Always full of drama

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Krups - Wake up and smell the coffee

Today I am going to go a little off topic and talk about some dreadful customer service. It has it’s roots in a purchase in Ukraine but responsibility lies solely with the parent company, which is German.
In November I bought a Krups XP5220 pump expresso machine. Several things swayed my decision, it was a pump machine at reasonable price, it was a very well respected brand and most reviews said it made excellent coffee. Many of the reviews also mentioned a flaw with the machine in that the steam wand was made of very cheap plastic and prone to breaking. Indeed Amazon’s customer reviews were full of this issue but some also said that Krups had redesigned the wand and it was fine. I weighed up the arguments and decided to to purchase. 
When the machine arrived, it looked very good, sleek, stylish and it made superb coffee. There was a separate little leaflet explaining how to remove and clean the steam wand, and I took this to mean that the problem had been acknowledged and dealt with.
Fast forward and after three months of daily capuchinos, the steam wand broke. Not as many people had experienced, at the retaining tabs but actually the steam tube had snapped completely in half. Some super glue and careful position repaired the tube which worked for another three days, then one of the retaining tabs broke. So here I am, and Englishman who cannot put steamed milk in his expresso. 

I am steaming over a broken steam wand

A quick bit of research tracked down the Ukraine/Russia service center and Tania made a call to them. The resultant conversation was shocking but not entirely unexpected. They claimed that the steam wand is not covered by the guarantee and they would not replace it for free. They did however give us the number of a supplier in Ukraine who would sell us a replacement. When Tania tried to get them to accept that there was a problem with the steam wand design by talking about the many reviews, there answer was perhaps, typically Russian. “If you knew, why did you buy it!” 
So resigned to having to pay for a new steam wand Tania called the number. It did not exist. Getting a little pissed of with this situation, I decided to write to Krups head office in Germany. Germans I thought, understood quality design and good customer care. Germans, efficient helpful people, they will understand. So I fired of a polite mail explaining the issue and asking for help. That was two weeks ago, until now I have not received the courtesy of an acknowledgment of my email, let alone a reply. 
Feeling even more upset by the lack of a reply, I fired off an email to the UK office. I explained I was an expat and I understood that it was not their problem but could they at least nudge me in the direction of someone that could. As you have probably guessed from this blog, they did not reply either. 
All of us have met with bad customer service in our lives, some things get sorted some don’t, but for me when a company produces a machine that obviously has a design fault, and then tells you if you knew why did you buy, its time for a little adverse publicity.
So in recognition of the effect of social networking on world affairs, I am attempting to start a “German Dawn” Not to bring down the government of the Federal Republic of course but  to stir a large German corporation into treating it’s customers with a little dignity and respect. I have set up a facebook here and I ask anyone who has suffered at the hands of bad service to like it. Lets see if people power can change corporations like it can governments.

As a footnote to this, its now three weeks since I emailed head office yet no reply. Yes I have checked the spam folder as well. Here are some of the comments I should have listened to on Amazon Reviews