I was recently involved in a customer service incident that’s not only worth repeating for the learning opportunity but also for the laugh in a you-can’t-make-this-up kind of way. I’ll tell the story but to avoid embarrassing anyone (though they deserve to be embarrassed), I’m not going to mention the names, not even the country (it’s not Canada).

It involves a nation-wide supermarket chain, their online ordering service, six liters of milk, and their customer service department. What happened is that when an online order was delivered and unpacked, it was found to include six liters of cream instead of six liters of milk. The website has a customer service email address which was contacted (with a copy of the order confirmation attached) to point out the error and ask for it to be corrected. Since the store is about a five minute walk away it should not have been an onerous request.

Here’s the response from the “Customer Care Team”:

Hello (customer name),

Thank you for reaching out to the Customer Care Team.

I am sorry to here (sic) about your order. Please accept our apologies for the inconveniences caused,

Please provide me with the details below:

    • Full name and surname (as stated on the account):
    • Physical address (old and new):
    • Cell number (old and new):
    • ID/Passport number:
    • Email address (old and new):
    • Name of the store branch you usually shop at:
    • Smart shopper card number (new card only):

Please send old and new details where required.

Do note that it is essential to have all of the requested details, as this is for verification purposes.

Thank you in advance for the requested information.

Once the above is received, I will be able to assist you further.”

Asking for information they already have plus a lot of irrelevant stuff? Passport number? Old and new address? To correct their delivery error worth about $10?

This is a “Customer Care Team” that apologizes for the “inconveniences” caused by the error and then promptly compounds the inconvenience by asking the customer to round up and supply all the requested (and entirely unnecessary) information. Again, for a $10 error on their part.

Here’s the lesson in this . . . The appropriate response would have been: “We’re terribly sorry. Someone will be there within half an hour with your milk.” Anything less is not customer care and no way to retain a customer.