My experience with Flanner’s Home Entertainment

Short story: Crummy experience; owner saw this morning’s note and called with a sincere apology and promise to investigate; I truly appreciate and accept the apology. Still, I bought someplace else yesterday, so there’s little more that needs to be done. I will consider Flanner’s again should we choose to upgrade any other electronics.

Looooong story: Operation adult basement includes new gazing equipment. Fifteen years ago Flanner’s installed much of what we have. The last TV, a 36″ Sony Trinitron XBR came from them, too, a few years ago. Of course, it seemed like a good idea to go back there.

I had my eye on the new 240 hz Sony 52″ Bravia LCD that’s out now. So I did a little homework and put together a package I thought we would enjoy. Final choices included the TV, a Sony HTIB (home theater in a box) package with wireless surround speakers and the all important iPod dock, a Samsung Blu-ray player, and a spiffy new console to put everything on. I made a deposit for half the purchase and walked out content.

I decided to have a designer come by for a consultation which confirmed I could use the existing wiring for speakers even if we flipped the room around. That meant I could choose a wired system. I went in on Tuesday to do so. I had picked one out on the Flanner’s site, a Sony setup that included the Blu-ray player. The price was attractive at $699.99.

That’s when things went south. According to the salesperson, the price on the Web site was wrong by about $1,300. I balked. He called a buyer over to confirm, and that’s when things fell apart. The buyer started with one “explanation” after another that didn’t fit. Then he treated me like a girl. You know it ladies, that grimy felling you have when a salesMAN lets you know it’s probably something you wouldn’t understand anyway?

I explained to my salesperson that I knew a lie when I heard one and canceled the sale. The deposit was put back to my credit card. Yesterday I bought a decent, but different, system from a friend of the family at Best Buy. (I didn’t realize they don’t work on commission. Still it was nice to use a friendly FEMALE face.) On schedule to be delivered tomorrow are a 52″ Samsung 120 Hz that picked up at least one decent review and a Samsung Blu-ray with Netflix and Pandora via the ethernet (not WiFi) connection. I’m plugging it all into a sound system I already have until I can figure that out, but I’m leaning towards this Onkyo from Newegg. It still needs to be spec’d by the no-longer-resident geek, Son No. 1.

So…all that happened and this morning I wrote the quick bit about Flanners in the summary. John Flanner reads, which I didn’t realize until he called me a few minutes after it posted. He asked for the story, and then he did exactly the right thing – he apologized. It’s really all that was to be expected. Though the experience cost him a sale, no doubt there’ll be a little checking into the Web site and maybe even some sales training out of it all. He made a very generous offer to hook up what I’ve purchased elsewhere, and while I may take him up on it if things go poorly, I’m pretty sure the family can handle it. I’m still looking for a console and may go back to pick up the one I’d picked out there. (I may also put in an order with my favorite woodworker -Dad! – or see if another more local carpenter would enjoy the work.)

Flanner’s is a great local business and I won’t hesitate to go back in the future. The one thing I learned? If I hit a snag like this again, I’ll ask to talk to a manager before I cancel the sale.

Here’s the great big lesson the world might need to implement: Girls have brains, too. All you sales people might want to remember that if we’re in the store asking decent questions, there’s a darn good chance we’ve learned enough about what we’re purchasing to make an intelligent decision.

That’s it. My soap box for the week.

Update: 4/30/10 – Flanners is closed.

Update: 6/3/10 – It looks like Flanner’s is gone for good.

Comments

  1. Wilson828 says:

    Last year I sent my 83 yr old father to Flanners to buy his large screen LCD tv that he thought he had to have. He researched it to death using Consumer Reports and other sources. (He’s become quite proficient with a computer). My mom could care less but my dad needed a new tv. Just because. It’s a guy thing. It’s like shoes for women.

    I sent my kid to buy from Flanners. He bought two televisions at the same time – a 57 or 60 LCD and a 32 LCS 108o …. and a 2K sound system from Flanners.

    My reason? I’ve bought from them in the past and they are competent and professional. I could trust sending my dad and my kid to them.

    The prices are the same as the big box stores. But the knowledge of product is better. And it feels good supporting a local business.

    So when I walked in there right after Xmas to buy my new Sony 52 LCS 1080p … and I’m with my wife who has zero patience for this kind of shopping (it’s not shoes) … and I’m waiting for a sales person to notice my pacing around – there were two of them ‘visiting’ at the sales counter at the front of the store I was really irritated. Finally someone, maybe a manager, came by and asked if someone was helping me. I told him no and that I would like to speak to someone because I wanted to buy a television – but I would NOT speak to either of the two boobs who ignored me. He found me someone else. The rest of the sale went fine.

    We bought a new thingy (credenza) to put the tv on … and elected to have it all assembled and delivered. And now here is the part for what Flanners should be known and remembered for.. .when the two young kids delivered the tv? I had the old one moved to the basement (for another 50 buck fee worth every cent) and I had the room all cleared and disconnected of the stereo and surround sound, etc. The kids announced that they wouldn’t be able to connect the sound system but would hook up the tv… I was okay with that. But then the kids looked at me and could tell (maybe by osmosis) that I’d screw up the sound connection and they did it anyway. They said it was against policy to reconnect my sound system. They reconnected it for me. I had all the cables. They read my sound system instructions to do quick familiarization of my equipment and then balanced my sound system for me. They measured the room. They set the settings up perfectly. It took them like 15 min to do it. I gave them a tip.

    So here’s what this whole story got the Flanner organization. I had a so so sales experience. If it would have ended there, in the future I would probably shop around a bit. But I’m going to remain a Flanners customer because of the customer service of the installation kids. Some stupid policy on reconnecting a stereo was set aside in IN FAVOR OF SATISFYING AND INFLUENCING A CUSTOMERS SATISFACTION. So when I have friends come over to oogle the tv and the sound system I brag about Flanners. I brag about the kids who did the sound reconnection. I brag about the quality of the installation.

    Oh you pay for it. Flanner’s nickles and dimes you to death. But I received good value that day for my dollar.

    So Mr Flanner if you’re reading this – knock off the stupid policies on not reconnecting stereo sound and/or rediculous surcharges for doing so and enjoy the customer service that the kids provide and how it influences your customers. In this economy … do you wanna make a little bit of money or no money?

    I’ll keep shopping Flanners. I’m sorry you were treated so poorly. I’m sorry that they spoke down to you. I guess when I do go back I won’t be so trusting .. betcha those guys that treated you so badly are still there.. but then again .. I’m going back for the installation delivery guys! They’re the super stars at Flanners!!!!

  2. Wilson828 – thanks for taking the time to write that. John said he liked customer feedback. He just got some!

  3. We have always loved the knowledge and service we have received from Flanners. We have been buying from Flanners since they were located in Mayfair many years ago.

    My wife and I had a similar experience almost 10 years ago in the automobile industry. My wife was looking for a new car and had always wanted one from a certain European car maker. Since all the kids had graduated from college, we decided it was time for her to fulfill her wish. We walked into the local dealership and after being greeted by the salesman, I told him my wife wanted to buy a car. To make a long story short he practically ignored my wife, kept talking to me and as a result we walked away without expressing much interest in buying a car.

    We decided to go to Lexus of Brookfield even though we had done little research on those vehicles. The visit started the same way but when I told the salesman that my wife wanted to buy a car he stopped talking to me. He concentrated on finding out what my wife wanted and took her on a test drive without me. She came back enthused about the car and we purchased the car that afternoon. The following day the dealer picked up my wife at home while I was at work and drove her to the dealership where they spent 90 minutes explaining all of the controls on the car to her. Needless to say she and I were very impressed. As a result we have since purchased two additional cars from them all because the initial contact with them understood who was the person who was going to make the decision about what kind of car she wanted to purchase.

  4. I appreciate your candid feedback. I’ve always tried to run the business based on taking good care of customers. We have standard ways of doing things of course but I personally tell every new employee that when it comes to customer service, nothing is cast in stone. Since every customer and home is unique, our biggest challenge is to balance every company’s need to standardize operations in a way that is repeatable and cost effective with the needs of each customer. Some days we succeed better than others but believe me, our intentions are always sincere. In Cindy’s case, we made a mistake on our website. I’m sure the buyer who tried to explain it to Cindy came across differently than he intended. He’s a good guy and very direct. Obviously a softer approach and more empathy for Cindy’s situation would have done a better job. I know he’ll take all of this to heart and be more effective next time an opportunity arises.

    Wilson828, thank you for your business and comments. I apologize to you for not being promptly greeted. We had a lapse in attention and you were not well served. You’re right, our delivery and installation people are often the unsung heroes in all of this. We have a variety of services we offer based on the time requirements. The “policy” is based on our need most days to stay on schedule so as not to inconvenience the next customer. I’m proud that they took my words to heart and were flexible when the opportunity arose. Every day requires hundreds of difficult decisions to give good service and make a dollar at the same time.

    Thanks to you too Jim. We hope to continually earn your trust and recommendations.

    To everyone out there……try to give the local business a chance when you can. My heart was broken when Schwartz Booksellers and Heinemann’s both announced they were closing. My goal every day is to be competitve and take the best possible care of every customer. Your feedback is very important to help us make the daily corrections needed to do that. Many people think we’re more expensive. We shop the competition twice a week to make sure we’re on top of any new sales going on. Nuff said, this isn’t my blog, it’s Cindy’s. Thanks for the opportunity to share.