I’m not usually one to write blog posts targeted at specific companies (as I do plenty of talking to companies on Twitter), but Philips has screwed up this return so badly, I felt it worthy of a post.

First, a bit of backstory: I’m on the Philips product marketing mailing list, and I was continuously receiving e-mails about a product they sell called the AirFryer. It’s one of those fryers that doesn’t use any additional oil (or uses very little additional oil) and promises the wonderful taste of traditional fried food. What is unique about the AirFryer though is that it can also be used to grill, steam, bake, and more. It’s normally a hefty $250, but it was $50 off on black friday, so I bought one. I anxiously awaited for it to arrive, and when it did, I began preparing one of the recipes in the included recipe book for jerk-style chicken wings. The product cooked the wings very well, but the odor was no less than a traditional fryer (despite the marketing promising no odor), so I decided I wanted to return it. That’s where the return story from hell begins.

I called Philips on 12/11 requesting a return label. Their online store policy states that Philips will provide the customer with the return label at no cost, and a refund will be issued within 10 working days once they receive the product back. The agent on the phone told me that he had to escalate my case to a returns department (???) and that I would receive my label by 12/13. He cautioned me that the total time for the return process could take 6-8 weeks. Yes, weeks. I asked him about the policy on the website, and he simply told me that from his experience, it takes much longer than that. Fine, whatever. I figured that if it takes that long, when my credit card statement rolled around, I would just dispute it as pending a merchant refund.

12/13 rolled around, and I didn’t receive my label. I called Philips again late that night. I was told I should have my label by Monday, 12/16, and they apologized as they were apparently fairly backed up on returns.

12/16 rolled around, and I still didn’t receive my label. I called Philips again late that night. I was told that my return was sent to the wrong department (Why does a request for a return have to be routed around? What year is this? Why can’t I just logon to the store and print the label myself?) and that I’d definitely be receiving it by Tuesday, 12/17.

12/17 rolled around, and guess what? Still no label. I called my credit card company and started the dispute process as I simply gave up. I’m not responsible for the charge as of now, and if no refund is issued by 12/27, regardless of return status, they’re reversing the charge. I want to send this product back, but Philips is just not sending me the information I need to do so. Later that night, I also shot a message to @PhilipsCare on Twitter. They replied fairly quickly, and on 12/18, their North American care team wrote me that my request for a return went to warranty returns, not sales returns, thus causing the delay. They verified my information to issue the return label. As of this writing, I still haven’t received the label.

My advice to Philips: This is 2013, soon to be 2014. You make some of the most advanced technological products in the world. Don’t make your return process so awful and prone to human error. I should have only had to call once, let alone three or more times plus request help through social outlets. As of this writing, I still haven’t received a label, despite so many promises that I’d receive one. I was also promised a return callback from a manager in the store customer care call center. That phone call also never arrived. If you were to ask me the classic net promoter question, guess which end of the spectrum my answer would fall into? Some companies get customer service so right. Clearly, you’ve got it so wrong. If anyone from Philips reads this, my web order number was O315350345. (Also, honestly, who starts an order number with a letter? Especially an O, which looks almost identical to a 0?)

My caution to other buyers: The return process with Philips will be a major pain in the ass if you need to go through it, so make sure you know you’re going to like what you buy before you buy.