red butler I have a rule about not writing things about our competition, but like most rules – this one was made to be broken. It came to my attention the other day that one of our ZAs had been asked by her client to cancel his Red Butler account. This wasn’t an odd request as we often get people who try several virtual assistant companies to no avail before they hear about Zirtual.

The ordeal that followed boggled my mind in so many ways that I just knew I absolutely had to bring it to light. It’s a story of awful customer service, stall tactics and faxes – lots and lots of faxes.

Let’s go back in time to last Monday. Our killer ZA Tiffany started her day off like most. She coordinated a few meetings, did some research on vacation spots and was asked by one of her Executive clients to cancel their Red Butler service – something that, at first, seemed pretty straightforward.

Tiffany’s client had contacted Red Butler via email to ask them how to cancel his account. They responded that he had to fill out a form and fax it in to cancel – yep – fax it in.

So naturally Tiffany, his trusty ZA, took the task on. First off Tiffany emailed RedButler and asked them how to cancel (sans a fax) and after some back and forth they finally told her that unless he personally canceled through their form, that must be faxed in, he would be charged again for their services at a whopping $995 per month.

red butler

So she filled out the form and faxed it in. Actually, she tried to fax it in but the line didn’t work. Tiff called back and repeatedly got voicemails or promises of return calls. At this point she was starting to get frantic as her client’s account was only days away from being charged again.

After another day of attempting to get through via fax and several ignored voicemails, Tiffany and her client decided it was time to bring in the big guns – good old AMEX. American Express cancelled the payment from their side and sent Red Butler a notice about the illegal nature of not allowing someone to quit when they ask to.

We all got a good laugh out of this and I had no plans on writing about it until someone from Red Butler called Tiffany directly and verbally brow beat her about how filing a complaint with AMEX was completely out of line and they expected more from us. That’s right, they expected more from us – their competition – since what are friends for? I’m surprised they haven’t sent a flaming bag of poo to our office or a series of threatening faxes.

Three lessons from Red Butler’s epic customer service fail:

1. The service business is like a relationship, you can’t force someone to stay and if you do they’ll just end up hating your guts.

2. Outsourcing your inbound calling is not a great idea, unless the third party you hired REALLY knows your business. Our experience with Red Butler’s 3rd party call center was atrocious. They didn’t know anything about the service and kept piling on promises of call backs until they could get us off the phone.

3. Nobody uses fax machines anymore, that’s what God made scanners for.

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  • David Hunter

    Wow. They burned their bridge with your client, which mean he’ll never return there if you screw up! They did you a service.

  • http://twitter.com/jholyhead James

    If they didn’t like you reporting them to AMEX, they’re going to totally stroke out when they see this post.

  • Kenric @ Play Houses Plus

    That’s so old school and I hate companies that make it difficult to cancel.  You realize that these companies focus on the wrong things and hence have alot of people wanting to cancel.

  • http://twitter.com/redbutler Red Butler

    Hello, my name is Chris Sterling, Director of Communications at Red Butler.   We’re shocked to see this post since our company discontinued this cancellation form many years ago and only then it was intended to simply obtain customer feedback.

    Our clients have always been able to cancel their memberships at anytime. If you have any questions about our service please feel free to contact me at anytime   (csterlingredbutlercom).  Thanks!

  • Jholmgren2

    Is this Red Butler reply a joke?  Or what?

    Hey, Chris Sterling you didn’t address anything just pure denial on one issue.  So, if the form was discontinued 2 years ago then how did the client and the VA get a hold of it?  Also, you didn’t address why there was no return phone calls or the faxing issue and as you are apparently? the communications director…hmmm…never mind.

  • Philippe Faes

    What a story! (only: God didn’t make scanners, engineers did) You go get them Maren!

  • http://www.virtualstafffinder.com/ Virtual Admin Assistant

    It also happen in online company where you find it hard to look for cancellation form in their website. 

  • http://www.virtualstafffinder.com/ Virtual Assistant Services

    Oh, this is not good. There are outsourcing companies who take care of your business and treat it as their own. You just need to find the right one and carefully select them. 

  • http://www.beverlyhillsgynecomastia.com/ Dennis

    It’s a story of awful customer service, stall tactics and faxes – lots and lots of faxes.

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    Red Butler service – something that, at first, seemed pretty straightforward.

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    Red Butler service – something that, at first, seemed pretty straightforward.

     

  • http://www.smartsourcenews.com/ Billy

    Tiffany’s client had contacted Red Butler via email to ask them how
    to cancel his account. They responded that he had to fill out a form and
    fax it in to cancel – yep – fax it in.
     

  • http://www.elviowebdesign.com/salon-web-design-services.html web designer

    Well, I guess you just need to look for the legit ones. I don’t think there would be any problem if you have professionals who work for you. There’s nothing really wrong in outsourcing, there are just entities that make it look like unreliable. 

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    Tiffany’s client had contacted Red Butler via email to ask them how to cancel his account. They responded that he had to fill out a form and fax it in to cancel – yep – fax it in.

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