How to Fail at Customer Service


As we go through life, we encounter all sorts of customer service experiences. There’s the incomprehensible person taking orders at McDonald’s drive-thru window (bad), there’s the awesome barista at Starbucks who patiently corrects a problem with a drink order (good), there’s the helpful person at the drugstore who walks you over to the aisle where the thing you’re looking for lives (good), there’s every tech support call with Dell Computers ever (okay, maybe that one is a personal bias of mine). That’s life. That’s what all the people say, to sort of paraphrase Frank Sinatra. But you want to know how to really fail at customer service? Well, I’ll tell you. If you don’t want to read to the end, let me just say this: don’t EVER sell any phone or other device on the Glyde website without knowing that it’s going to be all on you to disprove or prove problems or issues with your order. Document, document, document! There, you’ve been warned.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I upgraded to the new iPhone 6S (it’s really a nice phone!). This left me with an iPhone 6 Plus to sell, and there are lots of sites out there to help with that endeavor. I used Glyde for the last phone I sold (an iPhone 5S, if you’re counting), and all was fine. They gave me a good price and the phone sold quickly. For those not in the know: Glyde acts as an intermediary (a la Ebay) and hooks you, the seller up with a prospective buyer. Once a phone is sold, Glyde sends you a box, you put the phone and its charger in the box, put the label Glyde supplies on the outside of the box, pop it in the mail (USPS) and off the phone goes to its new home. The buyer gets the phone, and if all is copacetic, sends the agreed upon sum to Glyde who then takes their cut, and sends you, the seller your share. Easy peasy! Generally, Glyde offers about $50 more than competitor sites like Gazelle or SellYourMac. The other sites, however, send you money without having a buyer – they assume that they will sell your phone (hence, I assume, their lower buy back prices). I’ve had good experiences with both Gazelle and SellYourMac. But a little extra cash is always nice, right?

So I put my iPhone 6 Plus up on the Glyde site to sell. A few days pass and my phone sells. And then I wait a few more days before a box from Glyde arrives. I put my phone in the box, place their label on the outside and take the phone to the Post Office. Actually, Chuck took it and God bless him, he stood in line and got a receipt for the box (this will become very important later in the story). So far, so good. Days pass with no news from Glyde. Then I get another box. With a different buyer and address. Uh-oh. Not sure what to do, I wait. Then I get an email from Glyde telling me that my sale is at risk of being cancelled because the buyer hasn’t received the phone. Huh? So I emailed customer service at Glyde (they have no phone support), explaining that I received a box several days ago, and immediately shipped it. The next email I get from Glyde tells me that my account has been canceled because I failed to send the phone in a timely fashion to a buyer. Then customer service emails me to say that according to them I never shipped the phone. I email back and say, yes, I shipped the phone and I have receipt to prove it but now I can’t get into my account because you’ve canceled it. Well, says customer service, your order number shows that you never shipped the phone. But we’ll reinstate your account because we’re so nice. I emailed back and said that I did get another box after I sent my phone off; it had the same buyer name with a different address. Could that be the problem, could Glyde have sent me a box with my order number but with an incorrect buyer address (coincidentally the names for the first box and the second box were the same, but the addresses were really different; one was in CA the other in UT)? No, of course not, says support, the inference clearly being that Glyde never makes mistakes and this was somehow all my fault. I emailed back saying that I had no phone, no money, a box that I didn’t need, and was feeling pretty abused. Support then told me that I must have used a different service from Glyde and forgotten about it. WHAT?! Excuse me?!? You guys screw up and I’m the idiot!? Then things gets really interesting. I get yet another box from Glyde in the mail with a different buyer address (and this one has a whole new order number!). In case you’re counting, that makes three boxes I’ve received, two of which arrived AFTER I mailed the phone off. So I canceled the sale for the third box. And Glyde charges me $3 for the box. ARGH!!!! So I emailed them again, and said that I was feeling pretty peeved at the fact that I had no phone, no money, two extra boxes and a $3 charge for a box I never ordered. Glyde emails back and says, okay, we’ll reverse the $3 charge. But there’s nothing they can do about the fact that I don’t know what site I used to sell my phone.

About this point in the story, I am pretty depressed. As my niece said when I told her the story, it’s hard to prove a negative. I knew I mailed the phone off, but the Glyde support people had really beaten me down to the point where I was really wondering if in fact I had done something stupid. Did I use the right label? Chuck was following along with this sad tale, and saw me getting discouraged, so he did something really smart. He contacted the Post Office about the tracking number from the receipt he got when he dropped my phone off lo these many weeks ago. And the Post Office came through right away, with loads of info. They had the whole history of the phone’s travels from our local post office to the buyer’s address. Dates, times, the whole nine yards. They also had something else: the return address on the stupid mailing label. And guess what address that was? You guessed it – Glyde’s address in Palo Alto, CA!!! Hah! I was right, they had screwed up! So I emailed them all of this new information from the Post Office. And heard nothing, but this was on Friday morning. But here’s the best part, the icing on the cake, as it were – Friday afternoon I went out to the mailbox to get our mail and guess what was waiting for me? Yes, ANOTHER Glyde box with a NEW order number! So since innocently sending my phone off, I have collected three new boxes, been charged $3 (they did refund me that money), still have no phone, no money, and Glyde is, as of Friday anyway, refusing to take any responsibility for this massive snafu.

So this story has no end, yet. Stay tuned. Will I ever get my phone back? Will I ever get any money? Time will tell. And Glyde, if you’re listening: way to completely, spectacularly fail at customer service!

Update: the story has a happy ending, mostly. After we did all of the investigative work for them, and showed them the clear evidence of the problem, they contacted the buyer, and received confirmation of the error (a box with a bad address), and are going to give me my money. So sort of yay. But I’m still not using Glyde again.