A couple of weeks ago I wrote a series of rage haiku to the CEO of GE, who made my crummy dishwasher. Someone from GE called me to give less-than-awesome customer service. Here's my reply.
CEO, General Electric
Dear Mr. Immelt:
Earlier this week, Gary from your office called me to let me know that you’d received my letter. I enjoyed talking with Gary, although neither of managed to express ourselves in any sort of verse, let alone in haiku.
Gary told me you’d never seen this problem with food getting stuck in the spray arms. He also let me know that GE had looked up my service records and didn’t find any. (I used a local repair guy; I also shopped online to get the best possible price on replacement spray arms.) Finally, Gary wondered whether my water was hot enough. He invited me to call him back with the results of my temperature-taking test, and offered to cover the initial cost of a service visit.
I thought about calling Gary back. I did enjoy our chat and I could tell he was a kind and hard-working employee. But then I started thinking about the customer service you were actually offering. And … what do you know … the rage haiku started coming again:
Denying that things
Are messed up with the spray arms
Does not make this so
The spray arms are junk
Someone could come replace them
They’d get clogged again
It’s a waste of time
And money even to try
The design is flawed
It cannot be fixed
And so I am stuck with junk
And a bad feeling
Does not blame the customer
My water is hot
Of dating that high school jerk
It’s not me, it’s you
GE, in this case,
Your customer service has
The teeny penis
I truly do appreciate that you tried to make things right with a service call. But it defies belief to say GE hasn’t seen this problem. Just this morning, I took the arms out again to try to clean them. As I’ve said before, without being able to open the arms—which are made in two parts sealed with a seam—the food debris goes into the hole and blocks the spray. The fix is simple. Make the spray arms in two pieces that can be separated.
The bigger issue, though, is one of respect for your customers. When you deny your company has seen a problem, it’s the same as suggesting the customer is somehow at fault. Even if you haven’t seen the problem, there’s no need to doubt the word of your customer. Nor is there reason to suggest it could be because her water isn’t hot enough.
GE isn’t the only company that makes badly designed products for the kitchen. I also have some words for the company that makes my oven, which you can’t clean without pressing all the buttons. Sometimes, a combination is pressed and the oven can’t be run again until I’ve run a three-hour self-cleaning cycle, something that’s a lot of fun when you have cupcakes to bake for a school fundraiser.
What I wish, and it doesn’t seem all that crazy, is that companies like yours would spend time using your products as a normal person would, every day. This would give you an intimate knowledge of their flaws, and an understanding of what’s an expected breakdown vs. an intractable design flaw.
Ultimately, all customers want well-designed, reliable products that are easy to use and operate, easy to clean, and easy fix when the parts break. This dishwasher falls short. My only real recourse is to replace it, and my customer service experience here—which felt like it was shifting the blame to me—that I’d be nuts to install another GE.
P.S. It was a little tricky photographing this, so I had to enlist my 9-year-old daughter to hold the thermometer. As you can see, my kitchen sink tap produces 130-degree water, which should be plenty hot. Likewise, my dishes should come out clean when I use the “added heat” cycle. They don’t.
P.P.S. Yes, I’m sure my thermometer works.