Adventures in Customer Service



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

Related Post Roulette

17 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    For the cable company, I’d for sure say it was the competition.

    I will say that I’ve never had a technical rep be a PITA. It’s always been the customer service folks on the phone. I had a technical guy come out to diagnose a problem with my cable service and he was very thourough. The problem was that the CS guys hand’t done what they should have and “registered” my new cable modem when I returned my cable company provided one. As a result, my service was spotty. The tech guy spotted it and, registed the modem, gave me his card, and his boss’s card too in case I couldn’t reach him.Report

  2. Avatar Barry says:

    Usually the problem is reaching a human; in all cases except two (Healthhub, formerly Pay-flex, and UPS), the people are helpful. In the case of the first company, they f-ed me, and the rep was abusive about it. In the case of the second, they spent half an hour browbeating me about how delivering to the mailroom of a university (late Friday afternoon), rather than to the actual building in question, counted as delivery of my frozen, second-business day package.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    Second, I dealt with the company itself that provided the service. Amazon has much less incentive to represent that pillow maker’s product to a high standard. But the pillow maker’s motivations are much different so they are going to respond differently to customer dissatisfaction.

    I just want to put in a good word here for Amazon, I have had nothing but good experiences with them, and I deal with them a *lot*. If you are not getting satisfaction from the vendor, just notify Amazon & they will step in and make it right themselves immediately, because it’s their own name “over the door”. They did this for me on a fairly expensive Onkyo receiver, and would have done so again on an Apple product that I purchased through them, had Apple not finally done the right thing.

    You can also use Amazon’s rating/review system as threat/leverage against a problematic vendor – they don’t want bad pub. listed on Amazon for all to see.

    I know I will one day regret it when Amazon is the only remaining vendor of all human products, and charges monopoly prices and provides monopoly service, but for now, they still pretty much rock.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Glyph says:

      I’m pretty fond of Amazon because I bought Season 2 of Game of Thrones back when it cost more, and they reduced the price they charged me to match the current cost. Saved me $10-$15 bucks, and I didn’t even have to ask.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Oh, yes, I didn’t mean to besmirch the name of Amazon, which has generally been wonderful to work with and doubley-so since giving us a free trial of Amazon Mom, which is basically Amazon Prime with a few extra bonuses.

        I only meant to highlight that different links in the chain are going to have different motivations. And if the issue is with a product or a service from a company that prides itself on its brand, working directly with them is a good path to take. Amazon has its own brand that it is cultivating, which is why they are similarly effective in responding to customer needs. I leapfrogged right over contacting Amazon because I needed to know some really specific details about the product and presumed the manufacturer would know best.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Glyph says:

      I have a general and vague dislike for amazon, because when they took over my friend’s company (no, he didn’t own it!), one of their few stipulations was to fire my friend, and ensure that he never worked for the company again.Report

  4. Avatar Jack says:

    OK I will share two as well (I have no affiliation, other than as a customer/user, with either of them)
    1. The TSA. Thats right, TSA, about which I am decidely “anti” on most occasions. Monday I took a flighyt out of Laguardia and manged to leave my laptop at the security station after it passed thorugh the xray machine. I did not realize it until nearly midnight that night, and frantically called my airline help desk, and they connected me to the TSA lost and found. I recieved a call back promptly at 8 the next morning, they had the laptop, and were prepared to FedEx it if I gave them an account number. I established an account on line, called them back, they answered promptly, took the info and sent it out that afternoon, and it arrived today. Really surprised at how efficient they handled this.

    2, Auto Parts Warehouse .com I try to do my own reparis and thyose for family, so I have used a good number of online parts suppliers. Thgis one has solid price competiveness and based upon my one bad part, excellent hassle free returns. I purchased an ignition coil, splurging a bit for the one year guarantee since this particular make and model is prone to ignition coil failures. Five months later it failed, and they they issued me a full refund the same day the received the part back in the mail from me. I fully expected some sort of pushback along hte lines of “how do we know it was our part and not your bad spark plugs/cables etc), but no, they made it easy. There were only two potential gotchas that I avoided: the return policy said the part had to be in the original box (which I uncharacteristaccly retained) but the shipping label and info could not be printed on this box, so I had to wrap it put it in a second box. Not sure if they would have pushed back had a failed either of these to items.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Jack says:

      “There were only two potential gotchas that I avoided: the return policy said the part had to be in the original box …”

      I wouldn’t deal with anybody like that. IMHO, that policy was not an accident. It eliminates 90% of returns.Report

  5. Avatar Mary G says:

    Another high vote for Amazon; I’ve been using them almost since they started and were just selling books, because I am disabled and have a hard time going out to get things. I really like how they give options for purchases in and out of Amazon Prime, as sometimes you can get things elsewhere for less even when paying for shipping/handling.

    I’ve rarely had trouble with things I’ve gotten, but my Kindle did start freezing up and/or rebooting itself every ten seconds. It was way out of warranty, and the back cover was loose because I had dropped it (way before the freezing problem started). I contacted them on chat and after running me through some reset procedures, the rep told me it could not be fixed and he was sending me another one, even though I had copped to the dropping and not bought the extended warranty. I didn’t expect that at all. They gave me a free label and 30 days to return the broken one. The same thing happened with a $375 item I ordered for a Christmas present. This was a major purchase on my income and I was horrified when the Amazon tracking showed it delivered and left on the front porch when I did not have it. I called them up and they sent another one by next-day mail, telling me that if the first one turned up to please return it. The police brought the original package back to me a week later; a neighbor with Alzheimers had collected parcels from all over the neighborhood for “safekeeping” and I sent it back to Amazon, but I was amazed that they would take my word for the fact it was lost when the carrier’s tracking showed it had been delivered.

    I have not had the same good experience you did with my cable company; the two guys that showed up were great, but the customer service person I dealt with on the phone was a jerk and they charged me a service fee even though they had said that if it turned out to be a problem they caused, there would be no fee. I objected and they credited me back half the fee, which was worse than nothing in my opinion. Either you are justified in charging it or you are not.

    In general customer service from online companies seems to be much better than in-person service. I went to Bank of America after my mom died to get our joint accounts put in my name only and to consolidate multiple accounts that I ended up with when they took over Countrywide. I tried to do this online but was told that it had to be done in person at the branch. I took a printout showing the balances that day, but the bank rep insisted that she had to use the balances that their computer came up with after an hour and a half. She ended up closing two accounts by incorrect amounts of $1.81 and $0.57. I was promptly charged $94 overdraft fees every month for both accounts for months. This was in March 2012 and is still not fixed. As soon as I can get into the branch, I am moving all my money to another bank.Report

  6. Thanks for sharing these accounts. Although I can’t recall who said it (Maya Angelou maybe?), I am reminded of the quote “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel.”

    Your experience with the vacuum cleaner company occurred sometime last year, yet it clearly left a positive impression on you, one strong enough for you to not only remember it in some detail, but also enough for you to blog about it. That gets to the heart of loyalty generation, the emotional dynamic of the customer experience.

    Of course, there is more to loyalty than just the emotional component. It is also a function of how easy the company is to do business with, and the company has to satisfy the customer’s practical needs with the product or service. But the emotional element is critical, and at least to me, your post is evidence of just how powerful that element can be.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Scott Heitland says:


      You and Barry touch on an important and interesting part of this: human interaction. Being able to deal with an actual person makes a huge difference.

      It’s interesting… Lately I find myself seeking out more in-person interactions when going about my business and enjoying them much more than ever before. Sme of that is because I’m dealing with a different sort of people. I’m a half-beat away from NYC, far enough that most people feel they have “escaped” it and all its warts, and that creates a different culture. The paint store guy remembers my face and makes the same joke about my name, while also giving me the contractor’s discount because I was in there every other day for a month. The receptionists at our various doctor’s office remember me and congratulate me on the baby. Sometimes, I’ll go into the bank and work with a teller on a transaction I could do via ATM or my smartphone but it’s nice to talk to people and they’re always friendly.

      I never would have pegged myself as this sorta guy, but it is nice to have these positive human-to-human interactions every now and then.Report

  7. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Zazzy is breastfeeding Mayonnaise

    Dude. You need to take her to a doctor. That’s supposed to be milk.Report

  8. Avatar Freeman says:

    Just thank your lucky stars you don’t have to rely on AT&T for your internet service. The business park I work in is almost two miles of copper wire to the nearest DSL box and has no cable service available. Service is always spotty. We reboot the DSL modem several times a week during nice weather, but this rainy Spring it’s been going out several times a day and sometimes doesn’t come back up with a reboot.

    The service tech has been out twice in the last two weeks and has made some repairs to the wiring into the building, but our problems persist. One thing he discovered on his first visit was that our connection was set to 6 megabits, which is only recommended up to 6500 feet from the DSL box, our our line is 9300 ft. He said to call the company and ask to downgrade to 3 mb (!!! I’m getting 30 at home with my cable setup), which is the maximum recommended speed up to 9500 ft of copper line. We did do that, but it’s been almost two weeks now and the line speed is still set to 6.

    I don’t know how long we’ll have to wait for someone at AT&T to adjust our line to a more reliable speed. It’s not like they need to send a tech out to do that (which they’ve already managed to do twice anyway). The tech was courteous and knowledgeable, but there’s only so much he can do and it’s exasperating waiting so long for something so simple as a line speed adjustment.

    I can’t understand why AT&T doesn’t recognize the fact that businesses depend on reliable internet service these days as much as they do their telephone service. It’s amazing to me that Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of telephone company customer service still rings true this far into the post-monopoly communications services era.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Freeman says:

      Try taking a cell phone over from your employer. Sure, just call them up and change the billing info, we’ve “released” the phone.

      Call them up, give them my info, account now updated. Right.

      Then I start getting non payment notices because they sent the bill to the old address.
      Then they set up the account wrong and billed me for text messages.
      Then I found out they’d been billing me for the wrong state taxes, which were, ofc, higher than my local area. After calling to complain, they said the 1) the account wasn’t “fully” in my name and 2) they couldn’t determine the amount of over charges. It took them 2 months and I think they just gave me a 20 dollar credit to make me go away.

      Total idiots.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Freeman says:

      “I can’t understand why AT&T doesn’t recognize the fact that businesses depend on reliable internet service these days as much as they do their telephone service. It’s amazing to me that Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of telephone company customer service still rings true this far into the post-monopoly communications services era.”

      Probably because upgrading the line would cost $$$$$$$$$$$$, and wouldn’t be profitable. I had the same problem when I moved; ATT came in and installed something which gave me dial-up ‘speed’ (and the TV stank). I canceled the account within the hour. The tech guy was good, and sweated blood to run wires, but the overall system Did Not Work.Report

  9. Avatar Lawrence says:

    You would think that for $500 a national company like Roto Rooter could find a plumber who could build a drain that flows downhill, and join pipes together so that they don’t leak. You would be wrong. But as irritating as that was, UPS is my favorite bad customer experience. In case anyone from corporate reads this: the employees at the Phoenix UPS hub are morons. Here is what happens when you check the UPS box on your order. Every. God. Damn. Time. You find the We Missed You sticker on your door. You go to the website and instruct them to hold the package at the terminal. You drive to the terminal the next day. They put it on the truck. You tell them to hold it at the terminal and return tomorrow. Repeat two or three times. Last time I went through this the employee returned from searching the warehouse, apparently the same one where the Ark of The Covenant resides, for the package, parts to fix the power windows on my wife’s Jeep, and asked “What does it look like?” I explained I was not present when the items were packed, but it was two small metal plates, so perhaps a small box or padded envelope. While he stared at a computer, I went over and punched the tracking number into the self serve kiosk. I informed him it was put on the truck for delivery. Come back tomorrow.Report