Do You Accept Bad Customer Service?

For those who know me well, know that I like to avoid conflict. I am still trying to figure out why I am that way or whether I had a bad experience with it, but I tend to shy away from conflict. Whether it is a falling out with friends or poor customer service, I usually just let it go. I generally do whatever it takes to not cause a scene. Whether it is the universe trying to teach me a new lesson or just plain bad luck, I have experienced a number of things that I just couldn’t give up.

bad customer service

Possible Reason Why I Avoid Conflict

Growing up as a child, I have a few distinct memories of my family experiencing poor customer service. Yet, it wasn’t the service that I remember. In fact, it was my father ‘raising a stink.’ It seemed like no matter what happened, if we somehow got cheated, even if it was small, my dad was asking to speak to the manager or on the phone giving his two cents. That’s right – my dad always had to get fair treatment. He never wanted to be mistreated and if he was, he was going to make sure it was corrected.

While it may not have been this bad, I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh no… here we go,” knowing full well that my dad was about to raise his voice or tell them how it was bad service. I don’t mean to say that my father was picky, hard to please, or even that he lost his temper easily. None of these things are true. BUT… if he didn’t receive what he was promised, he was active in finding a way to receive it.

You see… I told myself that I would never be this way. Sure, if there was something significant, I would make sure that I got a quality service or product. But, if it was something small, I would just let it go. That’s what I told myself, at least.

Two Experiences of Poor Service

A few weeks ago, I was gearing up for the best birthday ever. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I knew that the big celebration was going to be going out to eat. I wanted to make the most of it and so I did research. I even asked all of my readers which restaurant to choose. Thanks to you who gave me ideas. I ended up going to the Cheesecake factory because I like their cheesecake and could get a free scoop of ice cream. Or so they said. They ended up not offering me any free food and instead I ate my cheesecake (that I paid for) without any ice cream. What to do? Accept that I got stiffed and learn my lesson? Or do something about it?

To make a long story short, I decided to start a twitter campaign against the Cheesecake factory so that people would know not to expect any free ice cream. While I am not sure if people who go there for their birthday will now receive free ice cream, I did get a personal letter from the manager of the local restaurant, accompanied by a $10 giftcard. Cha-ching!

In addition to this, I was recently reviewing my credit card statement (like I always do in order to track my spending and find any possible mistakes) when I realized there was a fee on my credit card statement. This never happens. And when I say never, I mean that I have never paid a fee for any credit card…ever! I always pay my card off each month and never pay interest. Well, my credit card company *cough* Chase *cough* decided to charge me interest because I supposedly didn’t pay my bill in full. When I first called and found out the reason, I was surprised and didn’t know what to say. I said thanks and that I was surprised.

I looked at my statement again and did some research. I always pay my bill the exact same way and always use the check box (radial button, if you know what that is) that indicates the amount of the statement balance. I did issue a payment for that month, it just wasn’t the full amount. I knew something wasn’t up. I did enough research to gather that there was a computer glitch and the online system issued the same amount from my previous statement, thereby leaving me a couple hundred dollars short. I was then charged interest on the balance because I didn’t pay it off. When I called again (I just couldn’t let this one go), I explained the situation and pushed my reasoning on the woman who answered. She agreed to remove the fee this once and I gained another $25.

Should You Make a Scene?

While I was reluctant to be like my dad, I am learning that you have to speak up for yourself. Customer service agents will try to give the typical response, but if you plead your case (assuming you have one to begin with), my experience tells me that you have a good chance of getting what you deserved. But don’t take it too far. If you decide to speak up for yourself, you have to learn the skills of negotiation.

How to Get What You Want

In case you are wondering how you might handle these sorts of situations in the future, here are some general tips to get what you deserve:

  • No matter how small, ask someone to do something about it.
  • If the first person tells you “No,” ask to speak to their manager
  • ALWAYS be polite. Yelling may tell them this is serious, but it is much easier to get your way when you are kind.
  • Explain yourself fully, explaining why you are right.
  • Get others to support you in your campaign

Do you speak up for yourself when you experience poor customer experience? Or do you just accept it?

13 Responses to Do You Accept Bad Customer Service?

  1. bogofdebt says:

    My dad was the same way–for most of my life I then avoided making a fuss. The last time I actually raised a fuss was with my AT&T bill–they charged us $100 for a service visit that we didn’t order and ended up being non existent. They applied someone else’s service visit to our bill. It took me 2 days to get to the bottom of it but I had it waived and ended up lowering my bill.

    I was polite but firm–I’ve worked in customer service and know they are only doing a job so I try not to take it out on them but at the same time, I was going to get to the bottom of it.

  2. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with using an Avoiding Conflict Style!

    There’s nothing wrong with using a Competitive, Accommodating, Cooperative or Compromising style, either.

    The issue is when you expect everyone to use the same style as you. I think it’s awesome you already know your style. You’re WAY AHEAD of most people.

    Understanding your style goes a long way in helping you interact with others. You learn to adapt your style (when you need to) and you’re a better person for it.

    My competitive/directive nature is overwhelming to many of the people in my life. And it gets worse the more upset or stressed I become.

    My story was opposite of yours- my dad (and most of my family) avoid conflict at all costs. So, I overcompensated by making a huge fuss over anything. And I usually won, too. That just fueled my desire to win.

    I don’t want that cycle to continue with my kids (and them avoid conflict because I embarrass them), so I’ve taken the steps to teach them all five conflict styles and how to use each one in different situations.

    Hopefully, they’ll use their powers for good…and not evil!

  3. You aren’t a middle child, are you? ;)

    • Hey! I resemble that remark. And I definitely hate conflict. But I am more apt to speak up about mistakes nowadays, with some encouragement from my wife. I kill ‘em with kindness and am not ashamaed to ask what they can do extra if the mistake was on their part.

      This is how customer service works, and you don’t have to bring your business back to a place who won’t go out of their way to give exceptional service. The hard part is when the employee works for a company that does not empower their workers to give good customer service.

      My wife worked at a high-end home furnishings store, and was enabled to give great customer service. This brought customers back and they even gave referrals. A good company will tell you a mistake is the best opportunity to gain a client for life. Nordstrom has a similar style. The Lifetime Customer os overlooked far too often these days.

      Wow, I didn’t know I had that in me. Maybe I should do some retail training or something. LoL.

    • Corey says:

      Haha – nope. Youngest. :)

  4. Joe says:

    I have a consumer battle at least once a month. I spent an hour fighting a $2 charge that was added to my bill (although that’s a lot more when you add it up for many months). In that case, the company (a telecomm giant in Canada) decided it was OK to open up an agreement I had with them. I also negotiated that I’d be leaving the contract a month early. Thus, I’d only needed to lock in the service for 11 months, I got the first 3 months free, and I had negotiated a steeply discounted rate (under $50 for very high-speed internet).

    Just a few days ago, my MasterCard, despite a retailer’s massive screw-up, initially refused to refund a $23 charge. They said I needed to get a signed statement from an auto-mechanic saying the retailer gave me the incorrect part. I immediately said “Cancel my card and send me to your manager.” She put me on hold, came back and said “Good news, we’re going to refund the charge.”

    The key is to get on it. Don’t leave the issue. Bring the problem up immediately.

    Also, fight them on YOUR terms — they know most people are too sheepish to complain in person. I, for one, prefer the telephone. Clearly, you’re a smart Twitter warrior.

    • Corey says:

      Yes, I’ve done some battles on the phone as well. I would get sick of battling about once a month. Mine is usually a couple times a year (knock on wood).

  5. I’m a bit stickler for good customer service since I worked in that industry for over 5 years. If I’m at a restaurant and the food is bad or my beer is flat, I ask for them to take it back and get me something else. I’m polite about it but if I’m paying $20 or whatever I want to enjoy it. I’ll also always tip the waitress even if she’s terrible but I might knock a few bucks off. Also, I’m also that person that asks for the table I want instead of the table the hostess leads us too, and if I get a bad vibe from the place, even if I’ve ordered something, I’ll leave. I just won’t stand for being treated like crap at a place I’m paying money at. Not on my watch!

  6. I try not to tolerable bad customer service. I am also aware that sometimes it is not worth the effort to complain about every infraction. I have learned to choose some of my battles more carefully, as “fighting” stupid takes energy away from other projects that matter. BTW, action plan at the end.

  7. I used to just leave it, but then I realized that companies might probably rather have my patronage in the future, rather than me just stewing quietly. So I always say something now. As a customer, you can usually get your way if you go about it right. When in doubt, go to the BBB.

  8. Working in customer service, I CAN’T STAND POOR SERVICE! However, the other thing I’ve learned from it is that too many people try to make unreasonable demands if they get poor service. As a manager, I’m happy to make it right, but you’re not going get $100 in free stuff for a $5 mistake.

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