Monday, July 16, 2012

Is Customer Service Dead?

I'm going to deviate from the book and publishing world for a moment, because I am hopping mad and need to vent.  What the hell has happened to common courtesy in the business world?  Is customer service as a concept dead?  I have just come off of SEVERAL conversations with SEVERAL people regarding a customer service issue.  And the liberties that some companies take with you are appalling.  I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that my ignorance of the deviant inner workings of one company has allowed them to dip into my personal checking account without so much as a phone call or even an email.

I learned, upon my LOUD complaint, that somewhere, buried in the teeny weeny type of a "user agreement" I allegedly agreed to allow just anyone to stroll through my checking account and take what looks good, like a financial buffet line during senior-help-yourself hour.  I mean, what the hell?

Never mind that the economy of today, such as it is and we all know, causes me to count and then pinch every penny.  Never mind that this particular institution and I have have go-'rounds in the past.  And also never mind that a previous standard was set for phone calls and or/emails contacting me BEFORE the launched attack on my purse strings.

And it was so sneakily done, too.  Not one bulk hit, which would have stood out like a screaming siren to me in a cursory glance at my checking account.  No, this was done is a couple little hits.  These were not as visible, and after initial head-scratching, the vile truth was revealed.

I called, as I mentioned, and was treated to a well-honed game of "Not my department" segueing to a rousing round of  "Only a supervisor can help you" to perhaps my all-time favorite cat-and-mouse tap dance:  "Oh, that supervisor goes home at 5pm."  And as you may have already surmised, my casual check on my account balance happened after 6pm.  Cue the music reaching a crescendo as my blood boils.  This may have all been okay, say four years or so ago, when I was riding the wave of successful real-estate selling.  But now, let's just say it is fairly egregious.  And adding insult to injury is the absolute nonchalance of each person I was forced to talk to.  It's like the worse this country gets, the worse we are treated.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  Am I crazy?

I have no real point to this post.  I just feel evil.  Am I alone, or has Customer Service taken a powder, left the building, flown the coop?  Do you have a similar story?  PLEASE let me know I am not alone here.


  1. I can see your point and I would be absolutely steaming if someone did this to me. I hate the runaround I get when I have to call any customer service centre these days. Something that should take a few minutes takes almost an hour of phone hopping and bad English. I think that customer service especially here in Australia has really declined. The customer is never right, and the shop staff will tell you so.
    I hope you get your money back, there is nothing so bad as thinking you have a certain amount to budget with only to check in to find that something isn't quite right.
    You have every right to be mad as hell and I would be contacting someone in regards to their treatment, and be asking for a copy of their agreement so you can check the details for yourself.

  2. Funny customer service-related story to help cheer you up: While going through a drive-thru one time with another couple and their three kids, my husband had just finished going through our long list of food we wanted, to which we were met with a long pause. Eventually, the drive-thru worker spoke again. This is what she said, "I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention. Can you repeat that?" LOL!!! My jaw dropped. I think I would have been more mad had I not been so shocked and wanting to laugh hysterically.

  3. Clue - stop getting mad. Put it on Facebook and PUT THE NAME OF THE COMPANY there as well. Or tweet it if that's what you do. If you keep behaving the same, you'll get the same behavior back. No, they can't sue you for expressing your own private opinion on your own website or whatever. Believe me, I'm in Australia, the land of 'what's customer service?" Worked for me.

    I just get so irritable with this stuff I have opted out of every option possible! A pity about the small print. Get on to them about it and exclude yourself or drop yourself altogether off their radar.

  4. Write it up as a funny story and send it to their head of customer service. Then ask if they'd like it sent to your local newspaper and beyond. My worst experience was my late brother's bank, writing to him as deceased, care of me, over five years after he died, to ask if he wanted to buy any shares. Truly, a class act.

  5. Perfect timing to read this post! My husband just finished sending off an email to a well-known hotel chain after the horrendous night we recently spent at one of their locations. When maintenance came to the room, he couldn't fix the broken curtain that allowed light to shine into the room all night, even after several attempts with a paper clip. Are you kidding me? And he couldn't fix the dripping toilet. But he kindly offered the comment that once we got to sleep and started snoring, we wouldn't be bothered by either problem.

    And they couldn't give us a refund because we paid through the online site. Of course, it was after midnight and the hotel was full. I almost went out to sleep in my car.

    1. In my limited experience with these consumer issues, always aim high when you write in and they will cascade the issue down with a mandate to resolve it asap. Or buy one share and attend an AGM if it's held near you.

  6. All your comments were so fun! Thank you for the great ideas. You know I always take someone who has wronged me and have them violently brutalized and hideously killed in a story. I DO write horror, after all. *cue evil giggling*