It being the season of goodwill to all men, I'm a little loathe to launch straight into a rant...but, you know.
A little while ago, I was idly considering buying myself a Garmin watch that had a GPS chip in it and would help me to track my runs more accurately. It's not cheap, but I thought that it would really pep up my running to know how I was doing against my own previous times on the same route and stuff like that. Luckily, I discovered a brilliant application for the iPhone that did pretty much exactly the same thing and was going to cost me absolutely nothing. It's hard to sing RunKeeper's praises enough really: it uses the GPS functionality in the iPhone to track distance, time, speed and gradient to help you get a much more accurate idea of what you are doing and how you are performing. By way of example, here's my run in Oxford on Saturday before the Christmas party.
Not bad, eh?
Anyway. Because I don't really like holding onto my iPhone when I'm running, I thought that what would make this application perfect would be something that would enable me to clip the phone to my arm as I ran. That way I would be able to track the run and to use it is an iPod without needing to worry much about it. As luck would have it, I saw a recommendation in the paper for just the thing I needed: an armband for the 3G iPhone made by Gear4. Brilliant. I ordered on the spot. Job done. It was 5th Novermber and in less than a week, I would be able to run handsfree again.
No. Apparently not.
A little later, on 13th November, mindful of the £3.60 I was paying for 2-5 day delivery, I tentatively emailed them to find out what was going on. Ah, we're out of stock, they told me. Next shipment will be 19th November. Fine. 29th November, having received no product and no further contact from them, I emailed them again. Ah, we're still out of stock. The next shipment is 5th December. By now I was starting to become a little agitated. I wanted an armband. I had paid for an armband. I didn't have an armband but was unable to buy any of the ones I saw because I was already committed. The 5th of December came and went. Weeks passed. Nothing. Today - 22nd December - I got an email telling me, out of the blue, that they had despatched my order. When I got home, I found it was already here. It looks pretty good, but do you know what? I'm furious about the shitty customer service I have received.
Why did they take my order (and my money) when they were out of stock?
Why did it take me emailing them to find out that it was out of stock?
Why did they not update me of the status of the order until months past the date when I might reasonably expected to have received my goods?
That stuff isn't hard, is it?
The product I have is fine, but I can't help but conclude that Gear4 ultimately don't give a shit about their customers. If that's truly the case, then they really don't deserve any customers at all. You'd think that in the current economic climate, they'd value every customer they could get. Apparently (and bafflingly) this is clearly not the case.
Next time, I'm voting with my feet.