How To Mind Control Customer Service Reps


Reader Lona says that people in her family have called her a consumer advocate since she was sixteen, and now she is going to share with us 2,177 words on the customer service tactics and techniques she uses to get satisfaction. She writes, “in 99% of situations, it allows you to reach an agreeable solution to almost any problem. It is something I do for family and friends, and for myself.” Some of her methods have been mentioned in various ways on the site before but others are completely unique. And by the time you read her true success story at the end, you’ll swear she has Jedi mind-control over customer service reps. It boils down to, without raising your voice, asserting control over the conversation from the beginning and then never relinquishing that power.

Lona writes:

“Keep in mind, please, that these rules require that you keep a calm, even head, or at least the appearance and sound of one, and you must have the audacity not to ASK for anything. You will be rude, and you will seem to have entitlement issues. But you will get the job done.

Here are the basic guidelines. The longer and more often you end up doing this, you will find yourself using your own language and tricks. Eventually, you will be able to determine within a few seconds whether the person you have on the phone is the correct person to speak to.

If all of this fails and you happen to be female, try asking a male relative or friend to do it, following the same steps. It sounds wrong, but people respond to voices, and in today’s society, a male voice will sometimes go farther. I am female, however, and if you have a strong enough tone and voice, in most cases, you won’t need to resort to that.

1. Always maintain a calm, collected tone
Keep your voice even, keep your tone low, and do not lose your temper. If you find yourself getting upset, place the person on hold for a moment, take a slow, deep breath, and pick the phone back up. If they have hung up on you, mention it when you call back.

2 . Before you call, outline the situation for yourself, and decide how you want it solved
Write down several options you would be willing to accept, and keep the page in front of you when you call.

3. Always get the name of the person who answered the phone, even if you speak to them for only a moment
Write the name down, as well as any other person you connect to. Keep notes of who said what.

4. When you get a CSR on the phone, immediately ask to speak to a supervisor
When/if they insist that they can help you, keeping your tone low and even, state again that you need to speak to a supervisor. Not want, need. If they again insist, state in a clear and calm, low tone, that they WILL connect you to a supervisor, now. Do not yell, shout, or raise your voice or tone. “No. You are going to get a supervisor for me. Thank you. I’ll wait.” Say “thank you” immediately. Do not wait for them to answer your request first. If they again insist, hang up immediately. Call back. If you get the same person, make the request again, and if they again refuse, hang up, wait one hour for a shift change, and then call back. Do not give the initial person your name. They do not need it.

5. Once you are connected with a supervisor, introduce yourself, and then inform the person that you have a situation that they are going to fix
Do not say “that you need to fix” or “that I want fixed” or “that I need fixed.” You know they will fix it. “I have a situation that you are going to fix for me today. I appreciate your patience.” If they say they will try, state again that you’re sure they will fix it for you. “No, you’ll fix it. Don’t worry.” Reassure THEM. It will confuse them enough that they will allow you to explain your situation.

6. Explain your situation in a calm, even tone. Do not pause for them to respond until the entire situation/story has been told
Simply tell it as if you are dictating a letter. Once the entire situation has been explained, do not pause. Immediately give them the first option of how it should be fixed, in a simple, declarative sentence. “…this is the situation as it stands at this moment, and the reason I am calling. So what you will be doing for me today is…” or “ what we need to do today is…”

7. If the supervisor insists that your solution is outside of policy, ask for the full policy
Do not accept “It’s just not policy to do this.” You want a full description of the policy. This does not mean twenty pages, faxed. A simple description of the section they feel affects your situation is what you need from them. IF they again simply say “It isn’t policy to __”, you say “That isn’t a policy. What, exactly, is your policy in this situation?” If they refuse to give you the policy, ask for their supervisor, or a corporate number – if you choose to or must call corporate, refer to *A – however, this will most likely not be necessary. If they give you the policy, continue to step 8.

8. Listen carefully to the policy, then scan your list for solutions that fall within it
If none of your solutions fall within their policy, inform them of your viable choices, and ask them how they are going to solve your problem. Do not ask if they will. Ask how. “So, how are we going to resolve this issue?” not “Isn’t there anything you can do?” or “there must be something you can do.” There is always something they can do. Do not ask. It is fact. If they inform you that there is nothing they can do, again ask for their supervisor or a corporate number.

9. At this point the person should be working with you for a solution. Continue to keep a calm tone until you reach an acceptable solution
Be sure to refer to the person by name at least twice, to make sure they know you remember it. If they say they will call back, ask for their direct line. If they do not have one, again ask for their supervisor or a corporate number.

10. You SHOULD now have a solution
Write down the details, making sure to read it back to the person on the other end of the line, and make sure to repeat their name, as well as writing it next to the solution that has been reached. If it is not an immediately solvable problem (returns, or delivery, etc) get a time estimate. “And this will be here by….”. You can, at this point as well, ask for a direct line, in case you have issues and need to speak to them again. Then thank them for their time and hang up.

11. If longer than the specified time goes past and the solution has not gone into effect, call the same number and ask for the person by name
If this person is unavailable or does not exist (there is always the chance) go back through your notes and ask for the person you spoke to immediately previous. Throughout this conversation remember to keep your tone calm and even. If the person you spoke to is unreachable, again, ask for a supervisor, and then immediately ask that supervisor for a corporate number. If the supervisor offers to help you, you may either attempt to work with this person, or simply call corporate.

*A – Calling Corporate

12. Keep your tone even. Introduce yourself immediately and ask to speak to a person who can solve your problem
Use those words. “Hello, my name is ___. I have an issue. Please connect me to someone who can solve it today.”

13. When you are connected, introduce yourself again. Repeat step 6
More than likely, the person you are speaking to will either do what you’ve suggested, or will offer an alternative. At this point, if you continue to follow these basic guides, you should reach a solution fairly quickly. Remember to continue to escalate until you reach someone who will solve your problem.

This works even if the problem is not your own. This works even if the problem is not your own, and you are dealing with the infamous Best Buy. I have a success story to share now.

Currently living with me is my sister-in-law. She moved from Texas. A year or so before she moved to California, there was an issue with her computer. Her parents are fairly computer illiterate, but had purchased the PC as a gift for her, and therefore did it on their own. They purchased a floor model, and were not informed, and did not know to ask, that the OS disk was not included. They were not informed that they would need to make a boot disk themselves, and neither was my sister.

Six months later, my sister’s computer ran out of space, and she followed the on-screen instructions to free some up, running Disk Cleanup. Disk Cleanup removed essential files from the OS, causing the computer to brick. A full re-install was necessary. She called Best Buy and they told her it would cost over $100 to reload the computer. She called me in a panic, as she and her parents were living off her father’s Army pension at the time and could not afford the fee.

I called the Best Buy store’s direct number, and asked to speak to a manager. I was told none was there. I waited one hour, and called back. This time I got Jose. I introduced myself and let him know that I was calling on behalf of a friend that was having an issue, and thanked him for solving it for me today. I then explained to him that my friend had been given a computer without an OS disk, and now needed to reload the computer, but had been told it would cost quite a bit of money. He informed me that she was told when the computer was purchased that she needed to create a boot disk. I informed him that she was not, and that he would need to reload the computer without charge. He said he could not do that. I calmly pointed out that it is very bad policy to charge a customer for something he should never have done in the first place, and that the operating system was sold with the computer, and since the disk was not included, we basically had two options available to us – he could either issue her a free copy of Windows XP, or reload the computer free of charge. I asked him which solution he felt would be best for her. He told me that they could do neither, and I asked him how he would be solving it. He asked me to hold for a moment, then came back on the line, and told me to have her come in, and he would take care of it.

I called my sister and gave her Jose’s name and told her to ask for him directly once in the store, because he would be taking care of her problem. She and her mother went, and he met them. Again, they were informed that it would cost to reload the computer. The exact charge came to $97.53 with taxes. In a panic, my sister called me, and I told her that he was not going to charge her. She said he was. I asked her to put him on the phone.

Here’s the clincher – when faced with having to speak to me again, he quickly changed his mind and offered an acceptable solution to the problem: he would issue them a gift card for the exact amount, and they would use that to pay for the service. We all agreed to the terms, and he came back exactly two minutes later with a gift card for the exact charge, and handed it to the cashier.

At no point did I yell, or in any way raise my voice. I did not threaten him, or mention lawyers or the business bureau. I simply informed him of what he would be doing, and he did it. While it took a bit of reinforcement, eventually he did come up with a solution that was both within his policy, and right by the consumer. This is not a ‘talent’, it is a skill, and by following these steps you can usually avoid the horrific experiences many consumers have.

Not to mention gain a wonderful story. My sister tells it to anyone we meet who is having consumer issues similar to hers.

I hope this helps at least one person. You will really be amazed just how effective these methods can be.

– Lona”


Edit Your Comment

  1. RRich says:

    I did not know that my wife contributed to The Consumerist. Hi, Honey!

  2. missdona says:

    Lona, I love that you have a sister-by-love. Not having any sisters-by-blood of my own, I have a couple of sisters-by-love.

    Nonetheless, I can get behind the technique. I often say “I am *confident* that you, (insert name), can resolve this problem in this phone call” and I thank for their help.

  3. Skeptic says:

    While there may aspects of this that are skill, the ability to pull it off is aided by the personality of the person doing it. Clearly Lona is an alpha dog.

    This won’t work for everyone because the CSR’s, like anybody, can sense if the caller really is an alpha or if they are just a meek person faking it. Of course, that doesn’t mean most people can’t learn to do this over time, just that the CSRs trained to ignore people and practice ignoring people 40 hours a week and are way ahead on the learning curve over someone who just read this.

  4. headon says:

    Nah, this stuff won’t work. Forget it. First person that tells me that I WILL fix their problem is gonna have a brand new problem to deal with.

    • Jonathan Capps says:

      @headon: If you are in this line of business, you ARE paid to resolve issues. You’re probably one of those CSRs that make people like Lona have to hone these kind of skills.

    • ChemicalFyre says:

      Its hard to take written type in context. I believe it was meant as a reassurance, which is implied by tone, rather than a command.

      As in, ‘I have complete confidence in your ability to do this’ and NOT ‘Do this for me, now.’

      Thats just how I thought of it :)

  5. GitEmSteveDave says:

    Some very good points in this tutorial. I especially like the list of solutions. Never thought of that.

  6. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    @headon: Yeah, I generally don’t respond well to that either.

  7. UpsetPanda says:

    Definitely doesn’t work with most credit card companies. They require you to give them security info.

  8. ajones4 says:

    I really wished more people I dealt with acted as you just described. When a person approaches me irrationally, making vehement, emotional demands, or throwing about accusations and trying to justify why I should take care of him or her, it really just makes me, the CSR, not care to help him or her anymore.

    I’ve had a handful of people behave as you described, and it makes life a lot easier for both of us.

  9. darkened says:

    Fantastic article, it encompasses all the key points of selling. The most important point of selling is always be closing, and to be closing on your terms. Either they do what you want option A. or option B. There is no, no or objections and if there are it’s to redirect them back to the original options or possibly an option c.

    Being confident and sounding knowledgeable and always keeping control of the pitch (which the author employs many clear ways to keep control) leads people to do what you want even if it’s going to cost them money.

  10. zibby says:

    Well, she certainly wore me down.

  11. topgun says:

    This is probably worth printing & saving for me. I’m not real assertive when it comes to confrontation. Sometimes it works for me ….other times I buckle. This woman should hire herself out.

  12. darkened says:

    @public enemy #1: Now if you ever happen to have any type of consumer relations position, there is nothing you can say at the start of a conversation “you’re going to fix my problem today.”

    At this point you don’t even know what their problem is, are you going to say “no i will not.”? Of course not, at most you will say “I will try.” and the author deals with that objection, because that’s an objection to her sale of fixing the problem. However subconsciously it starts moving your wheels on wanting to meet a solution for the person which is the entire part of a sales pitch. Getting the wheels moving to an acceptable solution for both.

  13. MMD says:

    @headon: Except that it did. Read the whole article.

  14. ThinkerToys says:

    This sounds like an excellent back-up plan if initial attempts at solving problems fail. I wouldn’t start with it, but I have finished with similar approaches…

  15. @topgun: I do almost exactly what she describes when I’m dealing with customer service for OTHER people (family, friends) but when I try to do it for myself, and it gets stressful, I frequently end up crying. It’s funny how people are funny that way. :)

  16. shan6 says:

    @headon: Well now we know who it is throwing all the barriers up for us consumers are. Just because you don’t like knowing you will be manipulated, doesn’t mean the customer would be acting inappropriately or doing something that would warrant a “whole new problem” from the mighty CSR.

  17. watchmanseven says:

    I agree that going to a supervisor immediately, is usually the best solution, especially if you already know there’s going to be an issue. The guy/gal on the other end of the 1-800 number usually can’t do much.

    However, if someone talked to me like that, they’d get nothing. Her tone is condescending, patronizing, and demeaning. Be pleasant, state what you want, but don’t talk to me like I’m stupid. I know you’re calling because you have an issue. I also know your desired solution probably isn’t going to follow policy.

    In my experience people with this kind of attitude think that everyone owes them whatever they want, whenever they want it.-even if the problem is their fault. These are the same people who don’t give the customer service to others that they think they deserve.

    If you’re going to go “Jedi” you should be informed. It’s not my responsibility to explain to you in detail the policy because you don’t like my answer. I’ve got 500 other people in the phone queue waiting for an answer just like you. Do your research-god knows there’s plenty of places. You wouldn’t just sign papers for a car or house before you know what you were getting into. Same goes for everything else. It’s not my fault you’re uninformed and ill-informed. If you have a legitimate issue that’s one thing, but don’t try and “Jedi” me because you screwed up and think I should fix it.

    And why the hell would you buy anything from BestBuy anyway? Don’t you read consumerist?

  18. kcrusher says:

    I agree with headon – anyone ‘telling’ me what I’m going to do goes immediately into the ‘you’re an ass’ list and is not going to go very far.

    I *do* agree with a few point – stay calm, clear and do NOT ever get argumentative. 95% of the time, you WILL lose.

    IF you have a legitmate beef, it’s best to state exactly what happened and allow the rep/supervisor to state what they can do for you. If it’s a reasonable request they will very likely help you.

    Asking for a supervisor is questionable – it really depends on whom you’re talking to. Super mega-corporations – yes, a supervisor may be the way to go. For smaller operations, generally the rep has enough at their disposal to help you and appealing to them first may get you all you need, especially if you’re nice about it. Getting angry NEVER helps and almost always harms.

  19. DrTweeker says:

    I’ve uesed tactis like this for a long time – it stems from those of use who are skilled at ‘social engineering’ as some folks like to call it…

    Another tip – that works at a LOT of companies, is to call the tier 2 or 3 customer service reps (assuming you have a line to the higher ups), and introduce yourself as rep #blah1234, and you need to see if you can get a situation resolved for customer/account #123456(actually our own account, but they don’t know that – they think you’re in their other call center or somewhere else within the company), as you don’t have access to resolve it directly. 9 times out of 10 they will jump right to the solution, because they think they are speaking to someone within their own company, and you don’t get any run-around, or retentions, or sales offers either – you have to know a bit of background on the company and how things work, and the lingo (probably the most important) – but if it’s a company you deal with a lot you will pick up on these things very quickly if you’re of the mindset.


  20. JiminyChristmas says:

    These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

    Works for me every time.

  21. ewray4381 says:

    While remaining calm and rational is certainly a plus, I would have to say if someone called me on the phone and told me what I was and was not going to do, I would not give them the time of day. My typical response to someone who was rude to me and refused to have a discussion about the problem and options to fix it is, “Here is our corporate number. Thank you and have a nice day.” I have been in the customer service representative business for years. I am a firm believer that if there is an actual problem, it needs to be addressed and fixed right away. However, having dealt with many people who were simply out for their own gain, you need to prove to me you have an actual problem by being polite and listening to me as well.

  22. Lyrai says:

    Echoing the general response that a customer ‘telling’ me
    what I’m going to do is going to get very little help. We deal with enough rude people, angry screamers, and jerks to deal with yet another passive aggressive person who is positive that we can pull a rainbow out of our ass because you decided you’d rather bitch than actually read a few pages before you dived in.

  23. StinkyCat says:

    I like to add a fool proof step when you get corporate involved. I always ask to be connected to the CEO. I never get the CEO of course, but I do get the CEO’s Executive Assistant. The Exec Asst. in most large companies have a great deal of authority and power, they’re job is to keep the CEO’s away from things that are un-CEO like to handle.

    I explain my problem to the Exec Asst. highlighting the problem as it related to more than one CSR and Supervisor etc and add the kicker “what you have in your company is not an isolated case, but a pattern” then I end with….

    “My concern is not as much about you fixing my problem, but as the owner of a business myself I’d hate think that other customers of yours are going through the same things when dealing with your company that I have”

    Works like a charm.

  24. FessLove says:

    The reason this worked for you is because you remained calm. Telling people what they WILL do does nothing but make people go on the defensive. Just because it worked once doesn’t mean it will work any other time. Don’t follow this article, trust me, it will do nothing but help you. All you have to do is be polite, explain your situation, and if they can’t do anything, escelate to a manager. Never tell someone who you NEED what they ARE going to do.

  25. evslin says:

    I used to fall into the “a customer telling me what I’m going to do won’t get the time of day from me” category years ago.

    Then I figured, I’m working in a call center making $10 an hour. I don’t get paid enough to go to war with 80-90 people a day. Once I quit caring and just started giving customers everything they wanted (within reason of course), my call times dropped and I found myself being a lot less temperamental off the clock, a lot less likely to be late or call in sick.

    Being the better man over the phone nets you absolutely nothing unless you’re just in it to fight with people all day long… in which case, more power to you.

  26. FessLove says:

    Ermmm, …it will do noithing but hurt* you…

  27. jermscentral says:

    I work in tech support, and it seems like one of my callers yesterday telepathically knew this article was going to show up on Consumerist today. We had a cluster node go down that manages roaming profiles, so no one in the 16,000 employee company could get their profile settings to load properly, and to make matters worse, some of our file shares went down. The lady insisted that I would fix her problem and would put her on a server that worked. When I said I could not do that, she insisted that she talk to my manager. I informed him she wanted to tak to him, and he told her the same thing – it can’t be done.

    Asking to speak to a supervisor immediately is ridiculous. Telling me that I WILL fix their problem is ridiculous. In our company, over half of the issues have to be escalated to another department — we’re middle men in a lot of cases — so I will NOT be fixing your problem. Do not order me around. You will NOT say, “You will do this for me,” and expect a solution that does not involve my locking your account for general stupidity.

    You called us for a reason. We do a particular job, and you ordered a service from us. Respect us, and we will respect you. Do not order us around as if you own us, because in most cases, the customer is not always right, regardless of what your high-horsed author told you above.

    • fokensheatman says:

      if you would to keep that pay check to keep coming in each week, you will listen to your customers.

  28. TheKel says:

    I have to agree with the people saying that someone telling me that I “am” going to help them would put me on the defensive posthaste. I would not be inclined to help them anymore than I would the person who calls in screaming and yelling.

    I find that being nice usually takes care of the problem, or at least gets it resolved in a manner I can live with. No matter how annoyed I get, I try to think that I should be thankful I can afford these things that annoy me – cell phones, cable, etc.

    I know it sounds corny, but when I find myself getting hot under the collar, keeping this in mind helps.

  29. the_wiggle says:

    @headon: yes they will. this approach need be reserved for companies with abysmal service after originally being requested to resolve the matter.

    well put by both & i quite agree after having been in customer service for years.

  30. matt1978 says:

    @headon: Did you even read the article? She’s not saying add emphasis to the “will”, just say it. Good job with comprehension.

  31. Oregon says:

    Another great post that identify more CSR who post comments here.
    How long is your wait on hold, while they spend time posting to this site??

  32. topcad says:

    I have to agree that “telling” them what they are going to do seems to be a little aggressive. I have had quite a bit of luck when initially saying to the CSRs “I know there’s probably not anything that you can do about this but I just wanted to share my concern with…” I try to be as nice as possible and put them in a position of power.

  33. nickripley says:

    Most of the call center employees that post on here have an attitude issue! They seem to be on a “power trip” so much of the time! That may be part of the problem. “Don’t talk down to me! I’m a phone jockey!”

    When I read posts like that on here, I tend to get ruder and ruder with call center reps… It seems like a terrible job filled by terrible people.

  34. Skeptic says:


    Giving people what they want? At many calling centers that is a firing offense because you are paid to do–and metrically monitored for–what the company wants which is usually in direct opposition to what the consumer wants. You are lucky to be in a call center that lets you get away with actually helping customers. The tactics listed in the OP are not for dealing with the rare exception like you but for dealing with the deliberate system of corporate intransigence.

    I think that the OP–and those criticizing her–may underestimate the power of her tenacious personality, which gets results using many of the same tactics used against consumers, such as presumption of cooperation and “forced choice” false dichotomies.

  35. Cowboys_fan says:

    The first mistake is asking for a supervisor immediately. I have worked a few csr jobs and supervisors 1) don’t like to take calls and will quickly get you off the phone, 2) do not get quality reports on their calls so are free to speak their mind and 3) are less qualified to help then the reps themselves. The last one is because sups worry about payroll and team stats and don’t keep up with policies and procedures. I’ve had plenty of calls where multiple supervisors did not help when the customer was clearly right and I had to fix their mistakes.
    If everybody asked for and got a supervisor every call, then why have reps? And would not those supervisors simply be demoted to reps? Sounds like an Oprah snippet to me.

  36. Cowboys_fan says:

    @nickripley: If you’re talking down to somebody you called for help, then thats the kind of service you should expect.

  37. mac-phisto says:

    ok. get it. do i need to wave my hands around while making the call? at what points?

    something i’d like to interject that i learned along the way…the rule of threes. media companies use it a lot. so do writers. for some reason we respond well when we hear something 3 times. for customer service calls, i write down the csr’s name & make it a point to use it 3 times within the first few seconds of the call.

    -hi, this is jane. how can i help you today?
    -hi, jane! well, jane, i have an issue with my account that i need rectified today. you can help me with that, right jane?

    it works pretty well for me…err, except when i get “hello, this is ajatashatru urjavaha. what is i can be doing today you for?”

  38. bigduke says:

    Wow, all of the customer service schills coming out of the woodwork on this are a hoot. The veiled threats are quite funny. To all of you I say this. You WILL solve my problem today. It’s your job! I will talk to you supervisor, becuase if you are so stupid that you read this article and actually felt upset and threatened by it, then you are bad at your job, and I need to talk to your supervisor. Stop schilling and answer the damn phone, your hold times are terrible this month!

  39. jermscentral says:

    @Oregon: The CSRs posting on here are probably at home, posting after waiting an hour for the “shift change”.

  40. algormortis says:

    I don’t go the supervisor route until I’m sure the base level CSR is useless or powerless. I will tell you that that’s frequently the case, but if you’ve called Amazon, Newegg, or JetBlue, you’re dealing with a smart and useful person who’s empowered to solve your problem and either cares about your (Hot Topic, Seattle City Light, Digital Federal Credit Union, Ford Motor Company (our fleet vehicles are Fusions), etc…these are all good examples of places where Tier 1 practices a philosophy of getting the job done.)

    The last time I called Newegg about a part *I* ordered in error for one of our office machines, they couldn’t have been nicer, didn’t nail me for a restocking fee, and had the correct part in my hands in 2 days. Total call time: 1 minute, 4 seconds, most of which was me asking the RMA twice because I can’t write. Can’t beat that if you ask me. But I have a feeling we slobber all over the companies with good service mostly because of how bad others are.

  41. divinity says:

    9 years of technical support/customer service and if someone tells me “you will fix my problem” I’m instantly going to be put off. Just like your mother told you, asking nicely, not demanding is the way to go. Asking to speak with a supervisor right off the bat throws up a red flag that you’re a problem customer. Speaking to the customer service rep as a human being works much better than treating them like a system or a robot. Granted this is for first encounters. If you get the run around after 2 or 3 calls, THEN it’s time to play hardball.

    I’ll go out of my way to help someone who is polite and courteous, seeing if I can bend rules, but if someone makes demands and approaches in the way you described, I’m sticking to policy.

  42. csdiego says:

    It sounds ballsy, but I’ve found that a calm, confident “you can do it” and refusing to engage in discussions of why it can’t be done works great with balky three-year olds and recalcitrant customer service reps alike.

  43. omniomi says:

    4. When you get a CSR on the phone, immediately ask to speak to a supervisor

    I’m a supervisor for a large company. If you bypass your way past our front line department by insisting on speaking to a supervisor without even giving your name or allowing the agent to know the basics of your issue.

    I guarantee I will be in a bad mood when you’re connected to me, and as most managerial decisions allow me to make my own call when necessary I will be less inclined to make that decision in your favour.

    I recommend taking these steps with a grain of salt as you are more likely to tick off the people who have the ability to help you, and if the decision rests in their hands as opposed to in procedure, you have lost your footing.

    Most companies have strict guidelines for when and how to transfer callers and these steps go against most of the ones I know of, and most escalation group agents do not like receiving transfers that were not done procedurally to spec.

  44. jeffeb3 says:

    Ack. This drives me nuts. First off, it was your sister’s fault for not making a rescue disk when she got the computer. That’s not best buy’s responsibility. No new computers come with rescue disks anymore.

    Secondly, these procedures are great, but they only are just in the situation where you really are working inside the system and the company isn’t. When you are just trying to get something for nothing, then these might work, but they are certainly not going to aide the average consumer. It’s exactly this type of badgering and abusing customer service departments that makes them so tense. I don’t work retail anymore, but I once did (for about five years through college), and I tell you that every once in a while I would get a customer that really thought they could push me around. I’ll tell you the next couple customers were paying for it, and the person that yanked me around usually didn’t get much out of it.

  45. jeffeb3 says:

    The idea of calling right back works great though. Not so much with brick and mortar stores, but with call centers it does.

  46. redsox says:

    Pressuring agents on the phone to do something beyond policy and harassing them for a supervisor is not going to ensure victory in every case. I am willing to bet she has just as many stories of failure as she does successes.

    And really is it too much to ask for your sister to do a little research into what she is purchasing? Do you not take the time to research what kind of house or car or other expensive purhase before you buy it? Your sister is completely at fault for not taking the time to ensure she purchased what she needed for the computer.

    It is also not Best Buys responsibility to format your computer if you break it. You broke the machine, you fix it. People like you who don’t take responsibility for their own things make me sick.

  47. wesa says:

    I have an immediate problem with #4. Many techs/CSR’s must attempt to help before transferring to a supervisor, especially on first time calls. Many times a simple fix is all that is required for an issue. Give them a chance first before immediately attempting to waste a supervisor’s time.

  48. dantsea says:

    I am always confident that my issue will be resolved to my satisfaction. Most companies I deal with, I’ve never had a problem getting them to correct an oversight. “Please” and “thank you” and not acting like the problem is OH MY GOD THE END OF THE WORLD tends to help.

    Yes, there are companies who choose obstructionist policies, Just Saying No, or ignoring me is the best way to proceed. Again, confidence: The buck doesn’t stop with them; if a call to corporate can’t resolve the issue, then financially penalizing them via ACH dispute/chargebacks or small claims court + costs (including those covering an order of seizure/garnishment) will get my issue resolved.

    However, the last thing I’d do is start out a call with “You will fix my issue today,” as having been on the other side of that call, the last thing I want to do is put the rep on the defensive position from the first seconds of the call. Furthermore, there are many call centers where you can play “I Want A Supervisor” redial roulette until your fingers fall off and you’re never going to get anywhere until you’ve permitted the rep to take a stab at your issue.

    @nickripley: You’re not quite up to speed on the whole cause/effect deal, are you?

  49. Antediluvian says:

    @Cowboys_fan: You’re right that many supervisors of technical support call centers may not be as qualified as their underlings to answer technical questions, but the cases raised here weren’t about technical support — it was about fixing problems.

    The difference is similar to diagnosing a problem (need front line techs, not supervisors) and getting the company to do right by the customer once the problem is found.

  50. moorem2 says:


    Hold times are terrible in the finace industry this month b/c of tax season. The market’s been closed for a hour and a half now, and we’re just now slowing down.

    If someone calls in, and refuses to give me their name, automatically they get written off as a jerk. If you ask for a supervisor without telling me what your situation is, your a jerk. I would agree with other posters that these tips may be good if your first experience was below par, but give your CSRs a chance to help you, that is their job.

  51. Erwos says:

    @omniomi: Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m an engineer, but sometimes get escalations that tiers 1 and 2 can’t figure out. We have our procedures in place for a reason, and bypassing them is not going to make me a happy guy.

    Telling me to do stuff is even worse. I want to solve your issue – it’s what they pay me for. Demanding that I call you so that you can bring the full force of your sociopathic personality to bear is insulting, not to mention futile, because I can definitely out-sociopath you. Do _not_ treat the escalation team like idiots, because we generally aren’t.

    Oh, and realize that once you get to me, there are no further escalations. Asking for my supervisor is just going to get a “sorry, I’m all there is”.

  52. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    I’m thinking Ben must be posting this facetiously…surely he is not taking this seriously? I get as mad as anyone by the pandemic of poor customer service (ESPECIALLY when I am being extra nice to start), but even I can see that this “approach” is as inane as it gets.
    C’Mon Ben…please tell me you’re looking at this from a Mo Rocca perspective, rather than a serious one…

  53. remthewanderer says:

    They were not informed that they would need to make a boot disk themselves, and neither was my sister.

    Would you like them to tell you that you need to plug the computer into an electrical outlet to make sure it works properly? Does someone need to hold you hand and tell you when to get the oil changed in your car? WTF?!? It is not anyone else’s fault that your sister did not learn some basic computer maintenance on her own! How is this even related to the original point?

    Six months later, my sister’s computer ran out of space, and she followed the on-screen instructions to free some up, running Disk Cleanup. Disk Cleanup removed essential files from the OS, causing the computer to brick.

    ++++Imagine what her temp internet file folder must have looked like!+++++

    WTF kind of story is this? Since when does disk cleanup “BRICK” a computer? Your not hacking the firmware on a PSP, stop trying to use jargon you obviously don’t understand. Look I can use geek jargon too RTFM STFU ROFLCOPTER and so on and so forth…

    Something really irked me about this whole post. [/end of trolling]

  54. BlueModred says:

    What the OPdid to their BestBuy was pretty shady. Most pc’s don’t come with OS disks, and if the user is computer-illiterate enough not to know that it is needed, well, you can’t hold the company responsible.

    After all, even open-box pc’s at BBY PROMPT you to make them!!!

  55. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    …maybe this is a script excerpt from a new/upcoming Christopher Guest Mockumentary???? :O

  56. PermanentStar says:

    I would just like to note that the poster said to not give your name to the initial rep as they do not need it. In some situations, I would advise against that for a few reasons.

    A – the call center I work in (I work for a regional cell phone company) has to note every account, every time a customer calls in. That being said, if you refuse to give your name or account number to the initial rep, they will be unable to note your account as to what you requested, to whom you were transferred to, whether you hung up on them, or if the call dropped, or transfer was unsuccessful, etc. (And having notes on your account can work in your favor as to getting you back to the person you need to speak to.)

    B – In most places that you call, reps are required to verify security information, I know here, a supervisor will not speak to somebody who has not been verified, and if you ask the initial rep for the corporate number you will be advised we have an escalatation process, and we are not allowed to give the corporate number out, and you will be asked again to verify your account information. (And here, they don’t even give us the corporate number, so that we cannot give it out)

    C – other than that, seeming uncooperative from the beginning of the conversation (by not giving requested information) tends to make anybody that you deal with less willing to go out of their way to assist you, since it comes off that you’re just being difficult.

  57. RandomBystander says:

    Definitely can agree with those saying that this isn’t quite how an interaction with a rep should be handled. It is important to stay calm and collected without question. However it is also important to approach a situation with more tact and dare I say … respect to whomever is on the other end of the line.

    There’s something about an approach that asks a person to completely disregard anybody except for a supervisor as worth speaking to; Then as soon as a supervisor is on the phone opening with a statement telling them what they will be doing, that strikes as not quite the best approach.

    Articles like this make me wonder whatever happened to just being polite and clearly stating one’s concern/problem. Like everything else now, things have gotten quite a bit more complicated perhaps. Frankly, you could be history’s greatest douche/jerkwad and I’ll still help you.

    Just my two cents.

  58. tstephen says:

    I have to say – I am in “Executive Customer Service” for a large nationwide retailer and if she ever called in to our Corporate offices and was able to speak with one of us, she would get the job done.

    While I do not appreciate the tactics used, they are effective and you’d better believe that when I contact other companies, I use them as well.

    Kudos to you!

  59. Skeptic says:


    Oh, poor Best Buy… Cry me a river.

    The fact that many computers are defective because they don’t come with the disks needed to reinstall the OS (the OS that the purchaser has paid for as part of the cost of the computer’s Microsoft Tax) is a legitimate issue to make Best Buy own up to.

  60. boblc123 says:

    @BLUEMODRED I agree with you. Computers have not come with restore CD’s for quite some time and the consumers should have researched the product before purchasing. And I franky do not believe her story. I don’t think any manager would give a free service when they were in no way at fault, especially Best Buy.

  61. drpentode says:

    I’ve used similar techniques with great success when dealing with my health insurance company. You don’t have to be an alpha wolf. You just have sound like one. You have to sound like you have confidence and authority. It’s play acting, really. Tone is really the most critical part.

    And the line about occasionally needing a male voice is very true. Sometimes my wife will wrangle with a CSR for half an hour. I will get on the line and the problem will be solved in five minutes. It’s sad and infuriating, but it’s true. Some unenlightened people will only respect men, especially if they’re from India.

  62. zephyr_words says:

    What irked me about the post is that computers don’t come with restore disks anymore and then as soon as you start in Windows the manufacturer has an application that asks you to make a set of restore disks. If you want a set you have to contact the manufacturer to the best of my knowledge as well.

    The managers at Best Buy have weak spines and will give out gift cards for anything but ther service she received for free was not entitled.

  63. Pink Puppet says:

    Interestingly enough, when I work customer service, those tactics are effective on me provided the customer isn’t a total nutjob asking for the moon. I like it when a customer says “I am so-and-so. Here’s my problem, and here’s the satisfactory solution.” Then I won’t ever have to guess as to what will make them happy, and I can work around that.

  64. pengie says:

    It’s sad that this is really the only response I have to this article, but how in the HELL did they get Disk Cleanup to remove system files?

    I’ll have to agree with those of you who say the “you WILL do this” approach is both grating and unnecessary. I’ve had that said to me before–“you WILL fix this problem before the end of the day today”–and it did little to motivate me. Instead of being intimidated into doing my job, I was inclined to just forget their problem altogether.

  65. Corydon says:

    The only good advice in this article is the advice to stay calm, cool and collected, and to think through the problem and decide what a reasonable outcome is.

    Other than that, this person is just setting up an argumentative situation where that likely will be counterproductive.

    Asking for a supervisor without providing your name or account number and a summary of the problem in particular is only going to piss off the CSR (whom you’re making look bad to his or her leadership) and the supervisor (who’s forced to take your call with no information whatsoever—supervisors hate flying blind).

    Believe it or not, most CSRs WANT to resolve your problems. Trying to use mind games or trying to force a solution that they cannot provide on a CSR is only going to cause problems.

    This is a big problem I have with some of the people on this website. They seem to be more preoccupied with “winning” against the big, evil, faceless corporation and couldn’t care less about actually fixing problems.

  66. StevieD says:


    The buck stops with me, and I sure don’t do well with being told that I “will” do something.

    The only think I hafta to do is kiss the wife and eat lunch, anything else is at my option.

    This pushy stuff will work with extra level employees and their supervisors, it ain’t going to work with seasoned employees that actually make policy.

  67. dilbertaco says:

    Shenanigans! I’ve had people try this and even in the example given, it’s not Best Buy’s fault that her sister is a complete idiot. If I buy a car, do I expect the dealer to inform me I need to change the oil every 3,000 miles? No, it’s just common sense. I seriously doubt Jose caved to someone who wasn’t even involved with the purchase of the system. When I did tech support for an ISP for 18 months, if someone called in on behalf of someone else’s internet, and the customer was not present, the policy was that we couldn’t deal with them. Only the account holder. Again, I call shenanigans!! I’m getting my shovel to clean up the load of crap that this represents.

  68. headon says:

    @matt1978: I added the emphasis, knucklehead. I guess you did not comprehend my comment. Contrary to popular belief It’s not only the way you say something it’s also what you say. Talk to me like she suggests and no I won’t do what you want. But I will talk about the things you said over dinner after work and I will laugh at you.

  69. CuriousO says:

    hahahahaha!! these post are hilarious!!!! since most of them have to do with “I am the customer I will treat you like trash if I want to…” Maybe I am the minority here but I like to treat people with respect, just because I have a problem with “insert company here” doesn’t mean the person at the other end of the line is going to take an ass chewing. C’mon people!!! This is the advised of a self proclaimed ass whole.

  70. pottsav8 says:

    I work in Technical support for a mid-sized Cable company in western Pennsylvania and I can tell you now that if you try to get a solution to a prob from any seasoned rep by following these instructions all you will get is someone fighting you every step of the way. First of all, being calm level headed and able to say exactly what the prob is is an excellent idea and one we don’t see very often, but if you start off with not outlining the prob to a tier 1 rep, you wont get any farther. Beyond that telling a TSR or CSR WHAT they will do for you is asking for trouble. At my company we actually try to solve your problem the first time, but if you come off with an attitude like the one demonstrated above we will do everything we can to make sure your problem is either not fixed in a timely manner or ignored. It sounds corny but jst treat whoever you are talking to how you would like to be treated, if that means being a hardass and trying to bull your way through a problem, expect a like response.

  71. omniomi says:

    @Corydon: “This is a big problem I have with some of the people on this website. They seem to be more preoccupied with “winning” against the big, evil, faceless corporation and couldn’t care less about actually fixing problems.”

    I could not agree more, and it is important for people to remember when calling either customer service or technical support that the person on the other end of the line does have a face.

    We sit here 8 hours a day doing our best to help people and when you aren’t proving anything to the company, you are only stressing the agent who you are talking to.

    I personally from years of experience have fairly thick skin but I train new agents now and I have seen too many tears from customers who took it to far.

  72. @CuriousO: Backed 100%

    It’s one thing to be a “consumer rights advocate”, it’s another to be a “jerk to everyone”.

    I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone here, but:

    1) The customer simply is not ALWAYS right.

    2) The company is not in always in the wrong because you disagree with them.

    3) Your bad attitude towards minimum-wage support/service people is directly proportional to your stupidity/belief that you know everything.

  73. Sheldonvoss says:

    Remaining calm while speaking to the CSR *and* having a problem that actually has a resolution? Genius!

    Back in the day, I attended college during the day and worked as a CSR at night. After 5pm, I was the only CSR on the phones, and after 6pm, I was the only employee in the building. Many a night I’d have some schmuck on hold while I strolled the building, finished reading a chapter in a text, went to the can, or surfed the internet because they called in with an attitude like the one described in the article.

    Now I can admit that I may have been a “miserable person in a miserable job” (it wasn’t that bad), and making only $16.50 an hour, but, buddy, you called me, and from the moment I pick up the phone to the moment I place it back on its cradle, I am the most important person in your life. Treat me as I treat you – with respect. Otherwise, yeah, we’ll get your problem solved, right after I check out what new candy is in the machine down the hall… And stop by the bathroom… Sorry, Sir, we’re real busy tonight..

  74. create says:


    unfortunately… agreed, i don’t like being told what to do and especially by some person on the other end of the phone that couldn’t tell their ass from their elbow

    these tactics would fly like a lead balloon where i work

  75. Skeptic says:

    BY HEADON AT 06:35 PM
    @matt1978: I added the emphasis, knucklehead. I guess you did not comprehend my comment.

    …and here you go demonstrating your excellent attitude, the one that makes us respect CSRs soooo much. </sarcasm>

  76. PermanentStar says:

    I tried to post this before, but I think my session timed out.

    I saw that the poster recommended not giving the intial rep that you speak to your name, because they don’t need it. I would advise against that for a few reasons.

    A – Where I work (I am work in the cancellation dept for a regional cell phone company), we are required to note every conversation with every customer without fail. If you refuse to give your name, the rep will not be able to do that. A rep’s notation is a good thing when you are trying to get back in touch with somebody. The poster noted that if you cannot get back in touch with a supervisor, go to the person you talked to before that – the issue is, on average, a rep may talk to 85 – 120 customers in a day, and if they don’t note your account, they won’t remember you, that, and most reps do not have to give out their last name, so you may not be able to get back in touch with the same initial rep as the poster recommends.

    B – In most call centers, people are required to verify the account. I know here, a supervisor will not take a call from a rep unless they know what number the customer is calling about, and that the person on the phone has been verified to be either the account holder or else an authorized contact. If you refuse to give the info, you’ll be advised of this and asked again. If you ask for the corporate number, here, the reps are not provided with it, so they will tell you that and ask again. This is not of all companies, but many need to verify security info before doing anything for you.

    C – (as other people have noted) Any signs of not being cooperative from the beginning of the conversation with simple acts, like account verification can make even the best rep not want to go the extra mile to resolve your issue.

    Also – somebody else mentioned posing as a rep trying to fix a complaint for a customer. I would advise against that as well, since your chances of getting an operator/employee number that works with their system may be slim, and I know that when people call in to our company saying things like that, we advise them to go through their appropriate support staff that would normally help in whatever situation they are having.

  77. Skeptic says:

    As much as CSR’s may have some legitimate gripes, this thread is beginning to sound like a CSR whine fest. Especially people like headon (who, thoughtfully, named his handle after an annoying fraudulent (IMO) product) who refers to customers as people “on the other end of the phone that couldn’t tell their ass from their elbow.”

  78. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    I’ve sort of learned what “Lona” outlines, but unfortunately I did it the hard way. I frequently would lose my temper, and yell like hell at the person – but always let them know it was not them I was mad at, but rather their policies. I managed to save $2000 in car repairs this way, but realized it was not appropriate. I had to realize that I was talking to a person, no matter how angry they made me.

    I don’t think Lona’s tactics will work 99% of the time, but if you are a reasonable person with a reasonable issue, keeping your cool will get your further for sure.

    As other people state, your beef must be legitimate and NOT unreasonable for this to work.

  79. Ray308win says:

    Asking for a Supervisor right away is just absurd. Alot of the time, Tier 1 Service Reps CAN solve your problems. I work for an Electronic Entertainment Retailer, and we have people who do this “I want to speak to a Supervisor/Manager, Now” thing, and refuse to let us speak to them at Tier 1… and all they ask the Super/Manager is “What colors do the Nintendo DS’s come in?” That kind of thing is SO irritating.

  80. lasciate says:

    I work in tech support. I am that supervisor you are asking for. If you call in to our front line and ask for a supervisor and refuse to give any identifying information, guess what? You aren’t being transferred. If you decide to bend that stick up your ass and give a little personal info and be transferred to me, being calm, reasonable, and having more than one acceptable solution is a plus. I have a lot of discretion in what I can do but once I make my decision, that’s it. No one can override it.

    Using my name in a pseudo-threatening ‘I can get you in trouble if you don’t do things my way’ manner (I’ve been in customer service a long time, I know what you’re trying to pull) and/or telling me what I am going to do for you is going to get you absolutely nothing beyond the strict letter of company policy. And if company policy was adequate enough for you, you wouldn’t need to speak to me at all.

  81. PaperBoy says:

    To all the people who say, “Don’t try to tell me I WILL fix your problem, I say – bullshit. Asking for help or being in any way deferential is just giving the CSR permission to say No. They don’t treat callers like “valued customers” and retain them as customers; that’s not what they are there to do. They are there to create as many obstacles as possible between you and the help you deserve, and they hide behind politeness to do it, so that they can cow you into “politely” going away.

    And when that doesn’t work, they frustrate you to where you fly off the handle and they are justified in cutting you off for being “abusive” and not remaining “polite” as their corporate masters take your money and pee all over you.

  82. CuriousO says:

    I do not believe people here are actually CSR’s and that they are not whining I just believe that we are starting to see who the the jerks are and the reason why we have long hold times. The people that are posting negatively are most likely the reason why companies have all these “crazy policies” in the first place. I enjoy reading this site but it surprises me how many people just like to bitch and not take responsibility for their own mistakes. People that cheat the system makes it so that everyone else has a bad customer experience.

  83. Rando says:

    If everyone starts asking for a supervisor when they clearly do not need to (90%), then call centers are going to change how they take calls. Don’t fuck it up for the people that actually NEED a supervisor.

  84. headon says:

    @ Skeptic: I did not say that ass elbow thing. Create did. Go back and read my comment then Create’s comment. Skeptic You obviously don’t know your ass from your elbow. Not to worry I accept your apology.

  85. ohioguy says:

    First off, ew. I don’t work in customer service and find this to be patronizing and offensive. Maybe, just maybe there are customer service people out there who are well educated and care about customer issues. I find that when I am respectful and truthful with customer service reps 99% of the time the person who picked up the phone or answered my email is not only able to solve my problem but does so beyond my wildest expectations. If you want to tell them what they are going to do for you fine, but it would seem to me that you’re only limiting the potential solutions, and customer service gestures.

    Secondly, when you are calling a customer service number who are you calling if it’s not the CORPORATE customer service number? Maybe this is why you aren’t getting the help you need.

    Lets assume for a second that a non-corporate customer service land exists and after dealing with them you decide to “contact corporate” Rule 12 states that you are to

    “Use those words. “Hello, my name is ___. I have an issue. Please connect me to someone who can solve it today.”

    How on earth does this not get you connected to the customer service department??

  86. amccoll says:

    What ever happened to you attract more flies with honey? First of all people need to keep in mind that these tips will not work for any situation. You cannot call your ISP, have the rep diagnose the issue as a bad network card, and then ask the rep what they WILL do for you. Your shit’s broke, deal with it. The only good advice here is to keep your cool. Treat someone like a human and they’ll return the favor. If you walked up to your doctor and said “You will give me pain killers.” what do you think he/she will say? C’mon now.

  87. StevieD says:

    Why do “we” need a supervisor?

    Because the entrylevel tech or CSR firetruckedup or refused to do their job.

    Following that logic, it stands to reason that every request for a supervisor should result in the termination of the entrylevel employee.

    Asking for a supervisor is not very beneficial. The entry level employee “knows” that he/she is at risk for termination. It causes the supervisor to be defensive of the entry level employee and raises the level of hostilities between business and customer.

    Oh, and those entry level employees? Atleast at my business, the idiot entry level employee may be the most experienced person in the business and best suited to answer your questions and solve the problem. I have an “entry-level” customer person that worked as a line tech for over 15 years and took a “demotion” to work a desk job. Go ahead bypass the idiot. It is the idiot that is secretly providing the answers for the supervisor to provide to you.

  88. Eric1285 says:

    Seems like pretty solid advice. Writing down a plan before you make the call is always helpful, since sometimes you’re so eager to get across all your information that you leave something out. Similarly, it’s always nice to have a list of reasonable solutions that you would accept.

    Most of the finer details presented seem to be simple sales strategies, turned against the CSR rep. Definitely good for anyone who hasn’t already developed the intuition or habit for controlling a conversation to get what you want.

  89. PermanentStar says:

    Okay, I tried to post this a couple times before, and I appologize if this has posted three times and I just can’t see it…

    The poster advises not to give the initial contact rep your name when you ask for the supervisor, because they don’t need it, and I would advise against it for a couple reasons.

    1 – Notes. In the company I work for, (I work in the cancellation department of a regional cell phone company) we have to note every customer conversation. In refusing to give your name/account info, you are not allowing the rep to note your account as to which supervisor you were transferred to, if it was a supervisor over a different department, if the call dropped, if the supervisor refused the call and asked for a call back number, etc. This info can help if your call does drop, or if you’re dissatisfied with the info you get from whomever you speak to.

    (Also, the poster advises to go back to the initial rep if you can’t get back in touch with the supervisor because they are unavailable or don’t exist – if there are no notes, it is likely the rep won’t remember you, since they talk to between 85 and 120 people in a given day)

    2 – Account security. Most companies require you to verify security information on your account so that they know that they have persmission to speak with you, and that it is not some random jerk accessing the account fraudulently. in many companies, including the one I work for, a supervisor will not take a call if the customer has not verified that they are authorized on the account. (And with us, we aren’t provided with the corporate number, so if you refuse to give your name and ask for that, you’ll be politely advsied that we have an escalation process, but we need to verify the account before we can continue).

    3 – If you come off as uncooperative from the get-go, that can influence future representatives, supervisors etc that you speak to, and even the best rep will be less willing to go the extra mile for somebody who is uncooperative. I’m not saying that nothing will happen, I’m just saying that it might be a more painful process than if you were to give the requested information to the initial rep, and just get on with things.

    Also – somebody mentioned posing as a rep with the company who needs to work on a problem for a customer. This may work with some companies, but I know that if we get calls like that, that don’t come from an internal extension, then we advise the person to contact their support team.

    (And remember…contrary to popular belief, customer service reps are people, too, and for the most part, they do want to help you – they are not people put there to intercept your call and your ability to get your account/problem fixed and randomly piss you off and otherwise ruin your day.)

  90. Animal_Mother says:

    First off, bashing the CSR’s that are posting here is just should be listening to what they have to say about how things work in customer service to be better informed the next time you have to make a call.

    Next, asking to speak to a supervisor really doesn’t work most of the time since most supervisors have little to no training on how to research and resolve customer accounts. They are there mostly as babysitters and bean counters.

    Lastly, the only good information here is steps 1-3. Most CSR are both willing and able to help you and will as long as you don’t get on their bad side which will happen if you start giving orders no matter how nicely and calmly you tell them what they are going to do for you.

  91. Skeptic says:

    BY HEADON AT 07:43 PM
    @ Skeptic:. Skeptic You obviously don’t know your ass from your elbow. Not to worry I accept your apology.


  92. JackieJoy says:

    Wow. Not sure that anyone has read down this far, but feel that I must add my two cents.

    I’m a manager at a pretty large, widely known company. I know you shop at my store. I’m fairly used to people telling me, “You will do this for me.”

    Actually, I won’t. Is it within our customer service policy? I can recite it to you, I’ve gotten to know it fairly well in the past few months. If it’s not listed in the policy, I won’t do it. Here’s the thing that people often forget: we don’t make the policies. We have to enforce them. And we have to enforce them exactly the same way for every customer, every time. Your situation is no more special than the last four people who came through. If you have a legitimate problem that can be legitimately solved, then I’m more than happy to do it–but don’t tell me I will perform whatever little deed is going to satiate your sense of entitlement. A woman literally threw her bag at me the other day and said, “I am returning these,” after being told that we don’t accept returns without receipts.
    You are not doing a damn thing. Are you hopping behind my counter and doing it yourself?
    The author says not to be loud or rude, but it is rude to insist that someone will do something for you.

    God, I could go on for hours. It is hard to work in customer service/retail, and it is hard to be a manager. No one is there to be purposely rude or difficult. Trying to be nice and act as if I am a human being will go ten times further than treating me as if I am dangerously stupid.

    (These same customers who tell me what I will do for them are often the same who tell me my job is for stupid people. Y’all, I double majored in literature and psychology. Using these BS psuedo-psych “mind control techniques” is about as effective as throwing your bag on the floor and stomping your feet.)

  93. JackieJoy says:

    It’s also important to note that just because you want it doesn’t mean you deserve it. Again: you are no more important than the other four customers who just came through here. They followed the policies, why are you unable to do so as well? Keep your receipt. Ask nicely. Don’t be ridiculous. You’ll get what you need.

  94. Upsilon says:

    Well, I work for a small University survey center, which technically makes me a phone monkey, but with calls going out instead of coming in. It also has me worrying about productivity 99% of the time. I honestly should be making calls right now. But I personally try to maintain a passive voice when I make my calls. After all, I’m trying to get someone to take some time out of their day to answer some questions. If I called up going, “Hi, I’m Upsilon, and I work for Something-Something University. I need you to take a survey for us, and it will take you 10 minutes to complete it,” I would get hung-up on more than I already do. Trust me. No one likes an arrogant asshole.

  95. Animal_Mother says:

    You don’t play a playah. It’s that simple. CSR’s are trained to control the call, get all the information neccesary to answer your questions and get things resolved.

    Trying Jedi mind tricks on them would be like Jar-Jar Binks trying mind control on Yoda, it’s just not gonna happen.

  96. The_Duke says:

    Llona, I would not be proud of yourself with this story. You and your sister are both complete idiots. Why do they “owe” you WinXP or a fresh install after your sister screwed up her computer? If you buy a TV and then drop it, would you get a new one for free? Get off your high horse.

  97. puyro {who was banned for "junk comments" what? says:

    If someone said “This is how you will fix it” that would piss me off badly.

    For me, I want to hear what your problem is, and how you hope it will be fixed. If it’s within my power and you are right, I will do it. If it’s not within anyone’s power, I will try and work something out with you as best I can. If it’s doable but not within my power I will get a manager (just be prepared to wait a while because most of my managers suck)

    When customers call on the phone and immediately ask for a manager (or supervisor) I ask what they need help with first. If they won’t tell me I will put them on hold and notify a manager – but good luck getting a manager to pick up if they don’t know what you want/who you are.

    And make your own backup/recovery discs. It should be the first thing you do when getting a new computer. Rarely do computers come with OS discs now.

    I’ve had my computer for two years and have not filled up my memory. I’m wondering how the crap someone filled one up in 6 months.

  98. Parting says:

    1. Start by being nice to CSR
    2. If CSR is incompetent/arrogant, switch to ”firm/authority” tactics

    If a person starts by being a ”bitch/dick”, this is how it gonna end : situation will get resolved, but the best solution won’t be applied.

    I used to work as CSR, and best solutions (often filled with goodies and unasked rebated) were given to nice customers only.

    An arrogant customer with genuine problem, will get it resolved. Good CSRs know how to stay professional with monkeys. But such person will never hear about all the good things that CSRs can give customers at their discretion.

  99. Parting says:

    And asking for CEO, that will just make CSR silently laugh. Seriously, imagine that you want to talk to CEO of Comcast/UPS or any large corporation. ”Mr Trump, a customer want to complain to you” :)

    Just ask for executive customer service.

  100. joellevand says:

    Whatever happened to please, thank you, and using a CSR’s name while staying calm and polite?

    When I was a CSR, I went to bat for people who used the tactics I just mentioned. People who were demanded to speak to a supervisor w/o talking to me first a.) ended up getting called back at the supervisor’s convenience, per the company’s 24 hour policy and b.) dealing with a pissed off supervisor when they listened to the customer being an ass on the phone. NOTE: “this call may be monitored” usually means all calls are monitored.

    On the other hand, if you returned my “good morning/afternoon/evening” greeting, stated the nature of the problem and your proposed solutions, and I was ABLE to help, I would. Almost everyone on my team would.

    So to recap: at that place of business, asking to speak to a supervisor meant you’d be dealing with a grumpy manager the next day who may or may not help you as they didn’t have stats to deal with. Speaking with myself or another CSR, and being polite about it, probably got you a solution the same day — sometimes what you wanted, sometimes a compromise, but a same-day solution that would result in me thanking you for the call.

  101. Dan25 says:

    Does Lona treat in-store employees like this too? If anyone treated me or any of my employees like this I most certainly would not make any policy exceptions for them. There is no excuse for verbally abusing and degrading someone who is trying to help you (sometimes even trying to help you with your ridiculous and over the top request). And also, going the corp. route isn’t something you should do for just any reason. I understand sometimes the situation calls for it, but some people really do not use any common sense in doing so. Just because you are speaking with someone that has the ability to change policy does not mean that they will, in fact, change the policy for you. Policies are there to protect the company and its employees from losses. You calling corporate with some foolish request will just re-enforce the idea that that perticular policy is needed, and probably get the CSR that transfered you to them into a whole heep of trouble. (note: this was meant for ridiculous requests and obvious abuse of getting free things, not for when a business messed up and refuses to fix the mistake. Sometimes you do need to get the big shots involved, but not all the time, and definately not how this person is suggesting.)

  102. ToadKillerDog says:

    I think I got a call from her once. It was on a problem I could have taken care of on the floor at Circuit City. Instead, I had to pass her on to my idiot boss who promised to fix the problem and then did not.

    Maybe it was her deranged clone that I got the call from.

  103. Skeptic says:

    BY DAN25 AT 09:18 PM
    Does Lona treat in-store employees like this too? If anyone treated me or any of my employees like this I most certainly would not make any policy exceptions for them

    So you say, but in person some people have such difficult personalities that you really will do almost anything to get rid of them, including caving in.

  104. spryte says:

    All the CSR or CSR-lovin’ people are acting like the OP is telling you to roar “YOU WILL HELP ME NOOOOOWWWWW” into the phone. Like we’re all Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer when he’s all drunk and pissed off on stage.

    Considering how many stories we’ve seen on here about CSRs who are so unhelpful you’d think the callers were on some sort of evil Candid Camera, I’d think people would see that consumers are getting fed up with this idea that we have to bow and scrape in order to get what is usually owed to us (think about all the Sears stories, FFS). What’s wrong with being a little more authoritative about what you want?

    And to those people who are saying “I wouldn’t help her, screw that, don’t talk to me that way” – yes, if a customer is being rude, yelling, cursing…by all means, don’t help them until they can calm down and call back. But from what it sounds like she isn’t being rude or inappropriate, so what is your argument to support NOT doing the job you chose to take? (Can I just repeat that – you CHOSE that job, whatever your personal situation, you chose to take the job you have, so stop effing crying about having to actually DO IT). Is it because she’s daring not to kiss your ass and plead for help, and instead is saying “Here’s my issue, and here’s how it should be fixed.” If your job is helping people with the problems they’re experiencing with your product/service/etc, I’m guessing there’s no exception when someone phrases their request in a way that you sorta don’t like.

    And yes, I know what being a CSR is like – I AM one. But I’m also a consumer. It is possible to balance the two and behave properly in either role.

  105. castlecraver says:

    OEM first-boots of Windows do indeed request creation of a boot disk. Llona and her sister are wrong. I hate Best Buy, but it is not their responsibility to remedy your sister’s ineptitude. If anything, your quarrel is with Microsoft.

    So, you will be helping us fix your situation today. You will apologize for not taking responsibility for your (sister’s) own error and being unreasonable and passive-aggressive with someone who was not at fault. No? Please put your supervisor on the line.

  106. icust298 says:

    I worked a job as a CSR at a national mortgage company while in college. And the lesson as always, people are idiots. When someone calls in yelling because they “had a fixed mortgage and their payment shouldn’t change” (Ummm yea well, you also have an escrow account and your taxes went up)or “didn’t get their bill” (you have a 30 year loan thats due every month). Most people are idiots, and anyone that has worked in a call center can attest to that. You wouldn’t believe how many idiots thought we were ripping them off. And yes being in a call center is a thankless, awful job. I try to remember what it was like sitting there all day when I call in and treat the people with respect, it seems to go a long way.

  107. Oregon says:

    Well it looks like Ben went trolling for CSR’s and exposed tons of them posting on this site. Having to deal with the attitude of the CSR’s who are posting to this thread is all the reason why we need to avoid the companies that employ them. Just another reason to avoid the box stores, big chains,and go local. Funny how when you buy local you have to think way back to the last time you needed to talk on the phone to a CSR.

  108. zolielo says:

    With the government I find that it is often best the case to ask how the agent would handle the situation if the roles were reversed. A bit of buttering up the agent can lead to expert level strategy / solutions for one’s problem.

  109. Amazonian says:

    From an CSA’s point-of-view:

    I have some issues with what the writer of these so-called mind tips has written:

    4. When you get a CSR on When/if they insist that they can help you, keeping your tone low and even, state again that you need to speak to a supervisor. Not want, need. If they again insist, state in a clear and calm, low tone, that they WILL connect you to a supervisor, now. Do not yell, shout, or raise your voice or tone. “No. You are going to get a supervisor for me. Thank you. I’ll wait.” Say “thank you” immediately. Do not wait for them to answer your request first. If they again insist, hang up immediately. Call back. If you get the same person, make the request again, and if they again refuse, hang up, wait one hour for a shift change, and then call back. Do not give the initial person your name. They do not need it.
    —At Amazon, if you will not verify security we WILL NOT help you, period (obviously, we’ll help with pre-order and general questions). We will not let you speak to our supervisor. The call back thing will not work. Everyone in the company will ask you the same security questions. Saying “It’s the one listed there on my account” doesn’t work either. If you do pass security and then ask to speak to a supervisor, we have to try and help you first. We won’t immediately pass you over, just because you request it, and it’s not because either party is being an ass. Our supervisor won’t take a call if we haven’t tried to help you.

    6. Explain your situation in a calm, even tone. Do not pause for them to respond until the entire situation/story has been told. Simply tell it as if you are dictating a letter. Once the entire situation has been explained, do not pause. Immediately give them the first option of how it should be fixed, in a simple, declarative sentence. “…this is the situation as it stands at this moment, and the reason I am calling. So what you will be doing for me today is…” or “ what we need to do today is…”
    —You won’t get very far with this tactic. By stating that ending line, you’re declaring you’re automatically entitled to whatever you want, even if it’s your fault for the situation.. Most of the issues that end up escalated to my supervisor are largely due to CUSTOMER ERROR. Why should we be responsible because you were not paying attention when placing your order? Go to the Your Account link on our website and take off your old addresses and credit cards. If it is Amazon’s fault, we’ll do everything to help and even add some goodies (even if you are being an ass).

    8. Listen carefully to the policy, then scan your list for solutions that fall within it
    If none of your solutions fall within their policy, inform them of your viable choices, and ask them how they are going to solve your problem. Do not ask if they will. Ask how. “So, how are we going to resolve this issue?” not “Isn’t there anything you can do?” or “there must be something you can do.” There is always something they can do. Do not ask. It is fact. If they inform you that there is nothing they can do, again ask for their supervisor or a corporate number.
    —If I can’t do it, there’s very little more my supervisor can do for you. They have a higher concession limit than I do (I can refund/replace/give goodies up to $150, my supervisor can do up to $500), but after that, they can’t offer any more concessions. And there are situations where we can do nothing for you, particularly if its A) your fault (such as you put in a wrong address) or B) its in shipping (we don’t do delivery interceptions).

    9. At this point the person should be working with you for a solution. Continue to keep a calm tone until you reach an acceptable solution Be sure to refer to the person by name at least twice, to make sure they know you remember it. If they say they will call back, ask for their direct line. If they do not have one, again ask for their supervisor or a corporate number.
    —We’re not allowed to give out our last names, personal email addresses, or extensions. Our supervisor will not give you one, either. We can get fired for doing so.

    11. If longer than the specified time goes past and the solution has not gone into effect, call the same number and ask for the person by name
    If this person is unavailable or does not exist (there is always the chance) go back through your notes and ask for the person you spoke to immediately previous.
    —I can’t transfer you to whom ever you spoke to last. They annotated your account, and I have to work off of that. If need be, I can shoot an email asking for more information on an order, but that’s it.

    • Eeyore71 says:

      I just want to say thank you to someone from Amazon, and since you posted here, I will thank you.

      While I agree with many of the frustrations of the OP with too many companies to count, Amazon has NEVER been one of them. The few times that I have had problems with Amazon (and I think one of them was even my fault), you have ALWAYS resolved my problems on the first attempt and have always exceeded my expectations. Well, actually, a few weeks ago, I had to contact Amazon a second time regarding a different problem with the same order that I previously contacted them about, but the situation could not have been forseen by the rep, so I don’t count that. The rep handled it in such a way that I was happy to contact them again. And, no, I didn’t get anything free out of the resolution, but the problem was effectively resolved in a courteous and effiecient manner and it didn’t warrant anything free. I always appreciate it when a rep apologizes for a mistake (even though it was not their personal mistake), takes responsibility for correcting it, and manages to do it correctly the first time. You will always earn my respect just for acknowledging the mistake and apologizing, even if you had no control over the original problem.

      I have actually been trying to think of MORE things to buy from Amazon that I used to buy elsewhere because you are so good about resolving problems when they (rarely) do arise.

      So again, thank you! from a loyal Amazon customer

  110. missdona says:

    My methods are similar, but a little nicer (it seems). I usually start out smiling (even if I’m pissed) and try to get the 1st level to fix the problem. If not, I ask for a supervisor and I dig in my heels. It might take multiple calls and follow-ups, but 99% of the time I get my way.

    I always stay pleasant and professional, but I’m hardcore and will wait, call, fax and send letters until I get the result I need.

    Keep in mind, CSRs, that it’s as much fun for me as it is for you. I’m only going to spend my time with this process if it’s worth it to me.

    I recently had it out with Office Depot on a never-delivered Black Friday item. They told me that my order was canceled and the item was discontinued. They never sent a cancellation, and the item was in my local store. After some serious perseverance, I got them to get the local store to release the item to me at the Black Friday price (without having to process a rebate).

  111. MonkeySwitch says:

    I generally bend over backwards to correct things that are not my fault. I appreciate you being calm. I expect you to be calm. I will help Susie’s with her problem because whether she has a back bone or not. I will, however, take my time to correct Jim’s problem because he’s a condescending ass hole (but with a smile). I don’t think that this lady has bad advice, it just all needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

  112. bookling says:

    @evslin: Agreed. I hate caving in to people who are assholes, but it’s just not worth the fight in most cases. Whenever I sense someone getting upset, I almost immediately call a manager in and let them take care of it. They DO get paid to fight those battles. It makes work much more bearable when you stop caring so much about sticking to policy.

  113. Marce says:

    When/if they [the CSRs] insist that they can help you, keeping your tone low and even, state again that you need to speak to a supervisor. Not want, need. If they again insist, state in a clear and calm, low tone, that they WILL connect you to a supervisor, now. Do not yell, shout, or raise your voice or tone. “No. You are going to get a supervisor for me. Thank you. I’ll wait.”

    If someone treated me this way on the phone, I would inform my supervisor–there is no reason to treat a CSR like a subhuman.

    Staying calm and polite, I agree with. But not telling the CSR–who probably has plenty of training that you know nothing about–what they will do.

    I’m more likely to respond to “Hi, my name is Jane Doe, here’s my account number. I was told to speak to a supervisor regarding this. Can you please get me in touch with one?” You don’t automatically assume that the CSR is completely powerless.

  114. Copper says:

    To follow Amazonian‘s lead, here’s the comments of a CSR. Also, I’m nice, I’m smart and I like my job.

    1. Calm and collected.

    2. Outline the situation and possible solutions.
    This is very helpful.

    3. Get the name.

    4. Ask for supervisor.
    Like most others have said, you usually can’t be transferred right away. We have things we must do and I’m not breaking rules for you. You’re not paying me, my boss is and I’m going to listen to him.

    5. Inform the person you have a situation they’re going to fix.
    Yes, we know you have an issue. You wouldn’t be calling otherwise. Be careful how you use these words. If you sound like a jerk who thinks he’s entitled to the world, I’ll still help you, but only what I’m required to do. I’ve given customers free shipping, discounts, etc. just because they were nice to me.

    6. Explain situation without letting CSR get in a word.
    I disagree with this. I have customers sit and tell me a 4 minute story when I only needed a simple order number to find out that their credit card failed authorization. If you’re talking on and on and I’m not allowed to ask questions, then something might be left out.

    7. Ask for full policy.
    Sure, you can ask for policy. For most places (Amazon, BEST BUY, etc.) it’s ON THE WEBSITE! Go read that. If you’re calling me wanting to know why you can’t return the computer you tried, but didn’t like without paying a restocking fee, I will think you’re an idiot. Our return policy is in every store and on the website.

    8. Listen to policy, see if your solutions fit.
    And if they don’t fit, don’t expect someone to be able to do something about it. I’m not going to waive the restocking fee because you “changed your mind”. I can’t and won’t.

    9. Continue with a calm tone.

    10. You SHOULD now have a solution.
    Okay, assuming you do, then yes, write everything down, make sure you have it right, ask for a reference/case/confirmation number, anything that would help you be able to reference the call if necessary in the future. All CSRs notate calls, there’s always a way of tracking. Can always be pulled up by some kind of your personal info (phone number, name, email), but sometimes there’s a specific number.

    11. If solution doesn’t come, call back and ask for the same person.
    You can ask, but usually, you won’t receive. We have no way of transferring you to another agent. For those CSRs who have direct extensions that customers *could* dial, we can’t give it out.

  115. Silverpirate3000 says:

    I’m not sure if there was any response to this article that addressed a few key points from the real CSR’s point of view. They all seem to push the customer away instead of simply saying what needs to be said. True when a customer calls in and they talk down to a CSR, it’s a good way to get ignored from the start. The same anonynimity that gives most customers the ability to talk down to a CSR is the same that the CSR has to ignore, push away, or in some cases simply hang up on most customers with this sort of attitude.

    If EVERYONE asked for a supervisor first and never listened to what the CSR can do then no one would ever get their call heard. There’s at least 15 CSRs to every supervisor in my company and if we all came to the supervisor right away all our customers would be waiting for hours at a time.

    The second point is about the “I didn’t get a success so I’ll hang up get someone else I can dupe” method. I’m not sure about other companies but in mine we take notes EVERY time a customer calls. And if it’s severe enough and the customer is truely out for something for nothing and “fishing” for a CSR that will do it we have a special window that we can place notes into that will pop up first that will tell the next CSR what the customer is trying to do.

    Bottom line, a regualar “grunt” CSR can do a lot with the policies most companies put in place so give them a chance to help you without telling them what they WILL or WILL NOT do. You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  116. create says:

    wow, this article has gotten some people fired up, lol

    being a csr i agree with most of what copper said above, and agree with most of the other csr’s posting

    i am fair, i work quickly, i like my job, and i am good at my job, supervisors come to me for assistance…

    sometimes you are actually better off if you play the cards that are dealt to you, to be honest, some csr’s are dumb enough to go outside of policy and give more than they are supposed to in error, you get the super and they know policy like the back of their hand… hell, to be candid, we are trained to basically screw policy if it makes the customer happy… supers are a little more hard from being chewed out all day long by one self-entitled idiot after the next, they are less likely to cave

    supervisors have very little they can do that i cannot, and i have many things i can do that supervisors may not know how to do… also because i do favors for supers, if i feel someone got screwed i can sometimes call in favors to help you out

    i know its all very confusing, and it is fine to call and be firm, i understand where you are coming from (we’ve all been screwed at one point or another)

    its fine to call and let me know what’d you’d like… if i can do it, and its reasonable, it will likely be yours, but if you tell me what i will and will not do, i dig my heels in

    and probably my biggest piece of advise is, be prepared to make compromises, if i can’t do what you’d like i will try and meet you half way… and be prepared to actually be wrong, some people like to self diagnose, but i am the one with all the toys, so while you may think you know the answer, 99% of the time, i am looking at the answer on my computer screen, i just have to convince you i know what i am talking about (which is not always easy)

    we are not all idiots, but we are all human beings, just like you, so if you call and treat me like i don’t know what i am an idiot, i will gladly get super on the line for you to back me up

  117. create says:

    should say “what i am doing” at the end, damn touch pads with tap click (just reformatted, forgot to turn it off)

  118. Skeptic says:

    OEM first-boots of Windows do indeed request creation of a boot disk. Llona and her sister are wrong. I hate Best Buy, but it is not their responsibility to remedy your sister’s ineptitude. If anything, your quarrel is with Microsoft.

    It was a floor model! It had already been booted before they bought it. They never had a chance to make the first boot back up disks. That is why it was Best Buy’s responsibility to step up to the plate.

  119. Xeelee says:

    I was too lazy to read all the comments but this is basically what I do in all the tips Llona gave. This only applies for Verizon DSL tech support
    1. Do keep your voice calm, please
    2. Do outline the situation before the call. Makes things easier for everyone
    3. I give my real name at call start. It’s policy to give the real name, although many agents don’t
    4. I’ll give you the supervisor. I cannot guarantee you’ll get what you want. If you refuse to give your name, I’ll terminate. We do NOT get anything done if you don’t provide a name. If you actively refuse to provide a name, I have authorization to terminate call.
    5. You want stuff fixed today? Unless it’s equipment/email configuration, sorry, no can do. Not even supervisors are able to. This specially goes for problems with the phone line/DSL signal.
    6. We *are* going to interrupt you to clarify some points. Deal with it. But don’t go and explain the whole story three or four times, that’s overkill and I’ll bite you for it.
    7. Most of Verizon’s policies involve creating a ticket and have it forwarded to another agency. The supervisor keeps track of what’s going on. Also, he doesn’t have the TN for corporate.
    8. Again, you’ll likely have to wait for the solution you want…
    9. … unless it’s something we’re able to fix ourselves right there and then (equipment configuration, email issues, bad equipment).
    10. Most of the time you’ll have a solution you want. Sometimes you will have a solution but not the one you want.
    11. 90%of the time we can’t transfer you to the specific person you want.

    12. I’m not corporate. I’m just a peon in the lowest rung of the power ladder. Also I don’t have their phone number. I’m sure Verizon did this on purpose.

    Now, here’s the kicker… it is emphazised we keep control of the call at all times. If I figure you’re smart enough to do stuff if I give you a simple instruction, I’ll let you do your own thing. If you keep doing more than what I asked for, I’ll put you down and take control of the call. You’ll probably get what you want but on my terms.

    I do want you to be confident and cool when you call. I do like to have someone I can work with on the other side of the line, someone who is willing to give me some flexibility and who is not going to make me feel like crap for helping out with an issue.

  120. clickable says:


    I was going to say that. Disk Cleanup would *never*, *never ever* delete essential operating system files. Further, it would warn the user with bells, whistles, sirens and flashing lights that the user is approaching dangerous territory if they start fooling around in sensitive parts of the Windows directory. Disk Cleanup simply cannot be configured, no way no how, to include essential operating system files in its sweep of files to clean up.

    The user can manually go through the C: drive, and can access the deepest corners of the operating system, including essential operating system files, and she can painstakingly and laboriously attempt to delete, one by one, essential operating system files, but even then, XP will not allow her to go through with it. She will right-click, and click delete, and by the time she closes the window, XP will have recreated the file. I have seen it happen when I accidentally tried to delete a couple of files that I later learned kept popping back up because they were essential, which I did not know when attempting to delete them. XP will simply not allow us to delete essential operating system files. Vista is even more sophisticated.

    So this person’s niece could not possibly have experienced the scenario as described in the article. Running Disk Cleanup would have shown her exactly which files were designated for deletion, and these would have been files from the temp directory, or programs that had not been accessed for a long time. She would have had to confirm each suggestion, so she could have decided to keep any program she did not wish to delete. And again, Disk Cleanup cannot, and is not configured to be able to, include essential operating system programs in the list of programs suggested for deletion.

  121. Humantarget says:

    The one problem that I see right away is that most new computers do not come with restore disks in the box anymore, Toshiba is one of the few that supplies the disks and most other manufactures require you to burn your own set now. If her sister in law did not do so, well thats her fault and not that of the store. Demanding that the store perform free service because the customer did not know enough to burn her own set is pretty ridiculous.

  122. Humantarget says:

    Skeptic: Most new systems now have an application for burning a recovery cd that is completly seperate from the initial OS install. Most of these applications can be found right in your program folder and most of them will pop up to remind you to burn a set. It is not the store’s responsibility to hold your hand with technology. Dont know how to use it? Learn or dont complain when it gets messed up.

  123. RisenPhoenix says:

    I can see the good points in this – but I can say that the moment someone -tells- me what I’m going to be doing in a call, my mind switches to ‘who can I palm this call off to?’. Most people who ‘tell’ you what you’re going to do don’t have the foggiest idea on what can be done – just what they think you can do. Like waving my magic wand and suddenly making a emergency replacement card appear.

    Definitly some good points, but very much a case of Your Mileage May Vary.

  124. EvilBadman says:

    Suggesting that the CSR that answers the call to immediately cold transfer you to a supervisor is a fantastic theory.

    Attempting to bully your way into through the call center hierarchy because you believe you’re entitled to it is quite a funny anecdote.

    Love the satire. Keep it up!

  125. Skeptic says:

    BY XEELEE AT 01:57 AM
    Now, here’s the kicker… it is emphazised we keep control of the call at all times. If I figure you’re smart enough to do stuff if I give you a simple instruction, I’ll let you do your own thing. If you keep doing more than what I asked for, I’ll put you down and take control of the call. You’ll probably get what you want but on my terms.

    Xeelee has posted one of the better and more informative CSR posts. However, note the irony. The reps are told that they must “control the call.” Lona’s method involves Lona’s policy that she must control the call. And we have that pesky question of control and who has a right to it. It is this issue that has so many CSRs bristling. They really, really don’t like being challenged for control of the call. But Lona is just as entitled to it as they are–that is neither party has a natural right to “control” the call. The company wants to control the customer and the customer wants to control the company–and so it is a battle of wills and a battle of policy. Funny how the CSRs are so enamored of company policy but have absolutely no respect for my “personal” policies not to accept BS. I have just as much right to have “policies” as the companies I deal with.

    • Tilted Libra says:

      You agreed on policies whenever you started your monthly service/purchases the companies product…Those are the policies you use when dealing with that company. That is business. Your personal policies outside of those are for you, not the company.

  126. dantsea says:

    Another point to consider when asking for a supervisor from the start: At many companies, call center supervisors are not your product or policy experts, but glorified HR representatives and paper pushers.

    Quality monitoring is outsourced or split into another department, team leads roving the call center floor are the knowledge experts answering questions when you’re put on hold, a different tier of representative handles escalations with that extra “juice” you’re looking for.

    So while you may get that supervisor on the line, ultimately you might wonder why you bothered calling back 20 times to get one.

  127. cbear says:

    It makes me sad that people on this site are so willing to write off CSRs as scum who go out of their way to deprive customers of their time and money. They seem to think that people expressing their dislike at being treated like useless obstacles devoid of dignity is just more proof that CSRs are snarling, hateful sociopaths.
    Almost all the CSRs who have posted in this thread have spoken out against the suggestions from the original article. I’m going to hedge my bets and say that CSRs who read a consumer advocacy blog are probably decent reps.
    The problem is, the people who are most likely to help you in an escalated situation – the reps who identify most closely with both the ideals of customer service and the company they work for – are the most likely to be insulted by the authoritarian tone of Llona’s advice. Why would you talk down to someone who may have actually wanted to help you? Instead, you’ve turned a problem into a personal confrontation, and for what?
    I happen to work for a company (AT&T) where I’m relatively unconstrained by policies and procedures when it comes to customer satisfaction. If we caused the problem, we fix it, no arguing. Some reps don’t have that freedom, and I feel bad for them, because their jobs are a lot harder. Does this mean the “alpha wolf” tactics are more likely to work against them? No, because a company that doesn’t allow low-tier employees to solve problems isn’t interested in customer satisfaction.

  128. cbear says:

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. CSRs don’t care about control, they care about call resolution. Call control means keeping the customer on track when they start to go off on tangents, or start listing off irrelevant, unrequested information. It’s about solving the problem while wasting as little time as possible.
    I don’t really understand why you keep trying to present customer service as some kind of battle. I agree: some CSRs are lazy, shiftless boobs who just want you off the phone, some companies see customer service as a way of stringing unhappy customers along while they bleed them for as much as they can. But there isn’t an intrisic conflict, at least not until you start following Llona’s advice.

  129. duffbeer703 says:

    @kcrusher: People who are effective at pulling off stuff like this generally are able to come across as very reasonable — their delivery doesn’t sound nearly as demanding as it reads.

    When I was selling crap to consumers, my conversations with customers pretty much went the same way — I’d talk about the service plans and stuff I was getting paid to sell and would say almost nothing about the product they were in for.

    You would think that people would hate that, but I actually had the highest surveyed satisfaction rating in the store — one time a customer talked another hardass customer into a service plan when i was getting his stuff!

  130. watchmanseven says:

    My attutude on the phone is directly realted by the caller on the other end. If you’re pleasant and ot a jerk, I’ll go out of my way to help you. I’ll bend rules, get a sup to override, and try and work it out for you.

    Treat me like a jerk or try and man handle the situation and you get nothing.


  131. watchmanseven says:

    and by “refused to do their job” you mean give you whatever you want regardless.

    Not so much.@StevieD:

  132. watchmanseven says:

    oops didn’t read the whole thing(that what happens when you scan posts). And yes, you’re right.@StevieD:

  133. quux says:

    Llona has some good advice in here, and some bad advice.

    The good: understand the problem, know what solution you would like to acheive, keep notes with names, listen to policy and choose acceptable solution.

    The bad: basically everything else.

    The basic assumption Llona seems to have taken here is this company is out to screw me; I must screw them instead (ok, it’s not quite that bad, but you get my gist). The question I would ask first is: why did you do business with them in the first place, then?

    (If you chose them because they were the cheapest, hmm. Maybe there’s a reason they deliver the product at the lowest price?)

    If you called the company and you got to talk to a human, then that company has at least some vested interest in solving the problem and keeping you as a customer. You most likely are talking with a human who was hired, trained, and paid to solve problems all day long, every day. Keep that in mind! It shows that the company does in fact want to solve problems for its customers.

    But not every problem is solvable. That company also has to show a profit. Consider: if the customer support line were the way to get more than you paid for, everyone would use it for exactly that purpose, the company would soon be spending more money than it makes, and not long after would be closing its doors. Do you really want to be doing business with a company who’s motto is We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you ?? If not, then you should be doing your best to work out a solution which is beneficial to both you and the company you have chosen to do business with.

    I won’t rehash the many excellent suggestions given in the comments (which are far more valuable than the original article!). I will say that among many good comments here, Stinkycat, Jermscentral, Cowboys_fan, Jackiejoy, Zolielu, Copper, and Cbear have written some standout hints; heed them if you are wise!

    Finally, a few tips which I didn’t notice in the article or comments:

    Keep both name and the time in your notes. Every time you are transferred. These can come in handy if somehow your call takes too long to resolve, and you need to escalate to someone who might be able to fix training or call-flow problems (they do happen).

    If email or online help ticket system are available, use them. In this way, your own description of the issue, verbatim, will be stored in their ticket system. That’s useful in many ways. If you are calling back about the issue, give the ticket number, and offer the CSR a few minutes to read the notes there. Whenever I can, I start the issue in written form, wait an hour or so, then call in and reference that ticket.

    Help the CSR speed the call. Like it or not, time is money, and CSRs are judged on how quickly they can resolve situations. Give them the information they need, when they need it. Don’t bother them with things outside of their control.

    Remember the Golden Rule. If you are not treating that CSR the way you would want to be treated if the situations were reversed, something is wrong!

    Follow up. If the call went well, email the company saying so, can complimenting the people (by name!) who worked on your call. If it did not go well, phrase followup in a constructive, I hope this helps you guys down the road sort of way.

    Good luck, folks. Remember, it takes two to tango!

  134. chargernj says:

    @headon: That’s what is wrong with customer service today. People who don’t like being told to do their jobs. I work at a private college and deal with large amounts of money (tuition). Sometimes people have problems with how things were handled on our end and will sometimes vent it at me. I don’t take it personally, it’s just part of the job. I understand that they aren’t angry with me, but at the situation they are in. If they tell me I will fix it, I let the comment roll off my back and
    do my best to help them.

    Perhaps you’re just not cut out for that kind of work. Sometimes you have to deal with people who don’t speak nicely to you, but it’s part of the job. Not saying you should put up with abuse, but it sounds to me like your being a real diva about the whole thing. Granted so is the caller, but she is doing what has worked in the past to get results. You would just be copping an attitude.

  135. chargernj says:

    @Dan25: throught the whole thing she stated more than once that she remains calm and polite. Do you really think that someone being firm and staying focused on what they consider to be an acceptable solution is abusive?

  136. Mr. Gunn says:

    Lona’s advice, in summary, is to lie.

    Disk Cleanup won’t cause a computer to not boot. Buying a shitty computer from Best Buy that you don’t know how to use will cause it to stop working. I have never done CS, hate when I have to call, but somehow get my problems solved without lying or harassing the rep.

    I have a relative (by marriage, not blood!) that is always calling in to get free stuff using the “I’m going to yell at you and your manager until you give me something for free” technique. She’s as persistent as a bulldog and eventually gets something, which she then brags about, but it’s usually not worth the time and effort she’s spent.

  137. create says:


    you raise an interesting point… a lot of the people i work (csr’s) with read consumerist and swear by it

    further, i am determined that my company/division never end up on here, and should it, i would do everything in my power to assist that person a.s.a.p.

    overall i love what consumerist has done for people, and my friends and i at work are active readers/posters/submitters

  138. Saydrah says:

    What an absolutely miserable person she would be to talk to. If she is getting results, it is only because she is dealing with companies that have a policy of satisfying the customer at all costs- which is really quite bad business, being as this allows customers who respresent a loss to the company (non-paying cell subscribers for example) to remain with the company, while taking time away from retaining profitable customers. If I were the supervisor receiving such a call, I would politely tell her I do not know whether or not I will be solving her problem today, and ask her to please simply describe the problem. If she persisted, I would either offer only a solution that follows every letter of every policy- and no more. Exceptions are for people who deserve it, not people who think they are entitled to it. These tactics may work for used car salespersons, but I don’t really care to talk to used car salespersons either.

    How would you like it if your waitress came by the table to say, “You will be tipping me 25% tonight!”

  139. watchmanseven says:

    The most interesting thing is all the people that say CSR’s need to “do their job and give me what I want” are the same people that offer horrible customer service themselves.

    Bottom line treat people how you want to be treated.

  140. Skeptic says:

    BY CBEAR AT 05:17 AM

    I don’t really understand why you keep trying to present customer service as some kind of battle.

    You are right. Generally it isn’t. But for resolving the kind of issues that come up on Consumerist, it often is, whether it is terminating a cell phone contract because of a fee increase, stopping subscription or getting a company to fix a problem they created, often times company policy is intractable. The “battle” is usually caused when company policy puts the CSRs at odds with customers who want reasonable solutions.

    I think that everyday CSR calls are not the same animal as the kind Lona is talking about. I think that is where a major disconnect in this thread stems from.

  141. bonzombiekitty says:

    When I was a tech support rep for a large pharmaceutical company, I would go through hell and high water to get your problem fixed by default. If you were nice and pleasant to me, I’d go through hell and high water, lakes of fire, blindfolded, multiple times to get your problem fixed. But if you called me up with an attitude right off the bat, my goal would be to get you off the phone as quickly as possible. Most of the time that meant just denying whatever you wanted done, or kicking it over to desk side support, which would take much much longer to have your problem resolved.

  142. themediatrix says:

    To Folks who are objecting to Lona’s use of “you will” phrases…I have to say that if done right, this does work and it *doesn’t* sound arrogant or patronizing.

    The trick while using this technique is to be on the same side as the person you are talking to.

    Picture yourself shoulder to shoulder with the person, taking the attitude that you are both hunched over together working to solve the problem. Only YOU are leading the team. “I will help you solve it, don’t worry.”

    This works and it isn’t unpleasant, manipulative or mean. This approach has gotten me a refund PLUS two free tickets from Expedia’s corporate headquarters, a $100 credit at Whole Foods, and a few other things. All very much deserved and appropriate, after a company’s error.

  143. Skeptic says:

    This works and it isn’t unpleasant, manipulative or mean.

    It may not be unpleasant or mean but it is definitely manipulative, it is a psychological trick, a method, to help persuade someone. That is manipulative. That being said, the CSRs are also taught tricks to manipulate customers so it is only reasonable that customers have the same kind of resources in their defense.

  144. Dan25 says:

    @chargernj: Staying calm and polite is one thing, but no matter how calm or polite you are, if you are requesting something that is totally out of the question you are not going to get it. And yes, threatening to call corporate for every little BS thing is being abusive.

  145. banmojo says:

    @headon: Clearly, it DOES work. We would simply hang up on you, wait for your shift to finish, then deal with someone more humane than you.

  146. banmojo says:

    @headon: Name calling, to boot? Does anyone else dislike this poster?

  147. Seacub says:

    I would rather be fired for “customer abuse” and find a new job than allow a customer to tell me what I “will” be doing for them. Customers who behave in these ways are part of the reason why CSRs hate customers! Just be honest, say what you want, be polite, don’t be a dick (mostly just be honest). You’ll get what you want, or as much as the CSR is allowed to give. If that’s not good enough, it’s highly unlikely a supervisor can do better. Start with corporate if you’re that pissed off about whatever inspired you to call in the first place.

  148. Xeelee says:

    @Skeptic: You are absolutely right. It is a battle of wills. Now, like I said before it is emphazised we keep control of calls at all times. This even goes to the first week of training. They don’t want callers to have absolute control over the agents because that gives us Printer Boy: Once a customer wanted to print the Verizon ToS but the printer was out of ink… and this customer kept the agent on the line while he went out to a store and got a new printer.

    @DanB: According to the information I’ve got, everyone on the support food chain has access to the same tools I, the front-line agent, has access to. Pretty much the only thing supervisors have I don’t have is a tool to keep track of callers with unresolved issues and authorization to replace bad equipment under warranty.

    @cbear: People who treat me like scum I get the problem solved in such a way I *know* they will have to call back sooner or later. People who give me a chance and work with me get The Treatment: They get their issue solved, they get an explanation of why there was a problem, get tips on how to avoid the problem in the future. Basically, I make them learn more about internet/computers and make it enjoyable, call time be damned.

    I’ve been doing DSL tech support for almost two years now. Like Mr. Zander said, “I love my job, I hate my customers.” I will often help you with stuff I’m not supposed to help. Hell, often I’ll give people the Real Solution instead of the Verizon Solution. I like to think I’m good at what I do because of my experience with computers and networking and my willingness to not kiss Verizon ass. I’m not moving up the food chain but at the end of the day this is just a job.

  149. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    @Dan25: Brilliantly put. If half the people reading this or yet, posting snarly responses had to do so face-to-face (or while using their given names), I imagine we’d witness a bit more politesse. I worked very high-end retail during college (80s), and the only difference between then and now is that there are millions more people now who feel entitled to threaten customer-facing people. You not only have to count on these people to help you solve your problem, but you might be standing behind them on line at the post office or driving alongside them, unknowingly. Yes, some companies have arcane policies, or don’t empower their CSRs, but use courtesy first and allow them to try to address your problem, or take the chance that somehow this will come back to you–whether you believe in karma or not.

  150. KIRZEN2007 says:


    20 seconds later, that problem will be getting you to transfer to someone above you, and if you refuse, it will be to ask the name of your supervisor. And if you refuse, it will be to contact corporate to calmly explain that you would neither help them, nor offer the name of the person you report to in the company.

    At that point, in most companies ‘your’ problem will be finding a box large enough to empty your desk into.

  151. KIRZEN2007 says:

    I find it very strange that people here are trying to tear down a system and policy that will work very well if applied correctly. Given that I work in the upper teir of customer service for a call center warranty company and was (before being promoted) the main customer service representative for corporate level escalations, I can certainly say that this -will- work. In fact despite the fact that this will come off sounding entitled, and it requires that you have a polite, careful demeanor and choose your words very carefully, it’s effective.

    Its only fault is that it doesn’t really explain ‘how’ to do some of these things, it simply tells you to calmly explain the situation, but doesn’t really try to provide an understanding of the relationship between the customer and the customer service agent. Its like hitting a nut with a sledge hammer… effective, but indelicate and coarse, and it requires a fundemental understanding that the author obviously has, but very few people have. This is a tool, a very good tool, but applied without tact and negotiating skill, its more likely to get you hung up on.

  152. banone says:

    I used to be a CSR. When somebody called and asked for a supervisor, we’d hit mute on the phone and ask our fellow grunts “who wants to be the supervisor this time?”

  153. dylon says:

    absolutely, mindblowingly arrogant…

    I don’t understand why people assume that because something went awry with an order they placed with someone that they have the right to speak to people like this idiot is instructing you to do. demanding things “now” and saying “no, you WILL find a solution” is arrogant, repellant, and indicative of alot that is wrong with the way we treat one another. That’s how you talk to a dog “you will piss outdoors” How bout this: we are both human beings and I will treat you like a human if you do the same. There is no need to get rude and snippy and demand things from people like they are below you. A) Likely, this specific individual has NOTHING TO DO WITH making your life miserable. Even if they work for the company, do they deserve you’re wrath? B) Most often, in nearly 90% of the cases, its the CUSTOMER’s FAULT. READ THE POLICIES you lazy bastards. You can’t complain after the fact. I dont care how fine the print is, you need to do your homework before you start throwing your c.c info all over the web. I have no patience for this brand of smugness and thankfully I work for a company that doesnt tolerate it. Speak to my reps like an asshole and you’ll get NOTHING (since more often than not you dont actually deserve any consideration anyway because YOU FUCKED UP). Stupid post encouraging stupid, stupid beahviour. I hope you all do the exact opposite and treat people like…i dunno, people.

  154. chargernj says:

    @Dan25: I get what you’re saying but I don’t believe that she is asking for anything out of the question. If it is possible for someone up the chain of command to do what is asked what is wrong with escalating till you find satisfaction. Again I think people are more focused on how they are being asked/commanded rather than asking if she has a valid and solvable issue. I like what a previous commenter said about the customer having their own policies. If I decide it is my personal policy to escalate issues untill I’m happy how is that less valid than any companies policy to resolve their customer services issues according to company regulations. It is a battle of will sure, but don’t take it personal. She really isn’t talking to you Dan25 who is probably an excellent guy to know and hang out with. She is talking to you’re employer who is using you as their mouthpiece, and with most companies the employees are considered expendable.

  155. orehitna says:

    I’m just going to start off by saying I read only a few comments, so forgive me if this has been covered.

    Having worked on the customer service end for two large companies (one in security, one in telcom) I can tell you this is only going to work probably 75% of the time, not 99% as indicated in the article, however that may have been the authors experience.

    While I agree with the fact that one should be remaining calm, and authoritive, if you come off as rude there are people who will not help you. And I don’t mean refuse you service and hang up on you, I mean, will only do the bare minimum so if called on it they can say they did something.

    Once again, going back to my own experience, that’s how I was. The people on the other end of the phone (read: CSR) are not (always) idiots. Couple that with some people who are aware they know what they are doing, and feel either secure enough in their job or don’t care enough about it, and you have a dangerous combination for a customer like this. There are also several instances where there ISNT a manager, or supervisor available, or if there is, they aren’t there to handle phone calls, but to manage their staff.

    Having worked in the industry, the most success I have with talking to reps is to be friendly, understanding, listening to what they say, joking around, and so forth. Yeah, we get that you as a customer are pissed off. We are people too. We get pissed off about the same things when we’re in your shoes. But anyone attacked who doesn’t have a submissive personality is going to butt heads with you.

    Obviously there is always more that can be done. Your best bet is to have someone who knows a little bit about the environment handle the situation. When you know all the typical trappings of both your frontline CSRs and customers, you’re going to get a lot more done for you.

    At least… here in Canada, you will.

  156. syl1985 says:

    Being a former CSR and having this tried on me several times I can tell you that it did nothing but get my back up and much as my customer service training said not to.

    This was the only thing that really irked me, screaming, crying, swearing, lying, they were all fine but anyone this smug I couldn’t (and no one should have to) deal with.

  157. DanGarion says:

    I got to say, you lost me at step four. If a customer acts like this and immediately asks for a supervisor they aren’t getting past me. My job when I was in tech support was to solve the problems, supervisors do just that they supervise they don’t have the expertise in solving the most technical problems most the time. Why go to a supervisor that is just going to refer you back to the tech. If you are calling in for the first time, take the time to actually see if someone can help you, instead of wasting everyones time by trying to get straight to a supervisor. You are not special every customer should be treated equal.

  158. thedamningwell says:

    Having been a CSR for a major home theater company for quite a long time I would like to point out that the company I work for will not allow me to transfer a customer to a supervisor without first getting their contact information. As far as the rest of this article goes, I wish more consumers would act like this when they call in for support, as a CSR we handle hundreds of calls a day and toward the end of the day even a slightly irritating consumer can get shafted due to our moods. Handling a problem with a calm voice and having solution options already in mind helps a ton, my job as to help people fix their problems but when someone doesn’t know what their problem is or they have no idea what they want done it becomes a frustrating call for me and the consumer. Overall good post, glad to see some one has finally figured it out.

  159. BugMeNot2 says:

    I know that she thinks she is quite smart with her tactic and perhaps it works often however she may only cause herself more trouble. My wife works for chase and when she gets customers that will not compromise she simply reports them to the manager who then proceeds to cancel their account, lol.
    At my job the buck stops with me. I do not elevate anyone to a supervisor nor do I even give out the full name of the supervisor and this is at his request. Again a customer that will not take a fair compromise will not remain a customer of ours. I have canceled many accounts myself for people like her, lol.

    • Eeyore71 says:

      to BugMeNot: Why do you feel that you get to decide what’s fair? Why are you the one in the position to make the final decision? I’m not trying to start a fight, I’m honestly interested in your reply.

  160. GoodDamon says:

    Some of this might be good advice, but never ever ever do this when calling tech support! The last thing you want to do is “control the call” when someone’s trying to help you fix your computer.

    When you’re talking to me, I need you to:

    * Tell me clearly and concisely what problem you’re having
    * Answer my questions about your environment
    * Give me quick and painless access to any files or logs related to your problem
    * Refrain from telling me the equivalent of your computer’s life story
    * Get (verbally) out of my way

    We can either have a pleasant ten minute conversation in which I fix your computer… Or an unpleasant half hour one-sided conversation of you telling me everything I’m going to do, followed by a ten minute conversation in which I fix your computer. Which would you prefer?

  161. bobbobbob says:

    This article is nonsense.

    All you need to do is be reasonable and polite and you will usually get what you want. Agents WANT to help; it makes their day easier. Arrogant/rude/angry customers just set everyone’s day on the wrong course.

    Being a passive-aggressive arsehole will not get you any preferential treatment. It is more likely to get the agent’s defences up.

    In the above ‘win’, I would wager that the caller got what she wanted because the supervisor was not willing to speak to such an arrogant c*** any longer for the sake of $100.

    Yes, sometimes the rude customers get what they want because there is no point stooping to their level, but more commonly the nice customers get what they want because the agent wants to help them.

    I’ve done some supervising in a call centre, and quite frankly I would have stood firm with this caller in this instance, though had she been pleasant I would have at least offered a compromise, maybe the full $100.

  162. dons888 says:

    To Lona:

    Whatever happened to PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and being POLITE? Your family bought a faulty computer (floor model, hello) and then 6 months later your family fucked it up. How was that the stores responsibility?

    If you want exceptional service, go to a reputable computer store (not best buy) and yes exceptional service cost much more and get an extended warranty if you think you are careless enough to fuck it up anytime.

    And by saying “No, you are going to get a supervisor for me, thank you and I’ll wait” your message is, I am an arrogant bitch/prick and I have entitlement issues.

  163. mugs79 says:

    Its pretty clear that the only people leaving positive comments are those who have never actually had to deal with a customer like that. I’ve worked in tech support for years.

    Customers who tell me what I WILL do will be placed in the queue. The very, very back of the queue. “It will confuse them enough that they will allow you to explain your situation,” is horribly asinine. You don’t need to “confuse” a CSR into doing his or her job.

    Customers who immediately ask for a manager or supervisor? They’re just plain stupid. The CSR’s are there to help you, thats their job. The supervisors and higher level support employees (I fall into the latter category) are there to take care of what the CSR’s can’t. No supervisor or upper level support personnel are going to waste their time with elementary nonsense that the CSR’s can take care of.

    It is goal of nearly every CSR to get you off of his phone. Believe me, if he or she cannot help you, you’ll get escalated plenty fast.

    You want to get your problem taken care of? Be nice. I’ve bent over backwards for people with annoying, irritating, or even just boring run-of-the-mill problems just because they were polite, civil, and friendly to me.

    Want to get stuck in phone support hell forever? Then be like Lona.

    I hope enough people read down this far. Maybe it will cut back on the number of Lonas I have to deal with every day.

  164. phaedrus73 says:

    As a CSR I can honestly say that these are really the complete opposite of how you should handle things. Most supervisors 9 (at least where I work) do not have any clue about how to fix the problems. If you goto my Sup, I can promise you the issue will not get resolved. Not to mention the fact I would not even be willing to go out of my way to help someone that treated me like that. I will agree you need to remain calm, and collected and describe your problem. If you get a stupid CSR (and their are plenty), hang up and try again. Once you get someone that knows what they are doing your problem can be fixed in no time.

  165. sketec says:

    I have a situation that you are going to fix for me today. I appreciate your patience. You are going to replace this articles title with “How to be an ass to customer service reps”. If this isn’t policy. What, exactly, is your policy in this situation? DO IT NOW!

    • Eeyore71 says:

      I’m new here, so I’m not entirely sure how this works, but I suspect that the OP did not title the article. She wrote the article and Ben Popken added comments and titled it.

  166. wheelerdealer says:

    Why bother with ten million steps, I NEVER do! I remain calm deal directly with store manager and if I am refused I already have the CEO/President of that company to refer to by name and tell the manager I am plugging his name, repeat it outloud, to the fax already teed up in the home computer. All I need do is hit “send” from the road and it is on its merry way.
    I get what I want every single time……………
    NEVER fails, even at Best Buy!
    I NEVER deal with any minimum wage worker who has no authority to deal and help a situation. Always go straight to the top!

  167. dons888 says:

    To Lona:
    Whatever happened to PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and being POLITE? Your family bought a faulty computer (floor model… hello) and then 6 months later your family fucked it up. How was that the stores responsibility?
    If you want exceptional service, go to a reputable computer store (not Best Buy) and yes exceptional service cost much more, and get an extended warranty if you think you are careless enough to fuck it up anytime.
    And by saying “No, you are going to get a supervisor for me, thank you and I’ll wait” your message is, I am an arrogant bitch/prick and I have entitlement issues.

  168. jooverz says:

    Wow, how manipulative. lol

  169. pgluth1 says:

    Sounds great in theory, but in practice, I disagree. As a disclaimer, I work in customer service, but for a government agency, not a business. I have heard this exact scenario many times.

    1. If someone demands to see my supervisor, I calmly ask to know why and why only a supervisor can help them. I ask what steps have they done to fix them problem already. After this, if I am unable to help, I tell my supervisor the whole story before they ever see the customer. With that, I know ahead of time whether the customer will get their way.

    2. If the customer is clearly wrong, I tell them and explain what went wrong and how best to fix it. If the customer disagrees or wants something that can’t be done, I tell them again, THIS is how to fix the problem. ANY other way will only delay the issue and may make it worse.

    3. If they demand to see things “in writing,” most times that’s easy with the government. If they complain, explain that fighting with advocates and lawyers will probably cost them more, but they are welcome to fight.

    4. If they still insist on talking to a manager, they may – the manager will know the story beforehand.

    5. The louder they complain, the quieter and more calm I get.

    In short, if they say “I will fix their problem,” I tell them we will try our best, nothing less. It they claim I am rude and they will “turn me in” I state they are being recorded. (true for my agency). Lastly, I explain what can be done, if anything, to fix the problem and exactly how to get it done. If the customer disagrees and wants something else, or says “this is unacceptable” – too bad – I already explained how to fix it.

    I have never lost, backed down, or had my supervisor overrule me – and I have dealt with lawyers, court subpoenas and cranky old men who threaten me.

  170. CSR-Guy says:

    Okay, I work as a front line CSR for half my shift and the other half I do as a supervisor. My company one of the top 3 manufacturers of office equipment in North America and I can’t name them because I am under an NDA. However, I can tell you how CSR works with us….

    First off the single largest priority of the CSR is to get you off the phone with a resolved issue. Believe it. They don’t want you clogging up the lines anymore than you want to be on them. Having tons of people on hold is DEATH to a call center. Now, as for the recommended steps.

    1. Hell, yes. CSR’s breathe a sigh of relief when they get someone who is calm and collected.

    2. Also good. If you know the issue fully you can explain it to us fully. Knowing what you want is a good step as well, just be prepared to compromise on it.

    3. I do this myself when I call companies. Another good idea.

    4. Hell no! At the least give your first name and a short summary of the situation. That gives the supervisor a running start on gettings fixed for you. Also, as said by others most supervisor can actually do less for you than front line can.

    5. As a supervisor I appreciate your faith in me but front line is better at technical than me. About 90% of supervisors are nothing but process monkeys or personnel managers. Its usually front line that has the knowledge and the tools to fix things.

    6. When I get this as a supervisor I just put it down as a rant. Unless there are pauses for me to take notes or clarify points it all blurs together which makes things worse for you. What I can do for you may not be what you want me to do.

    7. Policy is almost always on a company website or on a warranty document. Read your warranty. This outlines what you can get from a company.

    8. If you make a declaration of what you want you will get a declaration of what they can do. For most companies like mine Tier 3 support is reserved for help desks and onsite repair agents. In other words for people who speak technical jargon and not for the end user. You cannot be put through to them and if you could you likely wouldn’t be willing or able to follow their instructions anyway. Asking for the corporate number is saying,”Its time to end this call. Stop trying to do anything further.”

    9. Yes, if you are working with us we will be on our way to a resolution. Supervisors do not have direct lines. Most of the time they don’t even have phones. They just plug into the front line agents phone. Asking for a supervisors supervisor is just silly. Such a person does not exist and anyone who is telling you differently is lying.

    10. Getting an ETA is good. Just remember that it is an estimate not a deadline. Again, direct lines or extensions will not be given out. Period.

    11. Following up on an ETA is always good. Sometimes crap happens despite the best intentions. Again, requesting the corporate number tells whoever you are speaking to that you have no intention of working with them and its,”Here is the number have a nice day.”

    12. If you come on the corporate line saying this be prepared to be transferred right back to front line.

    Remember that the front line CSR wants to resolve your issue on the FIRST call, quickly and cheaply. They want to resolve things because that gets you off their phone, gives them good metrics and makes you want to buy more stuff from their company. Overall to judge how effective the given steps are just imagine how well they would work if someone came into your place of work and tried them on you.

  171. watwat45678 says:

    LOL. I see this every day at work and it is proof that you will attract far more flies with honey than vinegar. CSRs, sales people and managers are all humans, and most have egos and wont willingly get them trampled over by someone they assume has “an entitlement problem”. I once had a woman call and complain because the TV she had taken home was defective (and a minor issue at that, one that could be lived with for perhaps a few days). She droned on for 15 minutes about how she had driven ALL THE WAY to the store and ALL THE WAY back, and that we were going to send someone out that night TO HER HOUSE, an hour before close, and pick up the television and bring out a new one.

    When this woman told me she was from the same town as me, about 10 minutes away, I instantly was far less willing to help her out because I sensed she had quite an “entitlement problem” and needed a dose of reality.

    Now, we can and have done stuff like this before, even though we aren’t supposed to. I once drove 40 miles to another store to pick up a TV and bring it to a nice old lady’s house at my manager’s request. I got compensated for time and gas money, and the customer was happy.

    I got the same thing once from a customer whose television shit the bed 6 months after she bought it. Obviously major retailers wont do anything for ou outside of their return window without an extended warranty.
    Lady: “You will replace my television”
    Me: “Did you happen to purchase an extended warranty?”
    Lady: “No.”
    Me: “Well, sorry, but I wont be replacing your TV. Hopefully Polaroid (or whatever shitty manufacturer it was, I can’t quite remember) will.”

    I try to give friendly service to every customer I deal with, and be thoughtful and understanding in the process, but it IS a two way street, even if one side is a five lane freeway and the other is a back ally.

  172. YouPeople says:

    I happen to work at one of those big faceless corporations, and I can say with confidence that this approach is a really really bad idea, unless you’ve had complete failure with everything else.

    First of all, if you’re looking for something you don’t have coming to you, like a free copy of XP for being a doofus and messing up your computer (Disk Cleanup didn’t do that, you can be honest with us) that means you’re looking for someone who can bend the rules for you. Often, that isn’t a manager, and you aren’t going to get special treatment acting like that. You’re usually going to get the bare minimum and not an inch more.

    Someone pulled this one on me the other day, demanded a manager, wouldn’t say why, etc. I had two managers within four feet of me, and neither wanted to take it, so I had to put the customer down for a callback. I kept checking to make sure someone was going to take care of it, and finally, four days later, they call back, and it turns out the customer wanted their Internet reconnected RIGHT NOW. There were notes, so i figured they had done it. Two days after that, I get an email, and they want me to do it. Three minutes later, they’re back online, just like I could have done on DAY FREAKING ONE.

    Also: if you’re calling tech support or some other call center acting like that, they’re going to note the account- sometimes those notes stick around for years. You might be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. Be a reasonable person with reasonable expectations and you’ll get what you want 99% of the time.

  173. anotherrep says:

    I spent a bit of time as a csr, and a signifigant bit of time dealing with customers directly before that in a couple small businesses i ran while in school.

    For a genuine nice customer i would go out of my way to help them.

    The screaming raving mad customer will be stonewalled.

    The customer that immediatley demands a manager and refuses to say anything else would be stonewalled until they provided me with a way to look up their order, see what the situation was, and if i could help them myself. In many situations i could, if not i would attempt to reach someone who could.

    A customer that continued to refuse to provide any information would be forwarded to a voicemail box, maybe someone gets back to them, maybe not.

    Basically, if you were rude, arrogant, yelling, demanding, or a dick, good luck getting you’re problem fixed it it was outside of policy. You want to be a normal person, maybe something can be done to help you.

    With regards to supervisors, some will bend to make a customer happy, some will stick exactly to policy. The csr decides who they forward you to.

    Also the csr’s get to see the notes from previous reps on earlier calls.

  174. ISPTECH says:

    Ok here it is i work for a major ISP i am tier 3 i take calls from customer from all over the country. when you speak to me i either fix your issue or i can have a tech at your door within 2 hours to fix the issue.

    with that said when you call in be calm no matter how mad you are no matter how big the issue ask the CSR what information they need to help you. give them the information. at this point just be patient the tech will ask you all the questions they need to fix the issue.

    i can normally fix most issues in under 5 mins if not you will have a reference number and someone will be contacting you shortly.

    if you ask for a supervisor right off the bat what will happen is basically i will ask you if i can help you if you say no i will take your information and i will call a supervisor. usually leave a message for them to call you and then you have to wait and wait and wait only for them to call back one of us to fix your issue.

    go about calling in however you want. be irate be happy go lucky be sneaky as stated above.

    bottom line
    if your nasty you will get no help
    if your nice you probably will get help
    if you just relax and let us do our job you will be fine

    We know all the issues that are going in the company
    we don;t needed to be yelled and and reminded about them over and over.

    and in most cases we probably agree with you and why you are upset and in most cases i will usually let the customer know that i would be upset to and really mean it.

  175. jake98gt says:

    From my experience as a CSR for broadband companies this isn’t a very good technique to use. If you immediately ask for a supervisor 90% of the time its gonna be the person in the next cube… not actually a supervisor. Also if you get someone that actually does know alot about the job they are doing then you are just gonna get a run around and probably end up with new issues to have resolved. The best thing i could say is to just state your problem you should be able to tell if the person you’re talking to really knows what they’re doing. And for the most part the supervisors don’t know near as much as the CSR’s you are talking to at first. You best bet would be to ask for a floor walker or another CSR that has more knowledge of the subject. This is the best bet with getting your issue resolved as long as it does fall within the scope of support guidelines for the company you are calling. And if you talk to 5 different people and they all give you the same support boundaries… there’s a 99% chance that they’re not lying to you and you’ll need to get help from another source. If you are courteous enough the CSR will most likely tell you who you need to talk to.

  176. thenexus says:

    I occasionally have to deal with customers at my job, so I’ve been on both ends of the customer service see-saw. One thing that you MUST remember, whether you are serving a customer or asking for service is to get the customer/reps first name and then USE it as soon as you can in the conversation. For example if the reps name is “Lisa”, you start off not by saying “here’s how you are going to fix my problem” as suggested, but instead say “LISA, I really, really really need your help today.” You’d be surprised how far that simple act of humanity goes. Same thing goes if you are trying to help somebody in a cust service capacity. I’ve defused many an angry customer just by finding their name, speaking it immediately, and treating them like a human being. For example, “Bob, I understand your problem, that’s really terrible, I’m going to try and help you.”

  177. sarcastibitch says:


    You say that the wait times are long because of CSRs who are lazy and too busy being defensive to help. I’ve done two stints working as a TSR for a major cable company for internet and television and let me tell you from my experience that that’s not the reason for it.

    Wait times are long because people call for problems that don’t need to be handled by the company and refulse to put any effort into fixing the problem at their end. The company that I worked for provided cable internet and many subscribers used wireless routers. Whenever the “internet” dropped they would call and it is easily diagnosed as a router issue, which was not our hardware and unsupported by my company. Most of us would take a few minutes and walk them through a simple reset cycle but if the router wasn’t responding the customer would take up time insisting that it was our router and that we had to fix it. There’s one reason for a long wait time. Another one? People who assume that “internet support” is interchangable with “computer tech.” They’d call up and expect us to fix pretty much any problem – from hotmail to broken keyboards – and drive up wait times that way.

    Don’t get me started on the cable customers who were havng a signal issue but didn’t want to help resolve the issue because their TV was too big to move, and no, I’m not talking about seniors and disabled people.

    Hold times are laregly an issue of customers
    a) not understanding the equipment that they own
    b) not understanding the support scope.

  178. cmdrjameson says:

    i think it is kind of funny that some of the people responding to this post say “if you have that attitude with me your not going to go very far”.
    dont people realize that as a phone rep you are being PAID to “go far” for people who call in?

    i am a tech support person for Cox Communications.
    and as corny as it sounds i really like working for them because of the latitude they give me in working out a problem for a customer.

    and as far as customers being “jedis” well the majority of people who call in are not “technical” people. that is my job. i try my best to explain things in simple and understandable details.
    so they will understand why im saying i cant do tech support for their printer or electric catbox or whatever !

  179. Remo_253 says:

    This is about taking control of the situation, letting them know you fully expect they will resolve the issue (this is after all, supposedly, their reason for being there, to solve customer issues).

    My time as a customer is valuable also. There are exceptions but most frontline CSRs are there to save their company money, that means doing as little as possible, being as obstructionist as possible, wasting my time.

    How many times have you gone through the “Can I verify your name, now your address, now this, now that, please wait while I update your account, blah blah blah only to be told. I’m sorry, I can’t help you, let me transfer you to department xxxx.” And that person starts with “Can I verify your name…….”.

    No, if I start with the assumption the first person to anwser the phone has zero power, as is the case most of the time, then I’m saving my time. I don’t give a damn about your procedures. I want my issue resolved as quickly as possible in a manner satisfactory to me.

    If the sheep want to ask pretty please will you help me fix the problem you’re company is responsible for, good for them. Not my approach. I’m going to be polite but forceful, I’ll tell you what you have to do to make me a happy camper. I’m not going to wait for you to start making offers, starting with the least impactful to the company.

    And yes I’ve done CSR work. That’s why I’m going to cut through the bulls**t as quickly as possible and get to someone that has some authority.

    You’re the manager they called to the line and don’t like that I bypassed your procedure? Tough, deal with it. If that means not helping then our conversation will be short, as I’ll go to your manager, and mention how unhelpful you were. And up the line until the issue is resolved.

    This all assumes the customer has a legitimate problem. If I screwed up I won’t be making the call in the first place.

  180. Remo_253 says:

    @puyro: “And make your own backup/recovery discs. It should be the first thing you do when getting a new computer. Rarely do computers come with OS discs now.

    I’ve had my computer for two years and have not filled up my memory. I’m wondering how the crap someone filled one up in 6 months.”

    First, they’re selling to folks that have no idea what a recovery disk is, much less that they should make one. To many people buying machines these are appliances. You plug it in and it works. They wouldn’t think of doing a backup of the PC OS anymore than they’d consider backing up the firmware of the microwave. A good salesman would have told them what needed to be done, and considering it’s Best Buy I’m surprised they didn’t try to sell them backup disks.

    It probably filled up because it was a floor model with a dinky HD. It doesn’t take long, ripping CDs and loading digital pictures, adding new applications, to use up a lot of space. If you never add anything, just web browse and do email, and started with a large drive, no you’ll never run into space problems.

    BTW, it’s not “..have not filled up my memory…”, it’s the hard drive that’s the issue, not the memory.

  181. MarahMarie says:

    Her advice sucks. I might be best-known for hating AOL’s so-called customer service (or lack of it – plus I simply despise their CSR’s infamous mind-control games), but I don’t advocate the female bulldog way she models for dealing with CSRs and service people in general.

    My mantra is “be polite, be firm, get a supervisor if you have to, file a complaint with someone if nothing else works”.

    I deal with customers too, so I know what it’s like to be talked down to by a customer on a bit of a power and/or status trip. That’s all she’s advocating here: talking down to people by telling them what they will and won’t be doing for her today.

    If you’re my customer, you’ll get much further with polite, simple open-ended questions than you will if you actually flat-out tell me what I will or won’t be doing for you today. I don’t want to hear it. And my attitude will  match my unwillingness to deal with you, I promise. I’ve worked with people for oh, let’s see…19 years in heavily public roles, so I pretty much know a hard-case customer when I see one. Theatrical ordering-me-around doesn’t impress me. In fact, not much will. Nice gets you everywhere though, and I mean that.

    If you’re cheerful on top of that, +1 for you. Life is too short to take it so seriously. I, like many people, have a naturally rebellious nature, and a bit of pride, so her attitude cuts to my heart and does not engender any cheerfulness or sense of cooperation on my part. Honestly, she just sounds like a bitch.

  182. karma17 says:

    I’ve worked in CS for many years. The best way to resolve your problem is:
    1) Remain calm, polite, and professional, as stated in the piece
    2) State the gist of your problem as concisely as possible
    3) Get the names of everyone you speak with and document anything they tell you that supports your case or contradicts theirs
    4) Continue being as sweet as pie and treat the rep with the utmost respect until your problem is resolved; enlist their advice, “what would you do if you were me?”
    5) Ask for a supervisor if and only if you are unsatisfied with the outcome from the rep. Never ask for the supervisor first.

    Asking for a supervisor straight out of the gate is an extremely bad strategy. Often times front-line reps are more knowledgable about workarounds, policy exceptions, and loop holes than the supervisors, so alienating that potential resource before they’ve even had a chance to help makes little sense.

    This strategy might work at big box stores and certain franchises, but will most certainly backfire in the majority of cases. If someone came at me with the approach recommended here, I know I would follow the exact letter of the law and wouldn’t do anything beyond black and white protocol.

    It’s common sense really—Treat people how you would like to be treated.

    Would the author of this article really appreciate being treated this way if the shoe were on the other foot? I don’t think so.

  183. archgriffin says:

    Although I like this article there are a lot of places it will not work. As someone else said the first person that tells me I WILL be doing anything gains a whole new problem. Up to about last year I worked as a Internet Tech Support CSR at Comcast IPSSC in Ann Arbor. Normally I was one of the most out going to help anyone, as my passion was for helping people. When they took that ability away from me, they lost me as an employee. For one if you called and instantly asked for a supervisor, it would not happen, not with me. I need to know what the problem is, because 99% of the time I had the ability to fix it. My patience often far out weighs any customers because I knew what I could and could not do, and about the power struggle that would continue. Their phone systems are setup so that if you hang up and call back within 24 hours, if the last person you talked to is available it routes the call to them.

    They also grade your calls of course and one of the things they grade is referred to as “ownership” of the call. I can tell you the amount of training they give on this is nothing, until you fail at it then they might attempt to coach you. However never having gone in to one of the coaching plans I do not know what they consist of.

    I had multiple people attempt some of these, including one customer that did nothing but ask for a supervisor repeatedly. I gave my name at the begining of the call, they obviously did not pay attention because after about 5 more minutes of asking for a supervisor they were asking for my name again. I stated “I have already said my name once, and there is nothing more I can do for you until you give me the information to help you, starting with your name and address.” This went on for another 5 minutes, they hung up called and got me again, and this time just gave up. I had their problem 100% resolved in about 2 minutes, even though they were still describing it 8 minutes later.

    This is not to say I would never send someone to a supervisor but if you are calling for Internet support, you don’t go to a supervisor you go to a “senior” who can do little more then a regular rep. There are rare times you can get someone to a supervisor.

    One trick, go through the call happy and ask to leave a voicemail with their supervisor, they will direct you to their actual supervisor’s voicemail. Here you could say what you want, but note, the rep is almost ALWAYS listening to what you are saying and only hang up when you do.

    There was a lot more I wanted to say, but this is getting way to long for a comment.

  184. lowlight says:

    I can’t disagree with this more. I registered strictly to post this. Horrible horrible. What a life/outlook

  185. backspinner says:

    bitch on wheels. that’s all.

  186. Barr says:

    Now I’m only 16 years old but I can easily point out the mistakes that “Lona” is making.

    Speaking from experience, I’ve had an Xbox 360 fail on me and calling their outsourced call center to get a free replacement took less than 30 minutes (Not including wait time, which isn’t really relevant but ~20 minutes) simply by being courteous and allowing the CSR to do his or her job.

    Demanding solutions may work for John McClane but the majority of CSRs do not want to help you moreso because of an attitude like this.

  187. barmanvarn says:

    You probably do get a lot of your problems resolved, as I’m sure the CSR’s give you whatever you want so that won’t have to listen to you whine any more.

    It’s apparent that you have NEVER worked in a service related field.

  188. PaulS says:

    Speaking as somebody who spent ~4 years in various jobs as a CSR, I really want to warn people against starting out saying “I need a supervisor” and refusing to talk to a CSR.

    Let me take this opportunity to correct the misguided belief that a supervisor is more competent and experienced than their subordinates. We’d all like to believe that you get promoted by being good at your job. Well, anybody who’s ever had, um, a job, should know that this isn’t the case. The ways in which (and the metrics used to assess employees) a person becomes a call center supervisor often have very little to do with being good at helping the customer.

    So, when you talk to a supervisor, you’re going to be talking to somebody who likely believes that the company can do no wrong, and is of questionable competence.

    A much better strategy is to explain the situation to the CSR (who’s probably more skilled and more experienced than their boss) in a “just the facts” way, so that you get them on your side.

    Another thing to remember is, in terms of what a CSR can do for you, there’s often grey areas where a CSR will be willing and able to “bend the rules”, if they believe it’s the fair thing to do. But in my experience, your average supervisor would never dream of “bending the rules”.

    That’s because one of the ways that you get to become a supervisor is a belief in applying “the rules” to the letter of the law, across the board, never mind if the rules make any sense or not, never mind if you keep a customer or not.

    Still think it’s a good idea to talk to a supervisor?

  189. CSR says:

    Ok….two things wrong with #4 on this list. First off, asking for a sup from the start. At the company I work for, a sup won’t take a call unless you’ve at least found out what the call is generally about (billing issue, equipment prob, etc). The other thing is advising not to give out your name. Where I work, you have to verify your identity before anything can be done on your account–including transfering it to a sup.

    Also, one reason a lot of reps are hesitant to trans to a sup is because if they show too many transfers to sups (at my company that’s more than 4 a month) then it effects your record. Which can possibly make your bonus lower, keep you from getting a raise, etc.

    So please, don’t ask for a sup unless you *need* to.

  190. polyeaster says:

    I’m not really sure what kind of customer service reps this individual deals with, but I work in customer service and also would not respond well to anyone making demands, or telling me what I “will” do. Every call center where I’ve worked has emphasized

  191. ludwigk says:

    When I was a tier 2-3 CSR for a major electronics company, I can guarantee you that the supervisor line would not have worked. You would either:

    1) Get stonewalled by me, or someone trained by me who would not let that fly.

    2) Get transferred to a supervisor, who, determining that your issue could be solved by a regular service rep, would kick you back to a CSR, where you would get faster/better service from someone who handles support cases all day.

    You wouldn’t even get an explanation of the policy, as that was also against policy. You don’t have any need/right to have full disclosure of company policies, as that falls under proprietary info or trade secrets. So that line would stonewall yourself in some cases.

    These hints are only useful for companies where the tier 1 guys are completely useless. This will often be the case in a retail store, because the floor sales staff are trained to help people in the store, and the performance metrics by which they are evaluated are based on delivering this service, not talking to pushy customers on the phone. This means, regardless of how bad you consider their in-store service, your phone service will be worse.

  192. mademoiselle.jones says:

    Sorry… but there’s so much wrong with this. I work in tech support, and if anyone demands to speak to a supervisor for no reason, the answer is no. I’m trained and paid to be on the other end of the phone and I try my best to help. I’m not paid much and I probably want to be sorting out problems as much as people want to have them in the first place. If I can’t do that, I’ll transfer the call. Quite often I’ve had (mostly men) demand to talk to a supervisor (tr: a man), and I’m afraid the answer is a downright “No, not until I’ve tried to fix your problem”. I’m sick of being treated like I’m stupid by customers and this is just another thing that will facilitate that.
    You say “…decide how you want it solved”. The average end-user that will call me doesn’t know how to turn a computer off and will demand a refund because it doesn’t work. In the user’s this mind, this is a reasonable request. In mine (and the company’s) opinion this is most definitely not a reasonable request. I had a customer read to me from a book of “rights” the other day because he couldn’t find the off switch on Windows Vista. He can rant all he wants, he can be patronising all he wants, but he’s not getting what he wants.
    I respond the best to customers who are polite, do their best to give me the information to help me solve their problem, and don’t expect an “instant fix”. Others, I’m afraid, get the ‘call reject’ button.

  193. PermanentStar says:


    I so agree with the idea of writing a compliment when an call/issue has gone well. I think as people, we focus so much on the negative, and if a situation makes us mad, or feel cheated, we are quick to let everybody know about it, in our circle, and in the company it happened in. I really think service would be affected in a positive way if we let companies known about people who worked well for us (even if maybe they couldn’t help, but got you to somebody who could), and helped us out the way we let people know about somebody who did a lackluster job.

    Kudos to anybody who gives credit where it is deserved.

  194. ashleylynn8403 says:

    I am a Supervisor in a customer service call center. I can ASSURE you, full heartedly, that if any customer calls in making, albeit ‘calm’ demands that we WILL do this, or we WILL do that, the customer is judged to be arrogant and ignorant. Everyone thinks they are right or that they have been wronged when something displeases them about an account or a product. In my experience, 9 out of 10 times, the customer quite simply does not understand the situation, and has no real leg to stand on in their argument.
    Asking for a supervisor immediately makes you seem irrational. All employees have access to your information, and believe it or not, are perfectly capable of explaining the situation at hand to you. Granted, if you aren’t pleased with what they tell you, you have every right to ask to be escalated to a supervisor. BUT GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT!!!
    The customer is NOT always right, contrary to the popular motto. Most times the customer is angry or upset and never takes the time to try ad fully understand WHY the situation at hand is what it is.
    Anyone reading this, do yourself a favor:
    Take what this woman is telling you with a grain of salt. It’s not a matter of playing Alpha Dog or who’s got the upper hand. If you are entitled to a change or a discount or refund, etc, YOU WILL GET IT. But if you aren’t, these tactics will only make you look bad.

  195. KittensRCute! says:

    well i have to say, i JUST tried this seconds ago and it appeared to have worked. I have always tried this, but never with the “WILL” and to my surprised she was not offended at all, and just gave me what i needed (72 extra hours to pay a bill in full).

  196. jrw27288 says:

    Where I work, Lona would not get the time of day by telling me that I will fix their problem. I work at a smaller isp that still uses static ip’s. We have people call in all the time after they buy a router saying that they can’t get connected anymore. If the customer is polite, I will walk them through setting everything up including the wireless. If someone like Lona called in, which has happened before by the way, My manager and I would tell her that we are not responsible for setting up their router and that everything was working correctly before they tried to install it. Then we would give them their ip’s again, since they never write them down plus the number to thr router mfg and have that customer call them.

  197. lure says:

    Long post, if these points have been addressed, sorry for the duplication.

    Some background: First time poster, 8 years in the tren, I mean on the phones for a variety of sales, support, and escalated call lines.

    My current script includes: “I’m sorry to hear that, let’s get your problem fixed.” but we are allowed to modify slightly for individual situations.

    My opinion: The Alpha gets spayed/neutered. If you are asking for my help, you do not dictate terms. Terms were agreed to when you started/purchased the service.

    My dirty little secret: In a previous sales and support job using the phrase in anger “I want to speak with someone else” or certain variants get an instant transfer to our Spanish new customer line.

    Now that I have that out of the way…. I start every call with the opinion that you have a problem. This has yet to be proved wrong. From there you need the problem fixed. I do everything I can to help fix the problem per company policy(to the letter no bending). If you come across as rude/condescending/whining/trying to get something for nothing expect to get that attitude mirrored and the rules bent to NOT help you. If you come across as anything else, and sometimes crying, you will get all the help I can bend the rules into. Sometimes, if someone is “fun” to talk to I will break some of the rules. Case in point a couple weeks ago I explained how to set up a non-supported set of networking equipment behind our provided hardware. If you tell me what I will do I will tell you not only what I am doing/have done/will do but also what you will do.

    tenant #1: Customers Lie. Corollary: Where the customer isn’t lying, the salesperson did. Continuation: The previous csr missed steps/didn’t do proper troubleshooting.
    tenant #2: The customer is rarely right.

    tenants 1 and 2 do go hand in hand and are proved on a daily basis where people wear headsets for desk phones.

    What I remember from psychology: The mundane gets forgotten, the unique/exciting(in the level of energy meaning) gets remembered. This is disproportionate and means csrs remember the bad calls more than the neutral calls. Probably more than the good ones too.

    With that on the record, I am off the clock now, and tone is the key. I have told one person outright “No, the customer is not always right.” I have also raised my voice at customers before. Not frequently and each time I did it the customer responded by calming down and listening. Finally the steps above, except for the refusal of information and the request for management incessantly is pretty good. Throw out the suggested scripting or switch “you will” for “will you?” and it becomes descent advice. It is more of a niche thing, and is one I have used in the past going interdepartmental with a customer problem. The customer was perfectly polite with me, but due to the systems I had access to I couldn’t fix the underlying problem without another department’s help. I had previously had access to the systems required, and after initially describing the problem and requesting a solution from the other department(he suggested something which didn’t help), then suggesting a solution to him, I had to play “alpha dog”. This issue was solved with a conversation like this:”Do you have access to system X?” him:”Yes” me:”Starting from the start page, press 3, then 1 then enter the account number I will give you, look at field 26 on page 2 after the account comes up. Is there anything listed there?” him:”Yes” me:”Remove it, please, by using the space bar to erase all characters from that field. Press F2.” After that I checked with the caller, problem fixed, and politely closed the call. It DOES work, but had I not had the insider knowledge of the system in question AND tried to work with what the other department suggested FIRST the customer would never have gotten the problem fixed. If I am the customer and the other agent is the csr, then YES we did use the suggestions above, all of them, but as a last resort and only after all parties involved were sure that standard procedure wouldn’t work.

    Some personalized responses below, but before I start them I want to remind people that it is soul sucking work, no one calls in because everything is working fine, you talk to people with problems and usually an attitude 40 hrs a day 5 days a week for not much money. I have also noticed a much higher percentage of smokers than seems to be the norm(compared to the other industries I have worked in) which points toward higher stress levels.

    @nickripley: It is a soul sucking job. Turnover is higher than just about any industry I am aware of short of Kamikaze Pilot and rude, intelligence lacking, overly officious, and/or religious people are constantly wearing at you. I know some people are asking how can a religions person be grating? I have 2 statements, Missionaries(generally Jehova’s Witnesses or Mormon in my area), and I have been yelled at “Satan, I revoke you in the name of Jesus! Now give me your supervisor!” before. That quote is funny, but just because you think Jesus loves you doesn’t mean you are a nice person.

    @cowboys_fan: #3 hit it on the head! I know often my sups will ask me to stick by or get off the phone so I can give them the answers that the customer needs.

    @bigduke: My job is to fulfill company standards, if this happens to include solving your problem, I will. If, however, your problem is not covered or coverage by company standards is in question, and you are rude, you WILL be told it is not a supported issue and offered OEM or paid support. This is not a threat, and speaking with a supervisor will not change it. It is simply company policy if we don’t support something to offer OEM or paid support.

    @csdiego: We provide Internet and television. Getting your printer to work is not something we support. I recommend calling HP or if you have a credit card handy I can get you to paid support. Which would you prefer?

    @remthewanderer: Yes, they call tech support we tell them to plug it in. It happens regularly, as an individual depending on program from once a month to twice daily. At least they weren’t calling a website tech support or the isp.

    @dilbertaco: The dealer of a new car, technically, does inform you by inclusion of a manual, and my dealership is STILL sending me reminders every 3 months despite 65000 miles on the car.

    @oniomi: Seconded! That is perfect, and a great explanation I wouldn’t have thought of.

    @lasciate: Yes, but remember a full knowledge of company policy is needed to know not just what it says but how to interpret it in a positive OR negative way from the customer’s perspective.

    @skeptic: Yes, we are required to control the call. You do not pay my paycheck and not following your policys won’t get me fired. On the other hand, call control can be a subtle influence to the correct direction, like skillful marking of a nature trail, or it can be whip/reigns/blinders. New agents haven’t discovered either method, experienced agents usually can use both. I can (and have) controlled the call and led people like our original author without their knowledge. That, in part, is why I am still in this type of job. I don’t care about your policies, nor did the company agree to be bound by them, and yes I checked with our lawyers;) but if you think I am following them you are more likely to go where you need to.

    @remo_253: I bet you are one of those people who make a point to tell me how much you/your wife/your kid earn in a day/hour/paycheck/year. The more you make the more easily you can afford to pay for the things you want, whether thats an on-site computer tech or service directly from HBO. And not answering the questions stops the script at that point. Once you have answered them we can continue. Sir, we aren’t the child who is re-wiring your systems whenever the grandkids come to play, nor are we the ones who insisted the roof needed to be re shingled causing your dish to lie on the ground/be misaligned. I will be polite right back at you and you won’t go anywhere without jumping through the hoops with me. If you’ve really done the work you would know jumping through the hoops as quickly as possible is the best way to get to someone else if it’s needed. The chain stops at my manager, there are no higher numbers for customers unless you already know someone on the board of directors. If you have a legit problem, we will fix it at my level, possibly with tier 2(who have back end database access I don’t).

    Sorry for the rant, just a bit of a hot button for me as you can’t blow off this steam in any other way effectively.

  198. trooper says:

    i’m a csr in health insurance. i just want to note that almost all of my irate callers have absolutely no clue what their health insurance covers, which providers they need to see, what the medical policy is towards a certain procedure. i am more than happy to explain it, give hints about what to do to save the most money, try to reprocess a claim that might fall in the grey zone, but if you talk down to me… i’m not going to do any of that. i’m just going to let you know that you owe the money and good luck with that. the front line csr has the information that you need for next time, so assume that i’m as smart as you are, (which given my callers is generous, at best), ask for help, and i’ll absolutely kill myself to do right by you.

  199. rikkus256 says:

    Thanks Lona. I will save this in file. I bet it’ll be useful for me some day :)

  200. Factorxfiles says:

    I am currently a CSR at a major financial institution, so safe to say I receive quite a few calls from upset people, or at least people with actual problems. I’ve got to second the notion that CSR’s can sometimes work miracles when a person is nice, but often that only comes in the form of a little nicer treatment (I’ll call you back, rather than asking you call us back, or things like that). However, unless I get your name and account information first thing, I not only will not help you, but I also can not help you.

    Also, as far as waiting for shift changes or calling back in, this point is moot at least where I work. Any call will require a note about that call to be left on the account. If a person calls in multiple times with the same situation, they most likely will be passed on to a manager, but only so the manager can tell them to accept the solution we have or quit calling.

    Finally, if you have no experience dealing with CSR’s, your chances of making these tactics work are slim. The best trick is to talk to a CSR, if they can’t solve your problem, remain very nice, but make up a reasonable excuse to call back later (pretend you’re busy, have an appointment, have another important call coming in, etc.). Repeat this until you find a rep you “get along with” so to speak, get their name and info, explain that you’ve had to call in multiple times and would just like them to help you from here on out. If you’re nice about it, that’s often not a problem at all to get. Once you have a dedicated rep, you’re golden. Once I’ve helped someone once, I’ll go the extra mile to complete the task.

  201. BugMeNot2 says:

    The success of this “mind control” basically comes down to how much each person minds being controlled
    Everyone agrees being calm and polite is paramount, after that common sense would dictate to first try simple straight forward resolutions before
    A: assuming the CSR is an evil, incompetent, talking stone barrier standing between you and your ultimate happiness, and
    B: assuming the Customer is an evil, scamming, ranting imbecile calling merely to rob your company of it’s resources and you of your dignity.
    One does this because all things being equal, we can forever be assured that all things are NOT created equal. Tactics that work at one company will not necessarily work at another and what satisfies one customer is never going to satisfy all. The best part of this article wasn’t the article at all, it was getting “ears on” experience from a whole range of CSR’s and Customers without having to suffer the accumulated losses associated with some of the poor products and services that we’ll all encounter sooner or later!

  202. helxis says:

    This article should instead be titled: “How to Get Things You Don’t Deserve”. The steps listed are pretty much just as effective as yelling, whining, and begging to most CSRs because you will eventually, in essence, be paid to shut up. The only difference here is that this leaves you feeling “in control” in the end. I personally look forward to calls from people like this with glee, because I represent a brick wall to this mentality. “No, you will not get the solution that you think you deserve. You will get the solution that you paid for.” Sprint has taken a bold step recently in severing service contracts of particularly painful end users, and where I work we can do the same.

    As far as I’m concerned, you are essentially a thief when you escalate a call up the way up to corporate so that your call costs more than the item/service you don’t deserve and the company is eventually forced to “give in”.

    Typically, if you do actually deserve the service you are requesting, using tactics like these are far from required.

  203. topcat239 says:

    I am the director of quality for a large company and have worked in a similar capacity for other companies.

    If you are polite and direct, you will generally get the results you request as long as they are reasonable and the remedy is equitable for the failure.

    When people call with a complaint the receiver of the call is generally open to helping the person solve the problem. If not, they are the wrong peronality for the job any way and will soon fail and leave. These people are generally obvious – ask for the supervisor. Part of the openness is understanding the consumer’s issue from the consumer’s point of view and helping identify a remedy that again is satisfactory to the consumer and cost equitable for the company.

    If you had a problem with an airline, don’t start by asking for a free first class ticket. Be reasonable and ask for something within the ability of the person to provide. Ask for a coupon good for your next flight or say they can’t make this situation right but they can make it easier by giving me 25,000 miles to my account. Give them some options as to what you think is equitable. Also, compliment their company as well as tell them that you realize it is not their fault but that they are on the front line and so they have to hear it. Empathize with their position. They don’t get empathy often. If you’re a butthead, you will get zip. I can guarantee that. Give them something they don’t get often – kindness. 85% of the time I can promise you will get the desired result (if reasonable). When that fails, write the CEO.

    Be emphatic, not a butthead. There is a difference.

  204. Bluskov says:

    This is exactly what it sounds like. Bullying. Make yourself the bigger more powerful person and keep moving until you find someone small enough to pick on. I have dealt with customers like this, both on the phone and in store. I won’t connect them to a manager and I will hang up on them. In store I will get another employee to pretend to be a manager and tell them exactly what I did. 99% of the time the ends to your “skill” are to get what you want for little or no cost. Your sob story is probably the only story you tell, and most certainly no one would hear a “I broke my own iPod and got Best Buy to get me the new 400 dollar model”. Its consumers like you that force us in retail to have such strict policies, else we would get walked on by your bullies.

  205. seiryudo says:

    As a CSR, I would not recommend this tactic. CSR’s and technicians are exactly that: they are trained to do the job such as fixing orders, correcting bills, and the like. Supervisors are trained to manage a group of employees and, although it helps, do not have to be trained on the products and services of the company to manage their employees. You are passing up the person who is employed, trained and willing to assist you.
    In my employment, we MUST attempt to help the customer with their problem. That is why we are there. If you are calm and polite with the CSR, explain the situation, and work with the CSR to get a solution, you will save yourself time and money. And have a better solution and better results.
    One other point. In our company, it costs about $9 per call that comes in to the call center. That is provided we help them within the “Average Call Time” of 6 minutes. Longer calls and calls that are transfered often cost more. Who do you think pays for that?

  206. Savvy-faire says:

    I have to admit, I ran into a big problem recently with UPS, and tried to adapt some of these techniques when I called their line. Not a direct translation– a few things I just couldn’t get comfortable with (terrifying flashbacks to my former life behind a customer service desk). Maybe I’d be better with some practice, I don’t know, but I know that I finally started making progress when a very nice CSR responded to my tired (long day on the phone) “Hi, I need to speak to a supervisor” by kindly asking me to explain the problem. Tired of the alpha dog routine, I broke down into my old system of “just treat them how you wanted to be treated” and explained the whole thing, answering her questions along the way.

    I gained as much information in that one call as I had all day. The thing is that outside of a cut-and-dry problem like the one given, you really want to gain as much info from the CSRs as they gain from you. Every company has a different structure, and if you don’t know what you’re dealing with you could be screwing yourself out of the solution. Maybe the person CAN’T solve your problem (not that I could ever bring myself to declare they were going to) but they might be able to tell you who can if you give them a chance.

    If a customer trying to solve a problem is like a detective, CSRs are like witnesses; just remember that they have valuable information you need, and just because they’re involved doesn’t mean they’ve committed a crime.

  207. csrsupr says:

    It sounds like a really good plan. It just doesn’t work like that. It may on a rare occasion. But not normally. My agents are fully empowered to make decisions on an account. They might need to come to me for an approval of something, but if there is an error, they can fix it. Escalating to a supervisor annoys the supervisor when you don’t even give the agent a chance to fix the problem. And if it is a routine thing, my agents will do it faster than me. They take WAY more calls than I do in a day. They have the practice. My job is supporting my agents, developing them to be the type of agents my company wants, and, in the rare occasion a situation cannot be resolved by them, I resolve it. But if you just escalate for the sake of it repeatedly, my company may just prevent you from calling in ever again to get your problem solved… it’s email and snail mail at that point.

  208. OGMikeHoncho says:

    Well the first thing that I noticed that will surely get you hung up on is NOT aollowing a rep to assist you. In most companies, and I know this because I do Custoer Service consulting, there is a policy that a rep must try and assist the caller first and foremost. Secondly, the rep has to at least KNOW the issue before they can put a CS Supervisor on the phone. The reason behind that is because in the long run it saves time. They can already have your account pulled up, and be researching what the problem is. Lastly, when dealing with a CSR and getting them to resolve issues for you, NEVER demand things. What you will run into is a person who will no longer want to help you because you’re demanding something. Who wants to help someone that has just talked down to them repeatedly? NO ONE! That’s who… I wouldn’t follow most of the tips given here if you really want to get somewhere…

  209. UmiDarkfire says:

    Speaking as a Call Center Supervisor, These tatics do nothing but put me on my guard. You have to realize, in most cases Supervisors are not trainned on the systems, and going straight to one has harmed you more than helped. You are now speaking to someone who can quote policy with out taking a breath, and read you exact qutoes from the Terms and conditions, but when it comes to fixing a techincal issue we are depending on the agent you were just speaking with. When it comes to a credit, we’re just working off policy and account notes, just like the agent. Unless you’re having a problem with a rude agent, a Supervisor is useless. I’ve had a Cell phone with Sprint for over 3 years and had every problem fixed with out talking to a Supervisor once.

    Second note: when a customer calls in saying we “Will fix a problem” tends to set off rude alarms. It’s being implied that the agent you are speaking to is not already going to try and fix your issue. My team has jumped through more hoops to help the lady who called in and said “Please, I don’t want to be rude but this isn’t right.” Than the customer we had call last week who told me “You WILL fix this,” the pervious seven people she had spoke to had already done everything possible, there is no magic button, you do have to wait for the network ticket to process, and her attitude does not make me either want to rush the process, or put her on the top of my list to call back.

    I could poke more holes, but in short, this is something you should only use in worse case.

    Ps. Waiting for Shift change does not work. Generally agents have staggered shifts, they don’t all leave at once. If an agent can’t stop a customer from asking for a supervisor, they will tell their co-workers that a customer called in demanding a Supervisor, and when they (the agent) kept asking for information the customer hung up. All agents will expect this call, for we assume they’re calling back, now and it will become a game of who can get the customer to give up their information. Most likely, if that step works, you have reached a completely different call center. We’re not all in one building, there’s about a thousand of us and we’re all over the US.

  210. xDimMaK says:

    @topcad: Why would you put them in a position of power? That’s just asking to be taken advantage of. You’re the customer. They work in customer service. They are there to serve you, not the other way around.

    As far as the customer service employees in here, I’d just like to say to any of you who think that you don’t owe the customer anything that you are poorly mistaken.

  211. mariospants says:

    Cue to recording of Lona’s voice sounding just like James Earl Jones’

  212. blowjustinup says:

    This stuff is a bunch of crap. I work in a call center (Though I do technical support, not customer service), and I promise it won’t work. Anyone who asks to speak with a supervisor is an asshole, straight up. You’re thought to be an asshole by the rep on the phone, and the supervisor will immediately hate you.

    When someone asks for your information.. GIVE IT TO THEM. It’s not for their health, it’s for their job. When asking someone for their info, I’m not just looking at what they pay for services, etc.. I’m looking to find out WHAT THEY CALLED FOR PREVIOUSLY, IN ORDER TO GET THE CORRECT SUPERVISOR TO SOLVE THE ISSUE.

    About explaining the situation without even letting the rep get a word in will not work either. I’ve had people ramble on to me for about 10 minutes straight using this tactic. You know what I’m doing for those 10 minutes? Browsing the internet, listening to only the key points that you’re making and ignoring the rest.

    About asking for what the policy says.. You’re going to get a load of crap. No one is going to search 20+ page document to find something. They’re going to make it up in their words. If you’d like more, they’ll fax you the policy and you can skim through it and give up and accept one of their solutions after wasting time.

    You need to understand that there’s not always something that can be done. I work at a cable company and there’s people who demand a tech to fix their problem RIGHT NOW. That will never happen. We will give you an all day appointment if it’s necessary, and that’s 10-8, and only if you call before 3. After that, it’s next day at least. No one can get a tech to the home at that point because they simply don’t work that late and that’s the end of it. Sure, this is just one example.. But like I said, there’s not always something anyone can do.

    And like stated before, one of the things that we are judged on while working at a call center is our ability to control a call. We do it more than you do, you’re not going to win, and if you do try to control the call, like instructed by the article, you’re going to have problems.

    The BEST way to get what you want is to be kind and have a gentle tone and ENGAGE IN CONVERSATION. Not sit there and spit out your problem and your viable solutions.

  213. crowquill says:

    Never worked a call center, but have worked plenty of retail including 4 years at a Customer Service counter.

    Why when you call would you immediately assume you’re speaking to the brainless, evil minions of the corporation? Talking down to CSRs and demanding supervisors for no reason really does just annoy them. The article implies that they’re uncooperative and uninformed while instructing you to verbally poke at them with sticks.

    The majority of the time they are PEOPLE who want to help you resolve your problem. By telling them what they WILL do you’re tying their hands and making matters much worse. We can probably safely assume that even the newer employees know more about the company and products than most consumers who are calling. By telling them what they will do when you know very little about the product/service will rule out many viable options the CSR may have had to resolve it. And after copping an attitude I’d be much less likely to give you those options anyway. I know the instructional section just states that “you WILL fix my problem”, but many times (as in the example) it becomes “this is what you will do for me.” If I were the Best Buy manager you wouldn’t have gotten a giftcard. You would have gotten to practice your techniques on HP or whoever made the laptop. They are the ones responsible for not packing in a CD.

    Don’t even get me started on the “That is not acceptable!” comment that many times goes hand-in-hand with the “this is what you will do” attitude. That’s an immediate sign to me that there is nothing that will make you happy. Customer service is all about bending rules and making exceptions, but no CSR or supervisor HAS to bend them for you.

  214. jojobber says:

    I don’t agree with any of what you say about dealing on the phone. As a former CSR for several companies (and before you say that there is a reason that I am a “former” CSR, please know that I always left those jobs on good terms under good circumstances) I would usually disregard your tactics as pompous and elitist. I would give you a false name and prevent the call from being recorded.

    Now, here is what you need to know. At a health insurance company I used to work at, access to individual policies was recorded every time the policy was accessed. That way they could always track who answered the call. That way, even if the person who took your call gave you a false name, they can track who actually handled the call. But the way a CSR can beat this is to do a manual shut-down of their computer (press and hold the power button for at least 5 seconds). Then there is no record. I only did this once, because the person on the other end of the line was a mean, condescending bitch of a nurse at a local hospital. It was not an emergency, et the world had to stop for her.

    I agree that face-to-face is much better than the phone.

  215. mlw4428 says:

    Lona is wrong on how she handles this. I used to work for a decently sized cell phone company. One of the things that I always found myself (and supervisor’s) annoyance were customers who called in and immediately demanded supervisors. Often times our supervisors would deny them their requests simply on the fact they treated CSRs like shit (that and really the contracts we have are fairly air-tight). But I digress.

    Telling someone right off the bat that “you’re going to do what I want because I say so” will get you put into a queue that gets you passed on and on.

    The point is that you shouldn’t need to step back on what you want. But you don’t become a snobby bitch, 9 times out of 10 MOST companies WANT to help you out.

  216. clayverde says:

    You know all these CSR out there that are all up on arms about being spoken to like that – first of all, she said that these are tactics to use when an attempt to resolve the issue normally has already failed!! So if I have already tried to speak to the regular CSR or the store employee about a problem and immediately dismissed THEN you move to these tactics. Second of all – there is a big difference in the inflection of someone’s voice. She did not say that you should call and say “you WILL solve this for me…. or else!” is her best scary and deep voice. What she is saying is to simply be firm and not leave it open ended which allows the person to choose the option of doing nothing. So for instance “hi, I have blah blah problem and I tried to get it fixed. they couldn’t do anything for me but I know that you can help me resolve it.” That not only creates a situation without an open ended question and therefore a million possible solutions, it also lets the person know right away that, I’m not calling because I want to bitch or take my frustrations out of you or get validation or closure or anything else. I am calling because there is a problem, I want it solved and I know that you are the person who can make that happen. Also, by proposing a firm solution, it lets the person CSR know right away what you are looking for. Some people are going to ask for ridiculous things (go back in time and make it not have happened..) or are just so upset that the CSR isn’t sure what they can do to help you. But if I simply state, hey I want this as a solution it at the very least gives you an idea of what I want, what I might accept instead and how realistic I’m being. Finally, as to going directly to a supervisor, she says right in the beginning of the article that you’ll eventually get to know right away whether the CSR can help you or not, in which case just go directly to the supervisor. We all know when you start talking to the CSR whether they are on the same page as you or not. I have USAA (which rocks by the way!!) and every time I talk to a CSR there, I know they are competent and want to help me. i have never had a problem that had to go as far as the manager. Then i have had CSR who are stating that they can’t help me or it’s not company policy before I have even finished my first statement – they don’t even know the problem yet! Maybe it is an easy fix they could do, but nothing is going to get done if they won’t even listen in the first place. In which case, it makes sense to speak to the supervisor. Also, if you know that the problem is particularly complicated, etc it doesn’t make sense to waste everyone’s time spending 20 minutes explaining the situation to a CSR who is then going to put you on hold and then have to start over again once you get to the supervisor. you guys are jumping all over her s**t because you are taking it personally as if she was personally attacking you. If you do your job well and try to help out a customer with a legitimate problem who is calm, then she ISN’T TALKING ABOUT YOU!!! And as to the supervisor who promised he was going to be in a bad mood and then not take care of her, well that really says a lot about your job skills, huh? Because last time I checked you get paid to deal with the problems. And if it is in your ability to solve the problem, you job is to do it – your mood should not come into it!! Yeah, you probably do have crazy customer that you deal with but that is part of the job and it is wrong to dump that on a customer that maybe has a very legitimate complaint. Companies make mistakes all the time – it is just the nature of business and paperwork and human error. That is why you are there!! If this is all confusing you or you have gotten to the point where you always hate the customer and believe they are always trying to “cheat” you out of something – please get out of the customer service business and find a job where you don’t have to interact with customers!!

    • mlw4428 says:


      Sometimes there isn’t anything that can be done about a problem. Not all of life’s problems can be fixed. For example you dropped your cellphone into the toilet. You don’t have insurance and you refuse to pay full price for a new phone.

      The phone company isn’t going to accept that there is a solution that will make you totally happy and screw them out of a cellphone. You’ll just have to bite the bullet and purchase a new cellphone at full price. Nothing the supervisor can do and nothing anyone should be concerned about. One thing I always hate about the consumerist is that they take companies to be big evil corporations. Sometimes that’s not always the case and it’s just a bitchy, snobby customer who thinks she’s god’s gift to that company.

  217. Anonymous says:

    Using this would just make you sound like an ass. I work in customer service and a: if you don’t give us your name, we don’t help you. we need that to verify that you’re a viable contact for whomever you say you work for (the product I support is not something a normal consumer would purchase) and b: if you ask to speak to MY supervisor and you tell her that she will fix your problem in this tone, you will regret it.

    The best thing to do is to state your issue, if that tech cannot help, ask to have it escalated, repeat. Don’t be so presumptuous that you’re THAT special that ANY issue you call about will be fixed. there are some things we can’t do simply because of policy or contract restrictions. Period.

  218. Anonymous says:

    as a long-time super “successful” CSR.

    this article is GARBAGE.

    if you want to waste your time….follow this for the most part.
    really, a trained rep can see RIGHT through you, and most of the time is using “reverse” tactics without you even knowing it.

    EVERYTHING and their DOG is thrown at us on the phone. We see through it all.

    BEST practice would be be aware of the business you’re dealing with. The in’s and outs of your products. As a consumer, its YOUR responsibility to know what you’re signing up for. As a rep, its our job to enlighten the 90% of consumers that DONT follow best practices.

    If you get an ass hole rep, hang up.
    If we get an asshole customer, whether they’re covering up that fact by “acting smart” or not…

    best thing is to be GENUINE and know if you’re getting genuine back.

    otherwise, hang up and call back.
    OR just ask to be transferred to another department, then get transferred back when you get them.

    Dragging a supervisor away from their OFFLINE tasks is only going to prolong the wait for your issue to be resolved. Not to mention, you’ve now got a pissed off rep with all your information in front of them.

    For security purposes, you’re gonna HAVE to give your name AT LEAST in order for the call to progress.

    so yes, waste your time, and follow this article. or just be LOGICAL about your products, and pay your bills on time.

  219. bitsnbytes says:

    Bad consumer.

  220. Deonesis says:

    I worked at a small cable company doing tech support. The way this person acts would get her nowhere there. Asking for a supervisor immediately would only work if:

    1. You already spoke to that supervisor within the last week.
    2. You wanted to complain about an specific agent.
    3. I can see record of a chronic issue on your account.

    I sympathize with her plight with Best Buy and glad she got it resolved the way she did. Just be careful who you use this on. I non-teenage experienced rep will shut you down.

    I think the thing to take out of this post is to stay calm. I had taken 1,000’s of calls and know how to get your issue resolved, just work with me to do it.

  221. Eeyore71 says:

    Having read through all 222 comments (at this point), I have several comments of my own. So, in no particular order:

    I liked the comment (sorry to not give credit to you but your post is lost in over 200 comments) that someone made about “personal polices” vs. company policies. I have never thought of it that way before and I agree. My first policy would be that if I am treating you respectfully, I deserve the same respect.

    My mother once bought a recipe magazine from Walmart. The magazine itself was defective because some of the pages were upside down, some of the pages were duplicates, and some of the pages were missing. Keep in mind that all she wanted to do was to exchange it for the SAME magazine (only not defective), but the CSR told her that it was “illegal to return magazines” and when questioned futher, stated that it was their “policy” because “some people could just go home and copy the recipes they wanted and return the magazine for cash”. My mother caught up with me later in the store and she was crying because she was frightened that she had done something illegal. I immediately went to customer service and asked to speak with a manager. He, too, tried to tell me it was “illegal”, but could not produce a written “policy” to prove it. I found it funny that with all of the policies listed on the wall at Customer Service, NONE of them addressed magazines. Even open DVDs are allowed to be exchanged for the same item if defective. And the manager also admitted that you can return a book (another form of written material that could be copied and returned if that was indeed their concern), but he still wouldn’t budge on exchanging this defective magazine. I finally gave up dealing with this Customer Service manager and went over to the Jewelry counter and asked to speak with the Store Manager. He offered to exchage it, but as I went from one checkout to another, I found that EVERY copy in that store contained the same exact defects on exactly the same pages. The Store Manager finally allowed a refund, but I was angry because we NEVER received an apology and this whole process wasted more than an hour of my time. I contacted WalMart Corporate offices by registered letter and they also hid behind a mysterious unwritten “policy”. I haven’t stepped inside a WalMart since. I am telling this story because it’s not good enough for a company to just say that they have policies. They need to display those policies in a conspicuous place (ie, the back of the receipt, on the wall in the store, etc.), NOT just on their website (as a few posters have suggested, since not everyone has access to the internet). Companies can’t just make up and hide behind non-exisitent “policies” when it suits them.

    Another example of this would be a Best Buy cashier telling me that they can’t take a manufacturer’s coupon on a sale item because it’s policy? Really? Show me where that’s written! And when he was unable to produce proof of such a policy, the manager tried to tell me that they weren’t set up to take coupons from that particuar manufacturer (it was for a specific DVD title, which is exactly what I was purchasing). Again, really? Then where is that list that most certainly must exist so that they can train their cashiers what to accept and what to refuse? I also haven’t done business with Best Buy since.

    These are the kinds of situations which give CSRs bad reputations and the reasons that people like the OP have had to come up with methods to combat them.

    As far as the comments some have made on the stupidity of not making the boot disc: In her defense, the OP did state that this was a “floor model”. I can’t be sure that all brands are like this or even all models within a brand, but when I bought my HP laptop, I made a backup. A year later, I wondered if it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make another, but when I tried it prevented me from doing so because it said that one had already been made and it would not allow me to do another. So, since this was a floor model, I wonder if the OP’s sister may have been prevented from making that disc that so many posters have bashed her for. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that she was unable to make this disc (for whatever reason) and just didn’t mention it in the OP.

    One of the things that angers me the most is when CSRs insist that they have no supervisor. For any CSRs that may be reading this and do this as standard practice, unless you are the owner or the CEO or equivalent, you answer to someone and I WILL eventually find them and give them as much detailed information about you (name, location, ticket number, etc.) as I possibly can. From the point that you refuse to admit that you have a supervisor, it’s no longer about the issue in which I originally called, but it’s now become a second issue regarding customer service in general.

    There are quite a few posts telling the customers how to handle calls, but what about the CSRs? In my opinion, what’s the best way for CSRs to handle a problem?
    1. LISTEN to the customer. Acknowledge the frustration that the customer faces, regardless of whether you feel the problem is your company’s fault.
    2. Demonstrate an understanding of the problem and the solution that the customer expects
    3. Apologize for the problem and the time that the customer has spent trying to resolve it. No, the CSR didn’t cause the problem, but they ARE a paid representative of the company and many angry customers can be calmed if they would just take a moment to offer this courtesy.
    4. Resolve the problem efficiently and accurately the FIRST contact. If you don’t have the ability to do that, be sure that the customer is efficiently forwarded to someone who can at least resolve it as quickly as possible.

    In my opinion, Amazon is the best company that I have encountered that works hard to acheive all 4 of those steps. And no, I don’t work for Amazon. I am a caregiver for a family.

    If problems were resolved in this way, there may be no need (or at least greatly reduced need) for the tactics that the OP listed. I understand the frustration of the OP after personally making phone calls to Tech Support and the CSR tells you to reboot the computer. Fine. I understand that rebooting resolves many issues, but once that resolution is ruled out, they have no idea what to do next and tell you to send in the computer for service. (BTW I wouldn’t list this as an example if it was an isolated incident…this has happened to me several times with computers, GPS, and other silmilar electronics)

    I also find suspicious the comments of a few of the arrogant CSRs that claim that if you would just deal with them, your problems would be immediately resolved. Really? And how many of the mistakes that you cause actually come back on you? So when you try to resolve problems that are so far above your training and worsen the problems for your customers, what do you have to lose? Most likely, the customer has to call back and gets someone else. By that time, they ARE angry and DO take it out on the next rep. BTW, to head off angry responses to this comment of mine, most likely, if you’re angry enough to respond, I wasn’t talking about you.

    For those CSRs that seem proud of causing more problems for a difficult customer, I wonder just how much more the customer ends up receiving from Corporate when they finally contact them to complain about Customer Service? You’d be amazed at the free electronics or full refunds that I have received and not even asked for after contacting Corporate because of an untrained rep who didn’t or couldn’t help me. Did I get stress out of all the time (hours and sometimes days to ultimately resolve a simple problem) and trouble I spent? Yes, but I ultimately received satisfaction, whereas the CSR just ended up with the stress. In my experience, if it goes as far as contacting Corporate officers, I end up receiving so much more than what I was even asking for.

    I’ve seen a few people take issue with the phrase “the customer is always right”. You’re right, the customer is not always right, but smart companies know that it is easier and cheaper to correct these problems before they get bad press like you so often see on Consumerist.

    As for the CSRs who complain about customers calling in and immediately demanding a supervisor: I believe that many of these calls you receive are only after your customers have already tried to resolve the problem. What about those customers that call back after you lose their call during a transfer (accidentally or on purpose)? There may be dozen reasons that people would call back and immediately insist on speaking to a supervisor, only one of which is the OPs reason. And I’m guessing that if someone immediately requests a supervisor, they are probably not calling to complain about you (assuming that you really weren’t able to speak with them first), so why make them angrier?

  222. Choco says:

    I read this and it made me angry. Telling a customer service rep that, “you are going to fix my problem.” is a command, not an assurance. It doesn’t matter how you intend it, but if I wasn’t on the clock at my job, my first response would be, “And how do you know that?”

    This is a guide on how to be a really annoying customer that representatives will either (a) help because the customer is annoying and we want them to go away fast, or (b) make the rep not feel like helping the customer all since they are showing such a commanding attitude. I am disgusted. The only reason (a) would ever happen is because of lazy, poorly trained, weak willed, etc. representatives who won’t last long.

  223. Tilted Libra says:

    I don’t know how this worked for face to face business but I GUARANTEE you this is a flawed strategy for any call in business. Maybe in the past it would work, but people in general have become so self-entitled that coming off as entitled in the least is the quickest way to get any comments or pleas you have completed ignored and absolutely no service to be provided to you at all. DEMANDING that someone do something for you is a horrible way to approach anything whether in normal life or dealing with customer service. Immediately requesting a supervisor while refusing to give your name or issue is also horribly tactless. Some companies will, and have every right, to refuse to get you to a supervisor until you give these things. Most supervisors aren’t very inclined to help you. If you immediately bypasses their employee, especially without giving them a chance to help, all you have now done is created extra work for them and possibly unneedingly. Why would they feel inclined to help you? It’s this kind of behavior listed in this article that makes most customer service agents so embittered and why they treat even nice, appropriate customers badly(which they of course shouldn’t do, it justs hard to shake it when you deal all day long). It’s also the reason companies have cracked down on what they will and won’t provide customers.

  224. CSRchick says:

    I’ve been a CSR in call centers for almost 6 years now and the best thing a customer can do to get what they want is to be polite and courteous to the representative and if they still say no then accept it and move on.

    Refusing to give any account information to identify you and then immediately demand a supervisor doesn’t work at all at the company I work for. We are prohibited from escalating to a supervisor unless we have the account up and offered at least twice to assist the caller. If the person refuses to provide any info again (and your account didn’t auto-load because you called from a different phone number than the one listed on the account) then we can release the call.

    I was a retention rep at Cingular and I’m currently in the retention department at my current employer. Asking for a supervisor rarely works anymore, unless the CSR suggests it or hints at it. In some cases, a supervisor can do more than the rep and if you’re nice and have good account history (meaning you don’t call in all the time expecting something for nothing and have had tons of adjustments for no other reason that being a whiney cheapskate) then the agent will drop hints that perhaps a supervisor may be able to override a certain policy, or they will ask to place you on hold and then they will go to a supervisor and try to get approval to override a certain policy.

    For that to work, you must deserve what you are asking for. If retention draws a hard line it’s because either they can’t give you want you want, or because you’ve been an a-hole and they don’t want to reinforce the behavior. Keep in mind if you just cussed a person out, got rude, yelled, called names etc, the supervisor they get you is going to back their agent. They have several supervisors to chose from and I guarantee they will find the supervisor that will NOT give you anything. In fact, if someone has been a jerk to me then they try to sup up, I convey that to the supervisor and usually the sup will not even give the customer what I had offered. The sup basically tells them, “that offer was on the table until you escalated, now it is not available either, oh you want to cancel? okay, your service has been canceled. Have a nice day.” Supervisors have the power to hang up on your rude butt and not be reprimanded for it. If you try to sup up on a sup where I work you are promptly told the call cannot be escalated any further or they will give you the email or PO box for you to complain to corporate. Corporate will likely do what the retention rep had offered you or they will apologize and give you nothing.

  225. pyrobryan says:

    These tips are largely BS. The only point that will work at all is being polite and courteous. Chances are that if you think you need to use these jedi mind tricks, it’s because you know that you are outside of the published policies of the company, but think you’re special and that the rules don’t apply to you for some reason.

  226. vio2112 says:

    I was pretty disgusted after reading this, especially the part about calling in and telling an agent that they “fix this problem for you.” That is simply unacceptable advice to be handing out. I work in tech support for a Fortune 500 company and I can assure you we do not tolerate that sort of nonsense. We are not there to magically fix problems especially when you consider when the sad fact of reality is that 90% of the problems are due to blatant user error. We are there to provide troubleshooting steps to HELP(that’s the big keyword there) the customer fix their problem. Ultimately, it’s the customers responsibility to fix the problem they’ve created and in the process of conversing with us, understand and learn how to properly use the sophisticated modern equipment they’ve acquired. Our company provides top of the line tech support/customer service FREE of charge. All of our agents are well trained, speak fluent English and we are located in the US(no outsourcing to india here). We expect our customers to regard this as a privledge and to NOT call us demanding we fix something that’s typically of their own wrong doing because they tossed away the easy to understand manuals/instructions and then have audacity to demand we fix it for them. Take it from me people, no matter how frustrated/upset you are, NEVER call a customer service line demanding that they fix the problem for you. Be polite and professional and ask for help. You will get the best possible assistance the agent is capable of providing when you do this.

  227. SHADOWSLAYER6 says:

    Ok, so I have to chime in on this. I am a phone rep, the problem with immediately asking for a supervisor in my case is that the supervisor will flat out refuse to take calls when we don’t know whats going on, stubbornly refusing to give the csr any information about your situation at all or even enough information to at least pull up your account makes our job incredibly difficult and unless you are prepared for ridiculous hold times and pointless runaround just tell the rep you get what is happening and allow them to pull your account information up so that when they get a supervisor the supervisor can come on the line informed about your situation ready to help instead of having to fumble through explaining things that may have been able to be resolved from the rep you were just speaking to. Supervisors should be saved for when things cannot be resolved from a normal rep. It seems that a lot of you have absolutely no idea how the logistics of a call center or customer service on a mass scale works. Each customer feels entitled and I can understand that, but really, we have a business to run and can’t always give everything to everyone or we quickly will not have a business to run.