From the annals of bad customer service: Pioneer Millworks

We’re putting reclaimed wood on a wall of cabinetry and on our office doors. Schuchart/Dow used Pioneer Millworks to order the wood a few weeks ago. Last week, we decided to not use it on the office doors because it’s too difficult to assemble doors out of it and mount it to track system — the labor to assemble and install the doors would triple the cost. So Schuchart/Dow called Pioneer Millworks to cancel 30% of the order (the amount for the doors) and they told them that they would charge us a 20% restocking fee for the cancellation. 20% is high, but the wood hasn’t even left their warehouse yet, so there’s no reason to charge a restocking fee at all! They don’t have to deal with handling a return, verifying that they received what they’re supposed to, deal with damage, etc. It felt like a threat to keep us from canceling an order they’ve booked more than a legitimate fee.

Schuchart/Dow told them what we thought of that restocking fee but they held their ground, so I decided I’d deal directly with them myself and got the salesman’s contact info. I called him today, he answered his phone and when he realized who I was and why I was calling, he told me that he was in a meeting and had to call me back. So a stranger’s call is important enough to interrupt a meeting but an existing customer isn’t. It’s better to not be a customer of Pioneer Millworks, apparently.

He called me back an hour later and told me this order is a small order and they’re only handling the order as “a favor” (his words) to Schuchart/Dow. Oh, I see: He doesn’t really want our money and doesn’t want us as a customer, he’s just doing it as a favor to someone else. What a saint. And if he’s so eager to please Schuchart/Dow, why’d he give them such a hard time about the restocking fee?

And I doubt that he’s being honest about it being a small order to them. It’s about 300 square feet of wood. I’m sure they do much larger orders, but their web site gallery has plenty of examples that are of similarly-sized and smaller orders. To his credit, he agreed to not charge the restocking fee, but a good salesperson would have said “We want our customers to be happy and we appreciate your business, so I’m going to waive the restocking fee.” But he said, effectively, “I want you to understand that I’m not doing this to please you, my customer and the person paying me, I’m doing this to please someone else.”

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