Posted By: KYHeirloomer 
Jun 25  # 1 of 10
Apparently, retailers like Williams-Sonoma define it differently than I do.

Just before leaving on vacation we went into the local W-S to buy some knives. I've decided to assemble a culinary travel kit separate from my household stuff. By the time I'm done I'll probably have a thousand bucks tied up in knives and other cutlery.

So, figuring to start with a chef's knife, we asked to see several of them. The clerk rather reluctantly opened the display case (I mean, after all, she managed to show up for work; kind of mean of us to expect that she'll do her job as well).

We choose a couple of models to look at. And then I asked her for a cutting board to work on. "Whatever for? she asked. "So I can get a feel for how the knife fits in my hand when I'm working with it," I told her.

"Oh, no. You can't do that," she replied. "Because then it would be a used knife." We're talking knives from the display case, mind you. And the last time I bought a knife, from a real store, not only did they give me a board to work on, the clerk actually brought out an onion "so you can really feel how that knife works." Obviously, she wanted to make a sale. But the clerk at W-S could care less.

We walked out, vowing to not return to Williams-Sonoma. And, with that sort of imcompetence, it's easy to understand why they're in such financial trouble.

OK, jump ahead. This morning I attempted to contact W-S about that problem. For starters, nowhere on their site do the words "customer service" even appear. But there is a "contact us" navigation button. So that's where I went.

Apparently, W-S is interested in everything except identifying and resolving problems. The contact site tells me how to get a catalog. And how to track an order. And how to send W-S info to a friend. And, stuck on the bottom, is a response form. You fill out your contact info. And then you explain what you want. Except it's limited to 1,000 characters.

Alright, I managed to condense the problem into 800 some odd characters (including spaces). But it wouldn't go through because, the error message said, it "contained invalid characters." No other explanation. But I'm guessing they were confused by characters like "a" and "t" and maybe even "w."

So I sent a semi-nasty comment instead, telling them what I thought of their site, and their lack of customer service. Next comes an automatically generated response with this last paragraph:

>Have you checked out our Customer Service page? You will find order tracking and shipping information, as well as answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about our products and company at:<

This is the first time the words "customer service" appear anywhere. And, if you follow the link, it merely takes you back to the same "contact us" page where you started.

I don't know who Williams-Sonoma's target audience is. But it obviously isn't serious cooks who know what they're doing. And whatever they're definition of customer service is, it doesn't fit any definition I'm familiar with.
 Posted By: shipscook 
Jun 25  # 2 of 10
Wow that pretty much sucks!
actually to WS is a place to go drool and check out things that I usually end up buying from Amazon.
Have you ever gone to Gethuman - Home Page ? great site for checking out customer service.

WS only had one review, and it was from someone who was pleased, you might like to leave yours?

 Posted By: KYHeirloomer 
Jun 25  # 3 of 10
Thanks, Nan. I'm going to wait to see if I get any sort of response before going any further. I'm giving 12 to 7 odds I never hear another word from them.

Trouble with Gethuman is that it's based on calling the companies, which I didn't do. Why put myself in line for a run-around---presuming the number even gets you to customer service (All-Clad's customer service number, for instance, is the next best thing to useless. But, then again, All-Clad has no customer service to speak of, anyway).
 Posted By: Mama Mangia 
Jun 25  # 4 of 10
Customer service is a thing of the past - and many places are doing the same as W-S - sad to say.

They all want $$$$$$$$$ and they will do anything to save a dime.

Using a knife before purchasing does declare it a "used" item - not to be re-sold. I cannot see WHY they cannot have a display of knives readily available to be "tested" - all they have to do is write them off for display purposes.

I am very particular where I buy things - regardless of what it is. Customer service is a first - I don't care what establishment it is.

I speak up - I don't take anything from anyone. You want my respect? Prove it. Are you a sales person? Prove it. I will ask questions - and I expect answers - not - "uh - I dunno" as an answer. If you don't know the answer then say so - it's better than the "I dunno" crap they expect you accept and forget about. And don't speak to me with "huh", "duh", "ummm" - use the English language to communicate. And Lord knows - don't give Mama an attitude - unless you want to see mine! Mamazilla is NOT a nice person. You don't want to meet up with her. And it takes a lot for her to come out - but when she does - the next best thing to an exorcism is needed to remove her from "Mama". Never do I look for any confrontation with anyone - but I'm ready for it when I have to be.

Regarding these sites with no customer service/contact info other than what THEY want you to see and comment on - I get through. And I b**ch. "I" get a reply. I make sure I do.

I have gone as far as contacting the CEO, VP, etc. of a company when I am totally ****edoff. I've had business owners, CEO's, etc. contact me to rectify the problem and they have even done follow-up calls to make sure I was:
1) treatly properly by the staff
2) satisfied with the results
3) if there was anything else they can do for me - etc.

I've received letters from them - letters of apology - etc.

So you CAN get through to someone there. It just takes time and work.
 Posted By: KYHeirloomer 
Jun 25  # 5 of 10
I'm with you a hundred percent, Mama.

What got me, in this case, was two things. First off, getting to play with a sample knife before you buy one is a standard industry practice, allowed by virtually any place that sells top-end cutlery. Display knives are, by definition, "used," and cannot be sold as new---which a customer has handled them or not.

Second was the complete indifference on the part of the sales clerk. It really was a case of, "hey, I spend 8 hours a day here. You want me to work, too?"

In the past, given a situation like that, you could talk to the store manager. But anymore they're all 12 years old, and no more qualified than the clerk.

We'll see how far I take this. All Clad learned the hard way not to F... with the kid. Maybe Willaims-Sonoma will too.