Customer Service Hell Blog

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sprint Blogs!

Hello Sprint Corporate Blogger!

Nice of you to stop by and visit!

Of course, I guess it must be sad to work for a company that regularly treats customers horribly and indeed even rips customers off. So, I doubt that the Sprint Blog will be up for long. But while it is, I thought I would give you a link!

Cheers

The Customer Zero Staff



New Supplemental Blog -- Sprint Really Sucks!

Sprint really screwed the pooch with us and our business this weekend. They seem to be doing this to a lot of people. As such, we have been scouring the net for Sprint Horror Stories for your entertainment and amusement. See it here at the "Sprint Really Sucks" blog

Some interesting facts can be obtained by visiting the "Complain.Com" website.

For example, there are, as of this writing, 702 complaints about Sprint. In contrast there are only 400 complaints about MCI, 547 for ATT, 350 for BellSouth... and there were only 319 for WorldCom, before they went broke. 666 Complaints for Verizon and 129 for Qwest

There are also 908 Webpages devoted to "Sprint Sucks" out there via google search and there are over 11,000 pages with the keyword phrase "I Hate Sprint"


Genuine Complaint To The Bank, NYT

This was apparently a real letter, recieved by a bank manager who them forwarded it on to the New York Times, who published it. h/t Moustress blog

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month.. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his depositing the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly transfer of funds from my modest savings account, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty-one years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has recently become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status form which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Please allow me to level the playing field even further.

When you call me,you will now have a menu of options on my new voice mail system to choose from.

Please press the buttons as follows:

1. To make an appointment to see me.

2. To query a missing payment.

3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.

8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.

9. To make a general complaint or inquiry.

The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee of $50 to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

Please credit my account after each occasion.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client,
A Very Feisty 86 year old woman

Ford #1 "I didn't call you a dink"

From the "Trav's Rant's" Blog: A horrible example of downright scary customer service in trying to buy a new car.

Ford Motor Company
Customer Relationship Center

P.O.Box 6248
Dearborn, Michigan 48126

1-800-392-3673(FORD)

CC:

SalesDept@lapointford.com
John Jacobs
Jayme Jensen
Matthew Ashton

To Whom It May Concern:

I'd like to explain a situation that occurred at LaPoint Ford in Murray, Utah on December 7th, 2002. I actually waited a full week to contact you because I didn't want to write this letter with the embarrassed and angry feelings I had at the time. This is a short summary of what happened...

After working out a deal with my salesman Dan Prins, the service manager Rich Harris told me that I could not get the little remote control car with the purchase due to the price I was getting the truck for. I thought that seemed a little petty and voiced my feelings since it was advertised that with "every purchase of a new vehicle" one would be given away. He argued that the advertisement also mentioned a price and that I was getting the truck for less than that. We discussed this a little further with him walking away from me saying it wasn't going to happen. I told Dan that I thought it was pretty lame that a little toy car was the make it or break it deal here and that I couldn't get one of these little toys. It didn't even matter that much to me. It wasn't going to kill me to not get one of these toys. I just thought it was a nice bonus. Dan went back to talk to Rich and the two of them came out together. I thought Dan must have said the magic words and Rich was going to give me one of the toy trucks.

To my astonishment and absolute embarrassment, Rich got right up in my face, standing over me as I was still seated in the chair and asked me if I had just called him a "Dink". I was taken back and had no idea what he was getting at. I begged his pardon and he asked me again if I had called him a "Dink". He told me that he just heard I had called him a "Dink" and after all he had done for me, did not appreciate being called a "Dink". I was sitting there in shock, having not even called him a name and wondering where this attack was coming from.

He stormed off in a huff and I asked Dan if he had actually come out just to tell me that. Dan apologized for Rich's actions and continued to do so for several minutes. I was still shocked and completely insulted. NEVER in my life have I been confronted in such a manner especially while I was shopping. Not at a 7-11 when I dropped a slurpee on the ground, Not at a McDonalds when I told them they messed up my order, and certainly never at a car dealership while I was ready to spend a year's salary on a very long term product. I actually had to contain myself and keep myself from walking off on the deal because I didn't feel that Dan should lose his commission after all the work he did, and I felt I had a fair deal as it was. But the more I think about it, I don't know why I stayed. I don't know why I put up with that kind of so called "customer service" from a manager.

I explained to Dan that I work in a very customer service oriented business, as he does. I explained that if any of my employees were to have confronted one of my customers in the manner Rich confronted me because of something he heard was said about him, he/she would have been fired on the spot, no questions asked. Even if I HAD called Rich a name, even if I would have called him 10 names with swear words attached, that would not have mattered. How dare he come get in my face and challenge me about saying something about him? How dare he tell me that he has done so much for me and then act like I owe him so much? I am the paying customer about to go into debt for 5 years over the product I was buying from him and he implies that I owe him. Never before have I been treated with such disrespect and outright public rudeness than I was on the sales floor of LaPoint Ford that day.

Dan apologized and tried his best to do some service recovery. I don't know what has been done over there. What I do know is that I told two other employees of LaPoint Ford about the circumstance and it didn't end there. I'm sure you know the statistics of dissatisfied customers and how many people they tell about their experience. I'm sure I'm going to blow that figure out of the water. In the week I have given myself to cool off from this event, I have told 11 people about the "service" I received from the sales manager over there. All 11 people were horrified at the treatment that is given there and I'm sure they themselves have relayed the story to others. The more people continue to ask me about my beautiful new Ford truck and where I got it, the more people will find out about the quality of customer service at LaPoint Ford. I may never stop telling this story. I didn't have a problem with any other employee there. In fact, Dan's service reflects the Blue Oval type service I'm sure LaPoint Ford strives for. He did everything he could to apologize to me and make things more comfortable. The finance guy and the other sales manager both did the same to make sure that my experience would be a bit more positive. But one really bad apple has spoiled the bunch in this case. Rich's actions have reflected on the whole establishment of LaPoint Ford to the degree that everyone I know and speak to about this, including myself, will never go to LaPoint Ford to purchase a vehicle ever.

If just once, Rich could have contained his temper and used an ounce of tact and maybe admitted that his words were out of line, or just simply apologized, or even said, "hey, you know what, that toy truck isn't that big of a deal, go ahead and take it", everything would have blown over. I wouldn't have even taken the toy in all actuality and my stories to everyone about my new truck would have led to increased business at LaPoint Ford. It's a shame that someone with that kind of temper and lack of self control should be in a management position and have subordinates apologizing for him and trying to gain some service recovery for their place of business.

I had to go back in to LaPoint Ford to sign some more financing papers several days after this incident and I was still so un-nerved by the whole confrontation with Rich that I was physically shaking when I went in there. I'm glad I didn't run into Rich while I was there, and to tell you the truth, I'm glad it will be the last time I ever have to step into that building. Dan met me in the building and continued to apologize for the situation that had occurred and I told him that it shouldn't be his place to apologize for the actions of his superior. I appreciate the lengths that Dan went through to make up for my embarrassment and insult. I feel badly that he is still somewhat affected by the waythings went down that day. I will be filling out my satisfaction survey from Ford soon and I will be speaking to someone at LaPoint on Monday when they call me to ask how my over-all experience was.

I am not looking for an apology from Rich at this point. I'm over it as far as holding any grudges against him. Some people are hot headed and I accept that. I'm not looking for a free toy for under the tree, Santa will take care of that soon, hopefully. I'm not even looking to get Rich fired. But from someone who understands customer service and the way it effects business to a company that prides themselves on the satisfaction of its customers, you need to be notified about why LaPoint Ford has lost my business and probably the business of many, many more.

I would like a follow up if possible just to let me know what happens from here. If my letter is just read and thrown away or if someone really cares about what their customers think. I did read that "your satisfaction is our #1 goal" on the website.

Looking forward to your reply.

Travis

Travis did get a reply

This letter got me an apology letter from Tom LaPoint, a follow up call from the Customer Relationship Center in Dearborne MI., a heartfelt apology letter from Rich Harris, the Sales Manager, and a personal visit to my office from the salesman with my remote control truck in his hands.

AND here's the first such letter:

Travis,
As a sales manager and a representative of this store I have a duty to uphold a higher standard, to be an example of how to conduct yourself in different situations. Unfortunately, I made a huge mistake in the way I treated you the night you purchased your truck from us. The funny thing is that I realized right after I spoke with you on the showroom that I should have just given you the toy truck in appreciation for buying a vehicle from us. To compound the situation I was confrontational with you shortly thereafter. What was I thinking? I don't know what I was thinking to behave so out of line. I was apologetic over and over to Dan Prins after that night for how I behaved because I was thoroughly embarrassed at how I acted. I know more than ever that my apologies should have also been directed at you for the uncomfortable situation I put us all in.

Travis, for what it's worth I want to say that I am truly sorry for how I treated you, a valued customer. I realize that at this point this is more of a band-aid than a cure but I still wanted to let you know that I know my actions were wrong. I hope you will accept my heartfelt apology and not let my actions, the actions of a rookie sales manager, determine your opinion of our organization. You really did buy your vehicle from a dealer,Tom LaPoint, who holds customer satisfaction on a pedestal. Customer satisfaction is his focus, priority, and the core of our mission at LaPoint Ford. I hope we can someday meet again and shake hands in friendship. Thank you.
Sincerely, Rich Harris


Expedia #1 Where's the toilet seat in your 3 star hotel?

From "The Adventure Begins" blog

Melanie writes:

"So I made a hotel booking for tonight through Expedia.ca . I lugged my bags down 2 very narrow spiral staircases, on the tram and accross the city, and to the hotel. Who informed me that 1. If I had booked through them it would have been 20$ cheaper, and 2. They had no way of confirming the Expedia booking, as they had no internet access and refused to call them.

So, I had to walk in the dark to a stupid call centre and CALL Expedia and pitch a phone fit. Result: They phoned the hotel and they cancelled tomorrow's booking so that I can save the money tomorrow"


And... it doesn't get better. It get's worse. She adds the following about the 3 star hotel that she booked thru Expedia.

Dear sir or Madame at Expedia,

I have some comments to add to my complaint of last night, and I would appreciate receiving more than a form letter as a response.

My hotel room last night had no toilet seat. I spent about five minutes peering at the toilet wondering if this was a special Belgian toilet (just like as in in shopping malls in Italy there are just holes in the ground. If you are not posh enough for a small Italian boutique, you deserve to squat?)

I made yet another trip down to the front desk. The last trip had been to inquire about changing channels on the television and the response had been a smile and a remote control taken from a cubby.

"Excuse me," I said, "I know this is a budget hotel, but are the toilets supposed to have SEATS on them?"

"Of COURSE," she answered. "Doesn't yours?" I shook my head. "Couldn't you find it?"

I patiently explained to her that there was nowhere to hide a toliet seat in the tiny room and if she did not have a cubby where I could sign one out, I needed her help in finding some other toilet option.

She pointed accross the street to the burger place.

THIS is a 3-star hotel??

They would not give me another room, and as it was prepaid I could not leave. I actually had to WALK in the dark in a bad area to a nearby cafe to use the washroom. When I complained I was told that there was nothing that they could do. The draiperies were torn and there were sticky, dark stains on the floor, and the dust on the floor was thick and the bedshets stained.

This morning I talked to the manager and was told that as it was an expedia booking and I had ALREADY CONTACTED EXPEDIA with my discontent he would not do anything for me.

In other words, last night they would not give me a room until I found a phone and called Expedia in Canada and waited in hold for ages while they had to CALL the hotel to tell them I actually had a room.

I could not stay at the hotel I had paid for unless I contacted Expedia.

Now I was being punished for doing so. He told me that he would have upgraded me and given me a second night free in his hotel but now he has to deal with Expedia and why should he make things easy for me - I am not his problem, my discomfort is YOUR problem.

They had a sister hotel and could have moved me there if there were no toilet seats to give me in his hotel. Even the sleaziest hostel has a usable toilet.

I would like a refund. This was NOT a 3 star hotel (as they advertise) or a 2.5 star hotel as you advertise. When I told him the room was filthy I received another eloquant shrug and was told that the cleaning staff had not come inthat day so some of the rooms were not as clean as other nights.

Once more: I could not use the toilet. It had no seat. They would not give me my room because though I had my confirmation number they had no fax from Expedia (or a fax machine - it goes to their sister hotel) and would not phone Expedia long-distance. I had to dodge the pimps and whores to find a cafe where I could phone and then I had to pay for a 20 minute call while they talked to the hotel (no way to reverse the charges).
Then when I complained last night about the toilet she not only did nothing but she LAUGHED at me. This morning the manager told me that if Ihad not already expressed displeasure to Expedia he would have compensated me for my hellish room, but since now he has to "Deal with those Expedia guys" he does not want to deal with me also.
I am most disappointed. You misrepresented a hotel. I booked a room WITH A TOILET and paid for a toilet and since the one there was impossible for a lady to use I want some refund.

Sincerely,

Melanie Gall


That's not good. Not good at all. Remind me not to bother booking *anything* with Expedia.com

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Royal Bank Of Canada #1 "No Thanks. We Don't Want American Money"

This is an AWESOME flash presentation about a regular Joe Canadian's experience with trying to cash a *cheque* at his Royal Bank. The cheque was for American funds. The customer was urged to go bank elsewhere. So he did. But not without making this kick-ass flash detailing his long sad story about trying to deal with the Royal Bank of Canada.


NTL #1 Genuine Hilarious Complaint Letter

h/t ShitScared.Net Blog

Dear Cretins,
I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions.

Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional perogative, and seek to rectify these difficulties - or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office:

My initial installation was cancelled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpfulwebsite….HOW?

I alleviated the boredom by playing with my testicles for a few minutes - an activity at which you are no-doubt both familiar and highly adept. The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools - such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum. Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks my modem arrived… six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it.

I estimate your internet server’s downtime is roughly 35%… hours between about 6pm -midnight, Mon-Fri, and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 calls on my mobile to your no-help line, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highlyskilled bollock jugglers.

I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman…and several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle-moments to attend to. Frankly I don’t care, it’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustration’s in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

I thought BT were shit, that they had attained the holy piss-pot of godawful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum incompetents of the highest order. British Telecom - wankers though they are - shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy puss-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy. Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and
foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver - any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps bemused rage.

I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cats litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit - they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL, and its worthlessemployees.

Have a nice day - may it be the last in you miserable short life, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twats.

John



Super 8 Motel #1 Scary Hotel Room

Taken from "Tilting At Windmills" blog

July 4, 2005

Dear Sir or Madam -

On April 4, 2005, business travel took me to Sierra Vista, AZ where it seems that the securing of lodging at an auberge is quite a challenge, for even the most savvy traveler. On what started out as a pleasant spring evening in the desert, I checked into Innworks' Super 8 Motel. Soon thereafter, all the pleasantries of that evening tranformed into an unsettling horror.

Upon opening the door and peering into the darkened chamber, I engaged the light switch assuming that it would provide some sort of illumination that would allow me to find my way through the room in an unencumbered fashion. When the light switch did not work, I was forced to meander through the maze of cheap furniture and so-called bedding to find a lamp. When the aged yellowed light of the lamp cast its glow on the room, I quickly realized the advantage of the light switch not working. The filth on the carpeting and throughout the room stared back at me with what seemed like a mocking grin. It was at this point that I was overcome by the stench of the room -- having never encountered rotting flesh, I can only hope that it is less pungent than the malodor that encompassed this room. As I continued to scan my frightening new surroundings, my eyes were drawn to what seemed like an artistic array of random cruor coloring on the wall behind the door. I later ascertained this collection to likely be the remnants of some ghastly event from this chamber's tormented past.

After settling into this hovel for the night, I had the opportunity to lay down on one of the beds in the room. Afraid to pull back the covers and expose the pathogens harboring in the subtending layers of bedding, I reposed on this sack. After a few moments on that bed, I learned that it is possible to make mattressing material that is harder than concrete. I can only assume that this is a specialty of Innworks, Inc. that was not advertised as one of the so-called amenities.

During the two forgetful nights spent in your flophouse, I was able to acquire less sleep than a chronic insomniac during a caffeine binge. One of the happiest moments of my life was the arrival of the morning of my checkout. Such elation and a sheer sense of relief are rarely felt in one's lifetime.

Needless to say, I was wholeheartedly dissatisfied with my stay and will never be returning. My many co-workers, whose travel also brings them to Sierra Vista, have been fully briefed on your establishment and they, like myself, have blacklisted your establishment.

Sincerely, Customer X

UPDATE
RESPONSE FROM HOTEL COMPANY

Customer X,

Thank you for contacting us and Super 8 Motels' Customer Service department concerning your stay this past April at our Super 8 Motel in Sierra Vista. Our hard-working associates at the property do their best to ensure that each guest has a satisfactory stay with us. We sincerely apologize that our service and accommodations did not meet your expectations. We wish that you had made your dissatisfaction known to our staff so they could have taken measures to remedy the situation. At this point, more than three months after your stay, it is difficult to research the specific deficiencies you mentioned, such as the light switch not working, the cleanliness of the carpet, and the odor in the room. At present, the room appears to be satisfactory to recent guests who have occupied it.

As for the relative firmness of the bed, this is a matter of personal preference that varies greatly from guest to guest. The standard hospitality bed sets we purchase from a national manufacturer tends to be middle-of-the-road in terms of firmness. We are sorry you found this to be uncomfortable. Again, had we known this was a problem, we could have allowed you to try different beds in different rooms so that you could have been more comfortable on the second night of your stay.

We realize that our guests have the opportunity to choose from a variety of accommodations when traveling to Sierra Vista. We appreciate that you gave us a chance and regret that we were unable to provide a better experience for you. We thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns so that we can again reinforce with our staff the importance of proactively addressing operational and housekeeping issues before guests arrive.

INNWORKS CUSTOMER SERVICE TEAM

Scream When Customer Service Is Bad!

Reprinted From Palm Beach Post

By BILL HUSTED (blogged with permission from author)
Cox News Service
Published 8/29/04

I'm mad about technology.
But not in a good way. Sure I love the stuff. But sometimes I get just plain angry.

Each day of my working life, I get e-mails and calls from readers with horror stories to tell. Most of them are about what consumer advocate Clark Howard calls customer non-service. Bad service is a national epidemic, and it is getting worse.

Think of the name of a tech company, an Internet provider, a telephone company, a computer manufacturer or software publisher, any company will do. I promise I've heard horror stories about each one of them.

That's what is so discouraging. Even the best companies will have a slip-up or two. But nowadays, good service is the exception. Bad service is the rule. To make things worse, that statement is so obvious that you're sitting there nodding your head. I don't have to be a mind reader to say you know it from your own personal experience.

Not all the sad tales of stupidity, indifference and incompetence come from my readers. I have stories of my own. So gather around and I'll tell you my story. It happened in July. But you could pick another month and I would have another story. This time it's about my cable television service. On another week, another month, it could easily have been about a computer company or an Internet service.

The cable folks have become regular fodder for comedians. Everyone has a story. But here's what happened to me:

The picture on my set at home got so bad that televised baseball games looked better on the radio. At least you're not supposed to get a picture on radio.

My cable account is in my wife's name, as is my Internet service. And she kept her maiden name. So I did what you'd do. I called the cable company. I don't believe that I routinely get special treatment because I write about this stuff. I run the same sort of gamut you do.

After a long wait on hold, the cable company promised that a service guy would arrive between 2 and 5 p.m. My wife took a half day away from work to wait at home for the cable guy. We started with the guess that he would get there around 5 p.m. But our guess was wrong. He didn't show at all.

When 5:20 p.m. rolled around, Mary called the cable folks to ask what had happened. Feel free to sing along with me now, you know the words to this song. She spent 30 minutes on hold, listening to bad canned music and recorded assurances that every call is important. Sure it is. That's why they don't hire enough people to answer the phone.

The person who eventually answered explained what Mary already knew, the tech was late. We were told that the tech had tried to call us around 5:20 p.m. but that there was no answer at our house.

That's true. Mary couldn't answer because she was on hold waiting for someone at the cable company to answer the phone.

Imagine how it would be if I paid the cable company's bills on the same sort of loose timetable. They'd cut off my service. And it wouldn't help a bit if I told them that my finances were running late.

I would have fired these folks months ago. But I don't have many choices when it comes to television. I have a deep and crazed passion for Atlanta Braves baseball. My house is surrounded by tall trees that make satellite TV impossible. There are no cable competitors where I live. I'm at the mercy of the cable company. And it has no mercy.

Something inside me crumbled this time. Instead of rescheduling an appointment, we told the cable company that they'd find our cable box on the front porch.

I'll miss watching the BBC news and the movie channels, but we'll get by. My wife will enjoy the fact that I won't be hogging the remote. And at least I won't be rewarding a company for bad service.

Too many of us accept bad customer service. I'm not being overly critical of those who do. They may just have two choices: Grin and bear it or do without.

But if you eat enough mud, you'll get a bad taste in your mouth that is hard to wash out. And If there is no cost to the provider software company, computer company or whatever, it has no financial incentive to make things better.

I know I'm getting riled up here, perched on my soapbox and getting madder with every word I type. But I truly think it's time for all of us to get mad, to complain more, to tolerate less. If you're tired of walking around with a "kick me" sign hanging on your back, join in with me.

The next time you get intolerable customer service, complain loudly. If you can switch to another company, do so, and write a letter telling the offending company that they've lost your business.

And be sure to tell your friends. That's just what I'm doing today.

Peter Principle Squared

Everybody in business management has heard of "The Peter Principle":

"In a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their "level of incompetence"

Well, here's the problem. While everybody's heard of that... damn few have heard of the "The Peter Principle Squared" which my friend MG states as:

"Given that in hierarchically structured administrion,when a sufficient number of incompetents are promoted, incompetence itself becomes the standard of promotion."


And that's really what seems to be going on in many businesses wherein there is not just crappy customer service on the front-line, but where management is so incompetent that management doesn't even know or care when customers offer them the invaluable service of letting them know when their business/service has screwed up.

This blog is not actually an effort to get the hirlings on the front-line fired, nor is at an attempt to force the highlighted businesses to conduct themselves any differently. It does however attempt to document just how poorly these various businesses have evolved to such a degree that every day, staff are losing their respective businesses perhaps millions of dollars in sales by making stupid decisions, because they are not being properly trained or supervised.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bruegger's #1 Hiring Only Starbucks Rejects?

From Emergence Marketing Blog:

Incompetence must be a job requirement at Bruegger's

I already wrote about how impressed I am with the Starbucks service. Well now I am increasingly convinced that the Starbucks in my town has found a way to have Bruegger's hire every single person that fails the Starbucks interview...

Today, just like yesterday, and like about one in three or four times I go there, they ran out of plain bagels. It's the same people managing the place for years - so it's not like they are missing some history to develop a semi-predictable supply and demand process. Yesterday it also took me 10 minutes to pay - with only two people in front of me. All because they decided to argue with a little old lady that she could only use one coupon at a time. She wasn't even trying to use two coupons on one item - she had two items and wanted to use a coupon for each item. And then there is the constant slowness in everything they do...I have waited 5 minutes to get served with 4 of them in the store and only one of me. They just happened to have been "assigned" to other tasks while the manager was out back.

Read it All Here:


Dell #1 The Saga Of One Lowly Blogger's War on Dell

You just have to read the whole thing

Absolutley amazing that Dell hasn't figured out that the best way to deal with this situation is to just fix the damn problem.

Comcast # 1 Cussin' Out A Customer

H/T Windy City Dreamer Blog

ComCussed: Bitchin' Out A Complaining Customer

From Chicago Tribune Story:

Customer Disservice

Published August 18, 2005

It's not hard to commiserate with LaChania Govan's complaints about Comcast. The 25-year-old Elgin woman said that when she called to complain about persistent problems with her digital recording system, she was put on hold, disconnected, even transferred to the Spanish language line. (Note to Comcast: She doesn't speak Spanish.)

We've all had similar experiences, not necessarily with Comcast. When we call a company to complain about a balky DSL line or a cable box or some other technological marvel turned nightmare, we expect prompt and expert service. Instead, we sometimes end up in a circle of hell that even Dante couldn't have imagined.

Oh, the customer service rep is perfectly polite. And also perfectly unhelpful. The rep may be robotic, reading from a script and unable or unwilling to improvise. He or she may just be clueless. Who among us hasn't at times raised his or her voice a fraction on such calls, if only to register the frustration and exasperation that comes from describing a problem over and over again but finding precious little relief?

Even if tempers flare, the reps are trained not to retaliate, not to stoop to yelling or name-calling, even if the customer does. But you have to wonder, what do they say about us after the phone call ends? Well, we have a little better idea about that, thanks to Govan's experience.

After the aforementioned problems forced her to make dozens of calls to the cable company in July, her August bill arrived. In place of her name were these words: Bitch Dog.

Someone, somewhere enjoyed a few days of snickering about payback. But that ended Wednesday when the company apologized to Govan and said it was "appalled" by her treatment. The company said two customer service employees have been fired. Smart move.

The same thing happened in another incident, this one involving a Peoples Energy customer named Jefferoy Barnes, 44, of Maywood. Seems Barnes received four pieces of mail from the company that included the words "scrotum bag" in the line with his name. Barnes said he couldn't recall any interaction with company employees that could have prompted the slur. But the company says it has traced the problem and the employee responsible is being fired.

Rudeness and coarseness have become ingrained in too many of our daily exchanges. No doubt customer service reps could tell more than a few stories about harsh treatment by their customers too.

So, just a gentle reminder. On the phone, over the fence, in traffic, at the store ... be civil, please.


Sainsbury's #1 Why Are You Selling Rancid Milk?

From 173 Drury Lane Blog:

Several times this summer, we have returned milk to Sainsbury's which was within its sell by date, but which had turned to yoghurt within a day or two of purchase and periodically we return various cheeses. This doesn't happen to the milk or cheese we buy from Marks & Spencer or from Tesco. I hadn't thought much about this until I read this article last month: Sainsbury's fined over rancid milk

The rancid milk, still on the shelf 23 days after it should have been drunk was deemed "unfit for human consumption".

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's said: "It's extremely rare for something like this to occur.

"The store sells 120,000 fresh products a week and we have elaborate systems in place for checking that all our products are well within the label dates and that out-dated stock is cleared from our stores every day.

This may well be an isolated incident, but I think I can guess at two ways this kind of problem develops.

First, why does JS have an "elaborate system" where surely a simple system would suffice?

Second, for a simple system to work, Sainsbury's has to employ staff who care about food and customer service, and give those staff the authority to take action the second a problem is brought to their attention. I told a member of staff last week that the chicken I wanted to buy was past its sell by date, he replied "you need to speak to Customer Services about that" before going about his business. The chicken, it seems, was in someone else's section.




Thursday, September 01, 2005

Orkin #1 Ripping Off Customers

Taken from traal.livejournal.com:

Pest Control Hall Of Shame: Orkin

So a few months ago when I was on my service-canceling spree to save money, I canceled my pest control service with Orkin. They charged $65 per bimonthly visit (or $390 per year), and I discovered that I could pick up the necessary chemicals online or at my local Bug & Weed Mart for what amounted to $76.58 per year plus tax or shipping plus equipment (sprayers, etc). The chemicals I chose were Baygon Bait (for crickets), Talstar Granules (for ants), and Suspend SC (for spiders, earwigs, and just about everything else).

Anyway, I paid the last bill from Orkin a couple of months ago, and I thought that was that. Today I received a bill from them for over $70 ($65 + tax?). As it turns out, I'm not the only one who has had billing issues with Orkin.

Remind me to check the background of any company I decide to do business with from now on.

Update September 7, 2005: I called them today at the 1-800 number (not my local Orkin office) and they said my service and the appointment for Friday have both already been canceled.

,

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Target #1 Why don't you want to sell clothing to fat people?

Taken from "The Naked Truth & Other Discombobulated Thoughts" blog

Open Letter To Target

To: Whoever Is In Charge

This is to let you know that I will not be returning to your store with the intent to purchase clothes following my experience this weekend.

As you may know, a recent study indicates that almost 65% of adults suffer from obesity in the United States and in Maine the percentage of obese adults is nearly 24%.[1] So why is it that in your South Portland store, the size of the Women's department is less than 10? x 10??

To make matters worse, the Women's department is in the back corner next to the changing room and several racks contain the discarded clothes from the changing rooms. Furthermore, on my visit yesterday, more than half of the Women's department was taken up with clearance racks for the Misses' department. The choices for purchase where extremely limited and was mostly exercise clothes. I guess that is a subtle hint that instead of working or going to parties, anyone of a larger size should be at the gym.

When I could not find any shorts that weren't meant for the gym, I approached an employee with a name tag at the changing room. I asked if there were any shorts left in the Women's department as it appeared the Winter clothes had already been put out in mid-August. She waved in the general direction of the clearance racks and told me if there were any shorts left, they would be mixed in with those. She was rude and unhelpful and I certainly had the impression that she felt I was wasting her time.

So, until you realize that anorexic teenagers aren't the only ones who shop in your store, that the adults are the ones who really spend the money there, and that your employees need a lesson in how the customer is the reason they have jobs, I shall be shopping where the clothes fit and the employees are friendly.

Thanks for wasting my time and gas yesterday,
N. Mallory

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Providian #1 What's It Take To Pay $25 ?

August 18, 2005

Mr. Mike Laubsted
Executive Vice President of Customer Service
Providian
P.O. Box 99604
Arlington, TX 76096-9604

Mr. Mike Laubsted:

Thank you for the letter of apology you sent me for making two unauthorized electronic debits on my bank account on or about May 4th, 2005. I was, of course, outraged that your company tried to take money out of my bank account without permission, especially since your company
tried to take more money than I had in there and this caused my bank to charge me a $25 service fee for one of these transactions. I think they waved the fee on the first one, but that's one less favor they'll be willing to do for me in the future.

To your credit, your company did promptly return the money to my bank account. In your letter, you said you "sincerely apologize for this error and any inconvenience it may have caused you." You also offered to reimburse me for the $25 bank fee. That's nice. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get the $25 reimbursed and my dealings with your company in trying to actually get the $25 have been vastly more inconvenient than the original mistake was.

Whenever I call your company, I have to go through a lengthy voice mail menu and a recorded announcement about how the call may be recorded for quality purposes. Not having to listen to that message every time would be a considerable improvement in quality all by itself, but I know why you have to have it. When I do reach someone, they are located in your call center in India, as they eventually acknowledged. To their credit, they do speak English fluently, though the accent and the cheap phone connection (sounds like voice-over-IP) sometimes makes communication difficult.

The first person I spoke to on May 19, 2005 said he would make sure I got a credit of $25 on my Providian Visa card with the account number XXXXXXX-XXXXXXX. I think he might have given his name as Shawn, but after three months, I can't recall and I have misplaced my notes.

Today, August 18, 2005, after almost exactly three months, I noticed that I still have not received a credit for the $25. So I called the 800 number on the back of my credit card again. Again I was connected to your call center in India. Again I had to fight my way through your voice mail menu and your recorded messages and be put on hold by a machine in order to speak to a live person. The live person was, of course, in the call center in India your company has contracted with to handle these calls so you don't have to. My call today was handled by someone who gave her name as Debbie Vickerson. I'm well aware that all the main call center companies in India instruct their employees to give fictional American-style names when handling customer calls from the U.S. If her name is really Debbie Vickerson or her native language is English, I would be amazed. Anyway, I explained the problem and she put me on hold three or four times and then asked me to hold again. I asked her to please take care of it at her leisure and then call me back. She would not do that and insisted on placing me on hold again and then transferring me somewhere else. She then told me there was some sort of technical problem in transferring me to the "Payments Research Department" and asked me to call back tomorrow in order to start the whole process over again. I asked her to please convey to the appropriate people in your company my simple request which was supposed to have already been done and to call me back when it was completed. After all -- I quoted your letter to her -- the point of all this was to make up for your company's mistake and the inconvenience it caused me. The method of getting the mistake corrected should therefore be done in a manner that is convenient to me, not one which requires that I call back repeatedly and spent hours on the phone dealing with this.

She said she could not call me back. I got the impression this was a company policy of some sort which you may be in a position to change. That's part of the reason I'm writing to you instead of just calling back. But I didn't immediately set off to write you a letter, first I asked "Debbie" to transfer me to her supervisor, which she did. He gave his name as "Anthony" and refused to give a last name at all. He also would not reveal what city he was located in, but he did admit it was in India somewhere. Mumbai perhaps? I'm just guessing. I told him I didn't think his real name was Anthony, but he would not comment on that or even give me a fictional last name to match his probably fictional first name. Anthony merely repeated almost verbatim what Debbie had told me: that there was a technical problem with transferring my call and that I should call back tomorrow.

Well, as I said, I didn't even want to be put on hold or transferred today, much less tomorrow. I just want to take you up on your offer to repay me the $25 and to have this endless inconvenience finally come to an end. I apologize for taking up your valuable time with this, if you actually deal with this letter personally at all. I notice that your "signature" on the letter is actually just printed there by a computer using a script font. I hope you at least authorized the letter since it does claim to be "sincere".

I realize that you are an Executive Vice President at your company so your time is undoubtedly valuable. I am the President and CEO of my company so perhaps you can appreciate that my time is valuable as well.

Your staff should be able to handle this problem without keeping me on the phone during the entire process. I presume the reason you contracted with a call center in India to handle your calls is because they will do the work very cheaply and you can avoid taking up the more valuable time of your receptionist or secretaries who otherwise would have to answer the calls. I hope you can appreciate that my time is worth at least as much as that of your receptionist if not considerably more. If it's not worth the time of your lowest level American employees to handle this, it's not worth my time to sit on hold while the employees of your contractor in India handle this. Please instruct the appropriate person in your organization to credit the $25 to my card as has been previously promised. You can have your lowest level people do it, you can even have your people in India do it. Just do it and don't take up any more of my time. I wouldn't mind a phone call to confirm it, and when you call my office, you won't get voice mail menus or recorded messages before you can speak to a live person. But if it's too inconvenient for you to call us or if you don't trust your staff in India with the power to make outgoing calls, just make sure I get the money. I'll figure out it's been done eventually when it shows up on my credit card statement.
By the way, I don't hold it against you that you use a foreign call center. Our company is considering having one as well. I'm going to do it a little differently than you do. We are already planning to locate our call center in a country where the people speak English as their native language. I'm also going to make sure that our people do give out their names and take responsibility for getting problems resolved. Our US call center people do this already and I'll make sure we don't change that policy when we shift some of our calls to the new call center. It never even occurred to me to prevent the people in our call center from making outgoing calls to call back a customer at the customer's request. My experience with your call center has emphasized to me the importance of this. I understand that if your call center employees can make outgoing calls, that they might place personal calls and run up a large phone bill. But it does occur to me that if you don't trust the employees of your subcontractor in India to make outgoing calls, you really shouldn't be trusting them to handle my credit card number, not to mention the credit card numbers and other personal information of countless other customers who call there every day.

I'll look for a $25 credit on my statement. Please have somebody make sure it shows up there.

Sincerely,

Disatisfied Customer

*Update* Within a week of Mike Laubsted getting this letter, the $25.00 was reimbursed. Well done Providian!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Half Priced Books #1 Snobby Smelly Hippie Sales Clerks

Taken From "What Is And Should Never Be" blog

August 3, 2005
Half-Price Books - NOW HIRING SMELLY HIPPIES!”

Half Price Books on 1960 & Veterans Memorial. I love books. I love USED books. I LOVE the prices. I CAN’T STAND the staff here. I've never been a fan of the drag queen look. I've never been a fan of the hairy guy with the leather wristbands and leather shirt, pants, necklace and most likely, leather underwear! I've had the occasion to be near this fellow, and the smell was oppressive to say the least. I've NEVER felt comfortable approaching these individuals for help. They always seem to have this psudo-intellectual arrogance that puts me off. "Oh, you're looking for THAT book…” type crap…

Anyway, I headed in there tonight looking for anything I could find in the science-fiction / fantasy section and also to find two specific books NOT in that area. These two books are: Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite - Bernard Goldberg and Osamas Revenge: THE NEXT 9/11 : What the Media and the Government Haven’t Told You - Paul L. Williams.

Yes two EXTREMELY conservative books. Yes…I should have known better. I’d read Bias a while back and really enjoyed it. I just wanted to see what Bernard Goldberg had to say now. As for the other book by Williams, well, he has been making the circuit of talk-shows and he seems to be an interesting guy, if not a bit of an alarmist.

I realized, after asking about the Arrogance book that I had made a mistake. I approached the four individuals working around the piles of books and asked the only female there if she could look up a book for me. She looked down at the pile of books she was dealing with, sighed dramatically, and nodded. She walked over to the computer and glared at me. I waited for her to initiate the conversation, but she stood there staring at me and sighed again, rolled her eyes and said “What do you want me to look up?” I took a deep breath (no, I didn't sigh) and said, "Bernard Goldberg's new book…I think it's called Arrogance."

At this moment her eyes turned very flinty and the other three people back there turned and glared at me. She made a little sound like "hum" and began typing on her computer. She kept looking at me as she typed and eventually I was told that they might have it. I asked her where I might find this book and she sighed again as if I was REALLY wasting her time, "It might be in the military history section." I said "fine" and pushed my luck as I asked her to look up another book for me. She let out a HUGE sigh and looked at me again like she did before. I told her that I didn't know what the author's name was, but he has a book, or will have a book, called "The Al Qaeda Connection". She rolled her eyes and looked back at her computer. The other employees began to chuckle and groan at this point. She found what she was looking for and said, "Are you looking for Paul Williams Al Qaeda Connection, International Terrorism, Organized Crime, And the Coming Apocalypse?!?”" As she spoke the title of this book her tone became so amazingly pretentious that I almost snapped. She said something along the lines of "Why would you want to look at that trash?”"

I should be given a medal of honor for controlling my body and tongue at this point…

I informed her that I didn't approve of her attitude and that I spend nearly one hundred dollars a week in this store. I then told her that she was losing this customer and walked to the door. (I'm not going to print the entire conversation. It was quite one-sided.I talked and she listened with vacant eyed interest.I stopped short of asking when her last bath had been!).

I walked to the door and was stopped by one of the other sales people. He asked what was wrong and I filled him in *fully*and completly about the liberal-hippie-communist-pieces of SHIT that worked behind the counter over there. He chuckled and said that I wasn't the first person to complain about it!

Not the first to complain?? Who the hell is running this store? I used to run a business. If I had an employee that 1) didn't bathe regularly and 2) was incapable of maintaining a modern-day wardrobe (let's leave the medieval crap at home, what do you say?) and 3) showed huge levels of arrogance to the customers,well, I'd have fired them in a heartbeat.

Summing up - - The NICE guy I talked to there at the door apoligized for the rudeness of the employees. He asked to help me find the books. He tried very hard. I told him thank you but no,i'll go over to barnes and noble, and from now on I'll take my books to sell somewhere else.

They all probably got a good laugh at my expense, but I'm not really concerned what the people who work at a used-book store think about me. The only thing I want to know is this: Where has customer service gone?

It's definately not present at the Half-Price Bookstore.



 

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