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Old 14-07-2013, 09:59   #13 (permalink)
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Unhappy Re: Poor service from Mifsuds

Oh dear.. I hate to be in the minority... but I wasn't too pleased about the customer service I received this morning (Saturday 13th July 13) following my visit to Mifsuds in Brixham.

In fact I found it nothing short of outrageous…if not deeply upsetting. I will hasten to add that up to now and over the past 10 years I have had an excellent customer business relationship with Mifsuds, never having had to return a product or make a complaint.

Basically I purchased a top of the range f2.8 Nikon zoom lens just 3 weeks ago for a 4 figure sum. A quality lens, as have been all the products previously purchased from Mifsuds. I became aware of a noticeable looseness in the lens barrel zoom ring. A distinct clicking noise could be heard when using the zoom ring. Comparing it to my other Nikon lenses in my possession (none of which exhibited a similar feel) it was very noticeable, at least to me! Being all but 3 weeks old, I felt I should return it to Mifsuds for an exchange (or refund) as I felt there was something definitely amiss.

Without delay (being a Saturday) I drove the 80 miles down to Brixham. At the store a young lady referred the problem to a member of staff in the back room. Meanwhile I had asked the assistant if I could compare my item with the same item in stock. Examining the item immediately confirmed that the slight looseness of my lens barrel was far more pronounced than the shop item.

A male staff member came out to discuss the matter, but I was somewhat taken aback when he suggested in his opinion there was nothing wrong with it and this was quite normal. I told them that I was not happy with this to which they responded that they would be prepared to send the item to Nikon for inspection free of charge, but were not prepared to go further than that!!! That would obviously leave me without a lens for an unknown period of time whilst I await the outcome.

Rightly or wrongly, this was not the answer I was looking for given the time factors, and, given the lens was only 3 weeks old and over £1,250. We had rapidly moved to an impasse. All manner of reasons were offered by Mifsuds as to the nature of the lens and the whys and wherefores of what they were prepared to do, which really amounted to a polite "take it or leave it". I told them of my disappointment and asked if he would refer the matter to one of the proprietors.

In the meantime I contacted a colleague on my mobile that has the same lens. Apparently his f2.8 zoom lens was still tight as a drum and operated smoothly without any inherent looseness. Indeed he referred me further to one of his other friends (unknown to me) who was a member of the Nikon Users Community. A short while later I received a call from that colleague again informing me that his lens too was perfectly smooth, and without looseness within the barrel. This only fuelled my determination that something was amiss with my product.
In due course a director appeared and once again I was told that there was nothing wrong with it. Indeed he proceeded to waffle off all manner of excuses and in my opinion total “red herrings”, which frankly were either an attempt to redirect the issue elsewhere or circumvent the discussions in another direction. This only fuelled my irritation at the situation that seemed to have developed.

Having spent several thousand pounds over the years with Mifsuds, without complaint, I felt I was having my first taste of their customer service experience and I wasn’t too pleased.

I expressed my dissatisfaction with the outcome to the director, and was immediately met with a retort of “please don’t raise your voice sir or otherwise I will ask you to leave”. I might add that no improper language or impropriety was used by either party at any time. The situation had suddenly deteriorated rapidly.

I retorted that given events I was not prepared to leave until I had satisfaction to the issues under discussion. It was wholly apparent that there was an issue with the lens and I informed them of my rights under the “Sale of Goods Act”, but the proprietor only sought to reaffirm the fact that he would ask me to leave if I continued to raise my voice. To me it felt as if this was a direct tactic to divert the issue and focus the matter in a different direction, indeed one of a personal nature!

At that point the director than informed me that he would CALL THE POLICE if I refused to leave.

To say I was gob smacked is an understatement. I am in no way a perfect human specimen, but I am certainly not a threat to anyone as a 64 year old and (up until then) of exemplary character.
Now I appreciate that there may well be loyal customers of Mifsuds who could not in any way relate to the problems that I encountered. Indeed I once considered myself one of them. There may be others who may well draw the conclusion that in view of Mr Mifsuds request that I lower my voice or he would call the Police, that I must be some sort of onerous, rough character, loose of tongue, and willing to go to any lengths to bully my way into getting what I want.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I found the whole episode distasteful and upsetting. For my sins, admittedly I do not suffer fools gladly, but I felt their whole argument as being flawed and their reasoning s as being divisive and tangential to the matter in question. That being plainly and simply one of customer service!!!!

Given the time factors involved, the product was in my eyes defective, and I am sure that others having spent that sort of money on a quality lens would as likely feel the same. In truth, however we will never know!
Over the years I have proved to be a loyal and unquestioning customer of Mifsuds, but the proof of the pudding in any customer/product provider relationship is how that relationship manifests itself when the chips are down. Products do fail, and that is something we have to accept. I have no quibble with the product itself. I chose to go to Mifsuds, for the quality of their presentations, product experience and unrivalled knowledge by their well-informed over the counter sales staff. It is apparent that they take the vetting and recruitment of their counter staff very seriously. We are not talking Curry’s here!

Nevertheless I found the whole experience with their director unsettling, unnerving and downright offensive. To be threatened with the police simply for standing my ground as a loyal customer who was forced to raise his voice as the ensuing argument escalated (I am quick to add there is a fundamental difference between raising ones voice and shouting – I used the former) was nothing short of alarming. I am nothing more than a customer who has no wish to enter into arguments with anyone.

The nature of this comment obviously indicates the upset I felt in the situation. I will stand my ground when I feel I am being fobbed off in any sales situation and I have the evidence to prove it, (the shop example being the principle piece of evidence, along with verbal affidavits supplied by two other individuals, who, with the same product, have not experienced the same issue with their lenses), and this was a prime example of that situation. I make no apologies for that.
Others may not agree, but I feel the nub of the problem was not one of a defective product, but a matter of customer relations and how Mifsuds directors deal with their customers concerns.

I have run my own small, successful business under a fully regulated Government authority ( formerly the Financial Services Authority but now renamed the Financial Conduct Authority) and I am genuinely proud to say I have never received one single letter of complaint in almost 29 years. Of course there have been situations where I felt uncomfortable too, but it was always a matter of how you dealt with it, by listening to the customer and his concerns. This paramount in any business relationship.

I am sorry Mr Mifsud, if I have rattled your cage, for I retain no sense of satisfaction or accomplishment following our discussions, but I am very unlikely to use your services again despite having done so over the past 10 years. You have some excellent, well trained and able staff within your establishment and that is a credit to you, but it all breaks down if the customer after sales experience is poor, and this certainly was the worst I have ever experienced for the specific reason outlined below. The level of customer after sales experience is something that comes via a directive from the top of any company, so this would have come from yourself. I fully accept that disagreements can arise within the customer/ product / provider relationship. That is a part of life. I bear no personal malice but in all my 64 years, I have never been in a situation where I was threatened with police action, simply for standing up to my customer rights. That was appalling and shows the lack of tact and ineptness in dealing with customer issues.

The final resolution was that Mifsuds finally presented me with a cheque for the original purchase price, with the additional wording of “Goodwill Gesture”. Begrudging or what?… and the irony is that up until that moment I still would have considered using them again had it not been for that statement.
I suggest that they still have a lot to learn about customer relationships when the chips are down so beware if and when you have a problem….
Or it may have just been a bad day…. One that I would never want to repeat.
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