A reader wrote in, asking about if or how Lee Valley has been affected about the current COVID-19 closures, or at least that’s how I interpreted it.
Do you happen to know if Lee Valley Tools is operating? I tried calling both their toll free numbers and both give me a recording that the mailbox is full and I can never reach anybody. There is no message to indicate that they are closed during the pandemic or anything, in fact once I heard a recording indicating their phone support hours being reduced but I am trying to call during those times.
I emailed them but I get an automated reply saying that it will take 6 days to get back to me. Just frustrated that I can’t get them on the phone. I even tried calling a few of their stores but no luck there either. Just curious if you heard anything. Thanks.
I have not heard anything specific about or from Lee Valley, but perhaps the following personal experiences will help:
First, they do have a COVID-19 status update page, with the last update being dated 6/23/20:
These are not normal times, and while we continue to adapt to changes in operating conditions, we are not hitting our normal turn-around times for orders. The physical distancing necessary to protect the health and safety of our staff makes it difficult for us to scale our operation to handle volume peaks. Our carriers are also experiencing delays which are beyond their control. All of this means that it will take longer for your order to arrive.
We know your tools and supplies are important to you, and we want you to know our staff are working as hard as possible within safety limits to get them to you as fast as possible.
Thank you for your patience and understanding – it is not going unnoticed!
Call volumes are very high, and we have reduced staff
Emails are being answered continuously. Due to the high volume of messages, we continue to have a backlog.
(Emphasis is my own.)
I placed several orders from Lee Valley over the past few months, after COVID-19-related closures went into effect, and they shipped all the orders in a relatively timely manner.
I contacted customer service on 5/14/20, about a rather unusual problem with a product I purchase in the not-so-recent past. They responded with a personalized email on 5/21/20, as opposed to a canned boiler plate response.
Lee Valley sells tools, hardware, gardening supplies, and home supplies. Especially with stores closed, they must have seen incredible volumes of sales, inquiries, and customer service requests.
More demand plus fewer staff = huge backlog. Large companies can barely cope with higher volume and reduced staff, and smaller companies are probably even more affected.
Yesterday I heard from a different company, regarding emails I had sent them starting in April. I was told they received maybe 60,000 emails and only have 25 associates to handle all this. That would mean more than 2,000 emails per person to handle, each requiring a unique individual inquiry or problem requiring their attention.
Back to Lee Valley. They were open, and I’m reasonably certain they are still open.
Part of their reply to me read:
Our Special Order group that normally handles request for parts like this is temporarily shut down due to reductions in staff levels and business hours caused by the pandemic. [Removed for brevity.] We are currently backlogged with processing orders but hopefully this will be shipped out sometime next week.
We all have to try to be patient.
With Lee Valley, they’ll make it right for you if they can. It might take some time, but their customer service has always been excellent, raising the bar to standards few other companies can hope to reach.
I could try to find out more, but I’m nearly certain I’d just be a bother and that it wouldn’t lead to learning anything different.