July 15 2008 by Ellen Roseman
Last February, I wrote a blog post about consumer protest groups on Facebook. And I mentioned Bloomex (among other companies) that has dissatisfied customers taking up battle in cyberspace against them.
Dimitri Lokhonia, the Ottawa-based founder of Bloomex, decided to respond online. He said some “unhappy customers” were actually small retail florists, whose business was threatened by a lower-priced national rival.
That comment opened the floodgates to many new complaints about Bloomex, usually angry, sometimes hysterical.
You could tell people were tired of calling and sending emails to a company that let them talk to customer service reps, but not escalate their issues. They were getting nowhere with requests for help or compensation, despite including order numbers as Lokhonia asked them to do.
I wrote a Toronto Star column in March that Bloomex didn’t like. It stayed online, despite threats of legal action. I watched the complaints continue coming in and wondered whether this online florist would wilt.
But things are perking up. Lokhonia met me at his Toronto production facility last week and we spent a couple of hours together, going through some of the online complaints. He told me about hiring a new public relations manager, Michelle Robitaille, who would review all of the complaints and explain what happened.
Robitaille has worked in customer service for more than a decade. She describes herself as being a tough customer, someone who questions corporate bafflegab and pushes for what she wants. While forced to deal with Bloomex policies, which I find quite restrictive, she’s willing to admit that this online florist can and does goof up.
Last May, the company put in new customer service and tracking systems, which are designed to improve overall performance. Bloomexâ€™s new approach to customer service “will dramatically reduce hold times, eliminate the need for customers to repeat information after arriving at a live customer care representative and even allow customers to chat live with a service agent, resolving their issues faster and more conveniently,” says a press release.
Robitaille has now gone through 16 emails I sent. Here’s how things stand, in her words.
In 6 of the orders, we retained our original decision. Please bear in mind that some of these decisions were to refund the client, but no compensation was provided for dissatisfaction. Many of these cases were of people not wanting to follow company policies. They do not reflect errors or mistakes made on our part.
In 7 orders, people were refunded in full or partially. Again, this is a combination of both clients who were unsatisfied with our product where a refund was issued and a combination of errors made on our part, where a full refund was issued.
In 2 orders, we did a re-send of flowers to the client to compensate for our error, with the client’s agreement.
One person received a credit of $75 for our errors in his 2 orders.
Finally, I’m dealing not only with complaints you sent to me, but with other unhappy clients who posted on the web. I have done that on several different occasions if I am able to find the client in the system (via order # or last name).
I have issued 4 refunds for orders outside your blog site complaints, and issued 2 re-sends, and 2 credits in lieu of our new systems, to regain the trust and patronage of past clients.
I’ll try to post some of these complaints and company responses in the next few few days. Meanwhile, here’s how to get in touch with Robitaille. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.