Bearding the lion
We own a small pizza store, with just one location. Since we’re 1 block from Sather Gate and have been there 28 years, we don’t advertise much.
However, we do have a Facebook page, and I regularly post a photo of the special of the day and some possibly witty words. If it’s a big day or the pie is super-special, I sometimes pay Facebook $20 or even $30 to “promote” that particular post. They have my credit card on file, it’s a few clicks from my phone and we’re all done.
Until this week, when Gail got the credit card bill and noticed some huge charges. After considerable sleuthing about the complex, hard to understand, Facebook advertising pages, I figured out that they had decided that on May 27 I not only wanted to spend $20 to promote the Memorial Day post, but for some inexplicable reason I wanted to spend up to $50 a day forever to continue to promote it, and the bill is currently over $3,200.
Not having any intention of blowing three grand on an ad I don’t want, I tried to talk to Facebook. Silly me. You can look through the FB website for hours and not find a phone number. I checked gethuman.com, a website that helps you cut through voice mail hell, and they have one number and say it is worthless–a recording that refers you back to the website.
So here is bad customer service taken to it’s highest form–a huge multinational company you can only contact by email. Email that is answered by machine, at that.
Not being one to give up, today I drove down to Palo Alto, planning on walking in the front door and trying to find a human to converse with. Good try, no luck.
The Facebook campus is right off highway 84 at the eastern anchorage of the Dumbarton Bridge, you can’t miss it. There are at least 19 buildings, not counting the Fitness Center. Although many employees arrive by company bus, the parking lot is completely full. The complimentary valet parking is a necessity–there are so many vendors, visitors, consultants and at least one cranky customer that the valets have double parked dozens of cars for lack of space.
Driving up to the valet, I said I wanted to go into the front door. They told me I would need an appointment. I said I’d have to call to do that, and there was no phone number. Nicely circular system they have.
Eventually, I was allowed into some ancillary reception area, where an employee in a t-shirt, red sneakers and knee length pants said that “unfortunately, no one was available at present” to speak with me. Now or ever, I would opine.
There is a customer support form, which I filled out with email address and phone number, they took a picture of my drivers license (in case the place blows up tonight I guess I’m on the suspects list), and promised a response within 72 hours. Maybe they’ll be as good as their word. Maybe not.
It’s a sad state of affairs when we have come from the era of ‘the customer is always right’ to this complete unapproachability, a corporation incommunicado. Facebook reminds me of Lily Tomlin as Ernestine, the phone company operator. “We don’t care, we don’t have to.” It may work for the time being, but is this really a strategy for long term customer relations?