It wasn’t cheap when I first moved into my own apartment. The sheer number of random things that I discovered I needed to survive was staggering. Shower curtains, dish towels, thumbtacks, a broom. Things I’d spend my teen and college years taking for granted suddenly cost me over a hundred dollars in a single transaction. But that wasn’t even the half of it – I needed kitchen supplies, and it turned out those were more expensive than almost anything else I’d discovered I needed. A hundred bucks for a set of two pots and a pan? Fifty dollars for a set of dinnerware for four?
I wound up ordering almost everything for my kitchen online, and eating food made in the microwave in a glass bowl I borrowed from a friend until they arrived. I’ve been a member of this well-known online shopping website for years, so it only took a couple days for another ridiculously expensive bunch of boxes to show up at my door, and it seemed like everything was just perfect.
While the order fulfillment process was as quick and easy as I’d come to expect from them, and the product I received appeared to be just what the doctor ordered on first glance, I soon discovered otherwise. I had spent thirty-odd dollars on a so called “seven piece” dinnerware set (the count including lids, of course, it was three pots and one pan), made of carbon steel with a nonstick coating. My parents had plenty of old carbon steel cookware and I live in a pretty dry area, so I wasn’t worried about losing in the constant battle against rust that some of my friends back east complained about.
The set was originally more than seventy bucks, but I’d picked it up on a sweet sale – I figured it was because of my Prime membership, until about a week later the nonstick coated started to peel. It wasn’t just on one pot either, it was on all four pieces in the set. Even the one I had yet to use had apparently absorbed water through the coating when initially washed, and the rust underneath caused the coating to bubble and then crack in huge flakes and chunks of would-be Teflon.
I wrote to the shopping website a professionally scathing letter about the awful quality of the product. I had spent a decent amount of money on it, and the set had an average rating of four stars in the marketplace. I was livid. Worse, I was once again condemned to microwaving everything I wanted to eat, although at least now I had my own dishes to do it in. In the email I made it clear that I would be willing to send photographic evidence of the problem if they asked, but that I wasn’t going to be sending it back since it was totally in shambles. I’ve returned a fair number of products to different online vendors in my life, and I was ready for a fight.
Here’s where they surprised me: I got a response within the hour from a customer service representative named Kathy. She apologized profusely for the problem, stated that I was free to do with it as I wished, and that since the item couldn’t be verified as being in their inventory (even though it was still listed as in-stock in the marketplace) the full purchase amount had been refunded to me account. All in all, it took less than three hours for me to get my money back, and I was so pleased by the level of service that I turned right back around and bought a new, different cookware set from them online instead of my initial plan of taking it somewhere else.
While I bought my dinnerware somewhere else, my curtains came from a local store and most of the other stuff it took to make my apartment into a home came from somewhere else, they won my loyalty once and for all by doing something I never expected from such a huge online retailer: The right thing.