Sometimes, I attract the freakiest types. Dave says it’s either my aftershave, or karma.
The following is totally true. I’m not making anything up, nor am I trying to downplay what my role (or Jeanette’s role) in it to make us look innocent or better.
It’s a prime example of how not to handle customer service.
A month ago, I bought a new espresso machine. It’s a Rancilio Silvia, which retails for as low as $400USD. Because a unique “deal” was offered online in the alt.coffee newsgroup, I jumped on it, and bought my Silvia for substantially less than the going lowest rate.
I had the machine shipped to my US address and I drove down, picked it up and brought it back over the border. I cleared it through customs, paying various taxes on it. I got it home only to discover the thing was leaking, big time. I removed the rear panel to discover that a plastic tube that carried pressurized water from the pump to the boiler had a hairline crack in it. It was too late in the day (a Monday) to call either the company I bought it from (in Albany, NY) or a local Rancilio repair depot (if there was one in Vancouver), so I waited until the next day.
The next morning, Jeanette let her fingers do the walking and she phoned up what appeared to be the only Vancouver company that did Rancilio repairs. It is called Mr. Cappuccino. After explaining the problem and inquiring about buying a replacement tube, the guy at the other end (“Reg”) refused to sell her the part Refused! He claimed that “doesn’t make me (him) any money, so why should I? ” Jeanette was really taken aback by this. The product was new, yet this guy refused to even sell us a part, much less offer to fix it under warranty.
I had the replacement tube mailed out from Albany, from the place I bought it from. In the meantime I decided to write a letter to Rancilio in Italy about the total lack of service (and rudeness) from the Vancouver Mr. Cappuccino. I tracked down an English reader there, and sent him an email detailing the short and rude conversation Jean had. I kept it as succinct and to the point as possible.
Three weeks later (and just 6 days ago), I got a response back from the Italian guy, Carlos Pincho. He apologized for the rudeness we got from the local rep, and with stilted English he sort of explained their warranty policy (warranties are only valid from the orginating dealer). I wasn’t too happy to hear that but at least I got an explanation.
Meanwhile, I also got forwarded an email from some guy named Walter Cattoni, who was the sales manager for Mr.Cappuccino, but based in Calgary (it was only then I discovered that Mr. Cappuccino had various offices). This email detailed what was said by Jeanette and “Reg”, (the Vancouver rep), and was addressed to Pincho, the Italian Rancilio guy. Problem was, it was all false. Cattoni told Pincho that we called on a Saturday afternoon and demanded on site repair in our home, that very afternoon. He told Pincho that we refused to pay for anything, even just the tube. He told Pincho that our originating dealer told us to get local warranty service. He told Pincho we “only called after we had disassembled the machine, and couldn’t get it working again”. Other lies and falsehoods were in the message.
I was really kinda freaked by this. At the time I read it, I assumed that “Reg” in Vancouver had been lying to Cattoni to cover his own lack of customer service. So I wrote a reply back to both Cattoni and Pincho, pointing out all the falsehoods and saying that Jeanette and I deserved an apology from Mr. Cappuccino for having our words twisted. I explained how I got the machine, how I brought it back from the US, and various other details.
I figured an apology would be forthcoming. No, instead I get another email from Cattoni saying “your message has been carbon copied to CANADA CUSTOMS”.
Huh? Wha? This one, I couldn’t figure out at all. Why would he forward my email message to Canada Customs?
The next day I found out just how much of a lunatic this guy Cattoni is. Along with an email containing the Happy99 virus, I got forwarded another email from Cattoni to Pincho, the Italian guy. (A note on the happy99 virus. Can you believe I actually had the good grace to email Cattoni back about it, giving him info on how to remove it from his system?)
In this last email, Cattoni claimed he “tipped off” Canada Customs that I was a smuggler. He also claimed that he “tipped off” BC Hydro (our provincial utilities company) that I was running illegal power devices in my home. Apparently he believed they would cut the power to my house. He also claimed that he would get my house insurance policy cancelled because I was running a “non CSA” device in my home, and when it caught fire, I wouldn’t have insurance!
Now the BC Hydro and insurance crap, well, that’s just the ravings of a lunatic (btw, the device is UL certified, so that’s fine for personal imporation into Canada). But the Customs threat I took very seriously. I travel down to the States a lot on business and pleasure, and I certainly don’t need to be strip searched every time I come back.
So as a result, we’re seeing a lawyer next week, and we’re definitely going to be taking action on the customs threat. This was nothing less than a malicious and false report by Cattoni in an attempt to seek some sort of revenge against me.
All this over a $1 piece of plastic. All this because some joker (Cattoni) was caught in a lie, and instead of facing up to it, he tries to exact some sort of vengeance.
What a way for a company to act towards its customers, eh? Yes folks. Run a company. Lie about your customers, and when you are caught, try to make your customers’ lives miserable. Seek vengeance upon your customers! That’s the real PR these days!
The kicker is it appears the Italian guy Carlos Pincho wants to wash his hands of all of this. I can understand him being embarrassed by the actions of Walter Cattoni, but if I was Carlos Pincho, of Rancilio of Italy, I don’t think I’d want this lunatic to represent my product in Western Canada. I’d find the fastest way to dump Mr. Cappuccino as a service, equipment, and repair depot toute suite.
Anyway, I doubt anyone reading this is up to spending $700 CDN or more on espresso equipment, but if you are, I urge you to not patronize Mr. Cappuccino, a western Canada based Espresso machine and supply chain of stores. They are a scary bunch. Rude locally in Vancouver, and downright psycho in Calgary.
A post script. I eventually got the plastic tube part from the Albany NY store, and the machine is simply awesome. But will I ever buy Rancilio again? I was going to buy a $350 CDN matching grinder (the Rancilio Rocky) to go with this machine, but based on this experience, I’m shopping for an alternative grinder from an alternative source. I might reconsider this though, because I happen to know a few US distributors and resellers of Rancilio products, and by and large they are very friendly, helpful folks. The jokers from Mr. Cappuccino up here in Western Canada hopefully are the only exceptions to this rule.
Till next time…