up. Suffice to say, a purchase of two pairs of jeans in July from the Macy's store in Portland, Oregon turned into a marathon war between our household and the various tentacled arms of Macy's internal billing center and a series of external collection agencies.
Everything finally came to a head about a week ago, when a new collection agency from Florida began calling. I answered, foolishly, thinking it was someone I know from that area code. I then descended into billing yell for about the 10th time. Billing Hell can be described as right hands being completely absent and left-hands repeatedly attacking via incessant phone calls from 6am through to 10pm at night. The hallmark of this hot-as-hades zone is an endless parade of telephone agents with collective amnesia on contents of the rapidly amassing depth of the dossier they had on me.
Anyway, after barely avoiding apoplexy, I decided to take things up a notch myself. No more talking with the collection agencies, or the billing centres in Ohio and Iowa for Macy's; no more twitter or facebook posts asking for a planned call by a decision-maker in customer service. This time I was going to end this torture, or die trying.
I put on my old recruiter hat and began hunting heads on the Web. I finally found a great tool at Jigsaw.com, and located the contact information for the head of Macy's Billing and Credit section for the US, with an email address! Bingo.
I wrote out the story of our experience with Macy's, organized into sections that could be easily followed, and then summed everything up. It was like writing an essay for college: say what you're going to say, say it, say what you said.
To my everlasting surprise and gratitude, the Director contacted me within a half hour! and within 3 hours I had information from Macy's that they would:
- educate store personnel about offering the Macy's card to international customers
- be clear on payment requirements
- send me a cheque for $210+ to cover the cost of all of the mailing, money orders, and time spent managing the issue
Instantly, the harassing collection calls stopped, once again freeing up my cell phone from a dozen or so calls a day. That alone provided blissful relief. The refund from Macy's was the icing on my humble pie, and I immediately sent an email back with profuse thanks.
Macy's is now back in my good books, but I'll be paying cash next time and eschewing the card (which I cut up in a fit of pique anyhoo), which should make us ALL happy.
The moral of this story, the takeaway is:
- BE PERSISTENT
- Make sure you're speaking with someone who can make decisions. If you need to, go over the head of the people you are dealing with to get to a decision-maker.
- Make sure you keep detailed notes of all conversations with the company or representatives
- Take pictures of receipts and payments - they're easy to forward.
- Don't talk with collections agents if you are questioning the bill. Go directly to a supervisor within Macy's internal billing office. Collections agents are usually commission-driven and their goal is to harass you into paying, even if the bill or credit practices are being disputed.
- Be polite. For me, that means communicating in writing. I get so frustrated, so fast, at having to start all over with a new person that it can affect my health. So, I play to my strengths and go with written correspondence.
- If you're someone who likes to do these kinds of negotiations verbally, record the conversation, even if it's just your side.
- Always ask for the full name of the person you are speaking with, what their title is, and keep track of this info with the time and date in the file you have started. A little bit of housekeeping can save you time later on, and should you ever need to go to court, a plaintiff with comprehensive notes will win out over a defendant who just wings it.
- Finally, when you get resolution, send a thank you card to the individual(s) involved.