Happy Ending

January 28, 2011

How many great customer service experiences have you had lately?

I’ve had some total bummers.

The worst recent experience relates to the TiVo set top box I bought from Telecom last year, and six months on, is still not working. But that’s another story.

The one customer service experience that, in an ongoing fashion, I have found to be consistently good, is that of my mechanic. Friends are amazed when I tell them I have a mechanic that gets me the best deals, that is conscientious and helpful and generally brilliant. And no, you can’t have his name.

In technologically oriented industries, however, I’ve found post-sales service to be rather crap, and going by the moaning and groaning of my friends, it’s a nationwide problem.

The thing is, it’s easy to jump online and vent your spleen about the latest bullshit you’ve encountered. As much as I think that’s a good and valid response, and in 2011 I think Kiwis should be standing up and complaining when things are NOT good enough, it’s also important to acknowledge things when they’re great.

My story is short, so keep reading. A couple of years back I bought what was then a top-of-the-line wireless printer from Epson, the Epson Stylus Photo TX800FW. Despite spending literally hours trying to set up its wireless functionality, to this day it has refused to allow me to use it wirelessly. This, despite talking to the Epson technical help desk. I’m not the most technically adept person on the block, but I have heard the same story from people who are naturally technically adept, as well.

But I digress. It’s not the wirelessness of my Epson that bugs me, but the fact that the ink runs out every five minutes, and costs a bundle. I don’t know why governments around the world aren’t holding top-level enquiries to find out why and how companies like Epson can justify charging so much for ink cartridges. It cost me the best part of $200 just to replace my first set of inks, which is about half the cost of the printer itself. What’s more, I’m not joking when I make the claim about the inks running out every five minutes. Perhaps ten minutes would be more accurate, but the truth is, I’ve never used the printer for work that really chews through the colours (like photo prints, for example), just the odd print out of IRD forms and bits and pieces I need for my work. My use has been irregular, and non-intensive, but the inks were still crying out for replacement within a month or two.

What’s more, the printer has all sorts of devious ways to stop you from using just one colour – if any one of its ink wells is running dry, nothing will work.

If I felt good about Epson, and my printer, I would have been loyal and bought Epson inks the second time round. But I couldn’t afford them, and what’s more, I didn’t feel good about Epson’s threat that other inks wouldn’t work well in the unit.

When I chanced upon an Inkworks kiosk in Henderson, and saw that they sold ink cartridges that claimed to be compatible with my printer for a proportion of Epson’s price, together with a full guarantee, I decided to give them a go. No problem, easy insertion, away I went.

My use of the printer over the next six months was minimal, but when I went to use it in early January, I couldn’t get the Epson to print at all. It would simply come up with the message “Cannot recognize the following ink cartridges. Install them correctly.” The error message said my problem was with Light Magenta, so I bought a replacement cartridge. Then the error message told me that there was a problem with all the other colours.

The Epson wouldn’t allow me to carry out any corrective procedures – the error message seemed to override everything else.

So I emailed Inkworks. The very same day, they couriered me a new set of ink cartridges. I installed them, and bingo! After a bit of tweaking and setting up for optimum printing on the Epson, everything was right as rain.

The Inkworks representative phoned me back the very next day to check that everything was fine.

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a place in the market for a company like Inkworks. If Epson offered that kind of service, together with reasonably priced inks, then owners of their printers would tend to be loyal and happy and it would altogether be a feel-good experience.

But they don’t, which creates a market. I don’t know if Inkworks ink cartridges are better or worse than Epson’s. I can’t tell any difference, that’s for sure. But what goes a long way to making a customer happy is good customer service, and on this occasion, Inkworks has scored a giant big 10 out of 10 on the customer satisfaction scale. Congratulations. GARY STEEL

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

1 Comment

  1. Nice to hear some good feedback for a change. Bear in mind that none of these companies are in the printer making business. The printers are just a front for the highly profitable ink making business.

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