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Customer service rant but not what you expect.


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#21 mikemodeler

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:06 AM

Great topic and like most people, I have my share of retail horror stories to share. The condensed versions here:

1st job- worked at a Mercedes/BMW dealership during high school (great job for a teenager!) and we had this one lady who thought she was entitled to a free hand car wash every Saturday at noon, despite it being the busiest time of the day and also our lunch time. One particularly cold and busy Saturday she insisted on getting her car washed and we told her it would be 2 hours before we could do it. She got the salesman who sold her the car and he begged us to wash the car, so we did. We made sure to put extra water in the door locks knowing full well they would freeze and she would be locked out, hopefully at the dinner party she needed her car washed for!

2nd job- worked at a grocery store in the same town as the car dealership. Some customers would walk around eating food they hadn't paid for yet and didn't think anything of it. We caught this one lady who had fed her kids about a pound of grapes, a box of animal crackers, and several containers of yogurt. She offered to pay for the items but the manager decided to have her banned as he had watched this happen several times. Another incident at the store was a customer who insisted we send an employee over to her house to clean up a mess her maid had made. Seems the maid spilled some soda taking the groceries out of the car and because we had placed them in her trunk, it was our fault! She got the store manager to personally clean up the mess at the house and pay to have her car detailed!

3rd job- worked part time at a Sears Paint/Hardware store one summer to feed my need for tools. We had a customer bring in a 15 year old air compressor that was bought at an estate sale. It didn't work and the customer wanted us to replace it, afterall, who backs you better than Sears? We refused as the warranty was only 1 year and this was obviously beyond the warranty period. Well, 10 days later this customer came back with a letter from corporate saying give him a free air compressor! I won't even go into the cheapskates who would buy the cheapest chainsaw to trim a few branches and then return it-effectively a free loaner! The old farts who would go to garage sales on Saturday and buy broken hand tools and return them for free replacement. The best were guys who would break a ratchet and expect a free replacement. When we explained that the warranty stated "repair or replacement" and we could repair it, they got ticked off and wanted a new one! They quickly learned that if they came in during the morning hours the ladies would give them new ones and us evening guys would repair them.

Like others have said, I have learned that if you talk in a calm manner and treat the employee with respect, you will get the best possible service. Talk down or treat someone like dirt and you will be lucky to get anything.

My mother-in-law is terrible when it comes to customer service and as a result, I almost always decline to dine out with her as she is very demanding and is a lousy tipper. I have no doubt she had eaten her share of dirt and spit because of the way she treats waiters and complains about everything!

#22 steamboy

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:30 AM

Love this post... having worked retail for over 15 years, I too know the stories. Working in a bicycle shop, the business is very seasonal. Spring is CRAZY time! My opinion has always been to suck it up and help the customer as well as possible, HOWEVER my famous quote at the shop is "it's just a bike shop..." Its all about an enjoyable, recreational experience, let's not make this too serious. (Similar to our model hobby) Nobody's living or dying, losing a job, missing a flight while on vacation, or anything like that. I have reminded customers of that fact also... shuts them up pretty quick too. For years, I have been the guy that the "good customers" come in to see, probably because I give them the respect they return towards me. I also slide discounts to many of them, even though they don't expect or ask for it. That's why I do it, they are the ones who deserve them, not the guy I see once a year who comes in for the big sale or wants us to price match internet pricing. 'Nuff of that.

Moving forward...I am in the midst of starting my own hobby/model shop and will be dealing with the same retail woes on my own. I'm sure it will draw all types, the nice thing being "I" get to call the shots. Tell the jerks "no", give the good guys breaks, and I'm sure "suck it up" once in awhile, go on, and remind myself... you reap what you sow...

#23 MikeMc

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:43 AM

I hesitated to mention this, but since Rick put it out there, I do it too. I call it PIA tax. My attitude is "You're going to have to pay me to put up with your grief." The moral of the story: Sometimes being a jerk can cost you, big time. ;)




:D :D :D

#24 Danny Lectro

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:19 AM

Having worked in customer service in a couple of different environments, I have had to deal with most of the personalities mentioned above. I have horror stories. I have had to deal with customers who were irate, mean, entitled, poorly informed, unbalanced and less than brilliant.

I have also had to deal with customer service people who were some or all of those things.

When I go out to eat, I am always respectful to the hostess/maitre'd, the wait staff and the busboys. I always say please and thank you. Yet, every once in a while I have to deal with someone who is at best, incompetent, and at worst, going out of their way to let you know they don't want to be bothered.

When I go shopping, I treat the sales people with respect. I always thank them for their offers of assistance, even if I don't need help at the moment. Yet, every once in a while I have to deal with someone who goes out of their way to ignore me, or feels the need to be condescending.

When I go shopping, I greet the cashier with a smile, and ask how they are doing. I always thank them when they have finished ringing me up. Yet, sometimes I get somebody who has a chip on their shoulder from the word go, and makes it clear they don't think they should be expected to do the job they are getting paid for.

This is not just me looking at myself in the best light, as I have seen these things happen to other customers who were behaving perfectly respectfully.

I am always more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to someone in customer service over the customer. However, just as with most other things in life, the truth tends to be found somewhere in the middle.

#25 weasel

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:06 AM

being in the parts biz on the Dealer side for 35+ years, i HAVE seen it all!!

lady come in to have a sealdbeam installed, she did purchase it from us, the Service Mgr did install it in her Nova in the drive thru, for FREE... well, not 5 minutes after she left she was back ranting about 'what did you do to my car?? ....so the Service Mgr took a deep breath, then stated "we didn't even open the hood on the car mam!!! " well, she wouldn't have it!! he refunded the $$ for the headlite and told her that RT50 runs east to west and there's another Chev store.....


that was the FIRST time i've seen a customer put down the road!!! some customers you just have to treat that way.. nothing you do will ever be good enough for some people....IE: problem customer, not problem car, after numerous trips to the Service Dept with no satisfaction, he started making a scene...the Owner came out to try and appease him, but, when asked what he wanted, he stated "he didn't know", well, the owner said to him "then how the hell can we satisfy you if you don't even know what you WANT!!!"

i also had the 'weird' customers that nobofy else wanted, well being Parts Mgr, guess what i DID take care of them and they would only deal with me!! then you get into 'stealling' somebodys bidness!!! Saturn had 'areas' that were for YOUR facility, you wen't supposed to go outside your 'area' for Wholesale $$, Saturn even contacted me, i just told THEM that I wasn't calling the customers, THEY were calling ME, enough said...




something else... have you ever asked for a discount at Kroger's?? Nordstrom's?? so, how come in the car/bike biz, everybody thinks they should get a discount?? do you the mark-up on clothes?? food products?? a hellova a lot!! but, if you ask for a discount, they kinda glaze over, "that'l be $115.54"


oh yeah, attitude begets attitude.....and, THEY don't really know how much that part is, the more they futz with you the more the part goes up!!! IJS....



ok, done now....



carry on....

Edited by Harry P., 17 March 2012 - 01:29 PM.


#26 mrmike

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:12 AM

I work in a warehouse servicing my "internal customers", the technicians who see to the needs of their "external customers" out in the field. I always try to greet my customers with a smile and a cheerful greeting even if they are having a difficult or bad day and get them their parts and components quickly. When my customers are happy, hopefully their customers are happy, too. I give and expect the same type of treatment when I go out to a restaurant or to a store and I always keep in mind that these people are human too, and they should treated accordingly with all due respect.

#27 Pete J.

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:35 AM

Interesting read of all the responses. Glad to hear that I am no a lone salesman with the same impressions. I will flat state that there are situations where poor customer service is the norm and that is not good, but there are far more people out there who's job and livleyhood depends on giving good customers service day in and day out. They work very hard at it and deserve a little respect for that effort.

One last story about the "good customer". I've worked for Sears for the last 15 years and I still get customers in the store, probably 1 or 2 a month that want to know were the "cataloge" department is. When I tell that that we don't have a cataloge department they get all huffy and start muttering about that is why Sears is going out of business(no we are not). Really, you didn't notice that we published the last Sears general cataloge in figgin 1993!!!!! Now that is the epitomy of the not so good "good customer".

#28 Guest_Johnny_*

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:32 AM

I know it does happen, I was just saying a lot of times it doesnt, trust me, I know :lol: .


Unfortunately sometimes an employee gets shown the door because they finally had enough of a foul mouthed rude and abusive customer. Especially when they pull out the race card and name drop a local civil rights minister! -_- Happens way too often here! :(

#29 Rob McKee

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:33 AM

There are many people out there that no the old "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" saying.

Many intentionally play the rant and rave game knowing all to well that they will get something for it. I am sure we have all seen it where a clerk or a manager just give the person what they want to get them out of their hair

I managed in a 4 star hotel for many years and learned to recognize these people. Some would complain something wasn't working right (My favorite is the shower isn't right.) No pressure, too much pressure, too hot, too cold! On legitmate complaints I would be more than happy to reduce or refund the room charges to ensure we didn't lose a good customer.

Even when doing so, I ran into a very interesting situation one day. The complaint was about the lack of hot water in the shower. We were having some difficulties with one of the two boilers we had so I really didn't question the complaint. Instead, I refunded one of the 5 nights charged. We would credit the credit card charged. This guy wanted me to pay him cash instead so he could submit the full charge to his company for the 5 nights and pocket the cash.

Just goes to show ya, there is always somebody out there trying to con a buck out of someone else.

#30 jbwelda

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:37 AM

thanks for outlineing exactly why brick and mortar places are disappearing and the internet is thriving. oh and the brick and mortar places are blaming "the economy" for their failure.

now i dont mean you specifically because i have never met or dealt with you, but attitudes like you express in your original post just make me turn around and walk out never to return. i know you dont care and thats the problem. i can deal with uncaring personnel over the internet much easier and for far less money.

so...dont forget there are three sides to every story.

by the way: i have never and hopefully will never have to deal with the public in any job i have ever held. i dont have the disposition to deal with the situations you outline in a diplomatic way most of the time. luckily for the customer, there are plenty of places willing to get your money and also luckily for the customer, money speaks much louder than some wize comments about you after you have left the store. that said, i learned a long time ago that you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. question is...why do bees want honey? maybe its flies you catch!
but i digress...the point is, the customer may not always be right but it behooves any retail store to make them think they are.

#31 Guest_Johnny_*

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:47 AM

Places like WalMart where they will give in rather than "alienate" a customer is what has really led to this customer mentality that it should always go their way!
If the customer without a reciept argues long and LOUD enough the manager will relent and give them a cash refund!
I remeber a lady bringing in a gallon jug of juice with about an inch of juice in the bottom complaining it was bad and wanted a new gallon. The manager pointed out that it was all gone but that seemed not to matter to the customer who started yelling to everyone around that they seel rotten food. The manage r gave in!
WalMart has a formula that says for every customer you make mad you lose 25 more through relatives and friends of the pised off customer! So they give in on a regular basis!

#32 Junkman

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:06 AM

My rule is, treat everyone with respect, no matter who they are...


There will not be the day I'll treat a bloody politician with respect.
Anyone else? Of course!

#33 Chuck Most

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 09:51 AM

by the way: i have never and hopefully will never have to deal with the public in any job i have ever held.


Piece of advice... don't ever do it! It isn't terrible 100%, but working in retail made me really long for the burger flipping/paper-hat-wearing days of my earlier jobs.

#34 Johnag4004

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:26 AM

There will not be the day I'll treat a bloody politician with respect.
Anyone else? Of course!


I don't class those scum-bags as being human... ;)

#35 Bobdude

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:10 PM

Here's a situation nobody has mentioned yet. Cell phones.I have been in stores where the employee has been on their phones and customers doing the same.Can you say RUDE.

#36 Art Anderson

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:18 PM

This is an issue that cuts both ways (unfortunately or fortunately--take your pick). Far too many people, of course, seem to carry the attitude that retailers are there to serve their EVERY need, whether or not it's even possible for a particular retail store to do that. Likewise, too many retailers seem to carry an attitude that they are doing potential customers a service simply by deigning to be in whatever business is their stock & trade.

Face it, in spite of all the quality controls most manufacturers have in place, defective product still slips through the cracks, I've spent more time in retail (hobbies) than in any other career field in my 50-years now of working life. Yes, defects in model kits do happen, although I can be brutally honest and say that I cannot remember the last time I bought a model car kit that was missing any parts (Oops, yes I can--the AMT/Ertl Hogan's Heroes Jeep reissue which had 5 wheel rims, but only 4 tires, AND AMT/Ertl took care of that issue very quickly indeed), or truly defective parts (although my first Trumpeter Pontiac Bonneville did have that horrid dull chrome, and there again, Stevens International corrected that problem ASAP when complaints rolled in, to the point of supplying hobby shops that had stocked the kit with replacement chrome trees, again as ASAP as air-freight from China to New Jersey and then to LHS's would allow--got mine with no problems whatsoever). In my 10 years of owning and operating The Modelmaker Hobby Shop here in Lafayette, my defective model kit returns to wholesalers was less than 1/2 of one percent (I held onto defective kits, just in case a missing part complaint came up for a part that could be replaced from a kit previously returned for another issue). Even with RC cars, where people ignored ALL the warnings about overcharging a 7.2V Nicad battery pack (the results from that could be quite dramatic!), I often replaced the battery pack in question THE FIRST TIME ONLY, with quietly but firmly given advice as to how to avoid that happening again (I have raced enough RC cars in my time to know that those battery packs almost never burned up if treated properly, politely and most kindly thank-very-much).

Far too many LHS owners try to refuse to back up merchandise when they know that they certainly can (however, some items, notably RC equipment and most model RR power packs are sold to retail stores with the clear understanding that all warranty service or customer complaints are to be solved BY the manufacturer or importer, NOT by the hobby shop or the wholesaler distribution chain--and that has to be explained to the customer up front at point of sale, frankly!) without fear of upsetting their wholesaler(s). In Champaign IL, there is a LHS that has a large "scratch and dent" section, they being just across town from Hobbico and Horizon Hobby Distributors--they are able to stock and sell potentially defective model kits for mere peanuts, and I understand they do quite well with that end of their business--and that's perfectly OK too.

However, it makes no sense to me whatsoever for a "customer" to walk into a retail store, be ready to check out, and insist they be allowed to write a check for more than the amount of the purchase, particularly if the retailer has a stated and posted notice regarding "checks for the amount of purchase only", or to get upset if the retailer or his/her employee insists on seeing valid identification, and perhaps a driver's license number they can write on the check (in Indiana, a DL number on written on the check must be there for the local prosecutor to be able to take a bad check complaint to court--been there, done that as well when I owned the hobby shop).

Pay by credit or debit card, then go back to return something and insist on cash rather than a credit to your card? Well, just this past October, the Dean of Student Affairs at the University here was arrested for theft and shoplifting at Walmart. Seems he had developed a pattern of doing just that, and then going back to the same department where he bought the item, picked another one up, walked brazenly out the door, waving an old sales slip at the greeter, smiling all the while--he's lost his job, and now faces a court trial, and quite likely a few years in the Gray Bar Hotel (wonder if his PhD will be of any use punching out license plates?).

Back when the Moebius Hudson kit first came out, even though I was given a sample production kit by Moebius in recognition of my bit of assistance in helping out with the development of the kit, I wanted some more of them: I stopped by my LHS (truthfully though, I don't go in there very often, as model car kits are there stepchild, their main thrust and interest is RC in all forms--which is OK, it's their business!) and told the owner that the kits were rapidly becoming available, and asked him if he could get me a couple of them. "Sure thing!" was the answer, but I noticed that he wrote nothing down, it was all verbal. After the kits started arriving in shops and at Spotlight Hobbies, I called that store one morning, inquiring if my kits had arrived: The person answering the phone was NOT the owner of the store, nor was he the one clerk there whom I've known for 25 years. His answer was less than helpful--he didn't even know "Moebius", what a "Hudson" was, nor did he even offer to go check. OK, so I waited a week or so, repeated the process--same clerk, same answers. OK, so the guy must have forgotten that I wanted a couple of kits. Now, here we are, 5 months later, and I find out that the owner of the store is wondering why I never picked up those two Hudson kits! Needless to say, I am still less than enthusiastic about stopping in to retrieve them.

But seriously though, this thread has talked a lot about obnoxious, unreasonable customers. An interesting story in the Wall Street Journal this past week--"Shopping Mobs"! It seems that groups of people have started banding together, ganging up on locally owned retail stores, go in, and actually shop the place, drop a lot of cash in total. Before they target a store, they do let the merchant know ahead of time, so they have time to prepare--it's all in fun, and apparently is being done to kinda fight back against the big corporate chain stores, by taking some time to "pump up" the smaller, locally owned retail establishments.

Wouldn't that be a cool thing to do with a local hobby shop? Good clean fun, drop some surprise money on them, build some camaraderie--all of that?
Hmmmmm!

Art

#37 Longbox55

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:35 PM

Art, that would be Slot & Wing Hobbies, a long time hobby shop in the Champaign County area. They've had a long standing relationship with Hobbico, and were instrumental in the founding of Great Planes (they sold the founder his first RC unit). I'm somewhat of a regular in there, they give exellent service.

#38 Chuck Most

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:57 PM

Art- the paying by check/driver's licence thing reminds me of a story from my retail days. No real reason, just a funny story.

At my last employer, it was required to have the person's driver's licence number on the check- the check could not be entered into the system and verified without a valid driver's licence number. Some people have the licence number on the check, some do not, and in that case, it was the cashier's job to ask the customer to see their driver's licence, then write it down on the check. When I got a check and did not see the licence number printed on it, I got into the habit of asking "May I see your driver's licence, please?"

One day I was working at the register, and another employee asked if I could ring up the purchase of the customer he had been waiting on. Two men approached, I noticed the man carrying the merchandise, but not his companion. I rang up the order and gave him his total. The man pulled out his checkbook, filled out the check and handed it to me. Now, right about this time it sank in... the man who'd been holding the merchandise had on a white shirt, black pants and suspenders, and a 'chin strap' beard. His companion, who I hadn't really noticed until he'd come closer to the counter, had the same type of beard AND the same clothes, plus a wide-brimmed hat. And before I really took note of this, I asked "May I see your driver...aaaaaaaaaaaaah... never mind". I rang up the sale as cash and thanked the duo for their purchase.

Across the top of the check, instead of the customer's driver's licence number, I simply wrote "Amish".

Edited by Chuck Most, 17 March 2012 - 03:59 PM.


#39 Longbox55

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:26 PM

But what if they had been Mennonites? :D

#40 Chuck Most

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:39 PM

But what if they had been Mennonites? :D


I decided to let the fine folks at Telecheck wrestle with that issue. :lol: