Claire was told the wrong thing by an AT&T Wireless rep regarding international long distance, but when she called back to sort things out, she came up against the Nurse Ratched of the AT&T call center—a woman who refused to give in, or offer any help at all. In fact, when Claire finally admitted defeat and said she’d accept the credit that had been offered to her, the supervisor refused. Apparently Claire only had one chance to accept that and since she said no, it was off the table.
Jason writes in with an ethics question that’s been bothering him for the past seven years: should he have helped a cancer-stricken patient who lost her family in the 9/11 attacks qualify for COBRA coverage? Sure, it sounds like a no-brainer, but it gives us a chance to see the sort of conflicts that gnaw at customer service representatives. Do they follow the rules and keep their jobs, or do the right thing and help the customer? Consider his conundrum, inside…
Something bad has happened to Symantec’s once-good chat service, notes Neil J. Rubenking at PC Mag. In the past, he says, they were helpful and knowledgable; now they pass freeware apps off as their own and attempt to get you to pay $100 fees for their “expert” service when you’re trying to troubleshoot a problem with them. He writes, “My new experiences while evaluating Norton 360 version 3.0 opened my eyes to the magnitude of the problem. Did Symantec switch outsourced support companies? Has the chat support team gone rogue?”
Want a great example of the broken state of airline customer service in this country? Try a four-way conference call between yourself, Amex Travel, US Airways, and Delta. You’ll see firsthand how CSRs from the two airlines can play the “it’s not our responsibility” so well that even a devoted Amex Travel rep can’t get them to solve your problem.
The 30-gig Zunes may have temporarily revolted last week, but Brooke’s limited edition 80-gig Zune has been MIA for over three months now, apparently lost in that magical ever-transitioning Zune world from the commercials. (It just keeps falling through floors and walls and swimming pools.) Maybe someone at Microsoft can take a look at what Brooke’s had to go through so far, and get back to her with a real answer?
The Melissa & Doug toy company helped Tracey’s daughter pick up the pieces after she accidentally crashed her month-old block plane into the ground, breaking off the metal pin that held the wheels together. Tracey emailed Melissa & Doug to warn them that the broken pin could potentially cause a choking hazard. She quickly heard back from Chris, who told her that she could either receive a replacement toy or pick out a new one. Just in case something wasn’t in stock, he said, Tracey should pick out two toys…
Jim needed to replace the gold-tone filter on his $70 Hamilton Beach coffee maker, but the filter recommended by Hamilton Beach’s website clearly didn’t fit. When Jim called to complain, a customer service representative insisted that Jim’s coffee maker didn’t come with a gold-tone filter, and that if Jim thought otherwise, he was entirely out of luck and would need to buy a new machine.
USAA just pulled a huge mindf#@k on Travis and his wife, and now he wants to talk to someone high enough up the chain to find out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. His wife “went online yesterday to check on some transactions and discovered her IRA balance was $0. Six hours prior to that, her balance was $14,000.” When she tried to find out what had happened, the first CSR she spoke with told her she had no IRA account, and the second CSR told her to refresh her browser. Yeah, you know how these newfangled browswers are always wiping out retirement accounts.
Best Buy didn’t want to honor the sale price of the 2GB flash drive Matt ordered through their website, so when Matt arrived to pick-up his purchase, the store’s assistant manager called customer service and, pretending to be Matt, asked to cancel the order. Let’s read Matt’s story and see how it violates Massachusetts law, inside…
If you’ve ever wanted to see the rants from angry Consumerist tipsters brought to life by the woman who played Patrick Swayze in “Ghost,” here ya go—although Sherri Shephard is actually a bit funnier, describing how the Time Warner CSR makes her go to an evil place. Seen here is Shephard letting out the evil because of the CSR who tells her, “Well my supervisor is going to say the same thing.” Video clip below.
Two Apple customer service representatives told reader Mark to blame his MacBook’s four hard drive crashes on GarageBand, professional-grade software that his puny consumer-grade laptop ‘can’t handle.’ Every MacBook comes with GarageBand pre-loaded as part of Apple’s iLife suite.
You don’t have to believe everything customers say to you when you’re a customer service rep. You don’t even have to actually care. But if you can’t stop yourself from slipping in phrases like “not my problem” when you’re helping out a customer, maybe you need to try a different career. Like, say, parole officer.
Nicholas had a business trip go bad quickly when USAir canceled a flight and wouldn’t make things right again. His tickets were through Orbitz, and although he had a terrible experience with Orbitz’s first line of CSRs, he eventually managed to find a supervisor who made sure USAir helped solve the problem—even going so far as to let Nicholas secretly listen in on a call with a USAir agent.
This chat transcript from “Yet Another Girl”‘s blog is an example of how sometimes you can find exactly the answer you’re looking for on a customer service chat. Unfortunately, in this case, you’ll do all of the work yourself while the chat agent stares numbly at the screen, wondering how did I end up here? I don’t even know what this “apple” thing is!
Elizabeth went out and bought a Mac after Dell twice sent Windows XP replacement CDs to her old address. After each failed delivery attempt, Elizabeth called Dell, which repeatedly promised that they’d get it right next time. One CSR even claimed that he personally called DHL to change the shipping address. (He didn’t.)
Is this Greyhound CSR trying to start a revolution among its customers, or simply telling the wife of a passenger that Greyhound doesn’t care about lost luggage? She claims he told her to “‘get together with everyone else’ who lost luggage ‘and do something about it.'” Like what—start a support group? Meet him behind the bleachers for a fist fight? Open a detective agency in Tupelo?
Before asking customer service representatives to tackle thorny issues, win them over by first offering to praise them at the end of the call. According to Psychology Today, the offer establishes a reciprocal relationship that CSRs will try to honor, even if solving your problem takes, ugh, work.
Ron Burley, the man behind “Unscrewed: The Consumersï¿½ Guide to Getting What You Paid For,” has published two articles on how to effectively deal with customer service reps. On the Do Not Want side, you shouldn’t threaten legal action, because it will likely shut down any further communication as the company goes into automatic CYA mode. (You don’t want to tip your hand about any legal action anyway.) What you should say is “Thank you,” because being nice might help you stand out among the parade of complainers.