Randomly rotten customer service stories

I don’t mean “we went to Applebee’s and it tookan hour and a half for our food to arrive”–I mean “we went to Applebee’s and when we requested water, our waitress screamed obscenities in Tagolog and threatened to urinate on our shoes” kind of stories.

Mine? I ordered a leather leash from a certain company who’s name happens to share an acronym with a major religion founded in Utah. They don’t have an online ordering system, you have to order over the phone, by fax, or snailmail. I called and described the leash I wanted, standard black leather lead, no braiding, with an eyelet to run a keyring through so I don’t have to carry my house key in a pocket while I’m jogging. She says “no problem” and that it’ll be approximately three or four weeks before the leash is made, I should expect to recieve in approximately five to six weeks. I forgot to get a quote, so I sent an email requesting a total with shipping.

She quotes me over half-again what I expected, since evidently they charge separately for each component of the leash, and the price on the website is just the price for the leather strip. I thought this was strange, so I did some looking around, and found a source locally for someone to make me a lead by hand, at half the cost. Within a couple days I cancelled the order (remember, she said it would be three weeks before the lead was actually made). I sent two emails, and didn’t receive a response, so I called the next day and was told my order was off the books.

…Two weeks later, I recieve a leash in the mail (no invoice included), and my credit card was billed. The leash was as ordered, except that it was braided, which I specifically had stated I did not want. I emailed a polite inquiry to find out what had happened, in which I stated that I had thought the order was cancelled, and that the leash I recieved didn’t quite match the order, anyway. When I called to find out what happened, I was told I’d need to call back the next day, as they were already closed. Three hours later (approximately ten o’clock at night) I recieved an email from the woman I’d spoken to on the phone, saying that she has a written record of our phone conversation saying that she’d told me the leash was already made when I called and that the order could not be cancelled. She goes on to say that the leash I received was exactly what I ordered and that she’d photographed it to prove it before sending it out. Also, that the leash I ordered was stupid, that no one else would ever want it, and that she shouldn’t have accepted my order in the first place, because it “hurt her to make it”.

What the hell? :confused:

If she made the order against “her better judgement” shouldn’t that entitle you to a refund?

She should have known better!

This didn’t bother me so much as some of the others involved, but hey…

I went to lunch with my college girlfriend and her parents(back in college when we were dating) at some little cafe thingy. Her dad is a PhD Biochemist, mainly working with detergents. We had a pair of two-for-one coupons for entrees, so we’d be able to get four for the price of two. Seemed like and okay place.

Our orders arrive and we start to eat. My girlfriend pokes around her salad and finds an uninvited guest-a slug. I can’t remember if he was alive or not. Anyway, we tell the waitress who’s horrified and runs off to the manager. Then she comes back an apologizes, but tells us because it’s organic lettuce, they can’t wash it twice. Well, myself being a chem major at that point, her dad and eye both have our eyebrows go up. But, realizing that pressing the issue wasn’t going to get anywhere, we kept our mouths shut.

Then the manager comes over with the check. He apologizes again and drops it off. Oh look, he took her salad off. How nice. Except that didn’t change the bill one lick. Rember those two-for-one coupons? Well, now we are just using one, so we still have to pay for two meals. Lovely. Well, that was the last time we went to that place.

Weird! How long ago did this happen? I say dispute the credit card charges.

I called my bank and they said just to send them a letter with a detailed account, and they’d reverse the charges, so it’s in progress.
Incidentally, the charming customer service representative told me in her response that they would under no circumstances accept a return without a valid RMS (?) which she would absolutely not give me, and that their mail room would simply refuse the shipment if I attempted to send it back. I sent it anyway, so that at least I could say I attempted to give them back their merchandise. As yet, I haven’t had a word from the company at all, after that one response.

Did you send it via a method that’ll give you some kind of confirmation to wave in their faces later? (UPS, FedEx, registered mail, priority mail, something like that) Because I can just see them claiming that they WOULD refund your money if ONLY you sent the lead back, which you haven’t, you evil person you.

I sent it with a delivery confirmation–I hope that’s enough. I’ve never had to deal with this kind of thing before, so it didn’t occur to me to keep a written record of any of the prior communications. I did, however, take a couple photos of the leash before I sent it back so I could prove that I had it in the first place.

Is there anyone else at the company you could speak to, or is this a small operation where the customer service rep is the owner’s relative?

I got that impression, mostly because the person I dealt with was the same person who answered the phone and emails, and because the man I spoke to who told me they were already closed must have passed my message along, because she wrote me back late at night–must have been around midnight in her time zone.

Ooh, I have one!

Several years ago we were to have a very small birthday party for yours truly, just a friends-and-family type thing. My mother asked me to order my cake, so I called a local bakery and told them I wanted a small cake that would feed about 8 people, gave them the name to put on it, and set up the pick-up time.

The day of the party arrived, and my sister went to go pick up the cake. We’d specified 3pm, and she went in at 2:55. Well, when she walked in the only employee in the place was sitting behind the counter reading a book, and when my sister asked for the cake she jumped up and started to decorate it. My sister left the place at 3:10 with a very poorly-decorated cake. Seriously, my name was spelled wrong and it overlapped the edge of the cake (she had run out of room. It looked like one of those “Plan Ahead” signs). The icing ribbons were all broken up, you could see the cake through the icing, etc.

My mom was very unhappy with it but doesn’t like confrontation, so I said I’d be glad to call and tell them that the cake was below par. BIG MISTAKE.

First the woman tried to tell me that the cake was so sloppy because my sister showed up over an hour early. I called her on that, telling her that my sister didn’t leave cake shop until after the set pickup time and surely she wasn’t sitting in there for an hour? She said that the name went over the edge of the cake because I’d ordered such a small one that there was no room to write on it. I asked, “Why wasn’t I told that the cake would be too small for the message when I ordered it?” Ignoring that, she told me that the name was spelled incorrectly because whoever called it in had giving them the wrong spelling. I asked her which was more likely, that I would spell my own name wrong, or that the person taking the order wasn’t paying attention?

She tried to get me to bring it back, but I was incredibly irritated that she was arguing and lying to me, so I declined. She kept trying to talk me into it, and I finally had to hang up on her. She called me back and yelled, “FINE!! Give me your address and I’ll bring you another damn cake!” I held out the phone and looked at it as though it were her crazy face, then told her that there was no way I was going to tell her where I lived, that we’d keep the ugly cake and make lots of pictures of it to show everyone we knew, and that we had no plans to ever set foot in that bakery again. She hung up.

She then called me again (this was before we had caller ID) and again insisted that I let her replace the cake and pick up the butt-ugly one. I told her in no uncertain terms that she was not to call me at home, and hung up on her once more. She called me one more time, and I threatened to call the police.

I still have some great pictures of that cake somewhere, including one of me stabbing it with a butcher knife with a maniacal look on my face. Good times.

I once received a cake that proudly said “CONGARTALATIONS!”

The person apologized, and said that the bakery claimed that, when she called, she specifically asked for it to be misspelled that way, and wouldn’t refund or replace the cake.

Why on earth would anyone want a cake that said “CONGARTALATIONS!”? Were you graduating Kindergarten? Had you just bought a new pair of garters? :wink:

Cakes are cheap to make, and you’d think it would make more sense for a bakery to fix a problem than lose a customer.

I, on the other hand, went into a bakery on the day of somebody’s birthday with no forewarning whatsoever. They made me a lovely cake in the color scheme of my choice, with an edible picture (what are those called, anyway?) of my friend on the frosting. Additionally, I had mentioned that I wasn’t fully satisfied with the picture I provided because it wasn’t my friend alone, and they cleverly used the decorations to edit out the other person. All in the total of about an hour.

So neener, neener, neener.

I cannot imagine saying that with a straight face.


I went to K-Mart on Wednesday. I found a sexy little black shirt and a black strapless bra (finally!), which I wanted to try on. I went over to the dressing room area, and there was no one there. At this K-Mart, the dressing room attendant is supposed to give you a number before you go in, for the number of items you have. I know this, because I once made the mistake of just going right in, only to have the dressing room attendant harass me about not having a number afterward (along the lines of, “Where is your number? You can’t go in there without one, you know. How do we know you weren’t stealing?”). So I thought I’d better wait for the attendant. I waited for a few minutes, and nobody came. By the dressing rooms there’s a box that says, “Press for assistance.” I debated, then decided to press the button (I did not want to make the same mistake twice). A few seconds later, a woman walked up, shut off the pager, and turned around to walk away. At first I didn’t think she was going to say anything to me. Then I heard her mumble, “You can just go in.” I stood there with my mouth hanging open. Would it have been too much for her to at least tell me in a somewhat pleasant manner that I could go in without the damn number? How in the hell did she know I didn’t have a question or need some other sort of assistance? She didn’t, because she didn’t bother to ask. It’s probably petty of me, but I was pissed. I wanted to put the stuff back and leave, but I wanted that bra so badly. I suppose I could have lived without the shirt, but I really wanted to wear it tomorrow night. So, I tried them on and bought them anyway.

There are (at least) two ways to approach this sort of thing:

  1. “The customer is always right, because s/he’s entitled to satisfaction.”
  2. “I am always right, because nobody tells me how to run my store.”

The congartalations story is a clear example of method 2.

Oh, come on–53,000 members and all the ranting threads about customer service, and this is all we came up with?

It’s very possible that someone could order a cake with such a message. It might refer to some private joke.

And it would also make sense to have a laugh and not bother complaining. It’s not like the cake is inedible because of a spelling mistake. I’m sure you’re losing several days of life expectancy each time you make a fuss about trivial issues like this one.

Which just goes to show that no matter what the issue, no matter how stupid, insane, or evil, someone on the Straight Dope will defend it.

So what you are saying is, dispite having paid money, one should be happy with their defective product because defects are trivial? Weird.

A friend and I had lunch at a restaurant (er… Appleby’s actually…) when they were doing a “lunch ready in 15 minutes or it’s free!” promotion. The timer had ticked over and so we were shocked when the waitress told us that the item I had ordered (a hamburger) wasn’t eligible for the promotion.

I calmly pointed out that “dude, like half your menu is hamburgers”. Furthermore, I didn’t see any disclaimer, my friend had ordered a chicken sandwich, and the waitress herself was the one who started the timer.

We paid for the meal, but didn’t go back to Appleby’s for a looooooong time.

At a drycleaners, we can never enter our phone # because of some guys who used to have the same number. They won’t enter it, and they won’t let us drop of dry cleaning without a phone #. I offered to run home and have her call the # to verify that it was really OUR number, and they could safely delete the existing database entry. She refused. So we left, and she said “We don’t want your business anyway,” as if only shady customers would have, you know, a phone number. I turned back to ask her her name, because I wanted to call the manager. “You lunging at me now?” she asked. “You’re going to hit me?”