Pick a card… any card… but not from Clintons!

UPDATE – 22 December 2011:

In the interests of fairness, I am happy to report that Clintons have put things right – and then some!

Having already received a refund for the card and expecting no further action, yesterday I received a phone call from Tim Fairs, Clintons’ Marketing Director. He was extremely apologetic about the whole incident, and explained that there had been some technical issues, but that they should have been identified and rectified much quicker. He added that he had personally arranged for the card to be recreated in both standard and large sizes, and was having them sent to me via next-day courier.

That would have been more than enough, but he then told me that by way of apology, he had also arranged for me to be sent a ‘Happy Birthday’ helium balloon with my Dad’s age on it, and a Chardonnay Gift Basket (white wine, Swiss truffle chocolates and a bouquet of white roses & lilies). As you can see from the image below, it all looks really nice, and I’m sure my Dad will love it. Well… maybe the flowers will be more to Mum’s liking, but still.

So I’d just like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Tim for doing much more than simply put things right, and also to CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer for his assistance. I must admit, I didn’t expect anything like this, and am pleasantly surprised that customer service/care like this still exists. At a time when it seems most companies are only interested in making money, and creating customer satisfaction appears to be more of an inconvenience than a desire, it’s a definite ‘win’ for Clintons.

Clintons apology
As apologies go, it’s pretty impressive!
Original post:

Today I thought I’d share with you my own personal nightmare regarding the simple act of buying a personalised birthday card from Clintons. It should be a relatively simple task. You visit the website, choose your design, put in your own words, complete the checkout procedure, and a few days later you have a professional, personalised card to put a smile on the face of your friend or family member.

It’s so straightforward anyone can do it, and I have several times before with Moonpig. The hardest thing about it is thinking of something profound/original/amusing to put in it to set it apart from the reams of ‘same old’ cards you can buy over the counter in a shop. I wanted a card for my Dad’s birthday (which is Christmas Day) but I couldn’t find a design I liked on Moonpig which I hadn’t sent before. So I looked around, and found one on the Clintons website. In addition to the birthday card, I also found a nice non-personalised Christmas card for Mum & Dad. Placed the order, sat back and thought no more of it.

This was on Wednesday, 23rd November, in plenty of time for Dad’s birthday – or so I thought. The Christmas card for Mum & Dad arrived two days later (Friday, 25th November) by courier. Very impressive. No sign of the other card, but I wasn’t concerned – as it was personalised, you have to allow a couple of days for printing etc.

By Friday, 2nd December, the personalised card still hadn’t arrived, so I e-mailed Clintons customer support to find out what was happening. By Saturday 10th December, I’d had no reply and happened to mention it on Twitter. I had a reply to that message from Twitter friend @Mistyrobert letting me know that Clintons CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer (@openallhourz) was on Twitter. So, I mentioned it again and asked if he could help. He was very apologetic and promised to get things sorted. I thanked him and awaited delivery of the card.

Fast-forward to Saturday, 17th December. You guessed it – still no sign of the card. Once again, I mention it on Twitter to notify @openallhourz. He apologises once again, and promises that the card will be sent on Monday, 19th December by courier. Once again, I wait.

This morning (Tuesday, 20th December) I receive the following e-mail:

Dear Adam:

Firstly I would like to apologies for the delay caused regarding your personalised card.

We take customer satisfaction very seriously at Clintons so thank you for bringing this to our attention, rather than choosing to say nothing and not give us a chance to investigate.

In recent weeks we have come across some challenges through our printing facility which has been IT related therefore has affected and integrity to meet the high standard as expected of Clintons. Rest assured that the matter is not taken lightly and we shall investigate this matter with the printing facility to ensure that the occurrence is not replicated.

Actions we have taken to complete the fulfilment of your order to ensure that it has been printed as a priority and can confirm it has been expedited via UPS pre noon service. Also as the fault reside with Clintons we have refunded you in full which should reflect in your statement within 48hrs.

Your Tracking number is: XXXXXXXXXXX which can ben viewed on http://www.ups.com/WebTracking/track?loc=en_CB&WT.svl=PriNav

Once please accept my sincere apologies for the time is has taken to resolve your matter.

Best Regards,

Zac Mohammed

Warehouse & Logistics Manager

That e-mail arrived at 10:08am. I immediately entered the tracking number into the UPS website to see that the card is due for delivery by midday. Great, the whole sorry saga is finally over!

Except… it’s not.

By 2:00pm today, there’s still no sign of the card. Thinking that perhaps the courier is running late, I go back to the UPS website and re-enter the tracking number, and sit there in disbelief. My card was delivered at 10:43am in Atherstone, Warwickshire and signed for by someone named Meads. Absolutely unbelievable!

At first I thought they’ve obviously mixed up my order with someone else’s, and probably refunded the wrong person too. But no. I checked my credit card statement online, and the refund they mentioned in the e-mail is present. Which just makes it all the more baffling. They clearly have my correct e-mail address and credit card details, and they obviously have my correct postal address because the first card arrived within two days. So where the hell have they got this address in Atherstone from, and why was my second card sent there?

It’s as funny as it is annoying. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

I certainly won’t be ordering any cards from their website again. The only thing is, it’s now too late to order a personalised card from anywhere else, even if I could find a design that I liked – so it’ll have to be a normal card from a shop.

You can bet that shop won’t be Clintons, though.