Sears Now Carries Ebony – A Customer Service Blunder

Article - June 13, 2014

butcher blockI recently received an email from David that really made me laugh, so I thought I’d share it with you. Apparently Dave has his eye on a pre-made butcher block work surface available from Sears (pictured right). A great way to jump-start a workbench build.

sears-customer-serviceLike any self-respecting woodworker, he wanted to know what species the butcher block is made from. It’s clearly hard to tell just from the image so he used the handy online customer service tool to ask his question. Here’s a transcript of the conversation:

Info: Please wait for a Sears Tool Crew member to respond.
Info: Thank you for contacting the Sears Tool Crew! My name is Campbell and it’s my pleasure to help you today.
David: What kind of wood is this made of? Craftsman Butcher Block Work Surface
Campbell: Sure, let me check the information for you.
Campbell: David, we do not have this information in our resources and I will check with our product support to know the exact information on this.
David: ok. Thanks. It makes a big difference in work surfaces
Campbell: While I check the information for you, may I know how are you doing today?
David: All is good here. Thanks.
Campbell: I am checking the information with our product support and now I am connected with my product expert.
Campbell: David, I checked with our product support and this wood is made of African Ebony hardwood and this is the best quality which we sell online.
Campbell: Are there any other questions I can assist you with today?
David: Well…that answer is plainly incorrect. Sorry. The product expert is wrong at best.
David: Ebony is black in color. It also costs an exorbitant amount, like $45 for one piece 1″ x 2″ x 24″.
David: A full bench top this size, beyond being black, would cost thousands.
Campbell: Just a moment, David.
Campbell: David, this is not the African ebony that is used to manufacture the expensive furnitures. This is the degraded ones which is used to prepare blocks and is referred to as Ebony hard wood.
David: Have a good day.
Campbell: Just a moment.
Campbell: This unit is also polished with Woodgrain color.
David: :) OK. Thanks. Have a good day
Campbell: You are welcome.
Campbell: May I help you in any other way today?
David: Nope. Bye.

OK so this really isn’t too surprising as we’ve all had our share of crappy overseas customer service. It’s really a shame but I think this is about par for the course. When you actually do get decent customer service, it’s always a pleasant surprise. So while this isn’t all that unusual (and we mean no disrespect to Sears), it’s pretty funny to a woodworker. It’s a little like going to a Toyota dealer and being told that the red Corolla in the showroom is a Ferrari. Funny stuff!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go polish my Morris Chair with some “woodgrain color.”