5 times customers should say “sorry”

Ever apologized to a business? If you said “never,” then maybe you don’t have kids.

At some point, each of my children has slipped a candy bar or lollipop — strategically stocked at kid-level in the checkout area — into their pockets without first informing Mom or Dad. When we discovered the transgression, we raced back to the store, paid for the item and apologized. Profusely.

Then we gave the kids a stern lecture about paying for merchandise before leaving the store. We haven’t had any relapses, but then again, the teen years are just around the corner. Fingers crossed.

I hear a lot of apologies in my line of work. But as a consumer advocate, they almost always go one way: the company apologizes to a customer for a problem, actual or perceived. Sometimes, the tables should be turned.
Continue reading…


You’re a bad customer and you don’t even know it

1-IMG_4079Deadbeats. Gate lice. Entitleds.

Pull back the curtain on the service industry and you can hear them talking about us — often in unflattering terms.

Being tagged as a terrible customer can be embarrassing. Consider the lousy tippers database, which outs customers who have the gall to pay the menu price for their meals, minus a gratuity. Being a bad tipper can have real consequences. Just ask Drew Brees, who, as it turns out, is not a bad tipper.

But did anyone bother to tell us what being a “good” customer means? That’s not always clearly disclosed. Maybe it should be.
Continue reading…


Good customer service from the TSA? It’s no joke

Tifon Images/Shutterstock
Tifon Images/Shutterstock

Like most Americans, Jim Davies believes the Transportation Security Administration might benefit from a top-to-bottom reform.

And like most Americans, he wasn’t surprised when a Government Accountability Office study revealed widespread employee misconduct, including screeners involved in theft and drug smuggling activities, as well as circumventing mandatory screening procedures for passengers and baggage.

All of which made his recent experience in Philadelphia so noteworthy. As he waited in line to have his ID checked, he saw three elderly men approach the checkpoint.

“One of the gentlemen had clearly not been on a commercial flight in some time,” he says. “He presented his Medicare card and then his library card as his ID.”
Continue reading…


3 reasons you should love a customer service meltdown

Marco Prati/Shutterstock
Marco Prati/Shutterstock
Spectacular customer service failures are the grist of my consumer advocacy mill.

But some of the loudest implosions are off limits to me. Like the young blogger who was reportedly booted from a United Airlines flight. His crime? Taking pictures of his seat in apparent violation of the airline’s photography policy.

Even though colleagues urged me to come to his assistance, I couldn’t. He didn’t ask me for help, and I have a strict policy of staying away from cases where I’m not invited.
Continue reading…


“There were angels all around me on that JetBlue flight”

Christopher Parypa /
Christopher Parypa /
Early boarding privileges are typically reserved for frequent fliers and passengers with obvious disabilities. But on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Boston to Los Angeles, gate agents granted special access to a passenger whose need wasn’t that apparent, and perhaps even in violation of their own airline’s policy.

Elaine Regienus-Gravbelle, who was recovering from a double mastectomy and two other minor surgeries, was on her way to way home to Redondo Beach, Calif. She asked a ticket agent if she could get on the plane first.
Continue reading…


Car rental absurdities I’d change if I could

Not a day seems to go by that I don’t hear from an angry car rental customer — folks like Craig Solomon, who rented a car in England from Avis for two weeks recently.

“Toward the end of the rental one of the tires blew out,” he says. “It ultimately cost about $500 to replace, and Avis has been unwilling to date to accept the responsibility.”

The way Solomon sees it, Avis should have rented him a car with good tires. He wasn’t taking the vehicle off-roading, and had driven it safely and never gotten so much as a parking ticket.
Continue reading…


The smarter consumer: 7 qualities of a winning customer

I spend a lot of time harping on customers who screw up. Sometimes I can’t help myself. Not only are the cases interesting, but they’re also instructive.

For example, one reader who will remain nameless recently visited an airline website with a “best fare” guarantee. She assumed she wouldn’t have to shop around, because if she found a cheaper fare elsewhere, she could just invoke the guarantee.

She made her purchase, but later found a better fare. The airline denied her claim.

If you’re wondering why, just check out the fine print on your average “best price” guarantee. They are maddeningly complicated, and ultimately worthless. All you have to do is read them to know why.
Continue reading…

No Comments