Das Keyboard comes from behind for the win

I recently received a package from Metadot, the creators of Das Keyboard. It contained:

T-shirt, magnet, note pads, note of apology, daskeyboard Space Pen, daskeyboard pens

Here’s what the enclosed note says:

Jonathan, We're sorry we messed up! Please accept these goodies as our thank you for being honest and patient with us. Das Keyboard

The day before, I’d received another package from them, containing a brand new Das Keyboard.

From the “We’re sorry we messed up!” you might suspect that there’s a less positive back story leading up to the seemingly happy ending, and you’d be correct. But I told the ending first for one simple reason: what Metadot did at the end made up for everything that came before, in a way that most companies nowadays just don’t seem to understand. Yes, they made a mistake (quite a few of them, actually), but they acknowledged and apologized for it, they didn’t make excuses, they fixed it, and they went the extra mile to show they were sorry.

Here’s the whole, long story…

At the recommendation of a friend, I bought a Das Keyboard Model S Keyboard. I’d been searching for a while for a good keyboard with three characteristics: (1) good “feel” to a fast touch-typist; (2) n-key rollover (no lost key presses!); and (3) a fast enough Shift key that I wouldn’t sometimes end up with two capitalized letters at the beginning of sentences. I’d tried several cheaper keyboards, and they all failed to do the job.

The Das Keyboard worked well at first, but within a few months it developed a problem: the Delete key was occasionally generating two deletes every time I pressed it. I opened a support request asking Das Keyboard how to get the keyboard repaired or replaced.

They responded a week later (too long!), giving me an RMA number to ship the keyboard to their U.S. repair facility at my expense, which I did.

A couple of weeks later, the keyboard was returned to me. However:

  • when I shipped the keyboard to them, it was carefully packed in a large box with lots of bubble-wrap to protect it, whereas when they shipped it back they used nothing more than the original product packaging, which was inadequate protection from shipping damage;
  • because of that, one of the riser feet had broken in shipment; and worst of all,
  • they hadn’t actually fixed the bad Delete key.

I added a complaint about the broken riser foot and the inadequate packing to the support request (I didn’t complain that the Delete key was still broken, since I hadn’t yet noticed). Nine days later, there had been no response, so I complained again. A day after that (complaint +10 days), they finally responded and said that the issue had been escalated to a manager and they would send me a new riser foot to replace the one that had been broken. Three days after that (complaint +13 days), they said, “I placed the replacement riser foot in the mail to you today.”

The replacement riser foot they claimed to have sent never arrived.

A few days after that (complaint +18 days), they wrote to me again and said they were sending me a whole replacement keyboard.

The replacement keyboard they claimed to have sent never arrived.

A couple weeks after that (complaint +32 days), I sent them a followup message informing them that:

  • the Delete key wasn’t fixed and was getting worse;
  • I had not received the replacement riser foot;
  • I had not received the replacement keyboard;
  • it appeared that they were expecting me to return the broken keyboard to them a second time at my expense, when the only reason I had to do that was because they didn’t fix it properly the first time. I asked, “Is it really your intention to make me pay for the return shipping on my keyboard?”

There was no response.

A week after that (complaint +39 days), I sent them this: “Hello? Anyone there? It’s now 26 days since you claimed to have sent me a replacement riser foot, and 22 days since you claimed to have sent me a replacement keyboard, and I’ve received neither, and you haven’t responded to the message which I sent you a week ago. What’s going on?”

Six days after that (complaint +45 days), I sent a message to Amazon (from whom I had purchased the keyboard) and copied it into the Das Keyboard support ticket:

I purchased a Das Keyboard keyboard from Amazon.com on December 27, 2012. The keyboard broke within its warranty period — the Delete key started periodically generating two deletes instead of one — and after contacting Das Keyboard for an RMA #, I shipped it back to Das Keyboard’s U.S. repair center for repair, at my expense.

The repair center center it back to me without fixing it, AND they didn’t pack it properly, causing one of the riser feet to be broken when the keyboard got back to me.

I contacted Das Keyboard to complain and they told me they were shipping me a replacement riser foot. They never did.

Then I complained again when I discovered that the problem with the Delete key wasn’t actually fixed, and they told me they were shipping me a replacement keyboard. Again, they never did.

All this happened a month ago. I’ve contacted them twice since — on September 17 and September 24. They have completely ignored me.

To recap: (1) keyboard breaks within its warranty period; (2) manufacturer sends the keyboard back me, not only without fixing it, but breaking it in the process; (3) manufacturer lies to me about solving the problem and then ignores my repeated inquiries; (4) I’m stuck with a broken keyboard that cost $140!

Is there anything you can do to help?

Amazon responded quickly and told me that although normally returns were only allowed for a month after purchase, in this case they were going to make an exception and allow me to return the keyboard to them (which in the end I did not end up doing, but I certainly appreciated the offer!).

The same day, I looked up the “whois” information for the “daskeyboard.com” domain and sent an email message to the address listed there:

Subject: Do you people stand by your products, or what?

It doesn’t seem so, judging from https://daskeyboard.mojohelpdesk.com/mytickets/show/[number elided].

What’s it going to take to get my keyboard fixed? Trashing you on my blog and posting negative reviews everywhere? A complaint to the Better Business Bureau?

Before continuing the story, let’s recap what has gone wrong so far:

  • a very expensive keyboard broke within its warranty period;
  • the manufacturer took a week to respond to my initial inquiry about getting it repaired or replaced;
  • I was required to ship the keyboard at my own expense to get it fixed;
  • it was packed inadequately when shipped back to me and was broken in shipment as a result;
  • it was not actually repaired;
  • the manufacturer was slow to respond to my complaint about the above two issues;
  • I was promised a replacement part which never arrived;
  • I was promised a replacement keyboard which never arrived;
  • I was told that after receiving the replacement keyboard, I would have to ship the broken one to them a second time, again at my expense;
  • my inquiries into the above three issues were repeatedly ignored;
  • 73 days after I initially contacted the manufacturer, I still didn’t have a working keyboard; and
  • Amazon’s response to my complaint was far more timely, and far more effective, than the response by the (high-end) manufacturer.

Wow, that’s awful!

However, at this point things started to improve. An hour after I emailed the Das Keyboard whois contact, I got this back: “I am glad you contacted me about this. We are looking into it and I’ll get back to you shortly.” An hour and a half later, this message was added to the support ticket:

I first want to apologize for the terrible way this whole experience has been handled. Senior management is fully aware of your situation and is taking appropriate actions to handle it. We are sending you a new replacement keyboard today via UPS overnight. The address we have on file is:

[elided]

If you wish it shipped to a different address, please let me know. I will update you with your tracking number at the end of business today.

Again, I sincerely apologize for this experience. I hope you will only hold it against me and my shortcomings and not the company as a whole. This is not indicative of their quality or attention to detail.

Two and a half hours after that, the support ticket was updated again with the tracking number.

The next morning I received this email:

You should receive a replacement keyboard today. I apologize about the terrible job we have done helping you getting your product fixed. This is infuriating as we aim to providing an outstanding customer experience. Now it is for us to review where our processes did not work and fix it.

If you need anything else, just let me know.

Then came the new keyboard and package of goodies. After they arrived, I thanked them in email and asked whether they could tell me anything more about how so much could go wrong. They responded: “Regarding the root cause of the customer service problem…. There were many things that, when combined, made the issue you experienced possible… It ranges from simple user errors to management failure to catch ongoing issues and inadequate reporting of customer service activities. We are now updating our processes to prevent this from happening again. Your email was a wake up call. At the end of the day, it is good that customers send us their complaints if we are not doing a good job. It makes us better. Contact us any time. Have a great weekend.”

Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it… Das Keyboard’s initial handling of my issue was terrible, and it’s not acceptable for any company, let alone a company selling high-end products like $140 keyboards, to have such poor processes in place that this can occur. But they turned the situation entirely around. Here’s how:

  • Email sent to the address listed in their domain’s “whois” information goes to a real person who actually reads it, and they treated a complaint received out-of-band (i.e., not through their help-desk system) seriously rather than bit-bucketing it.
  • Their handling of my complaint once I brought it to their attention was straight out of one of my favorite books, Jeffrey Gitomer’s Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. The ideas are obvious, but it’s absurd how few companies implement them:
    • Respond quickly, admit you screwed up, apologize, and make things right as quickly as possible. (new keyboard on the way to me within hours of my escalated complaint)
    • Figure out what went wrong and fix things so it won’t happen again, and make sure the customer customer knows you’re doing that.
    • Go the extra mile to show the customer that you’re sorry. (written apology and package of goodies)
    • If you handle a bad customer experience well, you can actually end up with the customer feeling better about you than if it hadn’t occurred at all.

Das Keyboard is hardly the first company with which I’ve had problems of this sort. But most of the time when something in customer service goes badly wrong, it’s either impossible or prohibitively difficult to reach someone at the company who cares, or the company’s response to the problem indicates that it’s their business as usual, not an aberration. In contrast, Dos Keyboard’s response shows that they do stand behind their products, and they do care about providing good customer service. I am therefore comfortable recommending them to anyone in search of a good keyboard or any of their other products.

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One Response to “Das Keyboard comes from behind for the win”

  1. Aaron Mason says:

    I had something quite similar occur to me at work – we sent a phone back to our carrier for a screen repair, and when it came back, we noticed two very peculiar things:

    1. It was wrapped in a single layer of bubble wrap – we packed it way better.
    2. The screen was worse than when we sent it.

    I immediately emailed both our sales rep and account executive about it, and to their credit they replaced the phone and took back the damaged unit all at the carrier’s expense.

    On the downside, to this day they are still returning repaired phones shipped in a single layer of bubble wrap. Obviously the dispatch folk didn’t get the memo, if it was sent at all.

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