Dinah Eng

Celebrations Passport to nowhere

Posted in Business at 12:47 am by dinaheng

I used to love 1-800-FLOWERS and its customer service department.

No matter the occasion, my friends always loved the gifts I sent through them and their family of brands (including Harry & David, Popcorn Factory, Cheryl’s Cookies and the like).

But ever since this company started offering Celebrations Passport, a loyalty program that rewards members with free shipping and other perks, customer service has gone down the tube.

The more Celebrations Passport members buy, the more perks you’re supposed to get. Instead, the more you buy, the more hassles you encounter.

I am currently at the top tier of giving, which includes free greeting cards with my orders. Unfortunately, every time I order, the website shows that the card is free, but when it comes time to pay for the order, the site adds on the $4.99 charge that non-members must pay. Every time, I have to call and argue with a customer service rep to get that $4.99 back.

This process usually involves calling the brand I ordered from, then toggling back and forth between that rep and the Celebrations Passport rep – both of whom claim that the issue doesn’t fall under their purview.

This week, I had the most frustrating, convoluted buying experience ever.

Midweek, I ordered a popcorn tin from the Popcorn Factory for a friend’s birthday for $30.40. Shortly after that, I get an email from the Popcorn Factory saying that the tin I ordered was out of stock, and I could call customer service to place an alternate gift order.

So I called their 800 number to order something else. The customer rep took the order and said since this was an inconvenience, she would upgrade the tin at no charge.

When the new order was confirmed by email, I was charged $34.98 plus $3.88 for a total of $48.86. (If you think that’s the correct total, you failed math in third grade.) Clearly, the charge was $10 too much.

When I called again to correct the total, the customer rep told me she would adjust the charge to $37.14 AND issue me a $10 credit to compensate for my time.

Guess what? I was charged $37.14 and did not get the $10 credit. Instead, the original $30.40 charge (which should have been cancelled) is also on my credit card. If that weren’t funny enough, when I questioned the customer rep, she said I got the $10 credit by their reducing their mistaken $48.86 to $37.14. (Yes, their rep clearly failed elementary school math, as well.)

In addition to interacting with the Popcorn Factory customer reps, I got the run-around from their loyalty program reps, who said my payment issue was not a Celebrations Passport matter.

Clearly, as the 1-800-FLOWERS company has grown, its customer service has shrunk to call center reps who aren’t trained to do anything except argue with customers.

If businesses wonder why consumers are frustrated, it’s not just because of inflationary prices. It’s because promises made are not being kept.

I truly hate complaining about service. But when no one seems to be listening to you, I have to get the negative energy out of my system.

Since every company seems to be launching loyalty programs to hold onto customers, be sure you hold those programs accountable for what they advertise. If you feel you’re in the right about a complaint, don’t give up. Ask for a supervisor and keep asking until someone hears you.

In my case, after three days of going back and forth, a Popcorn Factory rep finally agreed to issued me that $10 credit.

I’ll stop complaining now.