Are You A Customer Service Saboteur? If So, What Kind?

The idea of the bad consumer — the person whose antics make products and services more expensive or cause stores to enact anti-consumer policies — is nothing new to Consumerist readers. But a college student in Washington recently undertook an effort to identify seven categories of what he calls “Customer Service Saboteurs.”

Washington State University student Joel Anaya presented his findings on Customer Service Sabotage — “The act or behavior must have a negative effect on others customers while at service establishments” — at the Hospitality Business Management school’s Academic Showcase.

“Customers don’t just go to a restaurant to enjoy a burger,” he explains. “They go to have a good time, to enjoy the ambience of the establishment. If that’s ever affected, if they ever leave liking your hamburger but saying they had a bad time, that’s not a win for the restaurant.”

As part of his research, Anaya came up with the following categories of Customer Service Saboteurs:
Badmouthers: This is the most common class of saboteur, whose favorite weapon is loud profanity. “It’s crazy what a few bad words can do, how uncomfortable they can really make other customers nearby,” says Anaya.

Paranoid Shouters: These are close cousins to Badmouthers, but are identified by their tendency to lose control at the first sign of inadequate service or a perceived injustice.

Customers with Poor Hygiene: These are your fellow shoppers whose smell, or sweatiness or nose/ear/scab-picking sours other customers’ — and presumably store employees’ — experience.

Outlandish Request-Makers: The shoppers and diners who bring customer service to a halt by making complex demands.

Service Rule-Breakers: These are line-cutters and other people who for whatever reason are convinced they aren’t governed by the social norms that we all generally adhere to.

Bad Parents with Bad Kids: Parents who let their children run amok, not just making noise but actually interfering with the goings-on of other customers.

Unknowledgeable Customers: These are similar to the Outlandish Request-Makers, except these people hold up customer service by being uninformed about the product or service they are buying.

Anaya’s goal wasn’t just to come up with funny categories for people that spoil the shopping experience. It’s more about identifying the specific issues associated with each type of saboteur and acting appropriately.

We’re sure y’all have different and/or better ideas for customer service saboteur types. Feel free to share in the comments.

New category of heel: the customer service saboteur [WSU]