The following is an account of my current experience with Dufresne Furniture in Winnipeg, Manitoba through the Ellice store location and call centre staff. It is a representation of my opinion and perceptions based on my experience.
On September 09, 2012 my family and I began our relationship with a furniture retail company, Dufresne. After visiting 5 different retailers we were happy to do business with them.
Our experience began at the Ellice location with a young man named Jessy who in my opinion was a fantastic sales person. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the products he was showcasing to us and genuinely listened to what our needs were. He was able to work with us to ensure we were satisfied with our decisions and alleviated any of our concerns.
One of these concerns was when he went over the terms of sale. He mentioned there was a 10% restocking fee on items after 24 hours that we might decide we don’t want after all. When I asked him, “what if the furniture shows up and it is faulty does that mean I can’t return it without a penalty?” Jessy assured me that if faulty furniture was delivered it could be returned without the fee, the fee was enforced on those who simply just didn’t want the furniture anymore for no specific reason. At the time, that seemed to make sense to me and so I signed the paper agreeing to that. He then told me we should get our furniture in about 3 weeks and someone would call us. I never would have thought to consult a lawyer regarding this before I signed it, but given the remainder of my experience with Dufresne I think maybe I should have.
We didn’t hear from Dufresne until we called nearly a month later and inquired regarding the furniture order. It was at this point we were able to agree on a date for delivery. One month later to the day our furniture was delivered on October 9, 2012.
The men who brought in our furniture were very polite and professional. They assembled some of the furniture and left us to attach the hardware to some. It was while the delivery drivers were assembling the bed however they let us know the wrong parts were sent. They offered us the option of them taking back the whole order of just the wrong pieces and leaving the rest. Of course after having slept on the couch for the last while my wife and I said they should take back the wrong pieces and we would sleep on the mattress on the floor, but we were not happy about it.
The drivers also delivered a chair which wobbled back and forth. It was not a rocking chair by design but certainly behaved like one. The driver took a look at it and said there wasn’t any way for him to fix it on the spot. He asked if we wanted to send it back and so we did. He happily took the chair back and advised us to speak with customer service the next day to make the arrangements needed for the corrections or to return it.
At this point my wife and I were disappointed. We had been waiting a month already and still we were not going to be able to enjoy our new bed. Because the workmanship was not faulty however we decided that we would not return the bed and wait to get the right parts delivered. The chair on the other hand left us more disappointed. After waiting a month and seeing the poor quality of workmanship that went into making it we decided to return the faulty piece of furniture. We were not willing to have it fixed and sent back to us because we were not convinced the workmanship would be of value and we were not going to wait another 21 days to find ourselves again in these same circumstances. We also thought that given the conversation we had with Jessy that a faulty piece of furniture could be returned without penalty.
On October 10, 2012 I went to the store and spoke to the sales agent (Jessy) that sold us the product. When Jessy first saw me he was happy and greeted me again with a smile while referring to me as “bud”. When I told Jessy about what happened he led me to the “customer service” desk where we then discussed the situation with them. This is where the “customer service” desk informed me that there wasn’t anything they could do in the store and that I would have to call the customer service line to talk to the people who could help me. When I asked if a manger would be able to assist me they said no and informed me again that I would have to call customer service by phone. Jessy then reiterated what they said and then presumed the issue was closed letting me know I could finish my conversation with the young lady that was speaking with us and that he was going to help some customers that just walked in the door.
At this point I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet. It became clear to me that although Jessy was a great sales person, he clearly did not understand how to manage conversations with people who were not happy with the service they received. I immediately realized that unless I was there to increase Jessy’s sales quotas and commission that he wasn’t really interested in helping me. Even when I said I wasn’t satisfied his response was that hopefully the young lady would be able to help me then because he had to go speak with these other people. I felt helpless and that relationship Jessy had gained via a sense of trust from the first experience with him was crushed. It was at this point that I left the desk that represented the illusion of “customer service” and moved forward by calling the people they suggested might help.
This same October 10th night I called the “customer service” line and my conversation began with a young man named Pat. I again explained how the delivery date unfolded and what my wife and I had decided. Pat’s response was that the chair was currently in service and they hoped to have it fixed and out to us within a few weeks. I was left wondering why that would be and let Pat know he must not have heard me properly, and then I explained again the decision to get the right parts for our bed and return the chair. It was at this point Pat had become defensive.
Pat informed me that the wrong parts were not sent to me. They were the parts on the bill of sale that I signed. Thus, I did in fact receive the right parts although the sales person may have ordered the wrong items. Pat also said that by signing the bill of sale I also agreed to a 10% restocking fee on the chair we were returning. I felt compelled to interrupt Pat at this moment.
My response to Pat informed him that Jessy had gone over the bill with me indicating what packages I was about to buy. I also informed Pat that I would not know if the individual items using the product codes were right or not. Nor did it really matter to me if it was entered wrong, or if they shipped the wrong pieces. What I couldn’t understand was why anyone would think an order for a bed with 2 foot boards would make any sense? Why wouldn’t anyone even question why there were 2 footboards? I was not willing to take accountability for an ordering system I didn’t understand or the delivery of items that clearly were out of place.
The other aspect that I brought to Pat’s attention was that I was under the impression if a piece of furniture was faulty I was able to return it. He did agree with me, adding “but there is a 10% restocking fee.” I then let him know that I don’t agree this situation warrants a restocking fee. The chair was in my home for a matter of a few minutes and was delivered in a condition that made it unusable and frankly left me not wanting the chair anymore do to the poor workmanship that was displayed. Pat then let me know that “there was nothing he could do about that because that was the policy.”
Understanding that in some businesses front line staffs are not empowered to make decisions regarding policy I simply responded by saying this, “fair enough, Pat if you are not able to make a sensible decision related to the policy then can you please give me the name and contact information of the person who can?” At this point Pat became more defensive and at one point rude as we spiralled into a circular conversation. I continued to repeat my request and he continued to tell me he would not give me any further contact information or allow me to speak with his team lead because they would just tell me the same thing. Finally I simply stated, “Pat I want to talk to your supervisor,” which is when after being put on hold he returned to let me know that Jeff C. would be contacting me in an hour and half. When I asked if there was any way I could wait on hold and speak to someone sooner he again got defensive and told me that Jeff would contact me in an hour and fifteen minutes. So I conceded to this point and waited patiently for the next call.
My call with Jeff C. was more productive. He was not defensive and more willing to provide explanations to what he was conveying to me, although it was the same information that Pat already indicated. He also made it very clear that he was not empowered to make a decision to waive the 10% restocking fee. One of the questions I asked Jeff C. was this, “We spent a significant amount of money with Dufresne. Why is it that the company is willing to through away a future customer relationship over $25 (the 10% restocking fee for the chair)? His response was that there are shipping costs to account for when faulty furniture is returned and should we choose not wait for it to be fixed then the cost of returning it is placed on the customer. I clarified that even if the furniture was faulty when it arrived that 10% restocking fee could not be overlooked? Jeff C. responded, “That’s right.” In the end, Jeff C. and I agreed that he would discount the cost of delivery due to the mishap with the bed parts and the chair would be returned for the full amount paid minus the 10% restocking fee for now. Jeff C. indicated that refunds are processed on Thursdays and so if I did not see the refund on October 12, I would certainly see the refund reflected on my account by October 19, 2012. I asked Jeff C. if there was some way that I might contact the person he reports to regarding his performance and this situation. He said, “No, I am the last line of communication for customers,” but I could instead send a letter to an email address that goes to various people in the company firstname.lastname@example.org. I let him know that I would be sure to do so and thanked him for his time.
On October 19, 2012 our account had not been refunded, so I called back to “customer service” at Dufresne and asked Ugo if I could speak with Jeff C. He responded letting me know that Jeff C. was gone for the day and that he would read the notes on the account and try to assist me. After enjoying a few songs being played as hold music Ugo returned to the phone to let me know that they were still waiting for the parts that were ordered. I asked, “Those parts are for the bed right?” After checking again Ugo returned to the phone to let me know the parts they were waiting for were for the chair.
Yes, they were still waiting for the parts for the chair that Jeff C. told me he would return more than a week ago. I also explained that Jeff C. had indicated to me that the correct bed parts would arrive within 21 days. I asked if that process had begun. Ugo let me know that Jeff C. would not be able to put through a refund on the returned chair until the service parts were cancelled and that it did not seem as though any further communication was made regarding my phone call with Jeff C. after we spoke. Ugo did find in the notes that Jeff C. was going to refund the delivery charge and the cost of the chair minus the 10% restocking fee, but short of typing in these notes it would seem Jeff C. (the Customer Service Manager) did nothing else over the week and a half that passed to further the process.
Again I explained my frustration to Ugo and asked if there was some way to contact Jeff C.’s boss in order to explain my frustration over the lack of action the customer service area was able to make. Ugo informed me just as Jeff C. had. Jeff C. was the last contact for any customer. Ugo also provided the same email address I received from Jeff C. and indicated it would also go to Jeff C. but wasn’t aware if it went to any leadership beyond Jeff C.’s level. Ugo did offer however to speak with Jeff C. the next day and then call me to update me on the progress or what further steps had been taken. I ended the call by letting Ugo know that I appreciated his non-defensive nature and the empathy he displayed via our phone call, but I did not hear from him the next day.
At this point I am unsure if there is a solution on the horizon to remedy a situation regarding products through Dufresne that I paid for in full. I am now left with products that are incomplete or without the product I returned and still have not been refunded the money that was promised. The staffs at Dufresne seem to believe it is ok to lead a customer to believe one thing and then take actions that contradict those impressions. In my opinion they provide the illusion of customer service up front only to deliver what I would describe as “customer obstruction”.
Dufresne also seems to be a company that is governed through policies driven by budgets and accounting principles rather than best practices in maintaining customer relationships. It’s through the actions of their staff regarding these policies that I have come to the opinion that the leadership of Dufresne is out of touch with the needs of its customers. In my opinion the leadership of Dufresne don’t seem to care about their customer service levels, and frankly it would seem they don’t even care to hear any concerns or ideas as they lock themselves away from the public through policies that prevent open communication and discussion. Dufresne currently has in place a customer service manager who in my opinion seems to have little accountability to anyone as it would seem feedback is not welcome beyond his ears.
So why is it then that I take the time to write this if I don’t believe the leadership of Dufresne welcome any feedback? The answer to that is simple; part of me believes that perhaps they are ignorant to the ramifications and perceptions these policies so closely guarded by their staff portray. The other reason I write this is as a challenge to any of those who may read this and find they are able to pass on my experience to the leadership of Dufresne through their networks of people. I would encourage you to do so. Another reason I write this is so others may take into account my experience thus far and hopefully learn from it what you might expect if you decide to do business with Dufresne. It is now October 21, 2012 and I am still waiting for a phone call that was not returned, a refund that was not applied, furniture that was not delivered in full and I am waiting to be treated like a customer that matters.
Today is October 22, 2012, and I finally received a call back from Dufresne via Norman, a manager within the company. Norman explained that he read about my experience and felt the best way to begin our conversation was with an apology. He acknowledged that after looking over my file it certainly could have been handled better. He was also dismayed that our perception of Dufresne had obviously been tarnished and assured me that Dufresne believes very strongly in providing a positive experience for all its customers.
Norman was empathetic to the situation that took place, and his tone of voice depicted his sincerity while he explained how this entire situation began with an order that was entered incorrectly. He also explained that despite how I might be feeling about my experience with Dufresne he would appreciate the opportunity to make amends and provide options. My response was that this is what I was asking for to begin with. He responded by letting me know how embarrassed he was that the situation reached the point we were at and wanted the opportunity for Dufresne to do what was right.
Norman then explained what steps he had taken immediately upon learning of the situation. Dufresne refunded the total cost of the faulty chair without penalty for restocking fees and it seems he did not have to wait until Thursday to achieve this. He let me know they also refunded back to me the cost of the delivery fee and offered a transaction number for my satisfaction.
Norman then asked me if I was still interested in the bed my wife and I had chosen and explained that if we were he certainly would like the opportunity to prove that Dufresne can provide the furnishing needs of their customers. At this point I explained to Norman we certainly were still interested in the bed because we want a bed to sleep on. Unlike the chair we have not seen any faulty workmanship with the pieces we have received and would prefer to just get the rest of the bed so we can sleep in comfort.
Norman exceeded my expectations at this point letting me know he has been in touch with the manufacturer of the bed parts to see if they can be delivered under the 21 days it would normally take. He also let me know that in light of the situation at hand Dufresne would like to offer to refund the cost of the parts we are missing. Of course I accepted this, and certainly appreciated the effort Norman was taking to rectify the sour situation that was left behind through the previous staff.
The last item that Norman wanted to convey to me during our conversation was, “Thank you.” He went on to say that through the analysis of the situation and the notes related to my transactions with Dufresne he was able to identify 5-6 areas where Dufresne clearly could have performed better in handling themselves. He acknowledged the time I indeed spent outlining the situation and appreciated the detail I was able to provide. He said it was the type of feedback that clearly displayed how Dufresne could improve its processes and fulfill its goals to action items in order to make them right. He even added a comment recognizing that another major retailer is about to open shortly in Winnipeg and that situations like this are not going to assist Dufresne retain the client base they currently have.
My response was simple, I explained that providing feedback was part of what I was trying to accomplish from the onset however with everyone making it clear that Jeff C. was the last point of contact I was allowed to converse with it made it impossible. Norman again acknowledged that the situation was not handled properly and apologized again and then reassured me that he would make it right. He also offered to follow up with me in the next couple of days to provide an ETA from the manufacturer regarding the parts for the bed.
So now I wait in anticipation of the next phone call from Norman hoping that this time the phone call will come as promised. Fingers crossed.
On October 25, 2012 Norman did contact us. He informed us that the pieces for the bed would not arrive until the week on November 20, 2012 because they had to be made. He offered us to be able to choose a new bed or have an “on loan” bed sent to us in the meantime if we prefer. My wife and I declined the new bed option as it too would likely require 3 weeks for delivery. After discussing the “on loan” option, we thought it would be more inconvient to require being available for extra delivery times and having people setting up and taking apart furniture in our home, thus we declined. Instead we have opted without satisfaction to continue sleeping on a matress on the floor. Hopefully the furniture arrives on time.
Well, it’s November 16th today and at last we received the remaining pieces of our bed. The delivery guys again were polite and professional. They put together our furniture and left everything in good order.
Norman also contacted me again today to follow up and I let him know that we were happy to finally have the product that we expected. Again I had to add how disappointing it was to see the extent of what it took for their product to meet our expectations, but after sleeping on the floor for two months I am glad to finally have this situation resolved.
Norman added how appreciative he was of our willingness to work towards a resolution and informed me that the detail contained within this blog certainly assisted Dufresne in realizing where some changes needed to be made.
I suppose the only thing I can say to that is this; you’re welcome and the refunded product cost almost covers what I normally would have charged as a consulting fee. Thus, Mr. Dufresne, you are still the one who has been able to make good on this whole experience. Hopefully this experience has left yourself and your organization with some good ideas of how your organization can implement changes to improve your customer relations. Otherwise let us not forget the many other options available in Winnipeg.
Hopefully no more updates will be required.
Was my experience able to assist you in some way?