What do YOU do whe you get bad service?

When you’re at a store, what do you do when you feel taken advantage of or treated badly?

Here’s my sample situation:

There’s a oil-change place near you. They have signs all over it saying “Free Car Wash with Oil Change.” When they send you a coupon for $5 off you decide to go.

After getting your oil changed and presenting your coupon, you ask for your free car wash. They say that since you used the coupon, you don’t get the free car wash. You mentioned that no where does it say that the free car wash is dependant on paying full price. They say, too bad, that’s our policy.

Now you are mad.

Stop scenario.

Play along with me here. Assume this happened and you are pissed off and feel cheated.

Would you:

a. Say nothing and just not go back there

b. Fuss at the manager and storm off while loudly proclaiming you won’t be back

c. Call the company’s headquarters and demand your free car wash

d. Something completely different

I choose d.

I’d probably tell the guy that in all honesty, I only came because of the free car wash. If the coupon had an expiry date I’d ask if maybe they could give me the coupon back to use at a later date, I’d pay the $5 and get my free wash.

Or, if I was really intent on saving $5 and getting my free wash, I’d ask to speak with a manager. I’d say that I’m sure he’s heard this before, but would explain that the only reason I came was to get the free wash and I was really disappointed when I found out that they wouldn’t accommodate me because of the coupon. I would state clearly that if I had known before I was charged for service that a coupon would make me ineligible for the free wash I would never have completed the transaction, but since I’d already been charged I think it would be misleading at best to not give me a free wash.

Just my $0.02 but fussing and storming off will only make the management think ‘Good riddance’ and saying nothing will likely only make you angrier. However, even if I managed to cut a deal with the manager I’d still be likely to call the corporate headquarters and explain what happened and how it was handled. You can usually get some freebies out of it even if you tell them your complaint was satisfactorally resolved, and corporate h.q. don’t often hear enough from customers to make changes that will impact you locally.

I’d let them know I would not be a repeat customer and file a written complaint with the Better Business Bureau. I have filed complaints with the BBB whenever I think a company or business is using deceptive business practices or is not honoring its advertising, such as it seems in your case.

In general, if I get bad service, I just don’t go back. If it is a situation where tipping would normally be an issue, I don’t. Unless it went beyond “bad service” and someone was actually rude or abusive…in which case I guess I would write a letter to the manager. (This has never happened to me, so I don’t know for sure, but that seems like the best way to handle it.)

However, I am generally a wimp, so I choose to “vote with my feet.” Which isn’t very fair to the establishment if the person I was dealing with was the problem…and NOT the actual business.

I was very impressed with my friend one time when we were having dinner and she asked if she could have extra veggies instead of a potato. Friend indicated that she would be happy to pay extra for the substitution. The waitress said no, and not in a nice or apologetic way. My friend waited until another waiter came by and asked that the new waiter have the manager come to our table please. The manager came, my friend very politely explained that she had requested extra veggies instead of a potato, and was told very curtly “NO.” She said that if that was indeed the policy, no problem. However she had been to this restaurant before and had never had a problem doing this substitution before.

The manager was very apologetic, and said that this substitution would be no problem. All of this was done politely, and without fuss. I was, and AM impressed. Everyone got what they wanted, the restaurant didn’t lose her future business, and the employee probably got a richly deserved talking to.

I just wish I had that kind of chutzpa. I don’t.

So in general, XJETGIRLX, you would say you try to negotiate with the manager if you are unsatisfied?

Is this your real life general pattern, and do you find it often works?

I don’t really have a consistent way that I deal with this sort of thing. Sometimes I go through periods where I avoid talking to people as much as possible, so in that case I’d just leave. If I haven’t already received a service that I have to pay for, I’ll leave without paying. (IE, I’ve been to restaurants where they took my order and the food or drinks never came.) No tip, if applicable.

Other times I’ll speak to the employee or the manager. If I remember to stay calm, this generally works out well, and I feel much better than just leaving. I once stepped in at a McDonald’s where they were trying to overcharge a little girl for a glass of water. They admitted to overcharging her, but weren’t going to refund the money! Crazy, no?

Oh, I forgot what I was going to say. In your coupon scenario, most coupons say something like “Not applicable with any other deal.” Before getting upset at that, I’d be sure to check the coupon and the free car wash signs for wording like that to make sure I’m not the one in the wrong.

Being a former store manager myself, yes, this is my preferred method of operation and I find it generally works. The most important thing is to impart to the management that you value the service offered, but feel you were mislead because of the advertising, or because the situation was not explained to you correctly.

Management usually has the ability to give credits, make deals, etc. and if you’re pleasant about it and explain exactly how you’d like the situation to resolve itself things will usually work out.

Any manager who has pride in his business will be willing to throw in a freebie for the sake of a happy customer, as long as the customer is not being rude or demeaning.

I’ll admit that I tend to get a little bit evil. I make nasty comments, rude implications, and just bahave in an all-around ugly manner. Like recently, I was treated VERY badly by a saleswoman at a car dealership. I had bought my car a year before at this dealership, but from a different salesperson, and apparently, the woman I spoke to the other day didn’t feel I was worth her time. What did I do? I probably spoke a bit too loud in the showroom when I was expressing my displeasure at the service I had received, I didn’t back down, I took on a VERY aggressive posture, and today, I called and complained to her boss.

As an addendum, I would also like to note that managers aren’t always aware of how their staff is treating customers when they’re not around.

I appreciated customers who were able to alert me to poor service behaviors on the part of my sales staff, but the second a customer started telling me how to discipline said employee they could consider themselves out of my favor.

It’s great to call the management and let them know that you’re not happy with the service that so-and-so provided, but don’t tell them how to do their job by demanding that the employee is fired. Once you give me the impression that you are demeaning my abilities as a manager I consider that bullying and all negotiations will be off.


I’m a wuss.

Funny, I had a similar experience at a McDonald’s (what is it with them?)
I took my three kids there for ice cream. I ordered cones for all of them, but asked that one be put in a cup, not a cone, as it was for my 2-year-old. Well, I got two cones and a cup, but when I looked at the receipt, they had rung up the cup as a “sundae, no toppings”. So I asked the cashier about it, and she said it was the only way to put it in a cup instead of a cone! I asked to speak to the manager. The manager agreed that I shouldn’t have been charged for a sundae, just for a cone, and said that since I was charged for a sundae, did I want to add a topping? Well, I explained that I just wanted plain ice cream, no toppings, it’s for a two year old, for heaven’s sake! So, he said, “OK, it’s up to you” and started to walk away. I had to say “Umm, could I just be refunded the difference in price?” He looked at me like I had spoken to him in Swahili, but after a time, he opened a register and refunded me the difference!

I’m always polite, though, and once that got me a refund that I shouldn’t necessarily have gotten (and may have taught my 9-year-old a lesson). She had bought a tavern pipe at a gift shop in Williamsburg, VA. Later, she opened it, and the stem was broken. We took it back to the shop, and the woman told me they couldn’t take it back, because they didn’t think it was broken when we bought it, it probably broke when she was taking it out of the box or something. I said I understood, but politely explained that if I had realized it was so fragile, I probably would have had her get something else instead. I thanked them for their time, and was headed out of the store, when the manager called me back. “We don’t usually do this”, she said, “but you were so polite, I just think we should take it back and refund your money”. Well, there you go! More flies with honey and all that!

Assuming the coupon and car wash sign don’t mention anything against combining the offers, I’d speak with the manager. Politely, kindly, firmly. Here’s my problem, here’s how you can make me happy and keep me as a customer, are you willing to do that? Smile, say please and thank you, etc.

I generally avoid talking to the counter people with complaints, unless they have management status they usually can’t do much but mouth the words the manager told them to. (which he will go back on in a hot second)

I work retail, can anyone tell?

For a five dollar indignity, I’m usually too lazy to put up a fight (on my own behalf–I’m much more likely to stick up for a loved one). Case in point:

I went to Staples to buy an office chair. After diligently planting my butt in every display model, I found a clear winner. Naturally, when the guy went in back to get one in a box, they were all out of stock.

But, he offers, you can buy the floor model.

Hmm . . .OK, says I.

“Of course, it won’t be list price. It’ll just be five dollars more.”

“Five dollars . . . more? For the floor model?”

“Yeah, there’s a five dollar assembly fee.”

So I put forth the opinion that the chair was already assembled for display purposes, and not assembled on my behalf, and furthermore I would actually prefer to buy an unassembled one if they had one, which they didn’t. He maintained that, be that as it may, if you buy an assembled chair, you pay the assembly fee.

If the fee had been more, I might have politely tried to reason with a manager. Alas, I just wanted to go home and sit in my chair.

At a Wiz once, they insisted they could not sell me a CD cause there was no price on it. I insisted on seeing the manager. The Manager said she was sorry, but there was no price on the CD. I insisted on buying it, and then said in a very soft voice “Boy, am I gonna have fun on the Internet tonight.” The manager literally jumped, and gave me the rare, 2CD set for $17!

I was once accused on leaving my shopping cart in the vestible of the Barnes & Nobel on 18th Street and Broadway. Three times they told me to move my cart. I told them "It’s not mine, " left, wrote a letter of complaint to the store, and never returned. Just cause I dress funny, that does not make me a shopping cart lady.

I would be VERY careful about complaining to or about a waiter or waitress until AFTER I had gotten and eaten all my food (unless there was an egregious error, like getting the wrong meal or something). I worked in food service for several years before my career started; if you’ve ever seen Fight Club, you know what can happen to your food when you’re not looking. Withhold tip, make it clear why, but do it after the food is safely in your stomach. Seriously.

Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, sometimes the squeaky wheel just gets greased.

Unless they were rude about telling you it wasn’t their policy to combine the free carwash with the coupon, or you know for a fact that the employee was wrong about the policy, I don’t see how the example in the OP constitutes “bad service.” It seems to me they have a right to make and follow any policies they see fit. Granted, they should have put a disclaimer on the coupon saying it wasn’t valid with any other offer, but that isn’t the employee’s fault. The employee might very well be in trouble with the boss if they had given you the free carwash, so what are they supposed to do?

That said, in cases of truly bad service, I’d usually either keep quiet and not return to the place, or complain politely. Fussing and demanding don’t usually accomplish anything (or at least I like to imagine they don’t).

Depends on my mood and the severity of the bad service. There are many places that I will simply never go back to due to their bad service. Often I write a polite letter to explain why they are loosing my business.

As a former Wal-Mart (God, I hate that place) I just want to add this. If you get shitty service there (and if you never do you must be the exception) go up to the Customer Service desk and let them know about it and say that you want to speak to a manager. It’ll take a bit to get one, but more often than not if you are calm and polite while explaining what the shitty service was like you’ll end up going home with a gift card for anywhere from 5 to 20 dollars (depending on the manager you get).

“Play along with me here. Assume this happened and you are pissed off and feel cheated.”

For $5? It would take alot more than that. $5 would be a silly thing for me to be PO’d about. So I would just skip the car wash cause if they are saving money like that they are probably recycling the water too & I don’t want it on my car :slight_smile: