I had a recurring order with Peet’s Coffee for 9-10 years. My oldest email from them dates to 2003. It’s a bit unusual that I even know about them because their only East Coast presence was a brief stint as coffee supplier for the Au Bon Pain chain of restaurants 10-12 years ago. But that drew my attention to their coffee which I really liked and I became a customer, I thought, for life.
Until this weekend.
A few months ago I suspended my recurring order because I had too much inventory in the house and needed to use it up. On Saturday I went back to their website to resume the order and everything fell to pieces. The short version is that they have redesigned and re-engineered their website, but it is broken, and they have no notices up acknowledging that fact so you waste your time trying to make it work.
A slightly more detailed version (and believe it or not this is actually a short account of what I went through) is:
1. I accessed my account on Saturday and discover they lost my recurring order
2. I try to create a new recurring order (now renamed “Subscriptions”) but the ordering process won’t allow me to do so.
3. I back track after that failure and discover that the link which was supposed to send me to the new subscriptions page is incorrect and there is another page that would allow me to start a subscription., but I don’t feel like going through the whole ordering process again. And there is no way to convert a regular order into a subscription.
4. Further, the way those two links interact is wonky in ways I won’t go into but that complicate any attempt to explain and thereby submit a ticket on the problem.
5. I try to submit a ticket on the problem which has to be long to address the wonkiness in Item 4.
6. The web form to submit feedback has a length limitation that is not stated, so my submission is rejected with no information of how much I would need to cut to make it fit, and no prior warning that any limit even exists.
7. I submit a short feedback post saying please email me so I can send you the full details on how your site is broken.
8. Nobody answers me for 2 full business days (Monday and Tuesday).
9. I dig up the email address they used in my only prior customer service interaction 5 years ago (which was stellar and created the loyalty that drove me to spend 2 hours trying to help them fix their website) and send them the info on the glitch on the 3rd business day after the failure, Wednesday.
10. Instead of responding to my email they call me at home and talk to my wife who knows nothing about any of this.
11. I write again saying if I wanted to chat I would have called so please answer my email.
12. After close of their business day, and still with no response, I visit their Facebook page, where I discover that all of these issues are previously reported and have been around in some instances for 2-4 weeks. In fact, my recurring order is not lost but all recurring orders need to be transferred over to a new system, which apparently is done through some sort of manual process that cannot be completed over the course of multiple weeks and nobody thought to do it before the new system went live.
13. I realize I spent easily 2 hours working through these problems, and then writing up and trying to submit a ticket on an issue they’ve known about for several weeks but haven’t fixed and haven’t put up any notices or emailed their customers about.
14. They answer my email after close of business (due credit to the service rep for working late) and confirm what I found out on Facebook, namely they already know about every one of these problems, plus a few others, and all of my efforts to work around their issues and to try to report their problems were a total waste of my time.
I’m done with Peet’s. You can break your website and have technical glitches. That happens. What you cannot do is let those failures linger for weeks and not bother putting up a notice that lets people know your system is broken. The page that indicates I have no recurring orders should have a notice on it indicating they are having technical difficulties and to please call them to resolve it. If that had been in place, the epic trail of Peet’s failure would have stopped at Item 1 on the above list. And that would not be a failure, epic or otherwise. It would just be a minor glitch.
Their Facebook page is a comedy of errors:
Here’s another customer whose order history is missing and had trouble making a new order two weeks ago.
Here’s another who notes the site no longer works on an iPad.
Here’s a complaint that the submit button doesn’t work on their website contact form.
Here’s someone who submitted two web complaints and never got a reply.
And my favorite, this gentleman also had his recurring order disappear, and when he tried to call the number on the redesigned website, it was the wrong number and he ended up calling United Van Lines, who politely told him they were getting a lot of such misdirected calls. That’s right. When Peet’s redesigned their website they incorrectly typed their phone number and nobody caught it.
How do you have this string of failure and not do something to get ahead of the problem? The customer service folks are trying to fix things after the fact, but by then it is too late. There should be notices up on the website and they should have emailed all of their customers with recurring orders to let us know there is a problem and they are working on it. Like I said, my recurring order has been in place for 9-10 years and they have lost it, both literally and figuratively. I’m done with Peet’s. They wasted my time and cannot give it back.
I expect they don’t want to put up a notice on their website or to email all their clients admitting their problems because it’s embarrassing and they might be worried about bad press. And for all my ranting here I realize my audience is pretty small and even with this post that strategy probably will still work. But, is it worth it to contain bad publicity at the cost of alienating your most loyal customers who have recurring orders that form the bedrock of your cash flow?
So yes, the future of my relationship with Peet’s is a bleak winter cemetery landscape. But hey, Spring arrives in the month that begins tomorrow, and I’ll find a new coffee vendor, so things are looking up.