Why do companies advertise under national brands if they’re not going to provide consistent nationwide service?
Trademarks and service marks are supposed to convey information about the origin of the goods and services they label, so that consumers can expect consistent quality each time they encounter the brand. Trademarks don’t guarantee good quality, of course, but they are supposed to denote uniformity of more than advertising budget.
After losing a cell phone while traveling (to OSCOM), I went into a local (San Francisco) Cingular store — a big single-brand store with the bright orange logo out front — to try to replace it. First, I was told that this franchise couldn’t help, that I’d have to try the company-owned store. Strike 1. The SF company store was similarly unhelpful — since my phone had a NY number, only a NY store could issue a new SIM card. Strike 2. Oh, and by the way, customer service was closed on Sunday. Strike 3.
Luckily, my Monday morning calls to the New York-based customer service met with much better results. The service- and sales-people I spoke with there were both helpful in arranging for a new card to be sent. Nonetheless, the bad service of the California outlets tarnished my view of the brand as a whole.