The terrible customer service from Philips France

Everyone knows that France has a certain reputation for customer service. In general though I don’t find it to be too horrendous. Yes, sometimes a waiter might be a bit brusque in a Paris restaurant or store employees will just give you a “no” or an “I don’t know” rather than offering a suggestion as to how you might go about solving a problem or finding a particular product. It seems to me though that the French are rarely outright rude to customers during in-person interactions. Over the phone can be a bit trickier. The phone makes it a lot easier for rudeness to occur in the course of your interactions, I suppose just as anywhere. Whenever I do encounter a problem interacting with French people, I can usually work through it by telling them that their behavior is unacceptable; surprisingly, their attitude usually changes for the better then.

However, I recently experienced one of the worst customer service interactions of my life with Philips France. In truth, every single experience I have had with Philips in France has been problematic. From the very beginning there were issues when the product (an electric toothbrush) failed to function properly after two weeks of use. Then a rebate I was entitled to was not issued (it took multiple calls over a period of months to resolve the matter, and when it was finally resolved they still failed to transfer the money; it took several more calls before the money finally showed up nearly a year after I had purchased the product).

More recently the product failed again and a critical replacement part is nowhere to be found in France. Actually, Philips doesn’t even seem to know their own product line, because over course of three chat sessions I’ve been given numerous part numbers for the part I need. Philips also seems intent on sending me on a wild goose chase to mom-and-pop repair shops across France that service and repair their larger consumer products — as I’ve discovered, none of these places ever deals with toothbrushes or their replacement parts. The only other “options” are to purchase the replacement part at an exorbitant price from a third-party reseller or to purchase a part that “may be not suitable for France” because is manufactured for a different country with different specifications.

All of this might have been overlooked though if my latest round of interactions with a customer service representative had displayed a modicum of empathy or positive attitude. Instead, the representative inflamed frustrations by refusing to seek information above his expertise level, engaging in back talk rather than problem solving, becoming personally offended, and refusing to connect me with his superior when directly asked on multiple occasions. The representative is the interface between the customer and the company, and for me this interaction is critical in determining whether I will come back after encountering one or more problems with a purchase. Needless to say, Philips isn’t a company I will be seeking to spend my consumer dollars/euros on in the future.

I’ve attached the transcript of the latest interaction below. I will admit I jumped onto the swear train a little early, but given that this was my third interaction trying to locate this replacement part and the latest in a long line of problems associated with this product, can you blame me? I quickly returned to being a polite human being, but I guess that wasn’t enough for this particular representative to provide actual customer service. I’m now left wondering what percentage of my problems with this company have been a French thing versus an evil corporation thing.

UPDATE: After informing Philips of this blog post via Twitter, they miraculously decided they did have the ability to source a functional charger for my device, at no cost to me. It took a few weeks to get here (because France), but my toothbrush is now back in working order. Turns out the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.


Bonjour et bienvenue sur le Chat Philips. Je vous remercie de votre question, vous conversez avec Alexis.
Alexis: Hello Mrs Tisler
Alexis: I’m affraid this sparepart is not available on the Philips France online shop
Alexis: what is your postal code?
Tiffany: Yes. This is causing me a great deal of difficulty.
Tiffany: I am going to Paris this weekend. Perhaps you can find a retailer there who has this part.
Alexis:  you may contact STE SEREL 22 RUE CAMILLE DESMOULINS 75011 PARIS 01 43 79 72 80
Tiffany: Or point me to a philips website in another country that actually has this product.
Alexis:  It seems to be available on the UK online shop :
Alexis: but it may be not suitable for France (voltage difference FR/UK)
Tiffany: don’t you know?
Tiffany: why isn’t it available in france if it is available elsewhere?
Alexis:  I’m sorry, I don’t have this information
Tiffany: are you not a representative for this company?
Tiffany: obviously if you are selling your products in france, people may need to know this sort of information.
Alexis:  I’m a Philips Helpdesk agent
Tiffany: well this is bullshit
Tiffany: I now have a useless 200 euro toothbrush
Tiffany: what the fuck
Alexis: I can’t have this kind of information
Alexis:  very well
Tiffany: you need to have someone who does have this kind of information contact me
Alexis: i must inform this is a chat plateform for french speaking customer
Alexis: I’m making an effort speaking to you in english
Tiffany: no, it is for customers in france.
Alexis: it’s no use to tell bad words such as bull… or f..k
Alexis: have a nice day
Alexis: goodbye
Tiffany: ugh. please. nothing but run around from this company.
Tiffany: I would not have to use such “bad words” if this company actually provided customer service.
Alexis:  I just did
Tiffany: Haha, please connect me to your supervisor.
Alexis: I provided you a resaler contact as you asked
Tiffany: I’m 99.9% sure that the resaler won’t have this replacement part, because how would they if you don’t even sell this part on your website?
Alexis:  there are more than billions Philips products
Alexis: not all of them are available on the online shop
Tiffany: I’m sure that is factually not true that there are “billions” of Philips products, and even so it is no excuse for leaving a customer without a functional product within the 2 year warranty period.
Tiffany: I have already been in contact with other resalers, and none of them can locate or order this part, or even know what it is.
Tiffany: You need to direct me to someone who has actual authority and ability to solve this problem.
Alexis:  what problem?
Alexis: you aske where to buy, I gave you the info
Alexis:  asked*
Tiffany: The problem with not being able to find this part in france, and if I must go elsewhere (such as the UK website), the knowledge as to whether it is even compatible.
Alexis:  CRP243 is a UK charghing base…
Tiffany: Please give me your supervisor’s contact information.
Alexis:  to what purpose?
Alexis vous recommande la page suivante :
Tiffany: So that I may speak to someone more knowledgeable, as you have already admitted you do not have all the necessary information I need.
Alexis:  you want to know why the CRP243 is not sold on the Philips France online shop, well it is because CRP243 is a UK charging base
Tiffany: Why is it listed on the Philips France website then?
Alexis:  all products are listed on the Philips website
Tiffany: You clearly lack sufficient knowledge, please give me you supervisor’s contact information.
Alexis:  this is not possible
Tiffany: It is possible. I am sure of it.
Tiffany: You just don’t want to do it.
Tiffany: Please do the right thing and give me this information.
Alexis: It is not is work to attend you
Alexis: It is mine
Tiffany: But you cannot do it, so now I must go above you.
Alexis:  I already gave you the info
Tiffany: You have not answered all my questions with appropriate answers.
Alexis: CRP243 is available on the UK web site and here
Alexis: you can also contact STE SEREL
Alexis: CRP 243 is not available on the frenche online shop because it is a UK product
Tiffany: Which I intend to do, but since I know how things work, I am quite positive they will not have the part. Furthermore, my toothbrush, which I bought in France, came with the CRP243, so it is clearly not exclusively a UK product.
Alexis:  what is the reference of the toothbrush
Tiffany:  HX9332/04
Alexis:  ok
Alexis: where did you find the CRP243 reference?
Tiffany: By looking for the part I need in the online store.
Alexis:  well CRP243 is obviously not the part you need
Tiffany: It looks exactly like the part that came with my toothbrush, so please explain how it could be otherwise.
Alexis:  CRP243 refers to the spare part code 4235 090 03211 which is the UK charging base
Alexis: the spare part code of the charging base compatible with your HX9332/04 (FR) is 4235 090 03201
Tiffany: And where might I find that part?
Alexis:  at the same resalers I already gave you the direction
Tiffany: And what is the CRP number for that part?
Tiffany: Please stop sending my this link. 47 euros for this part is unreasonable.
Alexis:  it is not the same link as before
Alexis: this is the link with the correct sparpart you need
Tiffany: True, but it is the same website charging similarly unconscionable prices.
Tiffany: So can I find this correct spare part on the philips website?
Alexis:  That’s why I told you to contact STE SEREL in the first place
Tiffany: As I said before, I know that they are highly unlikely to have this part or be able to find it for me, because that is how things are. Thus, if you could just tell me the CRP number for this correct part, and tell me if it is available on the Philips France website, I would be much obliged.
Alexis:  there is no CRP code for this spare part
Tiffany: How does a layman go about finding it then?
Tiffany: And is it available on the website?
Tiffany: What am I even to ask for when I do go to STE SEREL?
Alexis:  the spar part 4235 090 03201
Tiffany: In the manual referencing this spare part number, it seems to indicate “warranty claims” are possible, but on a previous interaction with a customer service representative, they told me this part was not covered by warranty.
Alexis:  I confirm spareparts are not covered by warranty
Alexis: only the handle
Tiffany: Seems that the charging base is a pretty critical part.
Alexis:  indeed
Tiffany: So, shouldn’t it be covered under the warranty? Otherwise the handle is useless, as in my current situation.
Alexis: I have no opinion wether it should or should not be covered uneder the warranty
Alexis: the fact is that it is not
Alexis: under*
Tiffany: Yes, well, I guess we can’t expect all multi-national corporations to provide excellent customer service. Just last week, Apple replaced a 70 euro charging adapter at no expense to me, even though the computer was well out of warranty. I guess if they ever decide to make electric toothbrushes in the future, the choice will be clear who to buy from. I’m glad I’ve experienced such a terrible time with this philips product and the customer service to go along with it, because it will make my family’s purchasing choices much easier in the future. (PS, be sure to pass this part along to that supervisor who’s contact information you still haven’t given me).
Tiffany: Cheers!
Alexis: I must tell you that I answered the question you asked which was “Where can I get the replacement part CRP243?”
Alexis: you doubted every answer I gave you
Alexis: but at the end it appears you wanted to buy a spare part that is noyt compatible with your device
Alexis: 99.99% sure is not enough
Alexis: the info Ia gave you are 100% sure
Alexis: Have a very nice day Mrs TISLER


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