This is the true story of how I ended up with not one, but two pairs of high-end, noise cancelling headphones while only having one set of ears.
Let me take you back to early December 2020, the latter half of the first year of The Covid. A year I know we will all remember, perhaps not fondly, but vividly.
Due to the far-reaching and insidious impacts of the nefarious coronavirus, the world was a very different place.
People were staying home, their jobs obliterated, their governments mandating stay at home orders – there was fear and trepidation everywhere.
Retail spending dropped precipitously. Consumers weren’t buying.
However, for those people who were still buying, this drop in demand was helpful. Prices for consumer goods fell. Retailers struggling with costs, dropped their margins, offering deals galore for those still willing to part with rare or meagre earnings, just to get product moving off the shelves.
This is how my story begins.
For a few months, I’d been researching and comparing two different pairs of noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones: the Bose 700 and the Sony WH-1000 XM4.
With virtually identical price points and similar technical specs, it was a toss up. Both would serve my purpose admirably.
Until I saw the sale price.
With an limited time, extra $50 savings thrown in, I ordered a pair of the Bose 700 Noise Cancelling headphones directly from Bose with guaranteed delivery before December 24, 2020.
But this wouldn’t be a story if there was no conflict, if there was no problem for our protagonist to overcome.
And sure enough, as if on cue, the problem of our digital age.
Delivery issues. The bane of an Amazon Prime coddled shopper.
The estimated delivery date was changed to early Jan 2021 – even though there was a large banner on the website GUARANTEEING DELIVERY BY DECEMBER 24th.
So as any good buyer would do, I contacted customer support and was assured that it would indeed be delivered on time as per the original order.
The next day, another updated delivery notice, again pushing the delivery date further into January 2021. And again I contacted customer support to be reassured that according to their system, I would be receiving the goods on the promised date.
So far, I’d spent almost 2 hours on the phone to be reassured twice.
Then a most peculiar email arrived four days before D day: my order date on the email was changed – to a date a week AFTER I’d made the order, thereby absolving them of the guaranteed delivery promise.
HOW DARE THEY.
So for the third time, I contacted customer support, and waited another hour.
This time, the reality, or perhaps the Truth, was shared with me. I would not receive my headphones on the promised date. The website banner was wrong. They wouldn’t arrive until next year. NEXT YEAR.
I could feel the uncomfortable bubbling deep inside the pit of my stomach, that acrid feeling of frustration and angst, welling up.
I’d had enough. I cancelled my order and asked for a refund. The agent processed the return and apologized.
So here I am, in a loud, noisy world, only wanting a small piece of quiet and getting none.
But to my surprise, a couple days later, another message from Bose with a new shipping date for my headphones. It was the order that I’d cancelled, like a zombie resurrection, revived from the dead.
So another 45 minutes with support where the agent could see that I’d called a few days prior, but that no action had been taken. None. Nada. Zip.
One simple task. Cancel and refund. That’s it.
The last agent hadn’t finalized the cancellation. Had not processed the refund.
Apologies were plenty and profuse, but of little value. Meaningless without any follow through. This time the agent promised that it had been completed and that there would be no further issues. Based on my last couple weeks, I pressed them further, assurances upon assurances, that this was it, case closed, the end.
While this was taking place, I had continued on my quest for silence. And as luck would have it, the Sony headphones, the very same ones I’d had on my radar, were offered for an even bigger discount, saving me an additional $100 on the $50 I would have saved on the Bose – with one caveat – as long as I was okay with the only colour available. Good thing I wasn’t picky and preferred keeping $150 in my now empty pocket.
And as further luck in The Time of The Covid would have it, I could pick them up curbside at a local retailer down the street. No more waiting on unreliable delivery.
At this point, it’s December 30th, 2020 and I’m ready to put the year behind me.
But the year had other plans.
A simple text message sent my life into a tailspin, a spiral of madness enveloping me in a miasma of doom and rage.
“Your package is on its way!”
UPS the bearer of bad news, the messenger.
Bose had shipped the headphones.
THE ONES THAT HAD BEEN CANCELLED.
They were on their way to me and would arrive in about a week.
So guess who spent another hour plus on the phone with customer support, listening to the Cisco hold music which now haunts those quiet moments before I fall asleep?
This time, the poor customer service agent didn’t receive any pleasantries from me. A simple, clear demand delivered in a hard, clipped tone devoid of joy. Clint Eastwood would have been proud.
“You can’t help me. Put me through to a supervisor.”
It was probably the fastest I’d been escalated.
Discussing my situation with the supervisor, again replete with useless apologies, my frustration crept up, but rest assured my voice did not.
“As we can’t stop the delivery now, what we can do is have you take it to the UPS depot when you receive it and have them return to sender.”
The tipping point. Catalyst ignition.
I had clearly stated, on the previous two calls, that I did not want to be responsible for any returns. That position hadn’t changed. If anything, I was more steadfast in my refusal to do any work for them.
At this point with the calls (and the online chats, which I hadn’t mentioned above), I’d already spent close to 7 hours dealing with this issue.
I let the agent know my displeasure.
And the fact that I refused, in this, the Time of The Covids, to go to a delivery depot full of people, on the other side of town. I don’t put my pants on for just anything these days, and sure as hell wasn’t going to do it for Bose.
I could almost hear the rumination on the agent’s end, having kept their calm with a clearly agitated customer, trying to work a solution.
“Would you be willing to keep the headphones if I could offer you a further discount?”
It was my turn to ruminate.
“What would the discount be?”
“I could give you 50% off what you paid.”
More silence on my end, mostly because math isn’t my strong suit and I had to calculate the total savings. My mental calculator
A week later and with a savings 2/3 of the retail price, I became the proud owner of not just one, but two pairs of high-end, noise cancelling headphones.