Dear Housing Works Thrift Shops

On Thursday, Oct. 11 at about 5:15pm I intended to donate a bookcase clock to your Gramercy Thrift Shop. I had been carrying it around all day with Housing Works in mind.

While in the bag the clock unscrewed from its pedestal and I screwed it back in. The young woman accepting donations saw that and when I put it on the counter she laughed. The clock swivels in its pedestal and I surmise she decided it was broken and a worthless item.

When I asked her for an explanation she insisted, “Nothing is wrong” and chuckled when I accepted her offer of a donation form. Her unsuppressed snickering turned me off and moved me to withdraw my donation. She offered no apology or explanation.

She’s [description omitted]. The clock is 2 years old from Bombay Company.

Your thrift operations need to be more attentive to hiring and training.

I have donated to the Gramercy store previously and bought from there. My most meaningful purchases were a $250 chair with ottoman and a $100 file cabinet. I have bought smaller items as well.

Your inconsiderate employee cost you a donor and buyer.

I blog on philanthropy and fundraising. I may well blog this as an example of what not to do.

Sincerely,
Tony Martignetti

I emailed that to Housing Works’ vice president for development on a Sunday. He emailed me back on Monday:

So sorry to learn about your experience at the Thrift Shops. I’ve forwarded your email to our director of stores. I expect that you’ll hear back from her shortly.

Please know that we appreciate your generous support over the years and we hope that this experience doesn’t completely end our relationship with you. Staff training is very much important to us; however, we sometimes fall short of our customer service goals.

Feel free to call me at any time; my contact info is below.

Housing Works’ director of stores left me two messages on Tuesday. She was very apologetic. I called her back but we haven’t spoken.

Rather than an example of what not to do, which I anticipated, it’s representative of the right way to handle a customer complaint.

Well done, Housing Works.

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