September 18, 2023

Terrible Customer Support: Nu Skin Edition

At the suggestion of my former eye doctor, I have been taking Pharmanex LifePak anti-aging packets, each of which contains four capsules. The packets come in a box of 60—essentially a two month’s supply—sent to me every two months by Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc. My most recent shipment was on August 21. When that shipment arrived, I still had nearly a month’s worth of packets left. I wasn’t sure how shipments and usage had gotten out of sync, but I put the package in the pantry and thought no more about it.

On September 16, I received e-mail indicating that my next shipment would be on September 21. This was clearly inappropriate, and I telephoned Nu Skin today with the intention of changing the shipment date to November 21. The call did not go well. First, I dialed the telephone number listed on the September 16 message. This resulted in my hearing a recorded message to the effect that the Nu Skin number had been changed as of August 1.

I then called the new number. (Happily, there was a number to call, and my call was answered after a brief delay.) I explained my consternation over the September 16 message. I was told that, in fact, my next shipment would be on October 21. I received no explanation for the message that occasioned the call. October 21 was actually the expected shipping date given that the last shipment was on August 21. I explained, however, that I had not yet opened my last package, and I asked for the next shipment to be on November 21.

Incredibly, I was told that the computer system did not allow that change to be made today. To make the change, I would have to call back after October 1. I remarked on the failures of the IT department, noting also the outdated telephone number on the September 16 message. I was told that changing references to the former telephone number was in progress. I somehow managed not to scream at the agent, something I could do after the call. Instead, I asked that my standing order be canceled, so that I would never receive another shipment. I was assured that this would be done.

After the call, I was asked to complete a four-question survey about my telephone experience. I indicated that the call did not resolve my problem and that I was unhappy with the outcome. A few minutes later, I received an e-mail message confirming the cancellation. Rather than screaming after concluding the telephone call, I decided to write this essay.

Complaints about poor customer service are legion. Often, it is difficult even to figure out how to contact a representative of a company. (I have often failed to find a telephone number on a company Web site but found one through a Google search. I highly recommend this strategy.) Nu Skin deserves credit for publishing a customer service number and actually answering the number promptly. I’m not sure if the representative was a native speaker of English, but she spoke well enough that I had no trouble understanding her.

That said, what Nu Skin did was unforgivable. Why did I get the apparently erroneous September 16 message? Why did a message carry an outdated telephone number a month and a half after the number was changed? Why is the Nu Skin order tracking software so inflexible? Why did the agent make no effort to save an account from being canceled over such a simple problem?

There is no excuse for customer service such as I experienced today. I have a standing order for cat food from Chewy, Inc. Changing a shipping date for that order has been a snap. Perhaps Nu Skin can figure out how to operate as competently as Chewy.

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