I’ve had two customer service situations this week worth writing about — one good, one not.

The good one was with a new mouse I purchased. After reading some good stuff about the Kensington PilotMouse Laser Wireless, I ordered it through their website. It arrived in a couple of days, but right out of the box, it hasn’t worked right. The cursor sort of staggers across the screen and often when I click on something nothing happens. I have to sometimes reclick several times.

I dutifully researched the Support area on the Kensington website. It had some troubleshooting tips, which I followed. Unfortunately, nothing worked. My PilotMouse staggers on. So I filled out a request for help explaining my situation. Within TWENTY Minutes I received a personal response apologizing for my problem and offering an immediate new replacement. No questions asked.

Will I stay a Kensington customer? Yep. Would I recommend Kensington to you? Yep.

My bad customer service situation is actually still going on. Because this hasn’t reached conclusion I won’t share the name of the company. If they end up handling this right, I’ll tell you. If not, I’ll tell you that, too.

This situation started with my ordering a product from an information marketer. I’d never heard of this person, but a friend recommended him. Because of the endorsement from a trusted peer, I ordered a $45 DVD to see what he had to offer. If I liked what I saw, I’d probably order more.

I thought the DVD was pretty good and the guy seemed to have a sincere attitude about helping his clients. I was impressed by his story and his success.

But then a additional $39.97 charge shows up on my Amex bill a month later. What for? I didn’t know, but I had an idea. For some reason, there are a handful of marketers who think that it’s okay to trap customers into automatic payments for things they didn’t really order. In this case, apparently the sales page for the DVD I ordered had a "… a 30 day trial subscription to our XXXXXX and DVD of the month. On the sales page where you ordered the XXXXXX it talks about these bonuses and it states that if you don’t cancel within the 30 days you will be charged $39.97."

This is a sneaky way of creating a continuity program. I didn’t order the Bonus, I ordered the DVD. But gee, it’s a BONUS! Well, at least until my Amex card gets billed. Then its not a Bonus, it’s an UNHAPPY SURPRISE.

I requested an immediate credit of the $39.97 and cancellation of any further charges, but was told, "As you requested I have canceled your membership, there will be no further charges made."

When I pressed harder for the refund, I was told, "If you will return the magazine sent, we will credit your account." Do you keep magazines after a couple of months?

They’re not going to credit the original charge, because it’s MY fault I didn’t read the entire 15 page sales letter and see on page 13 how I would get this "Bonus" and how I would get charged more money if I didn’t cancel… well, you get the picture.

So they’re making as difficult as possible for me to get my $39.97 back. Does this make sense to you? Why on earth would you fight a customer over a lousy $39.97? Why on earth would you create such a bad situation in the first place of pulling such a sleight of hand? Why would you throw away an opportunity to make it a better situation, like Kensington did?

What is the linchpin of the Nordstrom customer service story? It’s NO QUESTIONS-ASKED REFUNDS. Images_2
What does my good buddy and one of the biggest guns in the world of marketing, Dan Kennedy,
say about this stuff? Dan says don’t argue about refunds. Wannabe speakers and consultants have told me over and over again, "I can’t offer money-back guarantees!" And my response is always, "Well, then you must not be very good."

The thing is, this isn’t just about taking care of the customer and doing the right thing. This is about marketing. I’ve talked about this before over and over. This is the most important marketing you can ever do.

What’s the MLL (Marketing Lesson Learned) here?

Transparency & Trust. Don’t ever try to pull one over on your customers. And when they ask for their $39.97 back, don’t argue. Be like Kensington. Stand behind the quality of your products and your company.

We shall see where this goes.