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4/15/10

Is bad customer service a big business scam?



We've all witnessed bad customer service in some form or another. It happens everywhere in every form of business. It happens for a variety of reasons: a breakdown in communication, computer error, human error, bad attitudes, poor training, apathy; the list could go on.

You would think to yourself, "Hey, mistakes happen" or "Everyone is entitled to have an off day". Even the most stellar customer service provider can be hit with an unsatisfactory customer remark on their performance. In the world of business, bad customer service happens, it's not supposed to be the norm, and when it happens usually it is corrected.

But what happens when businesses start using bad customer service as a way to deter consumers from receiving services the business claims to provide? Is it a deliberate attempt to deny a service a business claims to provide in order to keep their profit margin up? Does bad customer service then become a scam? What types of bad customer service would be considered part of the scam? A sales rep with a snotty attitude because a customer asks for a refund? Calling up a company and getting an automated phone system which takes forever to navigate through only to be disconnected or told to call back and get ahold of a live representative?

In my opinion, the last one can be considered part of a bad customer service scam.

Automated phone services:

I am not saying automated phone services are a scam, not by any means. Automated phone systems have helped revolutionize the call center industry. It's how some companies abuse the use of automated phone services which makes it part of the bad customer service scam. How, you say? Simply by trying the patience of the caller. Especially if that caller has chosen an option like needing a refund, exchange, or fee reversal or has a question about a charge on their statement or a billing error.

Here is an experiment any consumer can try: The next time you need to phone a company to purchase something over the phone, see how long it takes. Also, note how long it takes if you need to speak with a live person to place that purchase. If you do a good amount of business with the company then you will eventually have to do a return or come up with a billing question. The next time you call for a refund, exchange, or have a billing question see how long it takes you to get through the automated portion. Also, see how long it takes to get ahold of a live person. Take note if you get disconnected and have to call back only to be subjected to the same automated system which dumped you out the last time.

I can understand the need for companies to utilize their resources to the fullest, but when does it become apparent a company is simply trying to avoid customer complaints by giving bad customer service? Of course we all know these companies shouldn't last long, this is the information age and word gets out fast. Most of these companies still make money on first time/last time customers who don't push further after experiencing bad customer service. When they start to get too many complaints which go beyond their walls they fold up and start under a new name only to do the same thing again.
We've all witnessed bad customer service in some form or another. It happens everywhere in every form of business. It happens for a variety of reasons: a breakdown in communication, computer error, human error, bad attitudes, poor training, apathy; the list could go on.

You would think to yourself, "Hey, mistakes happen" or "Everyone is entitled to have an off day". Even the most stellar customer service provider can be hit with an unsatisfactory customer remark on their performance. In the world of business, bad customer service happens, it's not supposed to be the norm, and when it happens usually it is corrected.

But what happens when businesses start using bad customer service as a way to deter consumers from receiving services the business claims to provide? Is it a deliberate attempt to deny a service a business claims to provide in order to keep their profit margin up? Does bad customer service then become a scam? What types of bad customer service would be considered part of the scam? A sales rep with a snotty attitude because a customer asks for a refund? Calling up a company and getting an automated phone system which takes forever to navigate through only to be disconnected or told to call back and get ahold of a live representative?

I can understand the need for companies to utilize their resources to the fullest, but when does it become apparent a company is simply trying to avoid customer complaints by giving bad customer service? Of course we all know these companies shouldn't last long, this is the information age and word gets out fast. Most of these companies still make money on first time/last time customers who don't push further after experiencing bad customer service. When they start to get too many complaints which go beyond their walls they fold up and start under a new name only to do the same thing again.

But what happens when a big company starts the bad customer service policy? Are they too big to stop? According to MSN here are 2009 top 10 worst customer service offenders:

MSN Customer Service Hall of Shame

1. AOL
2. Comcast
3. Sprint Nextel
4. Capital One
5. Time Warner Cable
6. HSBC
7. Qwest
8. Abercrombie & Fitch
9. Bank of America
10. Citigroup

So, what does a consumer do when big companies like the top 10 are known for bad customer service yet they are still around? Speak with their wallet? Well, there seems to be someone else who is standing in line eager to do business with these companies.

So I put the question out to anyone on the web who reads these. What do you do or what do you think should be done?

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