Customer Service, Funny

Customer (dis)Service

I am a member of several discussion/message board, and have been for over 10 years now. They range from those for relationship difficulties to one specializing in Disney vacations, and I’ve met the most interesting people over the years! I’ve also amassed quite a collection of links to some really great sites; it’s amazing the random conversations that spring up on “off-topic” boards sometimes  🙂

I’m sure that at one point or another, all of us have worked in the customer service field or have had a friend or family member who has. Who hasn’t heard the “Oh my gosh, this guy came in today and you won’t BELIEVE what he said to me”, or “How many more ways can I possibly say ‘No, we CANNOT do that, ma’am?” Well, embedded in a post on this very topic was the following link for Oh my goodness, I can’t get myself away from here! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE dealing with the public, especially face-to-face. Sure, there are some real jerks, and I have been called a rather nasty name, but the good experiences far outweigh the bad!

I’ve been trying to think of a few of my most favorite experiences, and the following came to mind:

– The summer I was 17, I worked in a gift shop in Cavendish, PEI, home of Anne of Green Gables. We had oodles of “official” Anne merchandise; dolls, books, pencils, you name it. Well, the owner decided to stock some t-shirts that had “naughty” Anne images on them; in one, she was pictured looking out to the ocean with a towel spread across her back. You could tell she wasn’t wearing anything, but the shirt was totally tongue-in-cheek; there was nothing obscene about it at all! Well, I had a customer come to me furious, saying how dare we sell these shirts and take Anne’s name in vain. I told her that I did not make the purchasing decisions, and that I would be happy to give her the owner’s contact info  🙂

– I was working at the entrance gate to a very buy section of a national park, and encountered visitors from literally all over the world. One couple from the Southern US asked if I was “from here” (PEI) and I said yes, that I live and work here in the summer. They then asked, “No, where are you from originally?” I replied that I was actually born and lived the majority of the time in a neighboring province. They THEN asked “No, where are your ancestors from?” Well, I have a very Scottish last name so I told them my last name and that my ancestors came from Scotland. The wife goes, “Oh, I THOUGHT I could hear a Scottish accent!” I felt like saying “But…my last ancestors left Scotland over 200 years ago…”

– I also worked at a very busy Visitor Information centre in Cavendish, PEI for two summers. Funny, but sad…many, MANY people did not believe that a) Anne of Green Gables was NOT real, and b) that the Green Gables House in the area was never home to either Anne or the book’s author, LM Montgomery. Many ardent fans came to the area on a pilgrimage of types to see the house, and I had to educate more than one disconsolate middle-aged woman…

I have many, MANY more funny Customer Service stories from those years; my colleagues and I actually kept a list, which I still have! I think I’ve found another subject for a series of posts  😀 If anyone has any good/bad/ugly CS stories, please share them with us; I can guarantee many laughs!

Consumer products, Customer Service, Just for fun :)

Lock be a lady tonight!

I ♥ my laptop. I had my old one for a little over 3 years, and it definitely ran its course. Lucky for me, I have a good friend who is very knowledgeable when it comes to computers, and he generously offered to come along with me to pick a new one out. We were lucky and found a really great deal in the second store we went to, and I was even MORE lucky that he was able to help when, 6 weeks later, the laptop had a major “meltdown”. Thank you very much; you know who you are!  🙂

At the time I got this wonderful piece of equipment, I was a university student. I studied a LOT in the library, and it’s a real pain in the rear to have to haul your laptop with you every time you need a bathroom break or a drink from the water fountain. One of the gifts I requested for Christmas was a laptop lock, and my brother came through with a very nice one from a company called Targus The lock worked wonderfully for several months; it was very easy to set up and use. All I had to do was set the combination and apply a supplied sticker to the lock so that it wouldn’t be too lose when inserted. Well, one day in May (the 15th, to be precise. I’m odd that way), the lock stuck and would NOT come off.

To the frustration of family and friends (one friend in particular ;)), I left the lock on the laptop, thinking “I’ll get it fixed eventually”. You see, I didn’t want to be out the money for a) a locksmith to remove it, and b)the lock itself. After a few e-mails back and forth with Amanda from Targus, I got the response I wanted; they would pay for a locksmith to remove the lock AND for a replacement. Now THAT’S customer service!  (Another post in itself; I’ve heard and read a lot lately from friends who have gotten less-than -satisfactory service from various companies)

This past Wednesday, exactly 12 weeks and 4 days after the initial “problem”, I meandered my way into a local locksmith’s shop and explained my predicament. He took a look at my laptop which I had set on the counter, went and got a pair of pliers, and took the lock off. In literally 5 seconds flat. Apparently, that “supplied” sticker had become loose and the lock became jammed.

Lessons learned: listen to your friends; spilled Coke can be averted as a result. Don’t be lazy; it often takes very little time to solve seemingly insurmountable problems. Finally, keep all documents for important purchases; you never know when you’ll need them!

Customer Service, Hot Topics, Shopping and Saving

Hot Topic: Tipping

Spurred on by this article, I got to thinking about tipping.

I have mixed views on this practice, as I’ve been on both sides of the issue. My first job was as a busgirl at a large, busy restaurant during the summer in a tourist area. I earned the grand sum of $4.75 an hour to clear off tables, collect trash, refill ketchup dispensers, clean washrooms, water plants…you get the idea. Since it was a buffet restaurant without wait staff, people generally did not tip (and I wouldn’t expect them to; I know I wouldn’t if I went to that sort of place). However, I got to know which tables to go clear off first, because the drivers/tour guides of those big bus tours always left a dollar or two on the table 🙂  I saved my “tips” in a jar, and by the end of the summer I believe I collected around $80- $90.

I’ve also eaten in a LOT of restaurants all around the world, from Hong Kong to Warsaw. I’ve gotten stellar service that I remember to this day (the waitress at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando back in 2001 who divulged the “secret” of the Heinz glass ketchup bottle), and some really bad service (the guy at the Hard Rock Cafe in Montreal who told us as he saw us leaving the table after our meal, “You DO know tips aren’t included?” We promptly went back and took our tip right off the table). I firmly believe that a tip is a small amount of money that tells a server “Hey, you did a great job today”. I do NOT agree with many practices employed by eateries, such as instituting a mandatory “tip”, usually 15-20%. You can be sure that if I did not receive adequate service, I would be requesting the amount be removed from my bill. The article included above stated that a staff member informed people that the surcharges were to cover extra waitstaff, marketing costs, and janitorial staff; costs I believe that a) the owner/management should have snticipated ahead of time, and b) should not be passed onto the customer.

In short, I don’t believe in price-gouging, whether it be in the form of a mandatory tip or increased prices during a major event. I believe that a server has to earn his/her tip, and if they don’t earn it in my opinion, they aren’t going to get it. I’d love to hear what others think about this issue  🙂

Consumer products, Customer Service, Shopping and Saving, Technology

Do we put up with mediocrity?

A friend of mine was in the market for a new TV the other day, and I went with him to the local big box store to look for one. Naturally, being so close to Super bowl Sunday, there were quite a few advertised at both regular price and on sale.

After taking several factors into consideration, my friend decided on the set he wanted. He inquired about it to the sales associate, as the TV was of a brand he was not familiar with. From what I head, the sales associate essentially said “This is a low-cost brand and you shouldn’t expect much from its after-sale service”. He then tried to get my friend to buy a similar TV, but from a more expensive brand.

This made me think about an experience I had with my cell phone. Koodo is owned by Telus, and I went into the local Telus outlet thinking they could advise me as to a problem with my Koodo phone. The rep essentially said “You get what you pay for; Koodo is low-cost and Telus is more expensive”. My question is…shouldn’t we get service for what we pay for? If a product is defective or doesn’t work, I expect the company (not necessarily the store which sold the item) to stand behind its product, whether it’s their basic model or a high-end product. I realize that I might be paying less money initially, but should the level of after-sale service you receive have to do with how much you paid for a product that is essentially identical to a more-expensive one?

Consumer products, Customer Service, Primal Scream

“You’ve won”! Stick it there, Orville…

A couple of weeks ago, I popped a bag of Orville Redenbacher popcorn to eat while I was enjoying a well-deserved study break. I think good old Orville would be ashamed to discover what has happened to the once-exhilarating experience of instant-win prizes…

The popcorn bag had a black bar on which, after it was heated, would tell you whether or not you had won a prize. After 5 bags I was getting pretty down, but after bad #6…cha ching! I instantly “won” a 2L bottle of Fanta! The sense of joy was overwhelming…after all, my father has won 2 cruises, a nice sum of money, a barbeque, a Turkish coffee set…it was my turn! Time to head to the store to claim my prize?

Oh, no…instant win has now become “to claim your prize, go to, enter your winning code, your most vital information and the skill-testing question”. I normally don’t bother with things like this, but about 2 weeks after I had gotten the winning pin code, I decided to enter it on the site. I put in all my information, used a calculator to answer the question, and got the following message…”Sorry, your answer to the skill-testing question was incorrect. Please try again with another pin code”! F%$^$ you, Orville!!!

Consumer products, Customer Service

Shell Canada…take a look at your franchises!

I am not one to complain, at least formally. I have been working with people in at least some capacity for thirteen years now, and I’ve been a conscious consumer for about twenty-two, so I have an idea about how companies should treat their customers. However, I have yet to write a letter of complaint to a company.

Events during the summer may change that, however. Twice this past summer, I went to fill up my car at a west-side Saint John Shell at approximately 9:30 am. Both times, in contrast to the posted opening time of 9:00 am, the door to the gas station was locked and there was not a soul in sight. The pumps do NOT have the “pay-at-the-pump” option, so that was out of the question. Both times this occurred, there were fellow motorists waiting to fill up their respective vehicles, and on one occasion a woman mentioned that this was not the first time she had encountered this problem at this particular station.

I am in the process of finding someone to whom to address my concerns. My father has worked his whole life in the business world, so I’ve grown up listening to how a business should and should NOT be run. I am going to suggest that this particular Shell franchisee 1) Look for new employees who will show up for work on time, and 2) Raise their wages $0.50-$1.00/hour to compete with other locations.

All I want is my Air Miles, but the Esso down the street has gotten my business a couple times, and they give out Aeroplan Points. Hmmm…