Here’s a letter I sent to the CEO of GE.
June 29, 2010
General Electric Parts Division
CEO Jeff Immelt
Dear General Electric,
As a shareholder and customer, I write to you today to express my dissatisfaction with your company’s service. Having been born down the street from your Nela Park lighting facility in Cleveland, Ohio, I have had a good opinion of GE for a long time. Unfortunately, my opinion is changing.
Recently, my GE Spacemaker washer broke. I noticed two things. My washer was much louder than usual, and a screw was in the pile of wet clothes. Specifically, a screw broke off in the lock plate, rendering it useless. Now, I’ve had no problem in the past with your products — I understand things break after two years of constant use. (My girlfriend’s GE washer flooded her apartment last night, which is a bit ominous). I wish it were longer than two years before the washer broke, but a lot of factors play into it, so I won’t fault you there.
Here is my problem. My washer broke two Thursdays ago, June 17. I have not used it since, because I am not a nincompoop and wish no further harm upon the device or my wallet. A local service guy came out to look at it two days later on Saturday. He realized that he did not have the parts and told me he’d get back to me soon about ordering them. Two days following, on June 21, I had heard nothing. So I call him and he tells me it will take three weeks to get the part. I did not believe this at first, and told him to hold on before ordering. I thought: “Well, he has to order parts for probably 50+ customers, and then only orders the cheapest shipping to make a better profit.” I decided to look for the parts on your webpage. I found them, ordered them and paid extra for two day shipping. I even posted on my website that I thought your parts division was good, which you can see by visiting: http://www.bomble.com/jimswift/?p=4731. The purpose of my post was that, if you do it yourself, you can sometimes get things done faster.
Fast forward eight days, and I have yet to receive the parts. One would figure that, because I got the order in early (around noon on Monday, June 21) the products would ship that day, and arrive Wednesday, June 23. Or, because it was after noon, they’d be processed the next day and arrive Thursday, June 24. After it did not arrive on Thursday, I logged into the status page and saw that, according to your webpage, the order had been shipped. “Great,” I thought, “it will likely be here Friday or Saturday.” Wrong. Since most domestic shipping companies do not deliver on Sunday, I thought it surely would be on my doorstep on Monday. Wrong again. Well, it’s Tuesday, a week and a day after I ordered parts your webpage said you have in stock that were supposed arrive quickly with two day shipping.
Here’s an anecdote. Amazon.com’s market cap is about a third of GE’s, and you guys cannot even offer tracking numbers? They do. I realize that GE has been around so long that innovation isn’t really as easy it is for smaller firms, but even Woot.com can provide me with tracking data for a $3.99 xbox headset, which is why I’ll continue to buy from them. What geniuses in your IT and Customer Service departments are yet to have the epiphany that customers like tracking numbers? I’m convinced that, in addition to new people in your customer service department, you could probably get a 21 year old kid who took one class in SCM (supply chain management) to do a better job of organizing the shipping of your parts.
In closing, GE, you stand to lose a lot with me. Fridge, microwave, dishwasher, oven/stove, washer/dryer — all GE. They’re nice looking products that have, for the most part, performed well. They came with my condominium. When they crap out, as products eventually do, your response to this letter will determine whether or not my unit continues to buy General Electric products. Similarly, as a shareholder, my votes will be determined by your response, which will be posted on my blog, as this letter has.