There has to be a certain amount of flexibility in customer service in order to meet a variety of different needs. Every customer is different and likewise, every customer service situation. With this in mind, although company policies are all well and good, if they are followed to the letter, then this can at times be very frustrating for the customer. Working through a computer crib sheet tick list of actions to take and advice to give is not always the best way to support customers and achieve the best outcome. A certain amount of logic needs to be applied along with basic common sense. Unfortunately some company policies do not allow for this and when you look at the various aspects of a policy or a procedure, there seems to be no real rhyme or reason.



The example I’m thinking of in particular is a visit to my local DIY store. My husband had ordered a new spade and asked if I could go and collect it for him. To be fair, it did state on the booking confirmation that on collection, to protect against fraud, the payment card used to place the order must be presented before goods can be released. Terms and conditions of purchase had been crystal clear but I had completely forgotten this and had just called in on the off chance to pick up the spade.

Naturally I was asked for the payment card, I explained I didn’t have it but was just passing. The sales assistant explained he could not hand over the purchase without it as per their Click and Collect terms and conditions. I don’t really have an issue with this, as it was my own fault for not taking the card with me. However, what I do think is quite bonkers about the policy is that I had the email confirmation sent to me by my husband with all the order info with me. I also had his full card details stored in my mobile and had ID to prove I was his wife and that we resided at the same address. Zero flexibility. Zero common sense.



Computer still said “no” so the assistant asked his manager for advice. I was given the same information and sent on my way to return another day to collect the order. I must admit I was a little bit grumpy as it had been a complete waste of time and I had all the information possible about the payment card with me, just not the actual card. In addition, to keep this in perspective, I was collecting a spade and not a ride on mower or something of a similar value! Ongoing zero flexibility or common sense.

I returned a week later and this time duly presented the payment card and the spade was handed over without question. I was not asked for any identification to support the use of the card. So although last time, I had identification, card details, order details and confirmation email and also the details of the payee, this had not been enough, whereas on this occasion, the simple handing over of a card, which was not in my name, was absolutely fine.

I understand that companies need to have a certain set of procedures and polices which are ultimately there to protect the customer but what I worry about is the lack of flexibility and that there is no scope anymore for any independent thought based on the situation and the customer. It’s so exasperating when a company tells me they cannot do something because of company policy as it depends on what the reasons for that policy are. In this case, it was to prevent against fraud so in my view, the information I held was obvious evidence that I was genuine. At the end of the day, I was collecting a spade, not the Crown Jewels and I would have hoped that common sense would prevail. Sadly not.


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