I have stopped buying Columbia Sportswear products. I have been a fan and a loyal purchaser of Columbia jackets and clothing for many years. It came as a big surprise to me the first time I had an issue, how bad their customer and warranty service is.
I purchase an Omni Tech jacket last winter (Feb 2013) and wore is sparingly. The first time I wore the jacket this fall (Nov 2013) the zipper frayed and separated from the lining in the chest area. This is manufacturer’s defect and I expected it to be fixed/replaced under warranty.
However getting help and warranty service from Columbia is very difficult. Their website does a decent job of describing the process. But I am a Canadian resident and I purchased the jacket in the US from a Columbia Outlet store.
I created a customer service ticket (# 49988 ) on their website on Nov 29th and uploaded pictures and a copy of the receipt. I was sent an automated email message that said they would get back to me soon. After a week of activity I followed up by calling the customer service call center.
The Canadian customer call center directed me to the US call center. The call center rep said she had never come across a Canadian resident who purchased a jacket in the US and had a warranty issue. She tried to pass me back to the Canadian call center until I told her that the Canadian call center had passed me onto them. Then they told me that there was nothing they could do for me as they do not ship to Canada.
I found this answer unacceptable for a large publicly traded company that is in markets all over the world. For the customer service rep to tell a customer that “I have never seen any situation like this” and “I cannot help you” is a cop-out. Their customer service reps are poorly trained and lack respect for the customers that eventually pay their salaries.
I escalated this issue to the manager with no better results. She was also very defiant and blamed the issue on the volume of business they were experiencing. First stating that there were too many emails over the Thanksgiving weekend to process and then saying that if it were a Canadian email it would have been directed it to the Canadian call center. My question to her was if there were too many emails to process how would they know to direct it to Canada? She just wanted to pass me (the buck) onto someone else and be done with a situation they were incapable of dealing with.
I have only come across this level of belligerence, incompetence, and disregard for customers when dealing with government employees and sometimes telecom call centers. That was the biggest shock. I had to take a step back and remind myself I was dealing with a retail company with stores in countries all over the world.
Reading other blogs and articles on the net I realize that mine’s is not an isolated case as far as Columbia customer service goes. The good news is they (Columbia) are not a government or a telecom monopoly and I can choose not to deal with them by not buying any of their products. Competition is good for consumers and retailer. I hope Helly Hanson and North Face have more respect for their customers where there is a warranty issue.
Product or Service Mentioned: Columbia Sportswear Jacket.
Monetary Loss: $108.