Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: Mistakes are costly

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence

It’s Tuesday, Dec. 15. I get a phone call from my customer saying she received the Christmas clothing order and everything was good… except the 2 Roots vests I shipped were the wrong size! Now, two of her office staff would be without their gift while everyone else would receive theirs. I quickly brought up the order and realized I keyed the wrong size when placing the order with my supplier. Completely my fault. I apologized, took responsibility for the error and told my customer I would air ship in replacements, get them embroidered and then air ship them to her so she would have them before Christmas.

My package arrived on the 16th late afternoon and I whipped it over to my embroiderer. She fit it into their busy Christmas rush and I picked it up the morning of the 17th. I filled out the Purolator weighbill online with the correct weight but not dimensions. Air freight came in at almost $80 for two vests. Crappy, but that is the price of fixing a mistake I shouldn’t have made in the first place.

I’m in Calgary. She’s in Sudbury, Ont. The package would be going to Hamilton, Ont., first and then by truck. I would be shipping on Dec. 17. Purolator said it would be delivered on Monday, Dec. 21.

I notified the customer and she was happy. I followed the shipment and saw it had landed on the 18th in Hamilton. On Monday morning, the 21st, it showed as in the Sudbury depot. I notified my customer that it was in Sudbury and scheduled for delivery that day. The end of the day came and it still didn’t arrive. I let my customer know that it didn’t make it out that day. The next day came and it showed that it was still in Sudbury. I got on-line with Purolator around noon and started talking to their “chat-box.” After five minutes, it said it could not give me any updates and that I should call Purolator to speak with a customer service rep. 

I called on the 22nd…twice. The first time I was on hold for 57 minutes, the next time for 40 minutes. Neither time did I get through to anyone. On the 23rd, it still showed up as at the Sudbury depot. I tried calling again. Still couldn’t reach anyone. Another 35 minutes on hold! There wasn’t even an option of emailing anyone. 

The package finally arrived first thing in the morning on Dec. 24. I called my customer on her cell and apologized for the delay but said the package was now there. She informed me that their office was already closed for the Christmas break. The package was dropped off and left outside their office door. Somehow, it didn’t disappear and my customer’s staff were in on Dec. 28 to see them there.

A simple mistake on my part caused a lot of anxiety and grief for myself and my customer. It also cost me a lot of extra time and money replacing vests and with extra freight and the hours involved correcting my error. To top it off, when the Purolator bill came in, it was for almost $120!

I called and argued with a customer service representative and got a fairly cold reply but managed to get a 25 percent discount. 

Several nuggets came out of this experience. Double check your work to make sure it is right. Mistakes are costly! Take ownership of your mistakes and make it right as soon as possible. Stay in constant contact with your customer throughout the issue so they can see and feel that you truly care about making it right. While my customer was disappointed, she thanked me for my efforts to make it right. Give them something extra, if you can. If you are a supplier (in this case, Purolator) that doesn’t deliver what they are supposed to, at the time they are supposed to, make it right with your customers. Have an account in place so you can track how many mistakes are made each and every year and the cost associated with those mistakes. This is one area that many businesses do not calculate. Focusing on errors and making your entire staff aware so they can take extra care, will lead to eliminating a lot of mistakes. 

Take care of yourselves, your customers and your employees!  

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit

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