Blind Luck: A Blinds.com Horror Story Made Right  
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Blind Luck: What To Do With Weird, Unpredictable, and Unavoidable Customer Horror Stories

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What do you do when a customer means to order one product, but somehow manages to order another? If it’s a T-shirt or a DVD, you’d probably just exchange it, but what if it’s a really big ticket item that has high shipping costs? Or a customized item that can’t just go back into the warehouse?

In the not too distant past, a customer we’ll just call “Gilbert” ordered a full property’s worth of window blinds from Blinds.com. In his own words, “unfortunately I ended up with aluminum metallic blinds, when I ordered white Faux no texture off white color blinds.” According to Blinds.com, however, Gilbert called to process the order that was already in his shopping cart, which was for 2″ aluminum blinds. He also verbally confirmed the color choice. The call was (appropriately) recorded for quality assurance purposes.

While Blinds.com was 100% in the right to make Gilbert eat the cost, CEO Jay Steinfeld decided to do something remarkable. While it’s clear that he doesn’t want to make a habit out of it, Mr. Steinfeld offered Gilbert the option to donate the blinds to a local charitable organization and send him the proof for a refund. Gilbert chose to give the blinds to Habitat for Humanity and went on record to say that he will order the replacements from Blinds.com.

What Could Have Happened?

If Blinds.com accepted the blinds for a refund, there probably would have a bit of time and money lost in shipping (for either, or for both, parties), and the aluminum blinds would have waited in their warehouse until someone decided they wanted that Jetsons look for their condo.

If Blinds.com refused a refund or any further action on their part, Gilbert would have been stuck with blinds he didn’t want, a bad customer experience, and a heck of a story to go with it. He could have sold the blinds at a steep discount in the aftermarket, which could have stolen a sale from Blinds.com. Chances are, he would also have turned to a competitor to buy the replacement blinds.

While the average customer probably doesn’t buy a new set of blinds too often, every business owner knows that a customer who has a uniquely poor experience is more likely to leave a review, tell their friends, and advocate for the replacement company. They also had no way of telling if Gilbert was the kind of person who would have insisted that he ordered the white blinds, despite all evidence to the contrary. The long term damage could have been substantial and almost impossible to price.

What Happened Instead

While most business owners don’t want to give away a big ticket item, Blinds.com managed to:

  • Avoid releasing a potentially toxic user experience into their online ecosystem
  • Write off the cost of the blinds (since they were technically a donation)
  • Made a charitable donation, which they can now turn into a positive PR piece (even if it was an accident)
  • Potentially create an advocate for their brand

So, good going, Mr. Steinfeld. You took a weird, poor user experience and salvaged it as well as anyone could. I hope you get lots of great anchor text that helps people find your business for window blinds and shades.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Katie

    Wow Joe, thanks for the Blinds.com customer service shout out.

    It makes a big difference in business when you keep the customer at the center of your business and empower every one of your employees (no matter if they are Jay the CEO or not ) to do what it takes to take care of them!

  2. Jack Sprat

    Blinds.com & ca suck!
    Poor customer service & very poorly designed window shades (weak strings)
    1. Product manufactured in Turkey, but they longer handle the product.
    2. Purchased 3 yrs ago 2 blinds 34 3/4″ X 67 1/4″ had one string on each unit break in a house that is used ONLY for 5 months per year as a summer home in Nova Scotia.
    3. The strings are way too small & the outer layer rubs the metal on the opening & finally breaks rendering the units unless!!
    4. Used very sparingly in a room facing south to block afternoon sun.
    5. Called 3 weeks ago; spent 40 minutes with a phone person trying to find out how they would support a disgruntled customer. Did they offer a repair kit and/or service? She could not provide an answer & said she’d call me back within 48 hours. NEVER CALLED!!
    6. Called again today & asked for a Customer Service Manager. 30 minutes later was transfer to one. Voice mail on. Left message.
    7. He NEVER called.
    8. I called again..this time message said the CEO Jay Seinfeld wanted to have me complete an online customer service questionnaire. I agree to do so.
    9. Transferred, BUT no one ever answered. Said someone would call later.
    10. Called again: 23 minute wait to finally get a Service Manager. They do NOT offer a repair service NOR a repair kit NOR do they offer to replace the defective units without a FULL repurchase @ $105 per unit. Even though I have spent over $4,000 with them for my 2 houses.
    11. I guess CEO Jay Seinfeld has made so much money from his sale to Home Depot that he no longer gives a “squat” about his customer service.
    12. So the only choice is to NEVER DEAL WITH BLANDS.COM/CA NOR HOME DEPOT AGAIN….
    13……and social media to spread the word that they BOTH are not honorable business organizations!

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