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Examples of failures of the last mile

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Yesterday I wrote about The Failure of the Last Mile, and some of my friends were nice enough to send me examples they thought of. If you can think of any, add yours as a comment.

Companies put you on hold
“Cellphone companies, banks, DSL providers, spend a ton of money on marketing but then put you on hold for 1/2 hour for the simplest customer service. Amazon is the only company that seems to get this part consistently right.”

Yahoo wastes its real estate
“Another example – Yahoo! spent tons of effort on Internet search and then throws it away at the last mile by running too many ads above their search results, relative to Google.”

Sound systems don’t work and so you are sad
“Going to hear a wonderful, amazing, famous speaker, and the sound system/ microphones doesn’t work properly.”

Reservations should save you time
“Reservations: Why make a reservation for anything when you still have to wait once you arrive? For example, restaurants, airline flights (overbooked), apointments for your car to be serviced.”

Rain plans are key
“Not having a “plan B” if the weather doesn’t do what you want it to.”

Newspaper never optimizes distribution
From a journalist friend: “For my paper, what has always struck me is that we have an entire circulation department spending a lot of time and money trying to get people to buy and read the paper, to the point of sending out thousands of free copies as samples. Those postage fees mount up. Ironically, we don’t bother to fill up our streetside boxes which also act as billboards for the paper, and we haven’t increased the number of curbside drop boxes we own, which means that when people call up and ask where they can find the paper, the answer is literally “nowhere, it isn’t available to anyone who isn’t already a subscriber.”

Stupid newspaper also cuts off own circulation
“Also (you’ve got me going now), we have been repeatedly told that we must get on this “web thing” and yet company policy is to charge anyone who links to our articles. We are charging for free publicity. We are charging people who are pointing others to our site. Even worse, we are charging them $5, which is such a feeble amount it is an insult to buyer and seller.”

Investment banker gets reamed for small mistake
“How about an investment banking example. I spent an entire week and an all nighter working on a pitch to a client. Tons of valuation work, tweaking powerpoint slides, etc. When final books were printed, everyone saw on the front of the presentation that I misspelled the name of the client on the front page. And then I proceeded to get railed by my superiors.”

Any examples? Add a comment here.

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19 Comments on "Examples of failures of the last mile"

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Jonathan A
10 years 6 months ago

Ouch. Man I’m sorry about that last one……now you have a good story to tell your kids 🙂

Rob
Rob
10 years 6 months ago
APC gets it right. One of my APC UPS devices for home use recently failed. It’s about 18 months old and I knew that failure was too soon for so expensive an item. I went to their website and found that the warranty is 2 years from date of purchase(with receipt) or 2 years from date of manufacture and they have a handy spot where you enter your device’s serial number and they immediately tell you if your UPS is under warranty. I no longer have the receipt so I check the serial number. WooHoo! My device is covered! I… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
10 years 6 months ago

I went to a beautiful wedding a couple years ago. It was seriously perfect right down to the last detail. However, the bride decided to walk down the isle in a pair of droopy granny pants. Her underwear was clearly visible underneath her beautiful and somewhat form fitting wedding dress.

Kevin
Kevin
10 years 6 months ago

sounds like the investment banker forgot to go the last mile by making sure the NAME OF THE CLIENT WAS CORRECT! All that valuation and hard work for a week was wasted because the point of contact (and front cover) misspelled their name. That’s the last mile. Your superiors are trying to get you to understand the last mile. You didn’t finish. It isn’t that your superiors didn’t go the last mile. It’s you.

Mario
Mario
10 years 6 months ago

I was an investment banking analyst. You are shocked that you were reamed out by misspelling the clients name? You are in the wrong line of work. Mispelling the client’s name right on the cover is a pretty bonehead move. That’s the kind of thing people don’t forget. I remember hearing stories about analysts making those sorts of mistakes and they always ended w/ the analyst being fired.

Ramit Sethi
10 years 6 months ago

What makes you guys think he was surprised that he got reamed? He’s using that example to prove the point. Chill, guys.

Mike
Mike
10 years 6 months ago
I have an example in which I was a participant but I believe has a broader lesson: Early in my career, I was working for a financial services firm. I was the writer on a proposal for a company with one of those names that is by all accounts is spelled “wrong.” So I wrote a proposal to how the name seemed to be meant to be spelled. And before anyone says anything, yes it was my fault–and I learned my lesson! But the broader point is that the proposal went through 4 drafts over 4+ weeks, and was reviewed… Read more »
Carlin
Carlin
10 years 6 months ago
I’ve got two recent stories of terrible customer service. I had a raincheck from a Best Buy near my house. That store had not gotten the item in for about 3 weeks, so I stop by a Best Buy near my parents’ house. They have it, I grab it, show them my raincheck, and am told I can only use it at the store that issued it. After some prodding, the real reason came out. The manager did not want to take the $20 hit to her store’s sales (the raincheck was for a sale price). She also refused to… Read more »
Eric N.
Eric N.
10 years 6 months ago
I ordered a desk and chair from office max on January 16. The 50lb table arrived the next day. The chair, I ordered a desk and chair from office max on January 16. The 50lb table arrived the next day. The chair, < 80$. Has still not arrived at my home. I've waited nearly 9 weeks for this chair… I am never shopping at officemax. And never buying furniture online unless it is a smaller shop, who can guarantee their shipped items — and who doesn't sell items not in stock locally. They told me 6 weeks to ship, and… Read more »
Investment Banking Analyst
Investment Banking Analyst
10 years 6 months ago
Dearest Mario and Kevin, I was just hoping you could take a step of those high horses for a second. That example was one in which the analyst was simply adding to the conversation and MAKING FUN OF HIMSELF in the process. Kevin, he never said that he was blaming his superiors or going the last mile. And Mario, thats great that you’ve been in this line of work. And I’m sure in all your experience, you’ve not had one single typo in any presentation you’ve ever made. And that definitely makes you qualified to tell someone you don’t even… Read more »
KMulligan
10 years 6 months ago
I’ve got a real winner to share… I’ll try to keep it short. Car battery dies abruptly, November 17, 2005. I get a jump, drive to Advanced Auto Parts, buy new battery ($68.77). This is in GA, where I go to college. Fast forward to February 2006. Moved to AL. Car won’t start. Completely dead. I borrow a car, buy a new battery at my local shop, install new non-Advanced battery. I later stop by a local Advanced Auto Parts, explain my situation, and ask if I can bring in the old, useless to me now battery, for a refund.… Read more »
Peter
Peter
10 years 6 months ago

Its not the issue of having a “single typo”. But more importantly what was misspelled and how obvious the mistake is.

I think if you fudged up a bit on the financial aspects, it might not have been detected by your superiors. Everyone makes mistakes, just take it as a lesson you needed to learn I suppose.

Jonathan Radande
10 years 6 months ago

I think that Microsoft really screwed up with their XBOX 360’s.

The Xbox 360 is a superior game console, but I think that more people woul’ve been satisfied if more games were available at launch.

Geri Hutchins
Geri Hutchins
10 years 6 months ago
I ordered online from 2 companies and after not receiving the items, I checked my order and realized that I had neglected to change my address. I called both companies to tell them about MY MISTAKE and to see if there was anything they could do to help me. LL Bean told me not to worry about it, they would contact their carrier to retrieve the package and that they would expedite the ordered items to my new address. Company B reminded me that I had received a confirmation email (after I told them it was my mistake) and that… Read more »
Jeannine
10 years 6 months ago
My boys are your age, so I guess I’m a little out of your target audience, but I really enjoyed reading your blog. I emailed it to both my boys (not rich students). Something to add to customer service. My debit card recently quit working with no explanation. When I contacted my bank, I was told it had been “compromised” and was on a list of debit card numbers that had been stolen, so it was cancelled. That was 6 weeks ago. The bank has issued a new card twice now, and both times it has just disappeared into the… Read more »
Chris Bosken
Chris Bosken
10 years 5 months ago
I’m currently in the market for a wedding cake. These days I consider businesses without webpages as behind the curve; Even if the vendor does have a website, too many are simplistic, or worse, poorly designed (these failures don’t even reach the last mile). But to those cake vendors that do have passable websites, many do their product a disservice by paying little attention to how the cakes are presented on the website- poor pictures probably give the potential customer a dim view of what could be a fantastic product. Seemingly, such poor presentation keeps customers away, or possibly keeps… Read more »
arjun
arjun
10 years 4 months ago

i hate how every clothes store always runs out of Medium sizes and ALWAYS has extra Ls and XLs. COME ON DUDES, LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES!

candice
candice
10 years 3 months ago
Washington Mutual (don’t ask me why I ever signed up with them) goes out of their way to market themselves as an accessible bank but the branches near me ALWAYS run out of deposit envelopes on weekends. I am not exaggerating! I repeatedly couldn’t make a deposit because there were no envelopes! Veteran clients would hoard envelopes in their glove boxes and at times would share with me when I looked like I was about to cry. I made a complaint to customer service and I received a form letter with SOMEONE ELSE’s name inserted into some parts of the… Read more »
Bobette
10 years 1 month ago
Apologies for being a couple of months late. I was researching CRM for an article, found the blog, and got sucked in. I have a wonderful example of failures in the last mile, courtesy of my (former) business credit card company. Advanta (like all financial institutions), closely monitors for fraud. That’s great. What’s not great is their procedures made it impossible for me to use the card without my account being repeatedly locked. When one of my vendors tried to charge the account, Advanta deemed the transaction “suspicious,” denied the charge and locked my account. When the vendor notified me… Read more »
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