Friday, June 1, 2012

Out of service

Nothing truly remarkable happened the other day. I ventured out into the real world and was disappointed in the service I received at one store in particular. I reflected on my younger days as a customer service representative at a health insurance company (and you thought nothing could be more glamorous than cleaning houses). There were actually standards for how phone calls were handled. It was frowned upon to slam a phone into the receiver AFTER the nuisance on the other end had ended the call. I can't figure out if the quality of service in some instances today is a reflection of lowered expectations, or just a general disinterest in whether anyone adheres to the standards that are set. Regardless, I realized that I didn't want to slide into a funk that could've potentially defined the rest of my day. I wanted to find some sort of way to look humorously at the situation. Here is what I calmly, and quietly came up with...

Dear staff at my local wireless store,

I cannot imagine the meeting of the minds I interrupted by walking into your store. Clearly it must’ve been something rather earth shattering as all the three of you standing in front of me, who were not on the phone, could do was give me your shell-shocked blank stares. I suppose it could have been my drop dead gorgeous appearance, but I doubt it. (However, I sincerely apologize and thank you if that was in fact the issue.) The snappy dressed man in your trio grunted something in my general direction that I assumed meant I should state my purpose, so I did. I commented on the cell phone case that broke within two weeks, just like the one it had replaced. After some quick glances, and mind reading amongst you, it was decided which of you customer service representatives would have the obvious misfortune to actually provide customer service, to a customer. (Your snappy threads and designer eyeglasses do not give you the glory to pretend your position has any fancier of a title than that. I can clean houses in my prom dress, but I am still a housecleaner. I do not suffer from the delusions of grandeur that you do.)

I reiterated the issue to the person who drew the short straw. I did not get all hostile or emotional about my dissatisfaction and the nuisance of it all, as I understand that it is just a cellphone case. However, I find it hard to believe that the seconds of training you must have had to do your job did not include a little ditty about expressing some level of concern over a customer’s misfortune with your company’s product…twice. Unless a blank stare is the new version of “I am sorry to hear that”? I handed over my receipt from the last time we exchanged a case (the guy who helped me that day should actually be the employee of the month, complete with plaque at your place), and soon regretted not finding you some cliff notes to go with it. I had looked over the receipt myself, but clearly not with the keen eye and attention to detail of a true professional. When you were satisfied with the knowledge you had gleaned from that strip of paper, you went to situate yourself at your control station behind the counter. Once safely in place, you asked if I would like to get another of the same case, get the money back, or pick something different out for my daughter. I realize now that the third time is the charm, but I chose to get the money back, after reiterating again that we had the case break twice within two weeks. Damn glad I wasn’t in Vegas, as I’d have bet that you’d have made some sort of vocalization that indicated you had at least comprehended the issue…nada. In fact, you did not even take the case out of the box to see, or ask, what the problem was in the event that anyone was actually tracking recurrent issues with this particular item.

Since there was no conversation taking place at my register, and I was afraid to offer any small talk since this gal looked like she was trying to solve a labyrinth, I listened to the store manager trying to coax a customer along on the phone. He was talking about how he couldn’t honor a $15 deal, but could give the person $50 off…was not authorized to match Walmart prices…obviously something had gone wrong so he could offer such and such, but boy was he going to hear about it over the weekend. I know there are folks out there who really feel that they have received decent service when someone’s job has allegedly been put on the line for them, but I personally don’t want the guilt associated with that. (Oh, and I also think it is a bunch of B.S.)

As I contemplated whether I should reach over to wipe her brow, as she feverishly worked on my reimbursement, her fingers stopped flying. As she began to rip the receipt out of the register, she said “This was credited back to the card it was originally purchased on” (which was not mine…which I am guessing she knew since she did not say “your” card). I looked at her and said “If I had known you were going to credit it back to my step-mother’s credit card, I would have just taken another case.” The response I got was “Yeah, well that is what we are supposed to do when it is a warranty situation, but I went ahead and did the refund.” I said nothing. What else was there to say? Better still, what could I have possibly managed to say in a tone that would not have come across as incredibly hostile?

Was she not the one who offered to give me money back after a thorough examination of the receipt? Was I not standing right there when she must have realized that cash back was not an option? Are you folks docked pay for going over a certain word allotment. There was no point in asking to speak to the manager, as he was standing right there already putting his job on the line, most likely doing something as helpful as what my agent defied the system to do.

This is not the worst crime against humanity that your store has committed, but the fact that the level of dissatisfaction I receive every time I walk into your store rarely changes is pathetic. I am sure my receipt for the credit holds some sort of hidden code that a trained eye can link to whichever of you hard workers I dealt with. This will come in handy when I hand the issue over to my friend who is a marketing manager with your wireless company. The last time I had an issue with your store she got right on the phone with your bosses with just a physical description to go by, as I had no receipt. Thank you, as this will be so much more convenient when trying to pinpoint some things.

Oh, and I hope you were all able to help the one other customer who walked through the door while I was there. She actually was a young pretty lady who still had to shout her problem from the door as the rest of your trio stood there, looking disgusted that their briefing on how to take over the zombie apocalypse had been interrupted...again.

Thanks for nothing,


  1. Andrea there is no longer a thing called customer service. Rude, useless and zombie like.When I worked retail we were on it if we were not our asses would be fired. That is why I now mostly shop on line unless there is something I need that day. The customer service you receive on line is scientifically better.

  2. I just got so much satisfaction in reading this. I feel better about all my negative experiences :) I am known to say to CS people 'If you can't do your job with a smile, then you need to get another job'. They just LOVE that!

  3. I have so been there!! I loved this!! Wonderfully put!

  4. Oh, it was your beauty, I'm sure of it.

  5. Great post! Been there! I am a CS representative at a clinic, and if we acted like that we wouldn't have a job!

    1. Yes, I can just imagine you giving a blank stare and having someone announce their purpose from the door! ;)

  6. You are so very nice to other people! I could never be so cordial. I certainly hope that your blog post allowed you to let all feelings of anger go so that you could make some cookies. Because nothing solves a problem like a good cookie...

  7. Andrea, as frustrating as it must have been, I am giggling. (Sorry) This could have been at any wireless store in my town too. There must be a new standard international training program. Step 1 - baffle them with blank stares Step 2 - Act like this is the first time you have EVER heard this problem Step 3 - Pretend you are not authorized to fix it properly ARRGH