Have You Experienced Ghastly Customer Service?

Not too long ago, we cherished and took pleasure in Excellence in Customer Service that we, and you, experienced. It was joyous to hear stories of exceptional customer service.

Sadly, last week, we experienced the opposite. We experienced a ghastly customer service at the Walgreens pharmacy. Yes, we wrote a note of feedback Walgreens describing this abominable experience. Yes, we read on Yelp that others have experienced appalling experience from the pharmacy, reflected by their 1 star rating and comments oozing anger and annoyance.

But I’m still seething at the lingering effects of the despicable customer service we experienced, and so I was reminded of a somewhat less disgraceful experience suffered by Dave Carroll. I have not heard of Dave Carroll before, but his “United Breaks Guitars” remains etched in my mind more than a decade later.

What’s the story behind it? Over 10 years ago, Dave Carroll, a then not-so-well-known Canadian singer flew on United Airlines on a domestic flight where he checked-in his Taylor guitar. As you may have guessed by now, his guitar was broken. Then followed a long, sad, and fruitless saga of Dave Carroll trying to get compensation for his guitar. He eventually expressed his frustration with United by writing a catchy song titled, surprisingly, “United Breaks Guitars”, and filmed a video for it with his friends from the volunteer fire-fighting department. It is WELL worth watching and listening to. More than a decade later, when someone mentions United, in my mind I still hear “Because United breaks guitars” 😀

Have you experienced truly bad customer service? What did you do as a result of it?

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58 thoughts on “Have You Experienced Ghastly Customer Service?

    1. That is a terrific observation! Many of my fondest memories of companies are of “how they made me feel whole” again, and, to a large degree, it’s what makes me trust them: I’ll always feel whole/safe with them. And yet, it sounds like there’s an intriguing story behind your comment that could help me understand it better? Best service card is revenue?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In Japan, where tipping in a restaurant is rare, we asked our Japanese “son” how a customer could reward a restaurant for good food and service. He said, “Come back again. We said, what if the service was really really good. He said, bring your friends. How simple is that? And how much more should a customer have to do to get good service and products. Cheers. Allan

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t just like that, I love, Love, LOVE that! What spectacularly, dazzlingly AWESOME customer service is that? I vote on that with my words and deeds. Over the years, we’ve brought many (MANY) friends and colleagues to restaurants that we’ve favored!

          I like the thought-provoking question you ended with as well: how much more should a customer have to do to get good service and products? (not a rhetorical question…)

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve had many frustrating customer service experiences, but nothing that I can remember as being horrible. I love the idea of calling out United, and that little bit of satisfaction in doing so!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Then you’ll like even more the overall response: not only did Dave Carroll’s song get over 10m views … QUICKLY. And, interestingly, within a month of it being published, United’s stock fell by about 10%. Not 100% sure how the two are related, just saying it happened 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It IS so well done, isn’t it? And the way I understand it, Dave Carroll did it with a minimal budget with his pals 🙂 Sometimes a little bit of creativity does go a long way, doesn’t it?

      I’m still not entirely over seething, but your words really help ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, throughout our seething we were hoping we engaged with CVS instead of Walgreens, though after the fact (sadly…), we looked at the reviews on Yelp and saw that the pharmacies in both places, at least in this area, are filled with horror stories from their customers. Is good customer service a thing of the past in pharmacies? 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I LOVE that Maya Angelou quote, EW! It is so true – and I love how you relate it to customer service.

    I’m so sorry for your Walgreens experience. I know I have terrible customer service stories buried deeply in my brain but I find it amusing that I can’t dig one up at this moment. Probably says a lot for how my memory works! 🙂

    But I won’t forget “Because United breaks guitars.” What a brilliant way to respond to disappointing customer service! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Wynne! ❤ It IS/was a brilliant way to respond to it, and it turns out that Dave Carroll ended up being a sought-after speaker about … customer experience (and it also helped him become a much more famous singer!). Is this a great story about making lemonade out of some pretty rotten lemons or what? 🙂

      And, yes, as long as you remember which companies to stay away from, it’s probably best not to keep seething (like I am still am 😀 ) over what happened?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t remember getting ghastly customer service (although I’m pretty sure it’s happened), but I have received “service” from someone who, apparently, didn’t get the whole concept of being nice. They weren’t mean necessarily, but they just exuded “I don’t give a sh*t” vibes. Oh, and of course, there are those times when you’ve become completely invisible to “service” people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And doesn’t that just make ALL the difference? Years ago, there was this restaurant, where one of the servers just knew exactly how I liked to customize my favorite dish, and she did it so well, remembering all the small adjustments and always being so cheerful to do it, that not only did she always get tipped at the above-and-beyond rate, we brought (I’m not exaggerating) dozens of customers to their restaurant.

      Doesn’t that EXTRA BIT make all the difference?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bad customer service? Write a blog post and let the www take care of the issue. I figure that way I may have warned someone, made my displeasure known. If what we write online is forever, then so is the blog post. Bwha-ha-ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a wonderful approach: share the experience! And while I 100% agree that it’s all out there forever and a day, the next question is how to make the company in question HEAR it.

      I loved this song a decade+ ago, when I first heard it, and I find new things to like about the way he expressed his frustration. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade: he became famous as a result of this song, much more so than he was on track to be with his “day singing.”

      But even with that, has the quality of service significantly changed?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I take your point. Whether the company hears my complaint is doubtful, but I feel better. As for your question, I experience more good customer service than bad. Whether that is the same or different from 10 years ago, I can’t say. Hope for the best, snarl at the worst.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m glad you posted that here: thank you!

          I’m delighted to hear that Reputable Catalog Company responded to your (funny) tweet. Many would not! Did you post it on their account?

          What I’m less glad about are the 18 days and the numerous calls from less-introverted-hubby that were required AND the demands on your time… AND the no compensation for your pain/suffering. Yes, it worked out, but given EIGHTEEN DAYS, would you recommend this company to a friend? Would you buy from them again? Your wicker furniture set looks GREAT, but are you somehow reminded of the 18 days’ tortuous trail every once in a while when you lounge on it?

          Like

        2. I LOVE the wicker furniture. It has held up well [better than its upscale predecessor] and still looks great so yes I’d recommend the company. There may have been a few wrinkles in the process but so be it. Plus anything that ends in a good blog post makes me happy.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Fair enough! Though if I were working for that company, I think you’d be getting an extra cushion for free, or an extra ottoman, or an extra something for free, to make sure that your overall experience was sure to end with a smile?

          Liked by 1 person

  5. The video/song was great, mortifying and heartbreaking and pretty funny too. (Dave Carroll has a wonderful voice). A very creative way to express his frustration too. I’ve had horrible customer service before, for sure, and there’s nothing like the threat of a blog posting to get some action, if they care at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He has a wonderful voice and the song is so catchy that I found myself humming it last night as I was doing the dishes 😀 I can’t wait to hear how long it sticks in your head!

      And while I hear that feedback is the great “equalizer”, that not only top celebrities will end up getting good treatment, I find myself wondering about three items there, I hope you can help me:
      1) How is feedback “working” when businesses with bad ratings/experience are still continuing about their merry way?
      2) There is so much feedback out there, how does one’s voice get heard? While I heard of Dave Carroll, I bet there are other magnificent songs of feedback out there with 10 views, not 10m+ views…
      3) And a follow-up to question #2 : why is it that Squid Game and K-pop take the pop-world by storm and others simply don’t, even if I like those “others” better?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good questions!

        #1 Shop local and small businesses when possible. They care about feedback and generally want to make it right. (I know, not always convenient, but good for our communities too).

        #2 Ah, no answers here except to support socially conscious voices who have an audience. We can’t all be famous, but we can support those who are and have legitimate things to say.

        And #3. Luck. Being at the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. It’s the same for any artist, including writers.

        Well, that was fun. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for the thoughtful and insightful answers! Do you find that small businesses are universally more attentive to feedback? Years and years ago, we left a good family physician because his front-desk staff was a nightmare to deal with. His Yelp ratings were relatively bad, but all the bad reviews were about the front-desk staff. He did not seem open to gentle inquiries, and so we left for a large practice 😦

          Liked by 1 person

        2. In general, I think small businesses are more responsive. My son-in-law has a small business and he bends over backwards to fix problems. But there are good apples and bad ones everywhere.

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    1. Hilarious, and catchy: I can’t wait to hear what you hum in the shower tonight… 😛 I found myself doing the dishes last night to it…

      It is simply mind-boggling to me how bad service sometimes is. Was the woman (I’d rather not call her lady given your description) that was helping you the owner at the store, or an employee?

      Like

        1. I don’t find owners to be universally attentive and I have examples of hourly employees providing such spectacular and personalized service that had me converting others to that business… What I find is that the owner’s nature is reflected in the actions of their employees. It’s easy to buy and hang posters about the importance of customer service, it’s different to create and nurture a culture of care. But it’s possible, even in larger businesses, like Costco or Trader Joe’s where you feel that (most) employees care?

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Funny music video. It can be frustrating to deal with lousy customer service. Some employees don’t seem to give a damn, and somehow believe there’s nothing that can be done about it, by disgruntled customers. But we’re often able to vote with our feet, and can choose to do business with different companies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is funny, and also sad, and also encouraging to see the wonderous ways in which some talented people can express their experiences.

      It’s disheartening how many employees, of small and large companies, seem to simply not care. This is reflected by comments, but it doesn’t seem to impact the survivability of the larger companies.

      Is it because not all of us have options to do business with other companies? I do like how the singer said that he’s not going to say he’ll never go on the same airline again because maybe the fate of the world will depend on him flying with them again 😀

      Have you voted with your feet before?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, if I could sing, that would be my answer. But I use LA’s approach. I smother anyone in a chain of command with cc’s. If I can’t get an email address for the top executives, I send there copies to a street address at corporate headquarters. I begin with how I have always enjoyed good service with Xyz Corp and was shocked no one would respond to my complaint or not get back to me when they said they would. The CEO may never see it but everyone overreacts with resolving the complaint (Frankly some complainers are unreasonable but the brass and minions find it easier and safer to solve the problem than to convince someone why the polite customer was wrong). Twenty years ago I was willing to pay a rental car place for a tire I ruined but they kept my $500 deposit (surely they could get a tire for less than that). Of course, they ended up returning my entire deposit. Like LA, I have to be really pissed off to bother.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Have You Experienced Ghastly Customer Service? – OG Designer
  8. Received bad service pretty rarely as a matter of fact. But the art of customer service is really dying, unfortunately. You hear all kinds of stories especially about airlines. Granted, sometimes customers can be at fault themselves because of how they choose to handle things, how they act. But if you are providing a service for which someone is paying you, then that person is entitled to a level of satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoa! Thank you for such a terrifically thought-provoking comment: is the art of customer service dying? You know you have me thinking here!

      Yes, I’ve seen stories of customers behaving abominably, and, no, I don’t believe that the customer is always right, but I do agree that service-providing organizations would do well to focus on differentiating themselves through great (not bad 😀 ) customer service, rather than on its cost. Though I wonder… Is it us who are forcing it by choosing those companies that are cheapest rather than those with the best service? What do you think? Know that you really have me thinking: thank you!

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      1. Interesting take and yes, we are the ones at fault as we move more to bargain prices, on line buying and less personal contact. The art of negotiation is practically dead, going the way of civility and tolerance. There is always someone willing to sell you a product or a service at a lower cost. And those who consider cost only, are his lawful prey.
        And, thank you for replying. I like thinking too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can’t stop thinking about what you said, so you know another blog entry is coming just about the terrific questions you brought up!

          Help me understand the correlation to the art of negotiation? And I agree, it does seem that civility and tolerance are on the path to extinction: why do you think that is?

          Like

    1. You’re so right: it sticks with you for far longer than I’d like its lingering tentacle grasp on me 😦

      He did get compensated by United… AFTER the song came out… On another funny (?) note, Dave Carroll became a sought-after speaker about customer experience, and on the way to such an engagement, we flew United and… United lost his luggage 😀 He said “The irony is palpable” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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