Lousy Tip

I remember when I was a teenager (which was only a few years ago, because I’m only 29… Shut up!!) my oldest brother told me about a trick he used to do when he got poor service at a restaurant. I never knew whether it actually worked or not, because I’d never tried it – until just the other day. (Relax! There were no servers injured in this blog writing.) What he did was to leave a penny under an upside-down full glass of water on the table – leaving the server the only option but to dump an entire glass of water to get the measly penny as a tip. (The secret, if you haven’t figured it out, is to place a dollar bill over the glass, turn the glass upside-down which causes suction and seals the water, place it on the table, then quickly slide the dollar bill out leaving the water and penny under the glass.)

The above photo is my proven experiment.

Now, I know I’ve written about this before; yet it still gets me how companies can continue to give the worst customer service to their customers and still expect them to come back for more. It’s like being the proverbial abused spouse: “I deserved to be hit; I fell down the steps; I walked into the edge of the cabinet face-first.” It’s almost like we can’t stay away from being abused by the people we’re giving money to, and just keep going back for more.

So now I’d like to introduce 5 sure-fire ways to give the worst customer service and ensure that your customers will come back, just begging for more.

1. Play email tag with your client telling them to contact someone else in your company

I deal with many vendors in my line of work, and when the invoice comes in, I make sure it gets paid properly. But I really can’t pay an invoice if they don’t send it to me (thought I’ve really tried, pulling figures out of the air didn’t sit too well with my boss). So I found a customer service number online and called it. Talked to someone who apologized that we didn’t receive the invoice and said she would send it. Well a week and a half later, there’s still no invoice. This time I emailed my contact at the company who is in the accounting department (made sense to me to contact accounting about a missing invoice). In short, this was our email exchange:

Subject: Missing Invoice
Dear Person I Know: We’re missing invoice #12345 and need it in order to pay it. Can you please send it to me? Thank you.

Subject: RE: Missing Invoice
Dear CuriousBloke: Call our Customer Service line at 800-YOU-SUCK and they’ll be happy to help you.

Subject: RE: RE: Missing Invoice
Dear Person I Know: I did that already a week ago and still haven’t received anything. Can you at least forward my request to someone in your company?

Subject: RE: RE: RE: Missing Invoice
Dear CuriousBloke: Call and ask for Someone Youdontknow. She’ll make sure you get what you need.

2. Make your client go through voicemail hell without offering any prompts that might actually make sense

I’d like to arrange the pickup of a returned item. I call the company and never get any kind of prompt to speak with a real person. Did you ever see that Ally Bank commercial where they put a blender on the counter with a sign that says “Use blender if you need assistance?” It’s almost like that.

Thank you for calling The I Couldn’t Care Less Company. We’re here to serve you. For some nice music to listen to while you’re waiting, press 1 now. If you would like to be re-directed to another department even though you have no idea where you are in the first place, press 2 now. If you are looking for some social interaction with a blender, press 3 now. If you would like to pay a bill, press 4 now. If you speak Spanish and don’t know what I’m saying, press 5 now.If it’s Summer and you’d like to go swimming with friends, press 6 now. If you still don’t know what you want but would like to sit on this line until no one ever answers your call, please wait.

3. Continually make it sound as though it’s your client’s fault for everything

There must have been a storm while I was away, and the satellite television wasn’t working. I had to call the company to find out what needed to happen and to get our programs back up and running after being gone for a week on vacation.

Satellite: What’s the problem.

CuriousBloke: My satellite doesn’t seem to be working.

Satellite: Well, what’d you do to it?

CuriousBloke: What? Nothing. I just came home from vacation and it wasn’t working.

Satellite: Yeah, right. You musta done something to it. Let’s go through the motions just to make you feel like you’re doing something positive. Turn the system off, count to 10, then turn it back on again, then tell me if that fixed it.

CuriousBloke: After waiting for 10 minutes for it to boot back up, it’s still not working.

Satellite: Well, then we’ll have to try some other things.
Press the reset button…
Tap the top of the box with your left hand…
With your left foot extended and the index finger of your right hand…
I guess I’ll just have to run diagnostics from this end…
Yup, the diagnostics come back that your dish is not in alignment and needs us to come out and fix it by one of our technicians.

CuriousBloke: Wow. Well, okay. I’ll be here for the rest of the day…

Satellite: (after raucous laughter) Oh, that’s not possible to send someone out that quickly. But we can send someone out a week from Tuesday.

4. Make your hours of business so short that it’s nearly impossible for your customers to reach you

At least this way, you won’t have to worry about getting many complaints when things go wrong. I used to have a saying that my perfect workday would be 12:00 to 1:00 with an hour lunch. Apparently there are some companies that really do work by this philosophy.

5. Constantly refer your customer to your website, which is the reason why they’re calling you in the first place

I kid you not – more than one time I’ve had to call a company because their website was down or not working or a page wasn’t linked or their programming was giving me error messages or it was just sitting there staring at me!!. Yet I couldn’t reach a single live person. Instead I would be greeted by a disembodied recording telling me that all the information I required could be found on their website, and to go to their website for all my needs. Certainly everything that I would ever need in life to make me happy would be found on their freakin’ website!!

Um … no …

6. Keep telling your customers you’ll be there tomorrow and don’t show up like you’re playing hide-n-seek

Yeah, I know the title of the blog says “5 Ways…” but I just thought of another one – so sue me!

And this is what we’ve been reduced to. Blubbering idiocy, dealing with blubbering idiocy. I spend too much time staring at my cellphone in amazement, or sending too many emails that start out with the words “Are you kidding me??” or “I’m really not happy right now.”

If nothing more, at least it’s increased people’s prayer time while waiting …

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off! Amen.