Update: Meant to write the follow-up to this post a couple of weeks ago, but the anger soon subsided and life continued. The long and the short of it is that, after praising their service, the ‘premium’ delivery Amazon promised did not manifest itself and one whole day was wasted locked at home watching and waiting. The truth is the delivery was subcontracted out and the parcel found its way to the wrong destination. The next day was spent feeding N with the rage and angry words of a wronged customer, amply fueled by Amazon quite happily offering a full refund rather than troubling themselves to fulfil their contract. The story ended with us being on the receiving end of 2 printers, one of which we totally trashed by throwing it from the window. No we didn’t, we politely refused the delivery and the item was returned. The wireless HP Photosmart printer is ain’t half bad though…
N is in the middle of producing a report/project that will need some scanning and rather a lot of printing. Rather than rely on me and my semi-pro equipment, we thought it best to find a cheaper alternative and our local supermarket just happened to be selling exactly what we were looking for, namely a cheap (€39) all-in-one inkjet printer and scanner.
Having been an Epson user for the last 15 years, I naturally assumed that this all-in-one, though ridiculously cheap, printer would still be satisfactory for the task for which it would be needed. Until, that is, I unpacked it. Dodgy construction aside, the machine immediately refused to recognise the ink cartridges, each time reloading and charging them to the point where the black cartridge was half expended without a sheet of paper even getting a glance at the in-tray. Seeing that the problem would occur each time the machine was switched off and on again, I decided we should return the item to the supermarket from whence it came.
Cue well-known French supermarket chain and acceuil, or the customer service desk. Cue a call to a man via the in-store telephone system. Cue man arriving who, without waiting to listen to our explanation, was intent on telling us we must call Epson directly. Coming from a more consumer-friendly culture I was somewhat dismayed to see all my prejudices about how retail behaves toward the customer coming true. Feeling my now-assimilated gallic blood boiling, I was aghast to learn that, should the gadget illuminate when plugged in, Epson consider it to be a working machine. Oh, the smell of cow muck was rife.
Here we are then in a situation where being unhappy about a purchase is clearly not sufficient enough reason to return it to the seller. Not only that but if the printer does not recognise that the cartridges are installed, cannot print one single bloody sheet, but does have an illuminated screen, then it is deemed a working printer.
What pressed my button was what happened next. The rather polite lady at customer services had been quietly reading the instructions printed on the lid and side of the packaging. Thinking it was sweet of her to at least pretend to problem-solve our issue I was immediately incensed when she dared to suggest that one must first install the CD. “Excusez-moi, mais je suis infographiste, je sais bien que je fait…”, I said rather too loudly. It has to be said that, in English, I have never ever been guilty of stating aloud “I am a graphic designer!” with any sense of self-righteousness, but needs must I suppose.
Finally, after we had been needlessly pushed to respond in a shamefully arrogant manner, the supervisor relented but insisted that he could not accept the item with the cartridges still installed. We would have to go home to uninstall the cartridges and return the item exactly as we had purchased it. No longer capable of hiding my frustration toward the absurdity of the situation (and expelling a tiny bit of snot through involuntary snorting) I quietly explained, in broken French, that there was a risk of the ink leaking should we remove the cartridges. Asking “Vous-êtes Anglais?”, the suddenly willingly helpful supervisor immediately accepted the return without any further bullsh*t and proceeded to explain to me that the English are cool and the French are all “Les cons” or ars*holes.
Of course I now began channelling the spirit of Hugh Grant and started explaining that I couldn’t possibly agree with what he was saying. Of course I couldn’t agree that all French are idiots, but when it comes to customer service and retail attitudes toward the consumer I have certainly learned a valuable lesson…
Contrast that with the broken camera grip I’ve had since April, purchased from a Chinese manufacturer, via a reseller in Swansea operating through Amazon. They will replace my item, plus postage, with little or no questions asked and no doubt I’ll consider purchasing through them again should the occasion arise. It is highly unlikely that we will purchase any electrical items from the afore(un)mentioned French supermarket chain and, due to time constraints, we sadly reverted to Amazon for the all-in-one printer. Allegedly guilty of tax avoidance in France as well as in the UK, unfortunately in this instance (and without a John Lewis to fall back on) their service and delivery times remain far too attractive. So much for principles!