5 warning signs you’re about to receive bad customer service

Steve Cucrov/Shutterstock
Steve Cucrov/Shutterstock
It’s been decades and my father still hasn’t forgotten: Threatened with arrest, his wife in tears, their anniversary ruined. And to top it all off, he was still hungry.

Every time I hear the story, I ask him how it came to that. My father replies, “I never saw it coming.”

For their anniversary, my parents had gone to a well-known eatery north of Boston. Always a popular place, this night it was particularly crowded.

They waited a long time to be seated. They waited a long time for menus, and for a server. They waited a particularly long time for the meals.

Several hours after they arrived, my father’s meal arrived, but not his wife’s. My father would not begin eating until her meal arrived. When her food finally arrived a long time later, he asked the server to replace his meal, since it was cold. To his surprise, the server refused.

My father asked for a manager — and that’s when it got really ugly. They refused to replace his food. Dad moved to leave, and the manager threatened to call the police. The food remained on the plates untouched. My parents left, were not arrested, and never returned to that restaurant.

Service with a snarl

Few things are worse than enduring a bad customer service experience. Unfortunately, all too often companies don’t meet your service expectation.

According to a US Chamber of Commerce study, 68 percent of customers have left a company because they were upset with the treatment they received while dealing with customer services. Nearly 90 percent of consumers surveyed say they left a company for a competitor following a bad customer service experience.

Why does a simple request to make something right turn into a customer service issue? Why do simple service requests turn nasty? Why do we, like my father, ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I see this coming?”

Looking back, you might see there were warning signs of impending poor customer service. Here are five to watch for:

Warning sign #1: A long wait.
Any time you wait a really, really long time it’s a bad sign. It usually means the company is very busy or understaffed. (I offer a waiver for theme parks and doctor’s offices here, but reluctantly.) Whether you are standing in line or waiting on hold, odds are that at best they will apologize for keeping you waiting, then tell you they can’t help you.

Naturally, when most of us endure a long wait, we grow impatient. We don’t want to hear excuses. We want satisfaction and we want it now. And when we want something now and don’t get it, once again we’re going to have a bad experience.

Warning sign #2: It was hard to reach them.
When Rose Joyce of Framingham, MA decided to join Facebook, she was surprised to learn her email account had already been assigned by Facebook to a different person with a different name. Joyce says she tried to contact Facebook to see if she could claim her email address, but couldn’t find a resource for non-members.

She asked friends already on Facebook to send emails to the company; none of them ever heard back from Facebook. Not responding to a customer request or trying to hide from customers are definite warning signs of impending poor service. In Joyce’s case, she realized this and decided not to join Facebook for now.

Warning sign #3: Their initial reaction to your complaint.
While visiting London, my mother-in-law stopped in a food shop for lunch and ordered a sandwich that happened to be pictured in the window display. Instead of receiving what was depicted in the ad — a huge sandwich overflowing with meat and condiments — she received two razor thin slices of mystery meat with mayonnaise between two small pieces of bread. She told the server, “I want the one in the ad!” The server laughed and walked away.

The initial reaction to your complaint is a warning sign. If the reaction is positive — “We are sorry and we will make it right” — then your customer service experience will probably be good. If the initial company response quotes its policies, makes excuses, blames you, says it isn’t their problem or that no one else has complained, you’re probably in for a fight. It isn’t necessarily too late — you can often talk to a supervisor or ask a manager to overrule the initial contact.

Warning sign #4: At least one side declares “war.”
You were just served a lousy meal, bought a poor product, or were given a terrible hotel room. You’re possibly tired, hungry, or frustrated. So, you ask for a manager or call the support line. While you wait, all your complaints run through your head. You replay what just happened, and at some point you declare war. You’ll tell them! When the manager or support person says “Hello,” you launch your devastating tirade. You insult the company and the product. You point out in detail everything they did wrong.You just declared war. Did you really expect things to go well after that?

Declaring war is rarely a good strategy, no matter how wronged one feels. It pretty well ensures a bad customer service experience. Remember the adage: It’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.

If the other side declares war first, the best thing to do is not respond in kind. For example, a few years ago I arrived early at a Continental Airlines flight just in time to witness a discussion between the gate agent and a customer escalate into a yelling match. It didn’t end well for the customer and he stormed off. I was next in line and had barely opened my mouth to ask a question when the employee started yelling at me. I kept my mouth shut until she paused, and then politely asked about my later flight. The woman, realizing how she had wrongly declared war on me, apologized and upgraded me (and my boss) to first class.

Warning sign #5: It seemed too good to be true.
Congratulations! You just won a free trip to anywhere in the world courtesy of United States Airlines. Cash the check to receive a free travel voucher or just pay the tax, and we’ll send you the tickets. Why did we send you this gift? Because you are special or your name was drawn at random.

You may laugh, but thousands of people still fall for scams that basically entice you with something for nothing. Of course, when people don’t receive the freebie, they try to contact the company only to have a very bad customer service experience. They may find it’s impossible to contact the company. They may reach the company and be told, “The tickets are in the mail,” or maybe, “Oh, that was a mistake, you need to send us more money.”

Remember, very few people or companies give something away for free. Look at the materials carefully. Check reputable sites, such as the Better Business Bureau or the office of the Attorney General for information on the company. Better yet, toss the offer in the trash and do business only with known, reputable companies.

Remember, these are indicators, not predictors, of bad service. For example, just last week I went to a Chinese restaurant with my parents and some relatives for Dad’s birthday. The service was horrible. We waited a long time for a table, for menus, and for the server. As soon as I realized there were grumbles and Dad was telling “the dinner” story again, I spoke to the server.

She told us how she was the only server for the entire restaurant and there was a party of twelve in a private function room. She apologized profusely. Dad smiled. We knew the server was doing her best.

We left her an extra large tip.

Do you avoid companies that give you bad service?

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Ed Lawrence

I'm a writer, public speaker, and aspiring career counselor, as well as a consumer advocate who assists the long-term unemployed. I love climbing mountains and cruising to exotic ports. If you meet me on a cruise, let's talk while we drink or play chess.

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  • sdfwalk

    This is a useful article with some excellent points, and I agree that these pointers can help one see (and hopefully deflect) real customer service problems before there is a necessity to escalate to ‘war’. However, I am disturbed about the Facebook example because I believe that, in addition to being indicative of poor customer service, may also indicate a much bigger problem: someone is using this woman’s email account???? (seems as though they must be, if the email account has been assigned to someone else by FB, because the email is necessary to set up the FB account in the first place, and I thought the email had to be validated ). Why the heck isn’t she contacting the email provider? Could be an indication of identity theft. If I were in that position I would immediately contact the email provider, disable the email account, and create a new email account (probably with a different provider). Once she gets a new email account she can consider joining FB, or not.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Publish the name of that restaurant, bro.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Raven Story of the Week:
    My SO bought some dishes off kohls.com. Nothing fancy, just some everyday ware to replace our worn out dishes. It was a rather large order. When it arrived, the placesettings were intact as they were shipped in the box that obviously came from the manufacturer. The box containing the serving dishes was packed by someone probably about to leave the warehouse for the night. Two large bowls were on the bottom, not a shred of bubble wrap on them. Then there was a platter that somehow survived despite having a thing wrap of bubble wrap. Then another bowl properly wrapped. On top of all of this was a small box containing other dishes–ON TOP.

    Needless to say, we had major breakage here. She called kohls.com, spent 20 minutes on hold and finally spoke to a young man who sounded bored. She put on her “perky” voice and told him “it’s okay, bad things happen.” Replacements are being sent, and we were told to throw away the dishes. However, he didn’t seem to concerned when she told him that he should probably let the warehouse know that they need to pack things better.

    Anyway, we’ll see what we get when the replacements show up…

  • alsous

    I too am bothered by the face book story. Can you share how it ended? At a business you can walk out but if someone is using your email then it means you have been hacked before you even get started. I think I would have said, I forgot my password and have a new one emailed to me just to get into the account and see who is posting as me. And I like the way you handled the residual anger overflowing from the last customer that you had to take from being next in line. That happens all to often.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Did they try to contact Facebook via Twitter or another social media outlet?

  • Cybrsk8r

    If it was THAT bad, it’s my guess that restaurant went belly-up. It’s probably an auto parts store now. I mean, bad service is particularly damning for a restaurant. You might go back to a store you think wronged you if they have a good deal on something you need. So there is at least a chance for that store to redeem itself. But if you get bad food at a restaurant, you’re never going back.

  • maryanner

    I have a similar problem with itunes – someone signed up for itunes with my email address and there was no way to delete it at the time I researched the issue. (I use my “junk” email address for itunes. What a mistake!) The best I could do was use the change password link to get into the account, change the DOB and all the security questions so the 60something yo lady who mis-typed my address can never get back on. I changed my email password for good measure and no problems since. I just wish there was a way to delete the account.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Yea, the FB thing is confusing. So FB is saying that her personal e-mail address is attached to someone else’s FB profile. If that were the case, shouldn’t she have seen messages coming from FB to that account, before she ever tried to sign up?

    I’m not on FB, bascially because I have major privacy concerns with it. When you join FB, you’re not the customer, you’re the product. I’m considering joining FB and making up a name. I’m going to see if “Art Vandelay” is available.

  • Mn Guest

    Interesting article. It has been one of those weeks where for both work and personal issues I have had to deal with a fair number of customer service people. I might also add that no mater how nice you are and even when the company has some of the nicest and politest people in customer service, that still may not make up for the company’s inability to serve the customer and/or their lack of integrity.

  • http://bidontravel.com/mobile/index.html Don Nadeau

    In the days before the mega airline mergers, Delta lagged American is most aspects of service, luggage delays, on time flights, and all that. American, not surprisingly considering its CEO, was run with military precision.

    Nevertheless, Delta trumped American in customer satisfaction surveys. Why? 1) Delta employees were treated as family, not just factors of labor and 2) very importantly Delta hired emphatic people who actually enjoyed working with customers. That made a world of difference.

  • technomage1

    I haven’t been in a Best Buy since 1993 due to bad service I got at one as a college student trying to return a defective video game the day after I bought it with a receipt. They refused, I was out $40, and, since I game a lot, I’ve spent around $65,000 on games, appliances, TVs and electronics – elsewhere. Anywhere but there.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Raven, the name of the restaurant was in the initial article and it was I who suggested taking it out. I was concerned over the possibility of liability should the restaurant still be in business. Without more people to back the story up with their own tales of woe and bad customer service, it could cause problems in the future. I can’t recall the name and, truthfully, were I to remember it, I still don’t think I’d share it.

    We travel writers walk a thin line between naming names being okay or giving someone cause to sue. It’s far better to err on the side of caution than to risk a lawsuit. While it gives folks a warm fuzzy to know the name, if the owners and staff are really that bad, they’d also be the first ones to jump into the fray and cause problems for both Chris AND Ed.

  • Travelnut

    It happened to me. I started getting tons of friend requests all of a sudden from strangers. A little sleuthing revealed that someone with my same last name (which is very uncommon) and first initial (K) had also used my email address, which is k- lastname @gmail, as hers in error on FB. I sent her a note explaining the situation. I never heard back from her but the friend requests stopped.

  • dave3029

    I had a similar problem with another website some years ago. I realized a problem when I kept getting emails from people who were “friends” with this other person who had put MY email address as their own (and trust me, it was a very unique email address). After attempting to contact the website to alert this person or change the email address to something other than my address and getting no response, I took matters into my own hands: I replied to every email advising them to let their “friend” know he was using the wrong email address and to reach him through the website to tell him to correct it. The problem was resolved within a matter of days after that. (Good thing, because my next strategy would not have been so nice.)

  • polexia_rogue

    yes i black list companies that i have had bad experiences with. in this day and age there are sooo many options.

    you don’t like lowes? go to home depot. you don’t like best buy go to target.

    i think the worst service i had was Papa John’s in Las Vegas. it started when i asked to verify “do i need to wait downstairs or does the delivery guy come up to the room?”

    i had placed my order online so they already had my credit card number so i knew it was not worth it to cancel. so i waited for 2 hours. then i called to ask where my pizza was. He claimed that the drover called my cell number several times but i must have put in the wrong number. (or MAYBE the driver forgot to add the California area code when calling me?) he then hung up so i called customer service.

    they CLAIM to have canceled the order (never got a refund) and CLAIMED to be sending a coupon (never got it). so i took the loss and called Pizza hut instead.

    that was 3 years ago and i have never ordered Papa John’s ever again.

  • http://bidontravel.com/mobile/index.html Don Nadeau

    I would love to hear about that “my next strategy” :-)

  • Grant Ritchie

    I kinda like the name “No one.” That way, whenever I leave a “like” or make a friend request, the recipient would see “No one likes this” and “No one wants to be your friend.” :-o

  • $16635417

    I stopped giving doctors a waiver after the time I was still waiting to be seen by the doctor for my appointment an hour after my scheduled time (I was on time!) and a pharmaceutical rep stopped by just to say “Hi!” and wondered if the doctor was available to go for lunch. The office manager brought her back and I saw the rep and my doctor driving away in the parking lot a few minutes later! I asked the front desk how much longer and was told “Just a few more minutes, have a seat.”. I left and let him know why when I called back that afternoon. When I went looking for another doctor, I told the new one about that and was assured that would never happen…and if I was ever in the waiting room too long…to call his cell to bypass the desk. Haven’t needed to do that, yet.

  • EdB

    “However, he didn’t seem to concerned when she told him that he should probably let the warehouse know that they need to pack things better.”

    From what I have experienced, there is usually no communication channels from the call center to the various parts of the company. :(

  • Guest

    I left a doctor after a pattern of late scheduling. Due to the nature of the job, I can understand a doctor running late, but when you routinely run an hour late or more, then that is not acceptable scheduling.

    Similarly, if they charge for a canceled appointment — one did when I explicitly let the office know I had a flight to catch, could make it if the appointment was on time, or even “only an hour late” but when it was 90 minutes late, I had to leave — well, that doctor gets no more appointments.

  • jim6555

    Back in the mid 1990’s. I purchased an income tax preparation program at Best Buy. When I tried to load the program from the installation disk, I discovered that the disk was defective. The next day, I brought the disk and all packaging back to Best Buy and asked them to exchange it for a working copy. The guy at the returns counter told me that I would have to pay a restocking fee. After arguing with him for several minutes about how it was unfair to charge a customer to exchange defective merchandise, I asked to see a manager. A few minutes later, the Manager showed up and told me that the returns counter person was correct. It would cost me 15% of the $39.99 sales price for them to exchange the defective software. I paid the $6.00 in cash, asked the guy behind the counter for a pair of scissors and used it to cut up my Best Buy Credit Card. I handed the Manager the pieces of the card and haven’t set foot in a Best Buy store since.

  • Cat

    Went to a restaurant touting an “All you can eat Crab Legs night”. Along with the crab legs we were served a generous helpings of hush puppies. The hush puppies were OK, nothing great. When we ordered more crab legs our server told us we could not have more until we ate all our hush puppies. We thought she was joking—- at first. The owner came out and he was serious, although we still found it a quite humorous. But we were not going to get any more crab legs. We offered to pay for our drinks and 1 of the all you can eat cost, (there were 4 of us) thinking that was very fair for what little we had been served. Owner threw a fit and threatened to call the police- we asked him to please do that. The police officer agreed with us. By the time the confrontation was over most of the customers had left.

  • dmajor

    That’s hilarious! “Finish your hush puppies”? That’s why restaurants have rest rooms — flush those bad boys. Let the restaurant worry about their own plumbing.

  • EdB

    charging a restocking fee to restock a defective product? That store was not operating under corporate rules it sounds like. I would have written a letter to the CEO’s office about that.

  • Len Oxman

    When you have a particularly good experience with a business, whether it is a restaurant, an airline, or the neighborhood dry cleaners, you tell a few of your friends. When you have a particularly bad experience, you tell EVERYBODY!

    Good customer service is critical.

  • samvt

    In addition to calling out bad customer service, I think it’s important to recognize excellent customer service. And there a few companies out there that deserve special recognition in my book. Nordstrom, Williams and Sonoma and 1-800-Contacts have all provided excellent service and even if it means spending more, I would use them in the future.

  • oceankitten

    I agree, and not just for specific companies, but their individual stores. I was recently shopping for a specific purse for my mom for her birthday. I went to the Macy’s closest to my home and had the worst experience ever at a Macy’s. Clothes were all over the floor in every department, employees were huddled together chatting about their weekend plans, and when I tried to get some help, a clerk paused her conversation, held up a finger to me and said “if you’ll hang on a sec, I’ll be ready in a minute.” I turned around and left the store. My next stop was to a Macy’s in the opposite direction that I rarely go to because it is out of the way. From the moment I walked in, the atmosphere was completely different. As soon as I walked into the department, a clerk engaged me, we talked about the bag and she knew exactly which one I meant, showed my the different colors it came in and offered up some other options in case that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. As soon as I got home, I sent two emails: One to the first store detailing to them the issues I ran into, and one to the second store, praising the clerk by name and exactly why I appreciated her. To the first email, I received a canned response that they were sorry about my experience, they strive for good service, blah blah blah. To the second email, I received a personal message from the manager thanking me for taking the time to tell them of a positive experience because it shows the employees that people notice the good as well as the bad. I’m still impressed that the manager took the time to thank me for thanking them, so I always go back to that store now, even though it’s not convenient.

  • jim6555

    Excellent point.

  • Joe

    I have been a doctor for 51 years and a the only surgeon in
    this small town for 44 years. Many times
    I have had to cancel afternoon appointments because of emergencies. I have
    never ever had any complaints because if people are told the truth they
    understand. A patient’s time is just as important as the physician’s time. Making a patient wait so a doctor can go to lunch
    is unethical behavior.

    I am now a Medicare patient and when I go to the doctor
    these days, I show up on time for my appointments. I bring my ipad with books
    to read and the only complaint I have is they don’t make me wait long enough to
    get into my reading. I have had times in
    the past that I have had to wait one or two hour to see my doctor, but that is
    when I have a later morning appointment. When I have the first appointment I
    usually go in quick. I have a doctor
    that will take whatever time it takes to work with a patient so I understand
    that patients before me may bring unanticipated problems for their appointment.

    Through my career I have always respected the trust place in
    me by patients some total strangers. Just think you go to a doctor and spend
    time waiting to see him or her and then they ask a few questions take some
    vital signs and information. They then listen to your lungs and heart and blood
    vessels and tap on your belly and write a note on some pad and tell you to take
    it to a drugstore. You go out and the office manager ask you to pay. Now you
    don’t feel any better than you did when you came in, there is no guarantee that
    you will get better or get your money back if you don’t, and you still have to
    go spend more money with this little piece of paper they call a prescription. You can’t ask for any more trust than that.
    Any doctor or doctor’s assistant who does not honor that trust needs a

    If a patient doesn’t show up for a scheduled appointment we
    never charged even if they didn’t call and cancel. I was so busy, I was glad
    they didn’t show up. Of course it is disrespectful not to cancel a scheduled appointment
    if you can’t make it, but no one should be charged here.

  • MarkKelling

    I have had similar problems with Pappa John’s. They have a consolidated ordering system (both online and phone) in most places that picks which one of their outlets is “closest” to you when you order and routes the order there. Unfortunately, the one they send my order to is the worst ever not only in delivery time but the amount of toppings they actually put on the pizza and even getting the pizza right. I end up going to the one I can literally see out my back window (not the one they think is closest to me) and get great pizza, friendly fast service, and I don’t have to wait!

  • MarkKelling

    Sounds like my mom – “Finish everything on your plate before you take more!” :-)

  • EdB

    I have stopped ordering from Papa John’s too because of their topping quality/quantity. Order a pizza with double peperoni and double cheese. Neighbors down from us ordered regular peperoni cheese. The two pizzas were identical. Same number of peperoni slices and couldn’t tell any difference in cheese amount.

  • Ed Lawrence

    The author here. I’m pleased you all seem to like the article. I hope it proves useful.

    I’m responding to some great comments.

    As NMD wrote in the comments earlier, I did include the name of the restaurant in the first draft. The steakhouse is still in business. It’s is a very well-known restaurant. I also know the restaurant was has been sold at least once, maybe twice through the years. The place has an excellent
    reputation overall. Including the name would be of no value to anyone. It’s the memory and its effect on my parents [vis-à-vis customer service] that mattered for the story.

    I checked with Ms. Joyce about her Facebook incident for further information.
    I have good news.

    With the help of one of her friends (and no interaction with Facebook), she finally joined. Apparently, when she tried to setup the account, Facebook sent an email to her email address asking her if she wanted to reactivate her account, and had all these details for someone I’ll refer to as Rosa G. When she tried to log in, Facebook said the account existed, and Rose
    didn’t know the password. That’s why she tried to contact Facebook.

    Eventually, after she had contacted me, a friend helped her.
    He tried submitting a forgotten password request. The request went to Ms. Joyce’s email. Eventually, the friend got onto the account, changed the password then
    deleted everything having to do with Rosa G. Apparently, the account had not been used in over two years. It had pictures of Rosa G., but no friends or recent activity. Ms. Joyce’s friend thinks the other person may have made a typo when creating an account for herself.

    Thanks for reading. Keep the sending Chris your anecdotes and complaints. We love writing about you, and trying to help.

  • jerryatric

    I ordered urgently needed glasses from Image Optical on Broadway in Vancouver. I was told I would have them within a week. I got nowhere with the store manager who was plain rude, & looked up what I thought was their Head Office & tried to get help. Imagine my surprise when I got a lawyer’s notice threatening me with legal action as I was harassing them.
    Finally after near 2 weeks I found the reason for the delay – they made an error in the prescription & had to do it over. All that time I was without an explanation, threatened with legal action, & without needed glasses.
    My wife, children, & grandchildren use prescription glasses, but never again with Image Optical!

  • Grant Ritchie

    Ha! Love it. I used to have a boss who said “If you’re not pissing somebody off, you’re not doing your job; I’m doing my job real good.” Jerry… you’re doing your job real good. :-)

    P.S. Just a thought… I used to pay dearly for prescription glasses until I discovered that the Goodwill stores have them for two bucks a piece in strengths up to 3.50. Now, I have dozens of pairs of glasses of various strengths sprinkled around the house and in the cars for less than I used to pay for one pair of prescription glasses.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Hi Ed,
    I hope you pitched a bitch to Corporate. They’re usually pretty good about responding to customer complaints. And as I tell my (now 40-something) kids, “Don’t ask… don’t get.”

  • Grant Ritchie

    And has anyone mentioned Yelp? I make a point of posting a short review of every business I deal with. Mostly four- and five-stars, but more than a few one- and two-stars as well.

  • Extra mail

    Just yesterday I had an unpleasant experience at the deli counter of a grocery store. Instead of getting into an argument, I left the store without making any purchase. I was still steamed when I got home so I wrote an email to customer service, read it to make sure it calmly stated what happened and will wait to hear the response. If I feel my concern was taken seriously, I will return to the store. If not, I will never step foot in that store again. Very simple: treat me fairly and I will support your business with my business.

  • Extra mail

    I like the name Nunya Busyness. I’ve used that name as a sign up name on a couple of sites. I also know who gave my name to which company by the emails I get to said name. It is interesting.

  • EdB

    Yelp. There’s a joke. Every positive review I have made has stayed in. However, every negative reviews, has been flagged and removed as bogus. The negative reviews were not personal attacks or exaggeration and had documentation to back up the claims. Never got anything back from Yelp when I questioned the removal and offered to supply the documentation other than an automated response about getting the email. Never use or recommend Yelp because of that.

  • Grant Ritchie

    I wonder if Yelp is run differently in different parts of the country? Here in Sacramento, I’ve been posting for years, with many negative reviews, and I’ve only ever had one review “filtered” (when I referred to the reviewed business as “assholes”).

  • bayareascott

    There is never a “necessity” to escalate to war. As a consumer, I realize that I can tend to impatience, especially with incompetence (and you find that a lot when dealing with first-level service in many companies, especially over the phone). However, I also work in customer service, and see a lot of things that people do when they are upset. It has worked to make me a better consumer.

    There is simply no excuse to attack a customer service person because you are angry. Customers are usually the first to declare war. The person you are seeing is virtually never the person who caused the problem to get you upset. They are there to attempt to assist. Assist does not mean you get whatever you want. Many are completely unreasonable in their expectations. Ranting at the employee is not your right of existence, yet people act as if it is so. If you need to rant, see a therapist. But I can guarantee, no matter how bad the experience was, if the customer goes on the offensive, it is only going to get worse.

  • bayareascott

    In large companies, complaints about fundamental problems to front-line employees are useless. They are not the people that have any ability to effect change. Yet people do this all the time — I include this under “venting” which I talked about in an above post. Look at it this way: If the consumer cannot take the time to direct the complaint to the corporate entity or the correct department, why do they expect (insert large company name here) to change anything based on a front-line person saying, “Someone complained to me about the widgets”?

  • William_Leeper

    Took my daughter to a specialist (only one within 100 miles) a few years ago, and had a 1:00 appt. he does surgery in the AM, so occasionally things run late, but we didn’t get to see the doctor till 8:00 PM, and they wouldn’t let us leave the waiting room!

  • PsyGuy

    From the other side of the transaction, most costumers do not realize that they are not worth good costumer service. Most of the problems I have seen are costumers who are not experienced with the particular service or product and have unrealistic expectations about what they should get for their money. The seasonal or annual family travelers who show up at the airport with overweight bags and dont think they should have to pay the overweight fee even though its just a pound or two over weight, because their daughter snuck in an extra item, and this 8 year old girl will scream and cry if you have to ditch it to bring the weight down. I really dont have any sympathy, the airline posts the costs for various services. Comply or pay, your business or satisfaction isnt worth an agents time or effort. This family isnt going to fly often enough on their discount tickets to make waiving the fee worth it, and in all honestly your not going to pay $100 to keep your kids stuffed unicorn. We are all trying to get a deal, and maximize what we get for what we pay. The airlines and every other business is trying to do the same thing, they just want to maximize their revenue for what service or product they provide.

  • Harry Brett-Jones

    Customers go to “war” for lots of reasons, some might be legitimate, some might be because they’ve had a bad day. Whatever the reason the agent should be able to deal with it, and that does not mean don’t respond, if you are faced with an angry customer they expect to see action, an agent who stays calm will appear like they aren’t taking the situation seriously. Agents must match the customers ‘angry’ energy with positive action to resolve the situation.

  • EdB

    I don’t know if it is run differently in different areas, but frankly, I really don’t care after my experience with them. Just an example of how when a company doesn’t have consistency in policies it can have a negative effect.

  • Mel65

    I came in for an adjustment at our local Best Buy on a product for which I didn’t receive the placard price within 10 minutes of the purchase. The CSR first made me go through the ad and when we couldn’t find it I had to then walk her over to the product counter to “prove” the sale price. Finally, she reluctantly agreed to process it but then she asked for my driver’s license, address, phone number, etc… and I asked why when all I wanted was an adjustment of 30% with a valid receipt and she said they “track refunders”. I was irritated and told her it wasn’t a refund, but she wouldn’t budge until I gave her all my personal information, including DL#. I wrote to corporate that I didn’t appreciate being treated like a thief when I had a receipt and it was THEIR error. They sent me a nice letter and a generous gift card and I later got a call from the local manager apologizing, as well. Things may have improved since your experiences…but I don’t blame you for taking your business elsewhere. In my small town though, it’s either Best Buy, HH Gregg (even worse) or online shopping for electronics ….

  • adventurebaby

    I literally spit out my drink laughing!

  • jim6555

    In the heat of the moment, I wasn’t thinking about contacting their corporate office. All I wanted to do is show the two idiots that I was dealing with that they had just lost a good customer. If Best Buy didn’t properly train their employees on the difference between a return of defective merchandise and a return that was at the customer’s discretion, they don’t deserve my business. I now purchase my electronics and small appliances at either Amazon.com and NewEgg where I usually find lower prices, get free shipping and avoid paying sales tax.

  • Mel65
  • Trey

    ROT13 and bury it in the comments.

  • dave3029

    I actually had 2 in mind:
    (1) Since the unique email was set up in such a way as to be virtually untraceable back to me and I had all these email addresses for his “friends”, I was going to make their lives miserable by using a method I have of passing them along to some major spammers I know. They would have been inundated with thousands of junk emails daily, effectively shutting down their accounts.

    (2) After examining the specific website (which I did NOT belong to), I determined that they used the email address as the login credentials. Their reset process was a simple “forgot password” link to have a reset link out to MY email address. At that point, I would have logged in, changed the password, and locked him out. From there, I could have done anything I wanted – – post or sell his personal info, accept all the friend requests then proceed to post the most horrendous things to his friends….use your imagination.

    As I said, it was a good thing the emails to his friends resolved the issue. I prefer to use my powers for good.

  • dave3029

    Just a quick comment from someone who managed several Papa John’s some years ago: Unless their business model has changed, their service/delivery areas are dictated by the franchise that owns the store, and the franchises are sold by zipcode. It was not unusual for stores to have neighborhoods around them where the zipcode changed just a street or two away, and the store that actually serviced them was between 1 to 2 miles away.

    I can’t tell you the number of people I had that lived right behind one of the stores I managed, but by Corporate franchise policy, we could NOT deliver to them – – another franchise owned that area.

    However, there was absolutely NO rules against me offering them a very generous discount (up to 50%) if they came into MY store for carryout….which I did with great success. The other franchise owner was not happy when he lost well over 50 regular customers to my store, but there was nothing he could do about it.

  • jerryatric

    It seems to me every company you phone for help has the same line “Due to the larger than expected volume of calls” they keep you waiting for very long periods of time. End result as the Rolling Stones’ record goes Can’t get no satisfaction. Then your transferred to an overseas call center & they offer little to no help – really.
    The latest & biggest disappointment for me is NORTON ( SYMANTIC) Their center used to be excellent, but I believe they moved their call center & it’s really terrible.
    I advised them will no longer renew the service.
    On the other hand there are great companies out there. I have had fantastic service from GARMIN & IZZO,( SWAMI) & if looking to trade up or buy again they would be first on my list.