The Trouble With Customer Service

By Kristin Baryn
SC Staff Writer

How many times have you gone shopping in the past year and witnessed clerks ignoring customers while they continuously play with their cell phones? How many times have you asked for help from associates only to receive eye rolls, grunts, and a harsh “follow me” as if they choose when to perform their work duties? How many times have businesses disappointed you with their shoddy customer service?

If it happened once, it happened too many times, and I say, no more! We as consumers need to take action against large, local, and online corporations, reminding them who possess the power. Business owners forget that they owe their lucrative businesses to the customers who frequently spend money on their products, and it is time they remember.

Numerous complaints about terrible customer service dominating videogame chain stores in East Stroudsburg, PA circulate throughout the community. One disgruntled customer complained of a store manager’s arrogant attitude. He states, “He lacks the discipline to control his attitude in a professional atmosphere and has no customer service skills to speak of. He’s arrogant and rude and speaks to you as if he’s doing you a favor by serving you” (Anonymous).

The customer claimed the online inventory system updated daily indicated the in-store availability of certain products that the staff denied were in the store. They gave several excuses before admitting they had the product on hold for another customer. The videogame store manager refused to speak to the customer upon request when staff could not adequately assist him. He says, the manager’s “bad leadership breeds incompetent subordinates” (Anonymous).

The dissatisfied customer plans to pursue this matter up the corporate hierarchy and plans to avoid purchasing products from the store again. He decided to fight for the outstanding customer service we all deserve.

Similarly, small local businesses lack satisfactory customer service as much as large corporations. A to Z Books, in Arroyo Grande, Ca, wound up on my list.

I had an undesirable confrontation with the co-owner of the store after I walked in to exchange a Christmas gift (which I never cracked the cover of) because I already own Stephen King’s 11/22/63.

I requested an even exchange for a few used books of my choosing. The owner informed me that she would give me an amount equaling half the book’s worth. I asked why, if the gifter paid cover price, she would offer me half. She explained to me that she’d only get a quarter of the worth when she sells it. Her excuse appalled me, for why did she charge full price the first time? I accused her of ripping me off and told her she ought to be ashamed of herself.

I proclaimed to be the customer; therefore, I’m always right. What happened to sending the customer away happy? I demanded to know. Needless to say, another customer walked in, leaving her no choice but appease me with a full refund (I’m sure she wanted me to quiet down) and I bought the books I wanted. I even offered her a few books in my library I no longer needed, and she accepted. I desired to show her how exceptional customer service benefits all parties involved when exercised, and I, like many others are, am fed up with current practices.

More and more consumers avoid long lines, high prices, and poor customer service by conducting their consumer business via the Internet, but it appears the web does not shield consumers from poor customer service practices.

A single mother of two cried to me shortly after Christmas because of the botched gift a portrait studio’s affiliate sent me, the godmother of her eldest child. The porcelain ornament she ordered should have arrived with her children’s Christmas photos illustrated on it, but instead, I received an ornament with someone else’s children.

Since the single mother bought the gift early, she assumed she would simply contact them, so they can ship out the correct gift; however, her assumptions proved false. Not only does a customer service number not exist, but also no one returned her complaining emails; thus, the ornament from my goddaughter never found my Christmas tree. She emailed repeatedly over the following weeks with no results. She finally contacted the manager of the portrait studio, who then connected with the online business.

After another two weeks, the mother received an email from a representative of the online verison of the port, alerting her that they were unable to process her order because of the pictures she sent, and she should expect a refund in three business days. They offered her no apology or compensation yet managed to insult her by implying she sent incorrectly formatted photos. They fabricated blame as to not take responsibility for their mistake. The mother promised she would not do business with the online studio in the future.

Why would we continue to support this unwarranted behavior by fattening the pockets of the corporations that care nothing for the consumer? It has become the age of greed. Together, we must put our feet down, halting the rapid decline of customer service. What happened to the customer is always right? I miss courtesy and respect from the establishments where I spend money. I refuse to stand for anything less anymore. I just hope businesses start to understand the importance behind customer service and why they should all implement solutions like the ones provided by Salesforce.

If I do not receive the treatment I deserve, I will walk out and spend my money where they focus on quality of service. We have become complacent, allowing people, who are paid to assist us, to treat us as if we don’t employ them by shopping. We as consumers possess the power to lift up or tear down businesses, and it’s time we speak up and actively rebel against deteriorating consumer service.

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