When the new toy breaks the store sends it off to be fixed, and it comes back when it comes back. Once the customer has signed the 2 year contract, nobody cares about customer service.
The independent stores - the ones not owned by and tied to a network provider - tend to have more of a focus on customer satisfaction. They make their money from profits on devices and a commission on the contract. And they want customers to keep coming back, and send their friends.
Carphone Warehouse stands out, even amongst the independent companies. The choice of equipment and network contracts, the expertise of the staff, and the commitment to customer service have kept the business at the forefront of the market, despite almost overwhelming competition from the network companies.
Yesterday, Carphone Warehouse exceeded even its own high standards with a complete refund to a dissatisfied customer.
The Xoom2 tablet had been a questionable purchase, only a few weeks before. Advice from people, who seemed to know, had suggested the Samsung Galaxy Tab would be a better decision. But the Xoom2 was cheaper. And Motorola was closer to the source of the software - Google of course. Surely new software, in this case Ice Cream Sandwich, would be more readily available on the Xoom2. Close integration would result from the Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility and offer the best combination of hardware and software in the future.
Of course it didn't turn out that way. Never mind. The tablet was a useful addition to the toy box, sitting nicely between the MacBook Air and the Nexus S phone, as a content consumption platform and occasional productivity tool.
That was until it broke. Smartphone and Tablet users will be familiar with hanging software. The occasional reboot (or reset as the manufacturers like to call it) is business as usual. The Xoom2 seemed to hang a lot, but not enough to really impact its usability. That is, until it really hung, or froze, if you prefer.
On that occasion it froze in the middle of the power down utility. Nothing would shift it. The touch screen didn't respond, the reset combination did nothing and the power off wouldn't work. That was where is was stuck of course. With a phone the solution would have been simple - take out the battery to shut down the power. But the Xoom2 doesn't have an accessible battery.
The shiny new, and expensive, toy otherwise known as productivity device, had become as useful as a marshmallow brick in a thunderstorm.
The service engineer on the Motorola chat line briefly offered some promise of a solution, until discovering the problem happened in the UK. The referral and link to the UK support chat line ended in disappointment. The office was closed. An email request for support remained the only option and did get a response, but only an automated message promising a reply within 24 hours.
Next morning the email response arrived - book it in for repair, it said.
That, as they say, was that. No more researching solutions. No more requests for support.
Just a rapid return to Carphone Warehouse with a request for a cash refund, including the cost of the case. The machine was broken, didn't work, and could obviously fail again.
The guys in the store were sympathetic, friendly and helpful. With the minimum of fuss and bother the credit card charge was refunded in full.
As a result they immediately sold a shiny new Galaxy Tab, impressed a customer, and won some unsolicited publicity and recommendation.
Where will you be buying your next toy?