Spectrum Brands – Investing in customer satisfaction

February 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm Leave a comment

No, Spectrum Brands isn’t a company that sells the newest, fastest router around. They are a common consumer products company. You probably know them by one of their many brand names. In my case, Remington. Not the gun company, but the shaver company.

Normally, I try to steer clear of non-I.T. related posts, but there is a tie-in at the bottom of this post, so I’m going with it.

A little over a year ago, I got a Remington shaver for Christmas. It’s one of the new styles that is “self cleaning”. A few days ago, it developed a problem with the base. The base unit was placed in the corner of my bathroom, moved only to change the filter and add cleaning fluid once every few months. I can not recall any time that it had ever been dropped, knocked over, or otherwise mishandled. Since it was just over a year old, I went to the Remington website and filled out their customer service form, explaining my issue in great detail. I thought that if I was lucky they might replace the part that was now a problem.

Days passed with no reply. Just yesterday, I thought about the situation and decided that the brand of shaver I’m getting to replace this Remington will probably be a Norelco.

Today, I arrived home to see a small box on my front step. I opened it, and behold, I now definitely know the brand of the next shaver I’m most likely to buy. Remington! Inside the small box was a brand new retail package of the model shaver that I have. Not just the individual part that I was having a problem with, but the entire retail package.

I was shocked. I expected an email reply stating that the warranty period had expired, or that this type of problem hadn’t been reported previously, or something along those lines. At best, I thought they might send me a new part. But a whole new complete product? Wow!

The “investment” that Spectrum Brands made in customer satisfaction in my case will probably pay off for them. Knowing their commitment to their customers, I’ll probably end up buying their highest-end product next time I need a new shaver.

Now, how does this relate to the I.T. field? Easy. I frequently deal with I.T. companies that wouldn’t know good customer service if it bit them on the bum. I.T. is terrible about customer satisfaction. Want to buy hardware off of ebay to use in your business? Chances are the hardware vendor (Cisco?) may have a provision in the software license that prevents the license from being sold. So, even though you may legally get the hardware, you can’t legally run the software without paying for a new software license. Some are even worse, requiring you to get a new license key when you change IP Addressing or such (as you would when you buy a new device off of ebay). And what happens when they End-Of-Life a product licensed in this way? Forget getting any new license keys! That $200,000 box is now a paper weight. You must buy a whole new box to do the job.

In my company’s situation, F5 is cutting their own throat. We need to expand our current load-balancing solution to handle our business continuity plan. (How our business will keep running if there is a fire, flood, etc. at our headquarters location.) The F5 hardware we have is End-of-Lifed, so we can’t buy any more from them. We could buy some used from ebay, but F5 won’t issue us new keys since it’s an EOL product (and I think they would want the software re-licensed anyhow).

If F5 were more like Spectrum Brands, they would work with us. Since we are looking for hardware that we’d only ever use in an absolute emergency, why not let us buy some used hardware and transfer our other licenses over to it if we ever need to use it? If only one is in use at a time, what does it matter? Heck, if they offered special “Business Recovery” licenses that were significantly discounted and limited in terms of how much traffic they’d pass per second (able to be quickly upgraded to full licenses in an actual emergency), we jump on it. So far, all they are offering us is huge price tags for their latest hardware. If they were smart, they’d take care of us now, and when it was time to upgrade, we wouldn’t even think of going with anyone else. Since they’ve been so inflexible about this, we are now looking to come up with a completely different solution that doesn’t involve their hardware/software at all.


Entry filed under: General.

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