How many times calling a company before you have a right to fly off the handle?

Partly inspired by this thread.

And mostly inspired by the company who screwed up our first order, did a second order and keeps charging us for the second order. I had to call them for the FIFTH time today about another bill and a nasty letter we got yesterday telling us to pay for the second order. IIn the past I faxed them cancelled check from December 2005 that shows we paid for the first order.

When I talked to them two weeks ago, I was on the phone for over an hour and was finally assured that the charges would be taken off. And we get another bill yesterday.

So when I called this morning, you bet I went off the handle. I told the lady what was happening. I refused to let her hang up and call me back while she went to get out account. When she told me to fax the check, I informed her I had done this and it had not done any good. I finally did fax it, and told her I wanted a letter of apology. I further told her that if we got another bill it would be turned over to our attorneys.

To me, “fly off the handle” implies emotion, anger, screaming, yelling, name-calling and so forth. Whether at some point you have a “right” to do this is questionable - and it will almost always make the situation worse.

But what you’re describing isn’t this. From what you say, you handled the situation properly (though I might question the attorney threat). Screw-ups as bad as what you describe here should be discussed quite frankly, and it’s certainly appropriate to insist that specific steps be taken to fix the problem.

I favor finishing such phone calls along these lines: “So we agree that the second bill should never have been sent, and that by the close of business today I will receive from you an e-mail noting this fact and apologizing for this mistake. When we end this phone conversation I will send you an e-mail summarizing what we have said - is there anyone else in your company who should receive a copy of my e-mail, or can I rely on you to set this right, as we have discussed?”

You don’t ever have the right to fly off the handle, if by that you mean be verbally abusive toward the person answering the phone.

There are times when you should get pissy. I’m thinking of somebody that called and expected something from me, because he wanted me to buy desk clocks, and I would then get what I want for the price offered in their ad. He was obnoxious and yelling that ain’t how this works bub. I yelled back some shit and told him the state would be notified of his business practices. He was baiting people. Never say never because it ain’t so forever.

Well, flying off the handle isn’t ever appropriate (or helpful, even…that sure doesn’t make the person on the other end of the phone want to fix your problem!) but it doesn’t sound to me like you did fly off the handle. The attorney thing could backfire, but everything else sounds fine. I know at one company I worked at anytime a customer even mentioned the words lawyer/attorney/lawsuit we immediately had to end the conversation and transfer them to the legal department. We were no longer allowed to do ANYTHING to address the situation. However if they don’t have any standing policy that stops them from helping you sometimes threatening to escalate outside of the company can really help.