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Is Customer Service Still a Thing? WHERE IS IT?

You guys already know about my beef with Comcast. And yes, there are updates, which I’ll get to. But first I really want to know – does customer service even exist anymore? In the past few weeks, I’ve had one negative experience after the other.

I’m not a high maintenance individual when it comes to customer service. I want to exchange my money for goods or services and get what I paid for; that’s pretty much it. In fact, I wrote a post on Debit vs Credit awhile back about how to prepare before you call a customer service number! You know, so you don’t waste their time. Yet it seems like most companies don’t bother doing the same for the people who keep them in business.

Bad Experience #1: Walmart

Walmart doesn’t get much love, especially on the internet, but it’s basically the only option where I live. I made a purchase there recently that took ages because the cashier couldn’t get a barcode to scan. Not his fault, no big deal. But all that ended when I got home and looked at my receipt. Not only had he scanned one item twice (not the one with the messed up barcode), but he also shorted me $20! I called the store and explained what happened, and the CSM told me there was no way to prove it since (1) the transaction was paid for with cash and (2) I left the store so they didn’t know what I bought and what I didn’t.

Um, excuse me, but I’m pretty sure that guy’s drawer would have extra money in it. Yes, it would have been inconvenient to check, but the world wouldn’t have ended. And wouldn’t the security cameras show me buying three items instead of the four I was charged for? But Walmart wasn’t having it. They’d rather let me get pissed off than deal with the problem. Why? Because they know they’re the only show in town. What am I going to do, stop needing things? There’s no incentive for them to address the cashier’s mistakes because they know I’m not going to quit shopping there.

Bad Experience #2: Pizza Hut

This just happened over the weekend. I ordered a Pepperoni Lovers pizza, and because the last one I ordered didn’t have enough pepperoni, I asked for DOUBLE pepperoni this time. I was drooling just thinking about it. Then I got home and there were only eighteen (18) pepperonis on my pizza. Yep, I counted.

I tweeted to Pizza Hut and they asked me to fill out a complaint form. So I did, and I got an auto response saying someone from the local Pizza Hut would call me. But here’s the thing. I don’t WANT free pizza or free breadsticks or whatever lame crap they’ll offer me. All I want is for them to acknowledge their suckiness and do better next time. Does that ever happen? No. They just throw coupons at people and keep screwing up orders instead of training their staff. And it absolutely infuriates me.

The Mother of Bad Experiences: Comcast

So the last time I posted about my ongoing war with Comcast, I was waiting two weeks for another tech to come to my house. He showed up, believe it or not, and confirmed that there was a “critically degraded signal” coming from the lines in my neighborhood. I could have kissed him for recognizing that it was a larger problem and not blaming it on me. He told me that someone from maintenance would be out to look at it within 48 hours.

Two days passed without a word from Comcast. So I called customer service for the thousandth time and they promised someone would call me the next morning. No one called. The following Monday, I called again and actually spoke to a real human. I had to fight her to keep from starting all over. “Please just look at the notes on my account,” I begged. “You’ll see that I know how to plug in my modem and that the problem is NOT my router.” So she finally looked and said someone from maintenance would come within 72 hours.

Of course no one showed up. And when I called again, the person said that maintenance put in a note that they checked the lines and there was nothing wrong. LIARS! Sorry, ma’am, but we’ll have to send a tech to your house.” And so the circle of insanity continues.

As an added bonus, one of the last times I called, the customer service rep told me that sometimes static builds up in the lines, and I should unplug the coax cable from the modem and touch it to my shirt or a soft cloth to neutralize the static. I really wish I was making this up.

Is It Just Me?

Am I the only one who has these experiences on a regular basis? I mean, the Comcast thing is a bit extreme and probably doesn’t happen to everyone, but I have run into pathetic excuses for customer service everywhere I’ve been lately!

Like I said, I really don’t think I’m super demanding. When there’s a problem (and it has to be a pretty big or recurrent problem for me to say anything), I’m calm and polite. I don’t ask for free stuff or threaten to sue. I just ask for information and seek solutions. But there are very few retailers or companies that seem to care.

Have you experienced horrible customer service lately? Am I alone in thinking that customer service as an industry is getting worse?

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web designer and single mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

Comments

  1. queenlbee says:

    Unfortunately I think customer service takes a back seat in a lot of big brands because they're so big. One customer isnt going to make a difference to them.

    I absolutely HATE automated response machines, I just wish everyone would suck it up and pay real people to answer the phone. I don't see how an automated phone system makes anything easier except gives the phone reps more time to field calls.

  2. I find that it depends a LOT on who's running the store. I've had good experiences with my local wally-world, because the management knows their job and do it well. My local grocery- the same thing. I know the manager, and I have never had a bit of trouble when I've needed help with something. There are (sometimes) advantages to living in Small Town America.
    On the flip side are the jerks who know they're the only show in town. It's a shame that you seem to have some of those in your town. :(

    As to the comcast thing… I'm sure you've checked other alternatives… If you get cell service at your home, you might be able to set up a hotspot? I know around here it's $20 a month with AT&T to do that. And I've heard you can get satellite internet, but that may be what you're already on. Sorry I'm not tech enough to be of more assistance.

    We're fortunate here to have Time Warner Cable for internet, tv and phone. They're stupidly expensive (only show in town) but the customer service is, in general, really good and I don't have problems with my internet. Pricing is my only complaint with them. Their cable packages are stupidly expensive, so I've cut way back on TV and got Netflix.

    Anyway, good luck!
    -Mary

  3. Customer service is definitely sorely lacking in many companies, but in some of your examples, it's not the parent company at all. At the Walmart, it was the laziness of the individual you spoke to on the phone. I know they say that every employee is the company from a representation standpoint, but in all fairness, it was one lousy employee. I'm sure if you contacted the general or district manager, explaining it to them they would takes steps to rectify the situation.

    In the case of Pizza Hut, I believe they are all franchises (if not all, then most?). Each one is owned and operated by individuals who sometimes aren't even there a majority of the time. Believe me, I have firsthand experience from my HS days working for an owner like that at McDonald's. The employees basically had free run of the joint, and didn't really care too much since it was a menial job with commensurate pay.

    When I have a problem, I simply type up a letter on my business letterhead, or send an email with my company signature so it seems more official and important (some people actually put more weight on a business complaining than an individual). In most cases, they will try to satisfy you one way or another, and sometimes, you'll just have to accept free stuff ;-)

  4. I had some bad customer service on a phone call with Charbroil this weekend. The guy actually hung up. But on the flip side, I had some defective shoes from Zappos and they were terrific about it. I'd rather pay a little more and get great customer service. Love the Costco return policy-they never make you feel bad for returning something.
    Chase

  5. This stinks! Hopefully your luck will change — but my favorite line of all was "what am I going to do, stop needing things?"

  6. I think good customer service is a thing of the past. My blood just started boiling with only the mention of Comcast. I won't go into details but they have wasted many, many hours of my life. So has AT&T. I think, if anything, that customer service all across the board has gotten even worse in the last few years.

    Sorry to be so negative =(

  7. I am not sure what is going on with CS, but I think that the high turnover and/or outsourcing and/or low pay and terrible pressure on employees may be responsible for this. They dont want to send techs out because that costs more money than, say, keep you waiting another week or two. They have pretty much boned CS bare, and what you end up with is unhappy employees with more interest on getting to the next call than solving your issue. Have you tried contacting the regional Comcast office? Or asking straight for a supervisor? I've found that helps, especially when you get their direct number.

  8. I just cancelled Time Warner Cable. Vote with your wallet! But, you are right, customer service can be pretty dreadful out there!

  9. I've learned from my mom growing up to always count my change and check the receipt before I leave the store…sorry to hear about your Walmart exerience, yikes!

  10. Customer service seems to have gone out the window. It's really sad because business's are loosing customers and money for their lack of customer service.

  11. 100wordson says:

    Like you, if we want quality high speed internet, Comcast is our only option. (Our county passed laws about who can offer cable in what areas of the county, and Comcast has a monopoly in most places.) DSL is not good enough for our household and there's no FiOs option, and we've had even worse customer service experiences with ClearWire than Comcast. (If you can believe that.)
    Bad customer service frustrates me, but last year I was also very frustrated by incredibly friendly customer service that couldn't actually help me. It took over two weeks, I don't even remember how many calls, and it was finally luck when I reached someone at Sprint who knew anything about Nextell phones, even though Sprint owns Nextell. Everyone I talked to was perfectly lovely, but they couldn't do anything to fix my problems.

  12. I had a horrible experience at TGI Friday's but upon filling out a complaint form on the website the GM of the store actually corrected the issue and sent me $30 in gift certificates. Win Win and the problem was solved. Good customer service on fixing their bad customer service.

  13. I hate our local Walmart for the same reason. We have no other stores, so they are always full and don't care if they have horrible service because there is no where else to go. Our work vacuum broke a couple of weeks ago. I had 20 minutes, so I went to Walmart, picked out vacuum, went to check out. All the express lines were backed up, and, as usual, I picked the wrong one. The guy in front of me had a tootbrush that wouldn't scan, so instead of just putting in $1 or whatever, she made him go back to the toothbrush isle to get another one, with all of us just staning there glaring at her. I really try to avoid it if I can, but where else in our town can you get a vacuum? Maybe I should start shopping yard sales.

  14. Nope, it is not just you. I am writing a post about my experience with CenturyLink and our Internet. They blatantly lied to us since Saturday. My overall experience with customer service in any company is not that great. However, i have to admit that Walmart in out are is not too bad. :)

  15. Which is why I make my own pizza, loaded with pepperoni… :)

  16. RuleYourWallet says:

    I have a good story for you. I ordered some replacement parts for a piece of machinery at work. The order was around $1000. Well, they send me the wrong parts, so I call them up and tell them their error and tell them I will send the parts back, so they can send me the correct parts. What did they tell me? "Sure we can take them back, but you do understand there is a 20% restocking fee?" I went rounds with them that they messed up and sent me the wrong parts. It didn't matter. Pay 20% or keep it. I took it to my boss he just rolled his eyes and said fine send them back. I now avoid this company whenever possible.

  17. bogofdebt says:

    The second to last time I had an issue with Wal-Mart, they overcharged me for milk. I didn't catch it until the next day but they actually paid me back my money. But then I tried to buy an water filter from them and it was horrid–they had stickered the wrong spot on the shelf (5 products were lined up behind this) but still wouldn't give me the cheaper price. I finally just grabbed the "actual" one because I was getting so frustrated with them.

  18. Customer service is so bad (at least where I live) that whenever someone's actually helpful I'm SUSPICIOUS! It used to be the norm, but these days, I'm like "why you following me around the store, buddy…" Sad. And that's just with helping at a store. I almost always choose the instant chat function when contacting a company that offers it because I think the customer service folks will be nicer/more reasonable when they know I can print out and save the "transcript" of our call…

  19. Andrea, I think the cashier deliberately shorted you $20, then put it in his pocket, not the cash drawer. Also, the next time you have a problem with Wal-Mart, go back in person to get the problem solved. They will most likely settle up just to get you out of there. If they don't, insist on speaking to the manager.

  20. insomniaclabrat says:

    I think everyone is right, customer service is generally going downhill. It confuses me a little every time I have bad customer service in retail…I worked retail in high school, and our managers were sticklers for good customer service. We were really the only option in town, too.

    I did have good customer service from AT&T recently, but our service still sucks, so … ugh.

  21. Ha, you're not alone. I hate going anywhere these days. You just get the worst service. I've given up on Walmart and hate Pizza Hut for this very reason. I hate to use the cliche, but you really do get what you paid for. Now I realize why people spend a little extra at the nicer places. It looks like I'm on to that …

  22. You hit the nail on the head: There's no incentive for them to change because they know you'll keep shopping there. It's cheaper for them to just ignore you than to actually fix the problem, and corporations are all about making money.

  23. Honey Smith says:

    Have you tried tweeting the companies' official accounts? That seems to be the best way to get their attention these days, since they are trying so hard to get so many followers. A student at the U where I work recently started a twitter exchange with our student health insurance provider and got almost $200,000 in insurance costs covered, plus a promise that they wouldn't enforce his lifetime cap (he has colon cancer).

  24. I've worked in fastfood and for call centers and all I can say is you are wasting your time. Most of the time the people doing the job get paid crap and don't care what kind of service the customers get because they get yelled at multiple times a day. I have learned this: don't get mad. I am the first to get mad and it never helps. Second, jump to managers, then their managers until something is done and if nothing, call back another day and try again. If nothing, find someone else and keep trying or switch brands. If you are looking for an apology or anything but coupons you will not find it in most cases. That is usually the only things even managers will want to offer. They get X amount of complains a day and just can't give away a lot of things. Now if you continue to have problems with let's say your router, you might get some credit on your account for the down days or something better, but don't count on it.

  25. thefrugaltoad says:

    I've got one for you. I stopped at McDonalds to pickup a quick lunch. When I got back to work I went to take a bite of my Big Mac and noticed it was a little on the light side. I ordered it without pickels, hate pickles on my burgers! Anyway I open the bun and the meat patties are missing. How could you possibly make a hamburger and forget to put the meat on the bun? I asked the Manager that and he gave me some lame story about it looking the same as no pickles on the ticket.

  26. Funny that I found this via a link love post this morning. One of today's tasks is to write an email to the Empress tea room complaining about shoddy service last week while I was on vacation. We went for high tea and the service would have been poor if it cost a fraction of what it did. When you're paying a bajillion dollars for "the experience" it had darn well better come with fantastic service…. not poor service! My spouse at least has something to talk about for the next few days, though not in the positive, unfortunately.

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