How Would You Rate This Customer Experience From Nautilus? [TRUE STORY]


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I wish I could say that I recently purchased a piece of workout equipment from Nautilus, Inc – suppliers of Bowflex, Schwinn and Nautilus products). In fact, it wasn’t so recently and to date, I have still not received the product I ordered on Jan 1st, online with a debit card.. Nearly two months later, here is a short story, and the questions I would ask them about their internal processes.

After a brutal Christmas, I was convinced to drop another ~$1000 on a Schwinn 460 Elliptical for my wife. I had a price that was nearly $400 off the current price so I pulled the trigger, thinking within a few weeks we would be enjoying the benefits of an assisted cardiovascular workout in the home.

So, about 30 days in, I placed a call to check on the status of my order. The gentleman I spoke with let me know that he had no visibility into fulfillment and that the website clearly noted that the lead time was 30-45 days. I was surprised, but it seems that Nautilus builds these units somewhere else (overseas) and simply funnels through their distribution center. Okay.

As the order was approaching 45 days, I called again to find out when to expect this to be delivered. The young lady I spoke with told me that they had just done a pre-authorization on my card the day before (for the 2nd time I found out) and that it was declined. Huh? Okay, with two people messing around in a checking account, I’m not as on top of things as I should be. I honestly thought I had paid for it 45 days earlier. My bad.

She went to tell me that it was against the law to charge me for something that was backordered, which is why they only do a pre-authorization. She also told me that they charged me when the item was ready to ship. So, I asked why no one had contacted me the previous day and then instructed her to charge my account now, which now had the funds available for the transaction. She answered that she would have to get back to me in the next day or so.

Two days later, I called again, after not hearing anything. I spoke with a third person and gave here the background. At this point, my order number was no longer valid! However, she found the record and was able to see what was going on. I had a couple of questions for her (this isn’t verbatim, and I’m sure it was recorded, but it’s close enough)…

  1. When was the last time your warehouse received Schwinn 460 Ellipticals for delivery to your customers?
    Answer: Jan 15th
  2. Why was my card hit in February if there was nothing to ship?
    Answer: No answer
  3. When is the next shipment due?
    Answer: February 21st (a few days in the future)
  4. When will you be charging my card?
    Answer: I don’t know
  5. If I pay now, which I authorize you to do, will I get the first available?
    Answer: You are high on the list as they are shipped based on order date. In fact, there could be one in the warehouse set aside for you right now. I just have no way to confirm that.
  6. Really? But if there isn’t, will I get one shipped after your Feb 21st shipment? Can you walk to the warehouse and look?
    Answer: You will be high on the list
  7. Why do you do pre-authorizations 45 days before you charge a card, when a pre-auth only sticks for a few days?
    Answer: We don’t normally have such long lead times
  8. Then why does your website clearly state the long lead times?
    Answer: I didn’t expect an answer

At this point, I authorized her to charge my debit card. Since my vast fortune moves in and out of this account daily, I wanted to make sure the funds were there when they charged it, since they couldn’t tell me when that would be. Listen, my wife is killing me over this one! I had to do something! And the next day, it was charged.

A few days later, the original young lady left me a message asking me to call if there were any questions. I haven’t called yet. It’s a week since the last delivery was supposed to reach Nautilus’s warehouse and I have not been notified of shipment to me. So, I wanted to write this before I called. I can always do a followup to this post. So, here are the questions I have for Nautilus…

  • What is the purpose of customer service if they don’t have visibility into fulfillment?
  • Have you ever considered some deeper fulfillment tracking on your website?
  • Do you train your customer service personnel to be polite, hoping the problem will go away?
  • Is it really illegal to bill someone for a backordered item?
  • Am I the only one having this experience?
  • Do you think it’s time to have an outside expert come in and show you what’s wrong? You really can’t see what’s wrong?
  • When am I getting my equipment? I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that has actually paid for it in advance?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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