Monday, June 9, 2008

Kohler - Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

This is a brief tale of renovations gone slightly awry. Anyone who knows me knows that we've been renovating our place for over two years. It's essentially done now, minus a few minor finishing touches.

One spot where we ran into trouble was with our en suite sink. We bought a lovely Kohler sink from En Suite in North Van. Later, we had it installed using the same drain that was included in their display sink. I had always assumed that drains would come with sinks but, silly me, no. That little piece of metal that probably costs $5 max to manufacture retails for $80.

That drain never drained right. It was terribly slow. So slow, in fact, that you couldn't run water for more than 30 seconds without threat of it overflowing. Eventually I figured out the problem, the air in the drain couldn't escape. We got our plumber in, who looked at it and informed us that we needed to get a new drain.

So we went back to En Suite to have a chat with them. They were quite adamant that the drain was fine, placing the blame on how our plumber had installed it. (There's really only one way to install it.) They were sure that it must be fine, after all, that's how they had it in their show room.

In frustration, we called the manufacturer. (The retailer is a licensed seller of the manufacturer's products and trained by the manufacturer, so they should be on the same page.) They let us know that no, the drain we had would not work with our sink. Since we had no overflow, we had to use a different drain. And they would be happy to ship one out to us at no cost to us.

This was a great end result with their customer service. The call was nowhere near as pleasant as I've made it sound above, but we got what we needed. They had taken care of a customer and had still likely retained some terrific margin on drains. Way to go Kohler.

The new drain arrived. Sadly, it was really quite ugly. We realized now why the showroom had used the other one in its display sink, even if it wasn't functional. It just looked better. But so be it, I needed an en suite bathroom, I called the plumber to come in and do the installation.

Upon installing the new drain our plumber took the old one out and installed the new drain. However, the old drain had been slightly larger than the new one, and where the old one had sat the enamel had cracked a bit. I didn't think that this was a big deal until our plumber informed me that it might rust and discolour the sink. So we got back on the phone with Kohler.

Again, Kohler was pretty great. They weren't necessarily cheerful, but they took care of the issue and issued us a letter enabling us to return the sink and get a new one. A few days later, the letter arrived, we exchanged sinks, and we're now about to install the new sink.

But the point of this blog, with this ridiculously long run-up, is Kohler's letter to us. They tried so hard within their customer service area to take care of us. And they really did do a great job. Sure, their people could have been more pleasant, but their policies are terrific. So good that I would happily buy from them again, even after having problems mostly caused by poor retailers. But then the wording of the letter blew this great experience.

I suppose that their lawyers must have gotten ahold of their warranty letters and rewritten them. Instead of saying "We're really sorry that you're not happy with your sink. Here's a replacement one." we got a letter that essentially said "It's not our fault. In fact, it's probably something you did to it. But we're begrudgingly going to replace your sink anyway." It's like insisting on having the last word in an arguement that you already know you're going to lose. You know it's not going to help, but you do it anyway. (Or, at least, I do it sometimes. Always to negative effect.)

I've attached the letter here. Have a read. If you think I'm being unfair, let me know. I've smudged the name at the top because my partner would rather I not post her name in my blog.

Kohler was so close to being great on this service issue. Instead, due to someone's legal needs, they blew it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I mean really, Kohler's letter is a form response that just about every compnay uses... this shows result unfortunatly here in the US the most sue happy place on the planet, that everything comes down to a legal form. from what have understood is that there is in warranty and out of warranty and when they replace something ( my faucet) out of warranty it is goodwill. i have dealt with kohler numerous times and each time they have had due dillegence in making sure i was taken care of.... people are so pampered these days they are looking for something for nothing....