Anybody get the little postcard last July 2012 regarding Arrowhead's new Minimum Usage Fee? We received one where I work and I couldn't believe what they were asking of their customers. If you rent a coffee maker from them, now you MUST order a minimum of 2 cases of coffee OR $50 in break room supplies EVERY MONTH or they will flat out charge you $25.99 for every month you don't meet this requirement.
We were a customer of Sierra Springs for several years before they were absorbed by Nestle, and have had Arrowhead for the last 5 years. We never ordered any supplies from them, only rented the coffee maker and a water dispenser, we don't even get bottles of water. So when we got the postcard I didn't think it applied to us. And the first time the Minimum Usage Fee showed up on our bill I thought it was a mistake so I wrote them a letter. I got a phone call assuring me that, yes, it applied to us.
After I informed the owner of our company of this new fee, thinking he was going to be disgusted and cancel the service, he told me to call them and get some kind of menu of the coffee and break room items they sell. I called and requested this menu...and never received it. A couple of weeks went by and then their driver showed up to repossess the coffee maker! I explained the problem and the driver said it had been happening a lot. He left the coffee maker and assured me he would have someone send me the menu information. And...again we never received it.
About a month or two went by and another driver came to repossess the coffee maker. I again explained, but this guy only assured me that they would send us to collections. Again, no information was sent to us. If a customer is trying to comply, shouldn't they only have to ask for information to help them comply ONCE? Not with this company.
Personally I think our owner should have cancelled service from the word go, but since he wanted to comply with this new requirement I made the efforts to get the info for him. But I wasn't about to chase them down to get this info. I have a full time job with much more important things to do than babysit a water company. I figured eventually someone would call us and I could discuss it with them. Never happened. They have just been continuing to charge us the Minimum Usage Fee every month because we haven't purchased anything, and their famous $15 late fee every month because I was paying our regular bill, but not paying the fees. So over several months of being charged $40.99 in fees, our balance is now $260.
So today I had to call them to order more water cups for the dispenser, and figured I would discuss these fees at the same time. The young lady was very nice...until she saw the balance on the account. Then I was treated like I was the enemy and a deadbeat payer, even after I explained what happened. And she said I would NOT be able to order more cups unless I made a payment. Well, according to my records: we're current, so I declined.
I requested that all the fees be removed since July, and she said the best they could do was credit 1 late fee. I laughed and requested a supervisor. The supervisor offered crediting 3 late fees but absolutely no Minimum Usage Fees would be credited. Then she upped her offer to a couple of the minimum fees as well. She finally said that this was her "best offer" like we were dickering or something! She said something about how great it was that our balance went from $260 down to $100 and something. I told her I appreciated her efforts, but a difference of $100 didn't really impress me when we should have been credited the whole amount. She just kept apologizing and saying we HAD to pay it. I reassured her that, no, we did not.
Ironically, when they first took over for Sierra Springs 5 years ago, they were overbilling us. I sent a detailed letter every month explaining my short payments. All I would get was a letter declining to honor the credits I took. This went on for several months. I got frustrated and went online and found a phone number for a key account manager. We had a wonderful conversation and I got the best customer service from this guy. He listened, apologized and did everything he could to fix the situation. All I wanted was for the overcharged amounts to be credited. He gave us the coffee maker rental FREE for 2 years for all my trouble!
So I let the supervisor know what I had been through before and how this guy had helped me. She still refused anything but her "best offer", and I assured her we weren't paying the balance because it was Arrowheads mistake. She actually faxed us their menu (Yay! Finally!), and I asked her to confirm that we would not be able to order more cups unless I made a payment. She assured me that wasn't the case and I could order cups. Am I the only one that just loves getting 2 completely different answers from 2 different reps?
I gave the owner the menu, and the new website you can order from (they never gave me that all this time either). The owner went online to start complying and ordering coffee items...and it told him in big red letters that he couldn't order anything until we made a payment, lol! So here we are trying to comply now that we have the info, and they won't let us. What a vicious circle they have created. So until they send us to collections they will still be charging us the $40.99 in fees every month. What's even better, that supervisor didn't credit ANYTHING. Our balance was still $260.
Apparently that's what it finally took to disgust our owner. He informed me that we would be cancelling the service and buying our own equipment. He wants nothing more to do with them and is disgusted by their lack of customer service. I presently have a call in to their Northern California Sales Manager, and hope he can help with this balance.
I am relieved that I won't have to deal with this ridiculous problem anymore, but I'm also sad because we were a customer for so long and made every effort to keep our account current. And if I ever paid late, I paid their late fee every time.
The vendor/customer relationship should always be that of a team. You work together to sustain a mutually beneficial, long term relationship. At least that's how it works where I'm employed, and it ends up being a win/win. In this case, I did my part for 5 years, but the 2 times I had problems with their billing I was treated like the enemy and talked to with a bad attitude. I really wonder how many customers they have recently lost by shooting themselves in the foot like this. And now they've lost us.