After a day of phone calls, I finally was able to get TLC MarketingÂ (or at least some guy in India) on the telephone to discuss the Dockers JCPenneys Free Round-Trip fiascoÂ Â (see last post).
Neil:Â I’m calling about the Dockers Free Round Trip Ticket… I still haven’t heard back from you.
TLC Marketing:Â Yes, did you fill out the form?
Neil:Â I filled out the form a long time ago.Â I received a phone call saying everything was OK.
TLC Marketing:Â Then, you will be receiving a call from the booking agent.
Neil:Â When will I get this call?
TLC Marketing:Â You will get be receiving a call from the booking agent.
Neil:Â When?Â I’m supposed to have a flight on July 16th.
TLC Marketing:Â The booking agent will…
Neil:Â Can I give you my name and you can look it up in the computer?Â Maybe you can tell me when I will get this call.
TLC Marketing:Â I do not have access to individual records.Â You will be receiving a call from the booking agent…
Neil:Â When?Â Â In the brochure, it clearly states that I will receive a call two week after you receive the form.
TLC Marketing:Â You will be receiving…
Neil:Â When?!Â My flight is next week already…
TLC Marketing:Â Those with completed forms will be receiving a call from the booking agent starting on July 22nd.
Neil:Â On July 22nd?
TLC Marketing:Â Starting on July 22nd, you can negotiate your booking.
Neil:Â What?!Â My flight is supposed to be on July 16th.Â
TLC Marketing:Â You can negotiate it with the booking agent.
Neil:Â How am I going to negotiate my July 16th flight with the booking agent on July 22nd?
TLC Marketing:Â That’s something you can negotiate with the booking agent.
Neil:Â Is there a supervisor around?
TLC Marketing:Â All the supervisors are busy.
Neil:Â I’ll wait.
TLC Marketing:Â The supervisors are unable to take any calls today.Â You will need to wait to speak with the booking agent.
Neil:Â And what am I supposed to do now?Â I asked for a flight on July 16th.
TLC Marketing:Â You can negotiate it with the booking agent.
Neil:Â No.Â It doesn’t work that way.Â I can talk to the booking agent on July 22nd, but I cannot negotiate my July 16th flight with the booking agent on July 22nd?Â Do you understand what I’m talking about.Â The flight is on July 16th.Â The call is on July 22nd.
TLC Marketing:Â I only know that the booking agent will negotiate…
Neil:Â So, I WON’T be getting my flight for July 16th?
TLC Marketing:Â I cannot say that.Â You can negotiate…
Neil:Â Why can’t you say that?
TLC Marketing:Â That is something to negotiate…
Neil:Â Negotiate what?Â There is no POSSIBILITY that I will get a flight for July 16th on July 22th.Â Do you have a calendar in front of you?
TLC Marketing:Â Yes, I do.
Neil:Â So, you understand that I will NOT get my flight on July 16th.
TLC Marketing:Â I am not saying that.Â This is something you can negotiate…
Neil:Â Is this being recorded?
TLC Marketing:Â Yes.
Neil:Â What is your name?
TLC Marketing:Â Menuel.
TLC Marketing:Â Menuel.
TLC Marketing:Â Menuel.
Neil:Â Can you spell that?
TLC Marketing:Â M-e-n-u-e-l.
Neil:Â And this is TLC Marketing?
TLC Marketing:Â Corrrect.
Neil:Â So, Menuel of TLC Marketing — you are telling me that there is a possibility that I still might receive a flight for July 16th when I receive my phone call on July 22nd?
TLC Marketing:Â You can negotiate it with the booking agent at the time.
Neil:Â Can we talk — just between me and you.Â I won’t get my flight on July 16th, will I?
TLC Marketing:Â This is something to negotiate with the booking agent
Neil:Â C’mon, Menuel.Â I understand that I will negotiate with the booking agent on July 22nd.Â But it will not be about my flight on July 16.Â That is literally IMPOSSIBLE except in Hollywood movies.Â Do you understand?
TLC Marketing:Â The booking agent…
Neil:Â Forget the booking agent.Â Just me and you.Â Do YOU see it as possibility that I might still get my flight for July 16 on July 22?
TLC Marketing:Â I am not a booking agentÂ That is who you will negotiate…
Neil:Â Can I speak to a booking agent then?
TLC Marketing:Â The booking agent will call you on July 22nd.
Neil:Â So, let me say this one more time, so the recording can hear this.Â You, Menuel, a hired and paid employee of TLC Marketing, and a representative of the company, is telling me that no one can tell me whether or not I will be getting my July 16th flight to San Francisco until July 22nd, when I will receive a phone call from a booking agent where I can then negotiate, and still possibly get my flight to San Francisco on July 16, even though it happened to leave six days earlier?
Poor bastard. I’d rather panhandle.
Wouldn’t it be great if Menuel had a blog and we could read about this whole scene from his point of view?
HAHAHAHA! that would be hilarious.
As frustrating as that may have been for you, that conversation just made my day. Looking forward to you demanding that flight when they call you… On the 22nd.
Just to clarify, Menuel being the poor bastard with a crappy ass job.
Menuel seems to not have a very large vocabulary.
Do you actually expect the booking agent to call you on the 22nd??
Jeez Neil. You’re a ball buster.
“Do you have a calendar in front of you?”
That part made me laugh.
Good God that whole exchange was painful. Please tell me you had a drink right after that!
Do they not realize their call centers wouldn’t be so busy if they actually solved the problem? And then they could lay Menuel off and save themselves a good $12,000 thereby?
GAAAH. Those “customer service” exchanges are the worst.
Usually I just hang up when I realize the person is pridefully not going to help me, and/or is LYING to me (the way he was lying to you about there being no supervisors to take your call), wherein I typically get someone completely different, and probably also based out of India, or perhaps Australia, or anywhere but the U.S., who is incredibly sweet and maybe might even help me. Maybe.
I get it – he was telling you he was reading from TLC’s “manual”
The lesson here is that you get exactly what you pay for. How many pairs of pants was this ticket?
That said, I am removing my pants in protest.
Oh you so must try to “negotiate” a flight for a date that occurred PRIOR to when they call you. If they call you. And you must record it because I want to hear this.
You better be one hell of a negotiator.
I wonder if Menuel and Emily the automated attendant at Bell Canada are related. Are you sure Menuel was human?
Oh wait I know this one: A booking agent will call you.
Menuel was definitely from India, and I actually felt bad for him. What a crappy job, having to deal with grouches like me. I was more interested in getting the whole conversation recorded by them.
Wow. Just plain wow.
Have you thought about submitting this to “The Consumerist?” May be worth checking out. (The address is www dot consumerist dot com — if I spell it out here, I’m sure my comment will be treated like SPAM…)
If you want to go to BlogHer, then go to BlogHer. Try sidestep.com or kayak.com or even Southwest (www.iflyswa.com) from Long Island to Oakland & take BART.
Nothing wrong with trying to save money. You gave it your best shot, and it didn’t pan out.
It’s sad when the fine print of contest rules allows the JCP/Docker folks to give out a handful of airline tickets and bupkis to everyone else.
Judy C — I always had a thought that maybe he just looked in front of him at his “TLC manual” and used that as his “American name.”
Kelly — actually, this isn’t the case of a company using the “small print” excuse. They just screwed up. I have no doubt that everyone will eventually be compensated because Dockers and JCPenney won’t want a lawsuit. They will just make it as difficult and unpleasant as possible, putting their screw-ups on the shoulders of the customers. There should be no reason I have to spend all day doing this just to get some answers. I should charge Dockers one day lost wages.
I hate, hate, hate those stupid scripts.. I also hate that there are no winners in this whole customer ‘service’ thing – because you know that job has got to suck….
My blood pressure rose just reading your post…
So super sucky…. good luck…
In Sweden. Kidding. Maybe they have a time machine? If you’re done banging your head against a wall in frustration, have a drink.
Thanks for clarifying. I hate wasting time on stuff like this but I’m prone to do it because I want to find out what the heck is going on.
“Blame the consumer” – such a lovely marketing tool. Wouldn’t it be nice if they simply posted the relevant information (and an apology) on their web site? And to think I just bought my son a pair of Dockers from Costco. I was just happy they weren’t made in China.
On a much smaller scale, Glaceau (the Vitamin Water people) had a promotion at Gelson’s. I filled out the form. I “won.” I sent in the NOTARIZED forms they asked for. I still haven’t received anything (case of Vitamin Water, some item of winter apparel (no idea what) and lift tickets). Gelson’s tells me they are disappointed in the Glaceau people too. No doubt the real idea behind “contests” is to gather personal info.
HOW RUDE THAT THEY HUNG UP ON YOU!!!!!
Neil, clearly you should just discuss this with the booking agent. Oh hey, look! My head just exploded all over my keyboard. Hmm. Interesting that.
Sorry you had to deal with such bullshit. I always wish I could go through the phone when dealing with people like our buddy Menuel. Manual. Emmanuel. Man well.
No, I promise I’m not drunk right now. Srsly.
I come home from work. Make myself a nice salad. Pour a glass a wine. And sit down to relax in front of the computer. But now I’m so agitated I need to go take a valium.
Clearly you were talking to a time travel bot. Your request is no problem for them. You must simply wait for the right point in the space-time continuum to open up. That will occur on July 22nd. Don’t panic.
Neilochka, you are a liar…you were talking to some disembodied voice from my workplace weren’t you?? I would recognize that genius logic anywhere.
Pam from Nerd’s Eye View sent me this interesting link — How to Be a Customer Service Ninja —
Obviously Menuel is in such fear of losing his sucky job that he would never dare to stray from the script.
I don’t know, Neil. I looked at that link and it looks like a lot of work. Hard work. Did you ever think about just breaking down and crying, and by crying I mean sobbing, or saying,”Oh my God. I think I’m having a stroke” and making throaty/gagging noises?? Menuel needs to sweat a little at work. That’s why we go to work–you would be doing a public service and a good deed for Menuel.
This is one for Consumerist. Send it to them and maybe you WILL get your flight. And then it might even be in First Class…but routed through India so you can meet Menuel in person.
Holy shit! TLC Marketing has perfected time travel!
My world, welcome to it. Having lived in India for 18 months, I experience something along these lines at least a couple of times a week… Your mistake is that you tried logic, a most certain highway to insanity. What you have to do (and I hate to say this) is just demand to speak to a supervisor or manager. You (almost always) need to be rude before they will transfer the call… It goes against how we from the west were raised, but it is what I learned from my Indian friends and my stay here…
I’m just astonished that you survived the entire phone call without using the phrase “time travel” once.
By the way, this post is pretty much 100% true. If anything, the conversation was even longer. I wish I would have taped it, because it would even be funnier hearing his deadpan answers and my ranting.
Neil, I hate to laugh because I have been on your end of the call and it is so frustrating. But dude. HAHAHAHA! I feel bad for you, but I also feel a little sorry for Menuel. I mean, he probably doesn’t KNOW the answers except for what’s in his script. This promotion is so shady it wouldn’t surprise me if no one ever told him about it to begin with. I also wouldn’t expect a call on July 22.
By the way, I am prepared to send a complaint on your behalf to every consumer agency I can think of about this situation. What can I say? It’s been slow in the office.
Yeah, I felt a little bad for Menuel, too.
That is kind of you, but I think consumer agencies already know about this, considering all the talk I read on “Flyertalk” forum that I linked to. There are already 600 complaints with the Massachusetts Better Business Bureau.
I got an email from an intern at the Consumerist today. Not sure how serious they are, but maybe they will look into it. That would be good because they have a much larger readership.
YIKES. Poor Menuel. Poor you.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this eventually pans out!
LOL. Who’s on first.
This reminds me of the really persistent calls I used to receive, urging me to switch long-distance carriers. For a while, I was getting them a few times each day! They would always use the same phrases, including “what would you want in order to switch?”
Eventually, I prepared a list.
Next time they asked, I SLOWLY read them all 40+ “demands,” including an airplane, a pizza dinner with Mr. T, various magical animals, a Trans-Am, well-stocked pantry, etc…
Call centres suck. As do scripted answers.
My head exploded just reading that exchange. I’m so glad you’re using your blog to expose this kind of annoying crap. I hope all the companies involved get reamed by the Better Business Bureau.
ok everyone…do your part.
4 faneuil hall marketplace
Boston, MA 02109
Phone:+1 617 788 9600
Fax:+1 617 742 0102
After letters to the BBB and the customer service departments of JC Penney and Dockers I finally got a call and was able to book a flight to Dallas. They took a credit card number for fees but they never charged my CC. All worked out in the end.
I talked to a travel agent in Atlanta who was working with Dockers TLC and she told me that most people screamed at her for all the trouble they had to deal with. It was out of her control. She was given hundreds of people to call and that did not make a dent in the number of people who needed to be contacted. They were overwhelmed!
Bruce, how long was it between the time you heard from Dockers and when the travel agent called you?
God, I hate these scams and the way they employ hapless automatons like Menuel. I’ve been getting calls every day on my cell phone from the number 602-516-1113 which is a total scam outfit. You have no choice but to be blatantly rude since they don’t stop calling and you have to demand to be taken off their list. Not that this does any good. What a demoralizing job that must be. Do you think they get more than a 1% rate of people who will listen to their shpiel? Is that worth it?
Holy hell, it’s so absurd it’s awesomely funny.
I can’t wait for Part III of this saga.
Neil, doesn’t everyone deserve a little TLC in their life?
(I presume you did realize Tender Loving Care Mktg. has a catchy name.)
I’m with Sween…I kept expecting you to bring up a time machine.
it SUCKS what happened, and that you have to deal with it, but i must say i’m intrigued to read part III when it happens 🙂
Neil! I taught you how to deal with these situations last yearwith this post.
Scarlet — Maybe I should have you call them.
I’m there for ya babe.
I would have flown to India just for the pleasure of choking someone.
Actually, in rereading this, I think someone should come to Menuel’s defense. In India, call center employees are given scripts they are to stick to, and when the conversation sways from the script, no matter how logical or necessary it may be, they MUST stick to the script or risk being fired. In a country with over a billion people, 1/4 under the poverty level, he has a good job. A job that thousands of others wished they had. What in the west is seen as a crap job, in India gives him a good salary (approx 200-300 dollars a month), maybe insurance, etc.. One posting for a job like this means thousands and thousands of applicants hoping for the chance. I am sure Menuel knew exactly what you were saying, in fact he probably has a university degree, but to give you the service you desired and deserved would have meant swaying from the mandatory script and probably have cost him his job. Here, I have seen managers slap their staff, and I have seen people yelled at and humiliated in front of their co-workers. All things which would be CNN headline news if it happened in the US. Menuel is most likely the sole or primary provider in his family and also probably supports his parents and possibly grandparents as well. He probably works 6 days a week and maybe 10 -12 hour days- all for 200 – 300 dollars a month). I know a lot of guys like him. So yes it can be frustrating, but what you experienced is just a tiny bit of a much larger issue and many young and intelligent Indians are feeling trapped in the world of offshoring and “cheap labour”. Please, the next time soemone is on the phone with someone from India or other developing country and not getting the service they want, please remember, it is not due to the staff on the other end of the phone, it is due to corporate processes and behaviors. Please take it out on the company, not the man or woman doing their job.
Robb — thank you. I absolutely agree. I think most people know this. This is exactly what the corporation wants — for us to blame them!
Well, I will say this… and someone else might have said it above, but…
You get what you paid for, n’est pas? 🙂
having the same problem with dockers kohls promotion. Dates have come and gone. The robot from india on the linE SAYS I’ll get a call from the booking agent. Thinking about filing a small claims suit against tlc marketing for the vaule of the promotion.
But what is the value of the promotion? They have kept the whole thing very vague.
Of course, the booking agent will call on the 22nd and your flight will be scheduled for 16th of July 2010 if you’re lucky.
Oh my god. Tell me someone called back. Please?
I loathe phone operators. I’m on the phone with Sprint RIGHT NOW and have been transferred to SIX departments (two of which hardly speak English) because of a defective battery on a brand new phone which I purchased from them!
Nobody can help me & it’s a freakin’ merry go round of answers….I soooo feel your pain.
Thanks for sharing–I needed a laugh while I’m on hold with Sprint 🙂
I just got off the phone with Manuel.
I got the same robot responses that Neil did. I asked where his location was. St. Catherine’s. I used to lived in Canada so I know that it is in Ontario and there are a lot of Indian people (from India) that live there. Said I would get a call the week of 7/21. I said tomorrow is the 25th and he kept repeating the same crap over and over. Likewise, no supervisor to talk to. He just kept saying the same thing over and over. I’m not done with these ah’s!
to all those who post here, hope you dont mind my saying that nothing in this world is free. The JC Penny or Khol’s promotion is like a hit or miss contest. Yes, we bought those items, we spent hard earned money and hoped to get that free flight. Be it false advertising or mis information with the promotion, a contest will always be a lot of IF’s: IF we win, IF we are chosen, IF we get the chance to win the free flight or the hotel bookings. There are millions who have joined these promotions, I would be LUCKY if I would get it. As an individual, I never expect, I never assure myself I will get this, if I did, THANK YOU. If I didnt, well, I bought the best product in the market, why should I complain? Let’s widen our horizons by learning to accept certain issues that may befall this promotion. Also, once we book, who in heaven’s name said this was confirmed? Let’s think before we bark at these poor agents who arent in the position to give any form of feedback other than what was Probably given to them by management level. Or maybe, they have no other recluse except to just say what the customer wants to hear to avoid any Arguements. some customers can be very rude and dont seem to understand certain information given to them by the agent. In defense of TLC Marketing, they are swamped with millions of calls, even if they hired 100 employees to call all customers in a day, I doubt really they will successfully fullfill everyone’s request when they try to also call different airlines at the same time who change their rates and schedules faster that “flash” does his rounds. In summary, just a bit of patience would make life easier for both the called and the agent. : )
Too bad you never read the fine print i work for tlc marketing nothing is a scam through them its just people never read the fine print start reading the fine print before you bitch. DUH!!!
yea you have to buy something in the first place to get a promotion but shit is free just look harder next time idiot.
Thanks, Brandon. I’m so glad someone from TLC Marketing finally got back to me on this blog with those lovely professional comments. Are you saying you are finally giving me a flight?!
I just got off the phone with TLC. I’ve read all the fine print: They’re lying… I’ve been told for over 2 months I’d be called back by July 31. Well it’s July 31 and now they say they’ve extended their deadline and I’ll be called back in a week . I’m holding my breath.
TLC marketing clearly did not anticipate that a lot of customers will avail the promotions of Dockers and probably the problem is, they didn’t hire enough people to handle the promotion (booking agents). If there are only a few booking agents handling the flights/hotels, then they cannot fulfill the dates they have stated in their terms and conditions w/c is 14 days. what i don’t understand are people attacking the tlc dockers customer service people. let us be open that they are given limited access to the whole promotion and are given instructions as to what to say. i’m sure they are receiving tons of irate calls from customers and it would be hard to avoid being frustrated too. imagine you, yourselves sitting in front of your pc for the whole 8 hours listening to complaints and cannot do much since they are given specific instructions?
i am saying these things to let others understand the kind of work these people are doing to make a living.
No one is upset at the individuals manning the phones. Everyone knows it is just their job. It is the fault of TLC Marketing, JCPenney, and Dockers for not coming through. Let them hire more people. To put this on the shoulders of the customers — saying that we should be understanding is naive. How understanding would JCPenney be if I said I could not pay for the clothes that I bought with their credit card, and then refused to answer the phone for weeks, and kept on telling them, I’ll call next week and never do? They would have a credit agency on me —
im a pure american and i want to impose my side that i feel like a way of discrimination. whats wrong with indian people? their accent…? as long as they can relay the message and you can understood, it shouldnt be big deal.
The logical thing to do would be for them to outsource the whole thing to a large travel agency like American Express or Liberty Travel that has a huge call center.
If I were in charge I would have the customer
Buy the jeans
Send in the receipts
Receive a voucher with a special code and a telephone number to call
Customer would call the toll free number and book the airline ticket using their credit card for only the legal taxes.
The airline ticket would be ticket-less but with a confirmation code that could be used on the airlines website for frequent flyer miles and seat assignments
It would be so easy!
obviously you dont know how business works….
I wrote JC Penney and Dockers, I encourage everybody to write them as it was there promotion Dockers/Levi Strauss & Co Attn Consuner Relations 1155 Battery St San Francisco CA 94111 JCPenney PO Box 10001 Dallas, TX 75301 Corporate Customer Relations
WE can put a stop to this behavior. Write and letter and stop shopping Kohls, Penny’s, and Dockers. Either hit em in the wallet or up side the head with a class action. That is the ony way to stop these rip offs. I told my wife this crap offer of two free hotel nights plus dinner for $100.00 was too good to be true before we bought the clothes. Fool me once…, shame on you Dockers. Won’t happen again. CORPORATE SELL OUTS!
How funny and sad. Don’t feel bad for the guy in India. He has a job that someone who knows that without a time machine it would be impossible to make the flight on the 16th and he probably lives like a king there on the salary he gets for India standards. I too have had a funny conversion with TLC. I had to sign a two year contract on my cell. I sent in my form in Decemeber but becasue they close for two weeks I didn’t get a call until almost a month after I sent it to tell me I didn’t fill out the form correctly and that I needed to re-fill out the form and wait another 30 days before I can fly. missing my schedule vacation days. I think they hung up on me also
I am being victimized by Incentive Marketing Solutions, Inc–a partner of TLC Marketing.
I won a sweepstakes sponsored by the Ortho Company for a complimentary 2 night stay at a choice of Hampton Inns.
When I returned the booking form to IMS, it came back “undeliverable” from the post office. Their website lists an address in Atlanta GA, but theynever answer their phone nor return a message.
When they finally did phone (after I reported them to the Atlanta Dept. of Consumer Affairs), they gave me a changed address in Roswell GA–which is unlisted withthe phone company! I am supposed to send the voucher–WITH MY CREDIT CARD #–to this new address. I obviously don’t trust them and will not do so.
My comment is about your women’s size 24W short Metro dockers that I ordered on line. The black pair were made in China and were long and very big in the legs. The carmel pair were made in vietnam and they are also long but not as bad as the black. I bought a pair in the store which were an off color white and they were made in Twian and they were a perfect fit 24W short. I just can’t under stand why a big brand name like Dockers should have this problem. I would have bought them all in the store but they were out of stock and I didn’t want to miss the sale price. Now I have to pay to have them shortened and taken in in the legs on the black ones. and have the carmel colored ones shortened also. I think that is terrible marketing for such a big brand name.
I’m still waiting for a call from TLC Marketing for my flight to Bangkok which was supposed to be on 21st March 2009, and today is 28th March. I’m here waiting for the call and the ticket.
If I hadn’t had dealings with TLC I wouldn’t have believed your story.I just got finished writing a letter to the president of TLC.I’m sure it will be ignored just like my 20 other phone calls. I can’t believe such poor customer service.
I had the SAME EXACT problem, except with T-Mobile. They have been giving me the run around for almost a year now.
I worked for TLC for a period of 8 months a saw nothing by blatant lies and fraud being conducted. Stay away from TLC – they are evil hoaxsters.
at least you got a person. they took my money, never did the price difference as promised for the same itenerary, my credit card co told me to dispute it, then i lost over 500 and never flew!!!! i am still trying to fight this. My credit card co. -CITI bank are asses, THE AIRLINE DOESN’T WANT TO HELP -U.S. AIR, tlc denies it all and say I took the flight!help any attorneys out there???? please. just like I begged tlc and my emails all came back. I have a stack of evidence and support of documents on my behalf. 619-443-0907 thnaks
I was really amaze while reading the conversation. is this how TLC marketing assist clients?.. or it is just a strategy for their business.
This has to be the most absurd conversation I have ever heard. The incompetence is deafening.
First of all get the menuel & Booking agent and beat them bitterly after that recover ur flight fare from them.