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?