Friday, March 31, 2006

Vegetarian Times - Bad Customer Service

A couple of weeks ago, somebody on the GoVegan Forum posted a note about a clearance sale at the Vegetarian Times website. I checked it out and ordered two books: The Nutritonal Yeast Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak and Cooking with Gluten and Seitan by Dorothy R. Bates and Colby Wingate. I received the Nutrional Yeast Cookbook, but not Cooking with Gluten and Seitan. Instead, I received The Whole Foods Diabetic Cookbook by Patricia Stevenson and Michael Cook.

Of course, the package arrived late Friday night, so there was no way I could call about the mistake until Monday. I called the number on the sales order that came with the books. It was one of those automated answering systems, and I did not know the extension number of the person I wanted to speak to. So, I left a message with the receptionist. She did call me back the next day and left me a message on my cell phone; I was in the middle of teaching a lesson, and I do not answer my cell phone when I'm working. Anyway, she told me I had to call a completely different number. I dutifully called that number and left a message with that organization, the Home Bar (?) Publications Bookstore. The recording on that sytem was also of poor quality, so I am uncertain of the name. Did anyone answer at that extension? Of course not. But the lovely woman's voice told me I could order by leaving my name, number, credit card number, and the order number of the book I wanted, and would I please speak clearly. Has anyone called me back from that location? Of course not.

So, this morning I tried the Vegetarian Times website again. Go see for yourself on the Contact Us page. There is no number or e-mail address for customer sevice. So, I tried the phone number again. Yet, again, I left a message for the receptionist. No one returned my call. I waited two hours and called again, this time finally getting a real person. She (her name was Sharon) confirmed the information I was given previously for the bookstore manager in Virginia. I said I left a message for them two days ago and no one had returned my call. She reiterated that the number I called was the accounting office and that I had to deal with the bookstore manager. I then asked if there was a complaint department, someone I could register a complaint with. I was transferred to someone who did not identify herself and said the reason I did not get a call back was because they (the people in Virginia) are out of the office at some trade show and that I would be able to reach them on Monday. I said, "You must be joking," and then she hung up on me when I started to explain how I was unhappy with their customer service.

Something tells me this frustrated little story isn't over yet.


  1. Wow, that's really awful. Everyone just keeps passing the buck. I'll be interested to hear if you get it resolved and what happened.

    It makes me think of an experience my husband had a few years ago. DVD machines were fairly new and still rather expensive. We had taken a trip to Las Vegas where Jim was a bit lucky and won about $650 on a slot machine. (I was quite envious, because the most I won was like $2.50). He wanted to get a DVD machine and it's free money, so why not. He bought a very nice Sony one, which we still have and which works great by the way. There was a "special offer" inside the box where you could choose 10 DVD movies for free because you purchased this machine. So Jim ticked off an assortment of what he'd like and sent it away. A while later his box of movies arrived. I guess they didn't have all of his selections in stock so they substituted some, about 4 out of the 10. Now, my husband is an action/war/history kinda guy. He also likes a good drama now and again. He got sent "Stepmother" with Julia Roberts and some other girlie movie. He was a bit angry. Not over the substitutions so much, but obviously they didn't even look to see what other movies he might be interestd in based on his choices. He went through a bunch of phone calls, like you, to second and third party companies to try and see if he could exchange them for something else. He never got anywhere. He tried to sell them on e-bay and no one wanted them! HA! Eventually, they were put in a box for charity pick up. Maybe someone out there will enjoy them.

    Different from your story though, you PAID for your book. I subscribe to Vegetarian Times and quite like the magazine. I'm really sorry to hear about your frustrating encounter. Please post a follow-up. In the meantime, try something from the Nutritional Yeast book to help calm your mind. Cooking is great therapy! Cooking while enjoying a glass of wine is even better therapy! :o)
    Happy weekend!

  2. Carrie, thanks for your post. Yeah, it's frustrating because I did pay for it. They already have my money, but I still don't have the book I wanted. I did cook something from The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook, which turned out good, so that helped ease my anger. It's also frustrating because I used to subscribe to Vegetarian Times, and I want to support companies like theirs, but bad customer service is bad customer service. I will definitely post a follow-up.