Background: my cousin is getting married next weekend, and I wanted to have some nicer labels than what I have now to put on the mead that I'm giving him. I ordered PVC seals, bottle wax, and labels (among other things) from http://www.beer-wine.com, 2nd day air shipping so that I would have everything in time, be able to whip up a label design on my computer and print a few out to see what I like on the bottle. The website didn't say the labels were backordered. The website also said "indicate what color you want on the comments field of the order form." The order form had no comments field, so I emailed the sales department right after I placed the order to let them know I wanted white, if it was available. No answer. The box came, to my horror, without the one thing that I was most interested in having: the bottle labels. A note on the invoice said "BACK ORDER will ship separately (UPS Ground) when in stock." This unacceptable--by UPS ground, it will get here long after the wedding. So I called to complain.

Customer Service Rep: "Beer and wine hobby, how can I help you?"

Me: "I have a complaint about a recent order"

Rep: "Certainly, what can we help you with?"

Me: "I ordered a bunch of bottle finishing supplies last week, express shipping, including a package of label paper, and it all came just fine, except for the label paper, and there was a note saying the label paper is backordered. And it says that when the label paper comes in stock, it will be shipped UPS ground. Now, I didn't pay for two-day air shipping because I want this someday"

Rep: "Well, I can change that for you so that it will ship second-day air when it comes in" (so far, so good)

Me: "Well, when will it come in."

Rep: "We don't know" (are you kidding me?)

Me: "Well, don't you think it would have been useful for me to know that when you ordered, to have a notation on your website that the product is out of stock, like your competitors do?"

Rep: "Sir, we have literally thousands of items for sale on our website, and for security reasons we just can't connect that to our inventory database." (Making excuses, never good)

Me: "Forget about it, just cancel the label paper" (Oh look, you just lost a customer)

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Things that a customer service person could do better:

1) Apologize for your screw-ups.
2) Don't make excuses
3) Don't say it's impossible to do something that all of your competition does, and that online merchants have been doing for years, just because your inventory is SOOOO HUGE.
4) Answer your customers' emails
5) When somebody places an express order for something that's out of stock, and you have their phone number, call to let them know!
6) Offer an alternative product that you can get to the customer in a timely manner