An Open Letter to Mahesh Shah, CEO of Hometown

Dear Mahesh Shah,

For the last ten days I have been begging for forgiveness. Begging for forgiveness for whatever twists of fate led me to purchase furniture (through Pepperfry) from Hometown. I’d had an awesome experience with Pepperfry as long as it was their customer service, deliveries and carpenter services, but with Hometown I have had an absolutely awful experience.

The item was to be ready October 25, but as I was traveling for work I requested Pepperfry to request your team to hold it till November 5. November 5 somehow got keyed in as November 12. Okay fine, human error but still what was showing in the system was November 12.

When my return ticket to Mumbai got confirmed I called your customer service. The girl who answered did not even bother to do the proper research she just robotically said “it’s scheduled for November 12.” I explained calmly that the original estimated date with delivery was October 25, and that I’m the one who asked for it to be delayed and she just kept repeating November 12 November 12 November 12. It took me 2-3 phone calls to get someone to actually do the research into it (because they weren’t bothering to check why it was listed as November 12 they just saw a date and seemed to just want to be done with the call) and as it turns out I was right. The piece was ready, they were holding it as per my request and though the piece was ready they seemed to have difficulty with the concept of delivering it to me. All because the computer said November 12. Which was keyed in error as per a request I had for November 5 delivery. Actually I think it was November 4.

I asked for it on November 2, but my travel plans changed (they are work travel plans so often I have little control over where I am and when) and so I called again to reschedule to the Saturday as I knew I would be back and didn’t want them to deliver. In spite of this they did try to deliver the piece on the 2nd and I can understand there must have been some confusion. On the Saturday (November 5) I called your customer service number and she again told me it’s being delivered November 12. I argued with her and told her there was no way since I’d put in a bunch of requests and they had already tried to deliver it once (maybe twice). Very grudgingly she put me on hold to talk to her store team and came back and told me yes that it was being delivered on Saturday. I asked about carpenter service she told me 48 hours. It has now been 65 hours and my piece is still lying in boxes on the living room floor.

I called Hometown 5-6 times yesterday. I am not generally a yeller but I lost my cool more than once. At one point I got connected to another customer who started asking me to disassemble and reassemble her furniture. I’m not sure how a switchboard manages to do that but yes instead of customer service agents you connected two customers to each other There were no answers, again the strategy seems to be rather than to help the customer, to tell them what they think you want to hear and get you off the phone as soon as possible. I had not heard from the carpenter nor had I heard from Hometown. I was assured that the carpenter would come by 7 pm. I asked to speak to a supervisor but I was told that wasn’t an option. I’m not sure if your supervisors are constantly on break or the customer service agents, for fear of getting reprimanded were just telling me there was no answer. After my entire experience I really don’t trust the organization.

I left work early and ran home in order to be there when the carpenter came. At 6:45 pm I called customer service again, and I was assured he was on his way and they gave me a phone number. The phone number was unreachable. At 7:33 pm I got a call from your customer service (phone number +91 22-61775223) stating that the carpenter wouldn’t be coming. I lost my cool again. The girl, rather than bothering to try to calm me down (I don’t know maybe she had to go on break or something) when I was telling her in no uncertain terms that this was unacceptable and that I had a bunch of work obligations which did not allow me to sit at home and wait for a carpenter, and that I wanted some compensation or something just quickly said “I’ll just check and get back” and hung up on me. After letting me down so many times, none of your customer agents could be bothered to speak to me, nor would they put me through to anyone senior who could help me. I called back and was once again told it wasn’t possible. I’ve asked for it this morning as I managed to change some things around but it is at a huge inconvenience to me. I still have not heard back. The piece remains on my living room floor.

I come from a retail background and I can understand and sympathize that customer service is hard. But no customer service in any organization in which I’ve worked would be as lazy and nonchalant as the ones working for your organization. There were 1 or 2 who were at least polite and sympathized, but overall the attitude was very much to shut up the customer and not to put any effort into solving a problem.

I have a full time job much like you. I travel for work. I have office obligations. I am setting up a new house. It is damn stressful. It’s one thing if the building plumber lets me down but a professional retail organization? How long do you expect me to sit at home and wait for someone? There is no communication or anything. Everytime I order from Pepperfry or Urban ladder, I get very proactive communication. All in all I’ve called your organization maybe ten times, maybe more. This is not my job to find out from you guys when you are delivering what, it should be within your mandate to communicate this to me without me having to ask. Why do you give 48 hours for a carpenter when it’s not 48 hours? They hadn’t even scheduled the carpenter when I called the first time, so if I had not called the piece would never have been assembled. Everything is lax, nobody cares.

I’m hoping with you it is different and that you do care about the reputation of your organization and want to strive for something better. I’m hoping you do care that you lost a customer (yes losing me is not going to impact your business all that significantly but it’s more the principle). That’s why I’m reaching out to you. And also because your team, by not allowing me to reach immediate supervisors or those below you has left me with no other choice.

I don’t even know what I want from you guys anymore. Definitely no more furniture. Compensation is not going to change the hours I’ve spent chasing you guys just to get one skinny bookcase delivered and assembled. But I know if I were in your position I’d want this feedback and I’d take it seriously and that I would change the standards of service in my organization. That’s just me – but maybe I’m wrong. Anyway this is my story. I just want everything to be done, because I live in a half-empty flat and every piece of furniture helps me settle down a little more and allows me to feel less like a refugee. I hope you are not offended, and take this in the spirit in which I mean it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you do understand where I’m coming from. The rest is up to you.

Yours Sincerely,

Mira Saraf

 

11 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Mahesh Shah, CEO of Hometown

  1. Mira, your pain comes thru nicely in this letter. But remember most of these guys work on the Lowest Common denominator basis, so apart from a sorry and we will ensure this never happens again, there is nothing you will hear. And these experiences do not change anything. You will continue to buy from Pepperfry, those employees will continue to not care, and life pretty much will go on the same way. Cynical, I know, but this is a fact.

  2. I know that it probably won’t make a difference. For the record, my experience with Pepperfry itself has been really good. But because this piece was delivered and supposed to be assembled by the manufacturer I ran into an issue. I know it probably won’t make a difference to Hometown but I figure I should at least say it. Pepperfry has offered to send a carpenter if Hometown does not, and they have escalated it for me. They’ve been super professional in comparison to the people I spoke to at Hometown.

  3. UPDATE: Got the following response from Hometown who actually read my blog! Thank you Priya for being the most reasonable sensible member of the Hometown team that I have interacted with – appreciate your help.

    Dear Ms. Mira,

    We would not want to lose a customer like you.

    The blog was very elaborate and we realize that there were some mistakes from our side which should have been avoided to make your experience a good one at our store.

    I would not be apologizing for anything because I understand that that is not what you require but rather you desire a better and a hassle free service.

    I would be taking up this matter with my team and they will be getting back to you with a solution to the current issue faced by you.

    Kindly note the reference ID 5715 for further communication.

    Do keep us updated as to whether the necessary actions have been taken to resolve your issues.

    I once again would like to add that you are an extremely valuable customer to us and we will ensure that the services provided by us will be much better and satisfactory in the future.

    Regards,
    Priya
    Future Group

    1. Thank you! As I said to Priya in my reply to her – it is really tough to set up a place from scratch while working full time…your whole schedule goes for a toss! I don’t like getting angry and being rude – it brings out a side of me that I really don’t like, but sometimes you get pushed into doing it and you don’t feel great about it. That’s why I wrote this instead so that if anyone read it they can actually understand when you put all together why I am upset. And fortunately it also shows that someone at Hometown is listening and is concerned about customer service. With any luck the carpenter will come early afternoon

  4. Home Town inorbit
    Hi sir I am mahaboobalikhanOLD FITTER(I’d 393759)
    My PF wrong name and date of birth
    Plz update
    (P.MAHABOOB KHAN
    01/01/1979)<PLZ UPDATE
    I AM NOT CLIME πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
    CELL NUMBER 7396090905

  5. Home Town inorbit
    Hi sir I am mahaboobalikhanOLD FITTER(I’d 393759)
    My PF wrong name and date of birth
    Plz update
    (P.MAHABOOB KHAN
    01/01/1979)<PLZ UPDATE
    I AM NOT CLIME πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™
    CELL NUMBER 7396090905
    My problem

  6. I totally agree with you. I’ve had a very similar experience with hometown. It’s been 6 month and my issue has still not been resolved.

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