Customers who fly off the handle as a first reaction

This is a low-vitriol rant, so please bear with me. I am more sad/disappointed than I am mad.

I have been dealing with customers for almost 10 years now. I am damn good at it. I have never, ever, been anything but courteous to customers that sometimes clearly did not deserve it. Now that I am my own boss my philosophy is: if you are already a customer I will do my best to serve you, but if your demands are unreasonable this will also be the last time you will buy from me. I am not afraid on losing a little money on a transaction if that means being fair to a customer. I believe in long-term business relationships, and since I am in a small niche, that is also the best business approach.

Contrast these two cases:

Customer One calls our 1-800 no. on the 10th. Her credit card appeared to have been charged twice by us, “would we please look into it and solve it”? As a matter of policy all concerns regarding payment are replied in writing, that way both parties will be clear on what was said and when. After revising her order she receives an almost immediate reply (by now it’s almost a canned one, adapted to the specific question and person) that explains that while we received an authorization at checkout the actual charge is made at shipping. In some cases (mostly debit cards) it would appear as if two charges were made, it merely shows both transactions. I will be cleared when her bank processes our payment.

We call her today to confirm that everything was OK. She says it is, the extra “charge” was cleared and she has received her parcel. She’ll buy in our shop again soon.
Customer two calls after hours and leaves a nasty message accusing us of being crooks who charged her card twice and will we call her right away. Never mind is two hours past closing time. I call her and get an earful of anger and a nasty email. She’s agitated and convinced that we’ve done something untowardly.

After about 30 minutes on the phone she’s still angry, it doesn’t help that she wants me to talk to someone at her bank and her bank keeps dropping the call after countless instances of “press 135,980,098 to talk to the donut lady”. The call finally goes through and the bank rep tells her that the scenario I’ve described is entirely possible, she couldn’t say because she can’t see whether a charge is an authorization or an actual charge. She should check again tomorrow and if what I say is true the “charge” will be dropped.

Another 10 mins. on the phone reassuring her that if what she’s accusing us comes true I will not only refund the really-inexistent-charge, but will also refund her actual payment and ship her order free. She’s not happy, I doubt I’ll ever hear an apology and that she’ll ever buy from us. I am not sure I want her back either.
Why do some people feel that the only legitimate reaction to anything is to go in guns a’blazing and shoot first and ask questions later? Isn’t it just as easier - and less exhausting - to ask politely before you make your mind?

Because years and years of cowardly retail management has taught them that they’ll get “the right” treatment and even bonus perks if they act like shrieking chimps.

I learned in customer service that some people feel they won’t be taken seriously or see the resolution they want unless they cause a scene.

Just be glad you aren’t married to them.

We get a few of these, of course; I’m in one of Seattle’s richest, whitest neighborhoods, so every other customer thinks that if they stand their ground and demand satisfaction, the world will turn to their specifications. Like they’re negotiating a multi-billion-dollar deal, when in fact they’re simply discussing a 75-cent late fee. I fire on average one customer a month, with my boss’s full approval.

You should see the look on some of these people’s faces, when a lowly vidstore clerk makes a decision about their life that they cannot negotiate or control. Priceless.

I usually save the flip-out for the third bad encounter on an issue. I’m currently battling with a lawn mower repair man. I finally gave up. He ignores me but will respond to my husband. Great, I say. One less thing on my plate.

I had a customer who complained to her bank and claimed we made an unauthorized charge becore she called us. When I looked her up, I saw that she had paid for a class, and, oh yes, NOW she remembered. Very sorry, blah blah blah. But the bank had credited her card back, and put a stop on payments from us. Crediting her is one thing, but they took the money back from us to do it, and I didn’t even know they could do that.

So she had her money back, and was signed up for her class, and we had our charge voided. And we couldn’t put through another because the bank did some tricky shit and wouldn’t acept the charge. Despite repeated calls to her to remove the complaint, she never did, and repeated attempts to run the charge again failed.

So I cancelled her class registration, and she showed up and wasn’t admitted, and CHRIST was she pissed. We tried to run the card again in her presence and it failed again, and she didn’t have another card or any other way of paying, but she wanted us to let her in on a promise to straighten it out and pay later. Sure.

Fuck her. I sent her home. Since I knew the whole story, and I’m the guy who spent a fair amount of time trying to straighten it all out ahead of time, I felt GOOD. :slight_smile:

I used to work with a guy who treated people like that when ordering something by phone if something didn’t go perfectly smoothly. I asked him why he resorted to shrieking chimpdom and he answered, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” To which I responded, “The squeakiest wheels get the scrap heap.”

I would pay money to see a video collection of those instances.

Yeah, every once in a while I ask one of these customers–just before I point out to them that we have *two *doors for them to choose from and handing them a map to Blockbuster–“Why do you think that being rude and abusive is a *better *way to solve this problem?”

heh I hate customers like that, one time some lady in line at the Safeway I work summers at was bitching and moaning about line length while our manager nicely explained that we had every available employee on register, and people had called in sick that day.

Eventually at one point she said “You know I don’t have to shop here! I’m doing you a favor by patronizing your business!”
Manager’s Reply “Oh of course, there’s a Giant Foods down the street you know!”

She just stood there looking dumbfounded and stormed out of the store, we broke in to applause.

Yeah, I *love *it when someone threatens to take their business elsewhere. Because, the thing is, the customers who spend a buttload of money, the ones I’d really actually put forth some effort into keeping, *never *act that way; it’s only the ones who rent one movie every 6 months who think “I’ll take my business elsewhere” is a bluff I’d never dare call. My usual response is “Awesome,” while I hand them a map to Blockbuster, and then go, “Next!”

Like a fish in the bottom of a boat; eyes and mouth all agog. I got to call the police on a woman who drove a hundred thousand dollar car and came in wearing cashmere and pearls, because she was so flummoxed when I agreed that she’d be happier elsewhere that she refused to leave. It was awesome; I’m sure it was the first time she’d ever had the police called on her.

Obligatory link:

(I swear, I don’t care how many times I’ve read it…Acts of Gord just cracks my shit up. “I’ll take my business elsewhere!” “Would you mind? I would appreciate that.”)

I had a customer that all employees hated say she would not shop here anymore. I thought of telling the coworkers immediately of our fortuitous change in circumstance. Less than an hour she was back shopping. Damn!

It surprises me that her bank would do a charge back on you without any inquiry at all. Doesn’t that open them and merchants up to all kinds of shenanigans by customers. Sometimes on small charges I’ve had a bank credit me the amount without bothering with any charge back. At my store if a customer does a charge back the CC company sends us a letter requesting details. We have an opportunity to explain our side of the situation before a charge back is made.

Other than that…good for you.

I am always sorry when things haven’t worked out smoothly for the customer but I have little compassion for those who have done it to themselves in some way but for some reason expect us to eat the cost and think a hissy fit will help them get their way.

I had to read this thru twice before I realized it said, “Customer two calls after hours,” not “Customer calls after two hours.” I honestly thought Customer One was schizophrenic or in early stage Alzheimer’s.
:smack: :smack: :smack:

That is because you are probably not in a “card not present” environment. Online and phone orders are easily backed out by banks. It’s the biggest problem merchants have today.
If nobody here is an online retailer I will let you in a little secret: The biggest fraud problem online retailers have is not fraudsters with funny accents and weird spelling from African countries, it’s people who find that by doing a chargeback they get free goodies. I’ve had people do chargebacks we even when have signature confirmation delivery. The bank almost always back them.

I’ve never been swindled by anyone from anywhere but the US. This is not to mean that Americans are particularly dishonest, but that most of my customers are from the US, and we are less stringent with US customers.

BTW, when an online retailer gets a chargeback, not only does he lose his money, he also gets hit with a fine and gets a black mark. Too many chargebacks and your credit card processor will drop you like hot potato.

There are some companies that really don’t seem to give you any other choice.
I am for the most part, as quiet and easy going guy when I have a complaint. But if it goes to a third phone call, I will ask for a manager so that I may rip their head off.
Case in point. My old fridge stopped getting cold. I call for service on Saturday evening. I am given a appointment for Tuesday. We salvage what we can into ice chests. I have to leave town on Monday for a business trip.
Tuesday AM my wife get a call, the repair guy will be there about 2. fine
At 2:30 my wife gets a call, he will be there about 4. Fine.
At 5 O’Clock my wife gets a call he is on the way. Fine
At 6 PM my wife gets a call he is a few blocks away.
He never shows.
I am on the phone to the national scheduling service at 7:01AM the next morning. I am told that we will be added to the end of today’s appointments. Excuse me the end of today’s appointments? What happens if he doesn’t finish his schedule like yesterday?
I tell the lady this is not acceptable, as the repairman had not finished yesterdays work, and following her idea, he might never reach my house.
We proceed to go back and forth for at least 20 minutes. She will not schedule for a definite time that day. (I have been nice and low key this entire time, but I was getting pissed)
I finally tell her I want to speak to her supervisor. Why she asks? Because my dear, I intend to tear your supervisor a new asshole. And just between us, I don’t think you get paid enough money to listen to me go off. So may I talk to them? She refused!
So after about 20 minutes more of talking to this lady,(some of it getting rather heated). I explain that if she had brought her car into my dealership and I tried to do to her what she was trying to do to me, she would have my boss by the short and curlys. She finally agrees to call the repair guy. He agrees to go out first thing, I give him directions. Funny he has no problems finding the house (we live on a big street that is straight as a string. It does change towns once or twice, so the numbers change.) This was his issue the night before.

There was no reason in hell that phone call should have taken more than 5 minutes tops. Instead it became a marathon of just who had the stronger will. Too bad the phone lady was up against the hardest headed guy in California.

Plenty of good replies. I notice more than ever that a certain small percentage of customers will make a fuss when none is called for simply to get some sort of discount. They’re not really that upset , they just act that way. It really pisses me off and I make it a point to not give them what they want.

I can tolerate letting someone vent a little if something has gone wrong as long as they are reasonable and don’t go for profanity or personal insults about my staff. One customer mumbled “fucking idiot” about one staff member when he was too close to another staff member and got called to the carpet. His response
“Hey, I spend a lot of money in here”
“That has nothing to do with it. What you did was unacceptable and you should know it”

He left in a huff and wasn’t missed.

My two favs in this thread.

When a customer threatens “I’ll take my business elsewhere” you respond with

“Would you really? We’d appreciate it. Thanks bye bye”
or the more direct

Fortunately good customers are the majority and the jerks are the minority. I agree with the poster that said cowardly management and perhaps more, the bad policies of cooperate offices that don’t deal with the public have trained some customers to try and push people around in retail. We need to train our customers that politeness gets them better service and being rude and belligerent gets them
a quick invitation to get out.

Yeah, I’m trying to train our customers, but it’s a hard row. The previous manager was a doormat, so I’ve got my work cut out.

Unfortunately, I’ve begun to expect it from a type: almost always female, almost always dressed to exhibit her wealth, almost always with that certain “let them eat cake” expression on her face. I get the feeling that her daddy told her, just before her debut, that if she demanded what she wanted forcefully enough, she was sure to get it. Or, you get the feeling that they’ve taken an assertiveness training seminar at work, and they think the phrase “That’s not acceptable” is some kind of magic spell that will make the movie that’s out of stock suddenly appear in front of her.

I have only fired one male customer, and he lied about renting a movie (he said he was out of th country; we keep signature slips on file) and refused to pay a late fee. When I showed him the signature slip, he became violently angry and I had to threaten to call the cops on him. Otherwise, the footstampers so far have all been rich women. I struggle to avoid developing a prejudice against the beige-Lexus-and-pearls set, but it *is *a struggle.

a fine?? Whatever for?

What are your options when a charge back is done? Don’t you use delivery conformation and tracking numbers? Don’t CC companies ask any questions before doing a charge back? It seems goofy not to. They’re leaving merchants wide open to fraud if they don’t.

Which, again, is the biggest problem merchants have. You almost always lose.

It’s not a fine per se (it’s not the gov), the card processor will charge US$25 to US$35 per chargeback, plus take out the amount charged back. Some cases you win, the vast majority you lose.

Some people buy something online and then conveniently forget they did when the CC statement arrives. They do a chargeback, the merchant gets the money held, and even if he gets the customer to back out of it he still has to pay the fee. And then you have the kids who use mom and dad’s cc and “forget” to tell them. I had a case like that. CVS matched. CVV matched, kid signed for the parcel and yet they insisted it was unauthorized. So the merchant gets screwed instead of the parents taking responsibility for letting their cards where their crook of a kid could find them.

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