Simplex Kettles — An Example of How NOT to Respond to a Customer Complaint

Recently, I won a tea kettle from Simplex Kettles in the UK and was quite excited — until the problems arose. I should say “problem” — singular — because as it turned out there was really only one problem. His name was Graham Tweed, CEO of Simplex Kettles. Someone that I’m sure is in person a really nice guy but who came across very differently in our email exchange regarding my “prize” kettle. So much so that hubby and I are now quite pissed off with him and the company.

First, let me say that the kettle, despite some minor dents, is gorgeous. And we missed on their site that it is not tarnish-proof so have only ourselves to blame there. Trying to be very fair here. On the other hand, we did make sure to select a tea kettle that would work on our hotplates (we don’t have a stove — a trend that is growing here in the U.S. and elsewhere). We took this screenshot from their site on 11 Nov 2013 9:59:39 AM my time showing that it was supposed to work (click on image to enlarge).

A kettle is no good if it’s just pretty, so we had to test it out, following the Simplex instructions very carefully. Sadly, the test didn’t go well and so we contacted Simplex through Facebook. Imagine my surprise when the CEO, Graham Tweed, responded! The company isn’t huge, but they’re not a one-man operation either, so I had expected them to have a social media or PR person who would address customer concerns. A lot of times these people are more diplomatic and are much better at paying attention to what the customer is saying. In this case, it would have been a good idea. You see, this isn’t about the quality of the kettle but rather about the how this company responded to us.

It’s kind of tough to write this. We were so happy to win their contest and even more happy when the prize kettle arrived. We had hoped this item would be all that the company site said it was. It wasn’t and the CEO didn’t like hearing that. First, he blamed the hotplate, sending reviews he found somewhere online saying how bad it worked (we had to point out that it worked fine with our other kettle). Then it seems WE were the problem, using their kettle wrong. At my age I’ve used lots of kettles. Again, I think the real problem was Tweed answering my Facebook message. It was Sunday but he could have waited and let that more diplomatic person handle things. Just a thought. And answering via his cell phone meant he probably didn’t read my messages thoroughly (some of his responses were non-sequitor) and the brevity of his responses made them seem terse.

Oh well, our tried and true tea kettle will serve us just fine until we found a truly usable replacement.

One final note: Online shopping, especially from companies based in another country, are a bit risky with the biggest issue being customer complaints. Avenues of recourse available to us here when buying from a U.S.-based company do not apply to these other offshore firms.

© 2013 A.C. Cargill photos and text

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