The 25 Worst Customer Service Stories to Train the Best CSRs #custserv

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As The People Skills Coach™, I use both positive and negative real life customer service stories to train Service Desk and Help Desk analysts, Customer Care teams, Customer Service Reps, and Contact Center agents.

The positive customer service stories define the model of great customer service behavior. The negative customer service stories address the emotional intelligence team members need to deliver memorable service.

Below are the 25 worst customer service stories of the 40 that I received in response to the question: What is the worst thing a customer service rep ever said to you?

If you own a business or are in a position of customer service leadership, ask yourself if any of your team members would act these ways?

The 25 Worst Customer Service Stories

  1. The foul language in this story is clearly wrong. Will your CSRs quickly identify the other critical error in this exchange? Here’s the story from Ron B: I had a problem with a new piece of electronic equipment and called for assistance. The first technician I talked with insisted that there was nothing wrong with his company’s equipment, that it must be my fault. When I explained that everything in the network had worked perfectly until I powered the new item up, he laughed at me. When I asked to talk to his supervisor, he responded with the infamous two letter expletive and hung up. I called back and spoke with a different tech who was able to resolve the problem in a matter of minutes and who then asked his supervisor to join us on the line. When I told the supervisor of my earlier experience, she asked me to give her one day so she could resolve the problem. She called back in less than fifteen minutes to tell me that she and the call center manager had reviewed the tape of the call, fired the original technician, and promoted the second one to a customer service training position. It went from being the worst customer service experience ever to one of the best in less than half an hour.
    Submitted by: Ron B.
  2. The story: I was trying to get some information from the local cable company, Comcast, about my bill. I couldn’t understand the different groupings of channels which had no explanation just names like Extended Package. She couldn’t explain it and kept getting the same channels in different groupings. I said, very politely, “I don’t understand your explanation, is there someone else who can explain it to me so I will understand it.” She replied: “You’re stupid.” Then she hung up.
    Submitted by: Elaine B.

  3. “You’re not following our process.” Sadly, this was said to a customer by one of my own CSRs.  This was a wake-up call for sure.
    Submitted by: Drew J.

  4. “I’m sorry, but that’s our Policy and I’m not connecting you with my supervisor.”
    This reply is anathema to the reason for customer service — to serve the customer (the person with the $$$ they want).  I could care less about their policies.  My policy is that I don’t do business with companies that don’t treat me with respect and give me value for my money.  If something doesn’t work, then just fix it.  If you don’t know – then say “I don’t know, but let me find out for you.”  Companies are run by humans and humans make mistakes.  I don’t judge them badly because they make a mistake.  It’s how they resolve the mistake that matters.
    Submitted by: David G.

  5. Can you believe this interaction? Here’s the story: In our large grocery store, I asked about the cinnamon buns that were in the sample dome. The employee I asked said that they were very fattening and I could do with losing some weight!
    Submitted by: Andrew F.

  6. I explained to a computer company rep that I had 12 new laptops that would not power on no matter what I did.  His answer to me was “What do you want me to do about it?”  I said excuse me?  He clarified by saying “if they don’t power on I can’t trouble shoot them and if they aren’t powering on, it has to be something you did to them that made them not work.” I still have nightmares.
    Submitted by: Liz M.

  7. “You will have to go online to and fix this.” I replied “Seriously? I am talking to customer service – a real live human being and you can’t do a thing for me? “Yes ma’am, you need to go online to do this.”  So I asked her, “What, exactly, do you do?”  Silence.
    Submitted by: Shelly S.

  8. It’s not our fault that you have this problem – it’s yours.” (Big Insurance Company in the UK)
    Submitted by: Ian T.

  9. I’m still fuming from my experience with an online site for booking airfares this morning.. Woke up sick as a dog, needing to catch a flight at 7:00. I’ve probably booked one hundred flights through this company’s site and I have always paid the $20.00 insurance if changes ever come up, including unexpected illness. I have never actually used this insurance but was happy to have it until I was told from ABC Airline: “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you.”  And, then again from online booking site, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you.” Lesson learned. Don’t buy insurance from an online booking site or better yet avoid this one altogether.
    Submitted by: Anonymous

  10. Is this stupidity or lack of caring? The story: A pharmacy rep refused to authorize one of my meds. When I told her I had been waiting 2 weeks and explained the effects of not having them,  she said “maybe you should see a doctor about these new symptoms.”
    Submitted by: Denise C.

  11. Are your reps so busy following scripts that they don’t listen? Here’s the story:  My father passed away.  I called a credit card company to cancel his account.  I said, “My name is Debra. My father Pat passed away and I am the Executor of the Estate. I am calling to cancel his account.”
    The rep replied, “Well, I need to talk to Pat.” I said, “Listen very carefully. He’s DEAD – now if you want to talk to him, you’ll have to figure out how to. GIVE ME YOUR SUPERVISOR!”   The Supervisor got on the phone and I said, “Do you have a connection with God?”  She cracked up laughing – she had heard about the conversation.
    Submitted by: Deborah B.

  12. I called computer printer company’s customer service about my new printer that wouldn’t interface with my computer even though the company swore it would easily work.  After hours of being on hold and being told that I had obviously done something wrong or just couldn’t understand, the rep told me “Yeah, really not my problem, lady.” So I contacted the computer company. They figured out the problem – and were nice.
    Submitted by: Julie G.

  13. My favorite bad customer service response was “it is working as designed” after the support agent was able to duplicate an obvious bug/error in a popular word processing program.
    Submitted by: Tom M.

  14. “You should buy one of those bust reducing bras from (another company).” This was said by one of the stick thin pre-pubescent staff in the clothing store I was in.  This is customer service? I don’t think so!
    Submitted by: Emma C.

  15. Is this the new version of customer self-service ? The story: I was checking out at WalMart, with my elderly Mom and small kids in tow.  A pair of $8 shoes I was buying rang up for $10. I questioned the clerk on the price at which time she said “No they rang up for $10. “You can go back there and check it yourself”. I wasn’t about to do that, so I just settled up for the $10. grrrr.  Got home and pulled the shoes out of the box and guess what. The actual price tag on the shoes said $8! Next day I went back to customer service and happened to be waited on by the same clerk at which time she said, “That wasn’t my fault; it was the cash register. I can’t help you”.  I had to find the store manager to get the issue resolved.  He not only gave me all my money back, but he let me keep the shoes.
    Submitted by: Amanda K.

  16. I had spent well over 3 hours on the phone with customer service/tech. support, having been repeatedly put on hold, transferred, and disconnected. I called back after yet another disconnection after being on hold for several minutes. The person who answered started to go into their script, asking me for irrelevant information. I told the person that I just needed to be connected to XYZ because I had been disconnected after being on the phone with them for over three hours. The rep went to a very long speech about how he’d be happy to transfer me. I didn’t need a speech. I just needed him to transfer me. I told him this. He repeated the speech. His scripted, “inhuman courteousness” just made me angry and hate the company.
    Submitted by: Joe S.

  17. Have your reps ever said this? “There is nothing I can do for you.”  I asked for a supervisor and they told me that the supervisor will tell me the same thing!
    Submitted by: Sahar A.

  18. This one is beyond belief — yet true. Here’s the story: I was hosting a party for 150 people and needed catering prices 7 weeks prior to the party to review bids, select caterer, or determine another venue. I had a drop-dead due date and explained that.  When I contacted the caterer for prices because they hadn’t contacted me by the morning of the due date, my main contact was on vacation and left no information. I was fuming. Obviously, they did not get my business.  When I finally reached the caterer to determine how they could have made such an error, he said “I decided you didn’t need it by your due date.” I was appalled.  How could they decide my due date? I did contact the management office and heads did roll. This was not lost business from this one event, but there were 5 hosts involved (their friends) and word of mouth travels fast.  While management appreciated my comments, they were foolish in not throwing me some type of bone to offset the situation. In a world where it’s tough to get business, this is not acceptable.
    Submitted by: Lisa R.

  19. “ya wesd rufj dimn uklod doodop” In other words, the worst customer service ever was delivered by someone who spoke no comprehensible English. I’ve heard it hundreds of times to lesser degrees, but in one case it was entirely incomprehensible. When will these companies learn that customer service agents need to actually be comprehensible in the language they are supposedly supporting?
    Submitted by: John B.

  20. How would your reps reply to this request? Here’s the story: I lost my cable service for 3 days. Apparently, it was a system wide failure and thousands of customers were affected. During the course of my conversation, I said something like “Please just credit me for 3 days worth of service.” The rep said, “We can’t do that. Do you know how much it would cost us if we credited everyone for the past three days?”
    Submitted by: Phil F.

  21. “I am sorry but that’s our policy”. Even if the rep says it politely, this is a statement that can tick anybody off. Such a statement exudes rigidity and inflexibility, which is the last thing a customer wants to hear when he/she calls customer service with a genuine problem.  This statement, if used too many times by a customer service agent during a call, would generally lead to an escalation or loss of a customer which indicates the poor performance of the agent.
    Submitted by: Om D.

  22. Have you taught your reps the difference between professional and personal behavior? Here’s the story: I was speaking with a customer service representative about a problem I was having.  I said, “I know it’s not your fault.” She said, “That’s right. It’s not my fault.” She is the representative of a company. She should accept responsibility even if it’s not her personal fault!
    Submitted by: Randi B.

  23. Here’s one of the recent nightmares I lived through. There was a charge on my Citibank Mastercard from a vendor who renewed my $400 membership without asking me.  I spoke with the vendor and he agreed to send a credit into the credit card company for the charge.  Since the credit card bill was due in 15 days, I called the credit card company to ensure that I wouldn’t have to pay $400 up front only to have it credited back later.  The rep who answered the phone went into his long drawn out scripted answer. I asked to speak with a supervisor and after waiting on hold, the supervisor started another scripted answer.  I said, “I am a busy person and I just need a simple direct answer instead of the script.” He replied: “I am sorry you called when you were busy.  We are open 24 hours a day.” I stopped using that card.  I will not give my money to a company whose representatives communicate sarcastically and blame me for their slow scripted service.
    Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

  24. I had a credit card and somehow after a year the bank changed my zip code and I didn’t get the bill. When they called I explained I never got a bill. After we found the issue I asked for a refund of the late fee. Though I got it eventually I was initially told, “You are responsible for your bill, we only send the statement as a convenience to you.”
    Submitted by: Shawn D.

  25. What would your reps say if they had difficulty communicating with a customer? Would they sound like this rep who acted as if she was the sergeant in charge.  Here’s the story: A rep at a big box cable company in the Midwest said to me:  “You’re not listening to me. “
    Submitted by: Linda L.

If you are a business owner, customer service leader, manager, or supervisor, consider using customer service stories during team meetings for continuous learning and improvement. As a customer service leader you may be surprised at what you hear from your teams.

If their discussion focuses primarily on the customer’s behavior, your reps and analysts may need additional training on their customer care attitude and emotional intelligence. If instead they quickly acknowledge that the service was far below par, ask them specifically how they would handle that same scenario. To punctuate the training, ask each team member to state one step they will take that day to give outstanding customer service.

The key training topics from these customer service stories include emotional intelligence, customer care attitude, listening skills, the perilous effects of procedur-itis, ownership, and clear communication. I would be pleased to work with you as you take your team members to the heights of customer service excellence.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
21 Customer Service Tips to Make It Easy for Customers

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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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49 Responses to “The 25 Worst Customer Service Stories to Train the Best CSRs #custserv”

  1. Kimb Manson says:

    This was a fantastic idea to talk about. Sometimes utilizing and observing really bad service is what leads to providing GREAT service. When in the hospitatliy industry I often showed my staff the worst service examples and that at times was the best training they could have recieved. When you can truly observe the worst of the worst, you can use thier mistakes to improve upon your own business. Always going that extra mile to provide Service that others do not, will keep your customers coming back!

  2. Chris M says:

    Fun and sad to read about at the same time! To me it raises more questions than answers about why CRS’s treat customers this way. We also seem to see these problems come from larger companies then smaller ones. Its a shame these people dont understand that they are the face of the company and what happens from one bad call!

  3. Roy Atkinson says:

    Kate – These are great lessons. They are all indicative of instances when “putting yourself in the Customer’s shoes” would have gone a long way. These are terrific teaching moments. I’m glad people shared these stories and that you shared them with us.

  4. I enjoyed this Kate. Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards,
    Sherry Thomas
    Palm Beach Etiquette

  5. Marilyn Jess says:

    WOW! And I thought my story was a bad one. These stories make for teachable moments, as they say.

  6. Rick P. says:

    Kate — Really entertaining blog post. Amazing how many organizations don’t get how important good customer service really is.
    Rick P.

  7. Major D says:

    I had an recent experience with a local cable company. They didn’t offer HDTV service in my area. I called the cable company and told the CSR that I had an HDTV for over two years and this comapany offered no HD service in my area. I asked if they had any plans to make HD available in my area and they said no. I asked, “Can you give me any reason why I should keep my service with your company?” The CSR at the cable company told me to get satallite TV service. I did.

  8. Pattie Roberts says:

    Hi Kate,
    Great topic! I find it interesting that poor customer service is kind of an “evergreen” topic – it never goes away, and that means it is always an issue, across industries, demos, markets… I wonder why companies can’t seem to get their arms around this? We’ve all seen stats on the negative effects of poor customer service – and here’s a snippet of one of the most recent: “Genesys, with research firm Greenfield Online and Datamonitor/Ovum analysts, measuring the cost of poor customer service in the U.S., found that enterprises in the U.S. lose an estimated $83 billion each year due to defections and abandoned purchases as a direct result of a poor experience. Nearly two-thirds of consumers said they had ended a relationship due to customer service alone. The survey participants said that when they end a relationship, 61% of the time they take their business to a competitor.
    The $83 billion overall cost of poor customer service in the us came from:
    Business abandoned and lost to entire industry, $32.4 billion
    Customer churn and defections within industry, $50.6 billion”
    As a company leader, what more would I need to know in order to make sterling customer service a top priority? And yes, I do have a story of my own (don’t we all?):
    I have a daughter and son-in-law in the USMC, stationed in Japan, and, as anyone who has traveled to the East knows, Japan uses a cell phone system that is not compatible with the ones used in the US or Europe, meaning that you really have to search to find a phone with the right “chip”, and a carrier that works in Japan, if you want to talk to your kids in the military. I found such a combo in AT&T, after a ridiculously long and difficult search. The price of the phones and the talk and text rates are very high, but if you want your kid in the military to have what just about every other 21 year old in the US has – a cell phone – you pay. The process of getting the phone and setting up the plan is extraordinarily complicated – you don’t just speak with one sales rep, you have to request and activate various components of the plan with different departments within AT&T. I navigated it all, got them set up, and now my kids can talk to each other, and to us, which makes us all feel much better. Then I got the bill… $1,800 for 2 Blackberries and a month and a half worth of service. The bill was 30 pages long. I called AT&T to walk me through the charges, and the billing CSR found almost $400 worth of charges that were gray areas – she could revoke them on her own authority. I was given to understand that I would do well to review and question every bill going forward to check for gray area charges.

    At this point, if I had any other choices, I would leave AT&T for another carrier, not only for the $400 worth of mystery charges, but also for the incredibly high rates of service offered by the sole provider of such services. But I can’t. I have no other choice until my kids are posted elsewhere. In this case, AT&T has my business no matter what they do. But their whole way of interacting with their customers has already decided me to change providers the moment I can. I have told every CSR I have spoken to since service started in November 2009 that I am not happy to be stuck with them, and that I will leave them as soon as I am able. So my question is: why would a large brand like AT&T, with a lock on a specific and lucrative market (military families), treat their captive customers with such disregard? They won’t be alone in that space forever, and customers like me will defect, with a “bad attitude” that could cost them future business. Listen up, corporate America… that $83 billion is just the tip of the iceberg, and as the economy continues to struggle, customers will become more and more discriminating about what level of service they are willing to accept.

    Great, great string, Kate, thanks for the opportunity to opine!


  9. Amol says:

    Lovely article Kate…

    I shared it with my colleagues and friends..

  10. Great article Kate — some real war stories out there. And I find it shocking how sometimes the biggest “bestest” companies have the worst service. Thanks for putting this together.

  11. Lesa says:

    i think this is funny..=)

    some CSRs really didnt know what they are talking about and that they sound so robotic over the phone and telling each and every customer the same and so generic spiel all over again…

  12. Clint says:

    I’m sorry but the customer experience in 23 is rotflol funny! While his sarcasm was bad, his response was priceless. 🙂

  13. tony says:

    I don’t blame all of these on the reps its the managers and supervisors.. I am a customer service manager and the higher ups don’t care.. we hire the worst people and expect the best its not possible. We have to find people with a passion for this job. Not just somebody who has been looking and will tell you anything to get hired.

  14. Kate Nasser says:

    Hi Tony,
    I hear you. Makes you wonder why the higher ups want to hire “the worst” as you say. Others claim it’s all about the salary. Yet I have met, taught, and applauded thousands of great reps who — as you say — have passion for customer service and they are not making loads of money.

    There is no doubt that someone who has passion for any job will most likely do it better than someone who doesn’t. Yet — I have sparked passion in many people who didn’t first see customer service work as a profession. It’s possible to tap people’s inner strength and passion when you don’t see it at first.

    I do hope that we can chat at some point — no charge to you. Just want to see if I can share some insights. I can definitely turn overworked reps in to zealous agents.
    Zappos did it and so can I.
    Yours in service,

  15. KATE says:

    hi kate, good day i really like what you did. because im a csr but to be honest im not really excellent in english.but when i recieved a call, i greet my caller’s very warm and with smile. when they’re angry to me, i just thought that his/her not mad at me. just to my company i worked..i always say i apologized what happened to the service and make a report from it.and promise it will not happen again…. ms. kate please advice me how to being a good csr and to build my own rebuttals or to be good in english.thank you

  16. Nataliia says:

    Great article! This can be of big help for both managers and CSRs! I was truly relieved to see the #25 case, when the CSR said ““You’re not listening to me “, for I once fired the person who said that to the customer after 3 years of work. I just could not keep on working with the person who is untactful enough to say such words to the customer. It is nice to know that someone else thinks such things are unacceptable!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I applaud your standard Natalia. When I teach and coach on customer care and customer service, I advise that “attitude is the beginning of everything”. Anyone can learn to deliver great care if they want to. If they are not interested in learning better people skills, then they do not belong in customer care.

      Many thanks for your contribution.

  17. Sarah says:

    What a fantastic article! As the executive assistant for a business that isn’t large but does a lot of business, I spend a lot of time on the phone resolving issues. Some of my favorite bad experiences in the past:

    1. Best Buy: after an hour on the phone merely trying to add our reward zone number to our account, the CSR told me the best option was just to delete it and start over. Huh? An additional hour spent trying to contact them resulted in being transferred 7 times and then hung up on. It’s a simple request! I ended up getting on twitter and finding a rep…the situation was cleared up in 20 minutes.

    2. AT&T: when we moved our office, I expressed that we needed to keep our lines the same and transfer them as they were already set up (fax = one number, phone = another, etc.). When they came and “installed” everything, it was all set up wrong. When I called, they said they could send someone out three days later. So the number that’s listed in the phone book/online/all of our paperwork is now the DSL line…no big deal. When I tried to explain that they hadn’t set it up right and needed to come back and fix it immediately, the CSR told me, “You’re not listening to me.” Instead of yelling at him, we just short paid our bill by those three days. That got the response I wanted!

    Some CSRs don’t realize that they don’t hold the power they think they do. Sure, they’re the ones with the answers or solutions, but we’re the ones with the money!!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      My deepest thanks for your “adds” on this post. Great true life stories and once again reinforces what not to do as a vehicle for learning to be the best.

      Amazing how many CSRs still say “You’re not listening to me.” It has been, is, and will always be one of the killer phrases you never say to a customer. As for Twitter, your actions say it all!

      Best wishes and thanks again for visiting and contributing to Smart SenseAbilities blog. I hope you will share your insights on any post of interest to you.

      Have a super weekend.

    • Roger says:

      I bought Bestbuys $30 gamer membership online and in a few months later I tried to pre-order a few video games on my Bestbuy online account. I noticed after preordering a couple games when I was about to check out my membership discounts was not showing up so I decided to call CSR to see what the issue was. I had to get transferred 4 times before getting to the right department that handles the gamer club memberships took about an hour. in the middle of trying to get stuff done I get hung up on they did not bother calling me back. I went through the same process again took like another hour and then, they said I needed to wait like 2 weeks for my membership to work on my online account.But my pre-order needed done sense I only had about 3 days before my video game got re-leased. They gave me an option to talk to a sales rep who can give me a discount sooner so I can buy the game before it’s release date. the transfer took another 30 minutes of waiting for a sales rep to answer the phone after about 5 minutes of giving the sales rep info to access my account I get hung up on again. this time i’m calling back to talk to a manager to tell them about the horrible costumer service and then im going to demand a refund and go anywhere else. took 2 transfers and another hour to get a hold of a manager im not going to support this behavior they need to put there employees through proper training and maybe consider firing some people.I can understand accidently getting hung up on but they had my account info open they had my phone number they should have called me back.*

  18. John Hogan says:

    excellent examples of “what not to do” in customer service.

    With your permission, we would like to post this set of examples on our site, giving you full credit as the source. Our readers and members include CSRs and would find value

  19. Kate- Great post.

    My first reaction is that some of these are so outrageous that I started wonder if there was a little hyperbole in what the customer was relaying in their story. Sadly, the truth is that this stuff does happen, and some of them would be “grounds” for pretty swift action. And by “some”, I mean those where the rep did in fact “cop an attitude” and go outside of “common sense” protocol.

    But I believe the bigger issue here is the process itself…from 3 angles:

    1. in some cases, the process involved was so restrictive and non empowering, that it almost forced the type of robotic responses the customer received from the csr

    2. In a few cases, it was probably the wrong process, the wrong script, the wrong behaviors, etc. that were instilled in the rep over time. And that’s culture and leadership driven and goes beyond the csr and perhaps even their direct supervision.

    3. but IMO, most of this is driven because we don’t understand the customer drivers and behaviors enough to even begin to design a process that is effective.

    #3 is such a big issue that if fully understood would cause a sea change in what customer service looks like in the years ahead.

    There are some great reader comments a recent post that describe this in a bit more detail. If you go to and look at the first post on the page —the comments as well as the article, you’ll get a feel for what I mean here.

    But all in all- without these kinds of examples that you provide, there is unfortunately little catalyst in today’s market (except for losing a customer which unfortunately happens AFTER the fact) for addressing this NOW.


  20. Jon says:

    I have worked in service for most of my career. While there is ZERO excuse for poor service or attitude, I feel sometimes the consumer must accept some responsibility. There is this belief that ‘I am the customer. I am right” while sometimes being unreasonable. I received my first complaint as a CSR when I would not refund the customer their cost of the product, while allowing them to keep it, because it did not meet their expectations.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      There are unreasonable expectations Jon. Yet the job of customer service is to handle all situations with the greatest professional behavior and caring attitude. We can always treat the customer well even in the rare case where we cannot give them exactly what they want.
      Best wishes and thanks for sharing your perspective,

    • Shrikant says:

      Hi Jon,
      I agree that customers can be unreasonable but a CSR should always know, “Customer Rules”. Once you have explained the customer what can be done by you to better their experience with your organization, and it is not something they are looking for, you always have the option to escalate the issue to your seniors/superiors who might have made a difference to the issue.

      • Kate Nasser says:

        You “get it” Shrikant. It’a all about doing everything possible to satisfy customers. When we blame them, they don’t come back. When we keep innovating and working to find solutions, they do!

        Many thanks for your comment here!

  21. Karen says:

    I had to share my worst customer service experience.

    My son was in the Navy and once he was assigned to a ship he decided to cancel his Capitol One credit card and get a USAA card. Just before his ship deployed to the middle east he paid off the CO card but the amount that he paid included a recent charge that had not been posted at the time of payment. He was of course trying to be proactive since he would not be able to do much while deployed. CO then refunded him the amount that he paid “over” the current bill amount.

    Months past and a bill from CO came in. Since my husband and I were dealing with his affairs while he was away we opened the bill. The original amount was slightly over $6.00 but once the 3 months worth of late fees were applied it was over $80. My husband called the company to see if we could pay it but we were asking to waive the late fees since it the amount he had paid but was refunded. We were able to give them the check number they refunded him on, all of the account info etc however their standard response? “We can’t talk with you about this account unless we have your son’s permission. Have him call us” this went round and round to the point that both my husband and I were ready to pull our hair out. We tried again and again to explain that we did not want to discuss the account in detail but we were paying helping our son with his bills and would be happy to pay the principal however their ridiculous fees tacked on when they had not been sending bills for the last few months should be waived. Their final response “we have no way to prove that he really is deployed so he will just have to take care of it when he returns>” By our calculations his $6 original charge would have been @ $500 by the time he returned from his deployment. My husband and I paid the bill and my son promptly closed the account as soon as he returned.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      WOW Karen… that company deserved to lose your son’s business. Although I understand a credit card company’s need for security over any account, they didn’t do anything to help in the situation.

      So generous of you to share the story here. Each story teaches and adds more depth and dimension to this discussion.

      Grateful thanks,

  22. Hopefully, these anecdotes will whip them into shape. I guess it’s pretty simple: if you don’t want this to happen to you, then avoid letting it happen at all costs.

  23. anon says:

    Being rude is nowhere nearly as bad as being uninformative imo. You go to a customer rep for information; when 10 different customer reps give you 10 different answers and your problems STILL had not be resolved, there is something very clearly wrong! 😀

  24. James says:

    Two examples of poor customer service spring to mind.

    This was approx 5 years ago. I was an 18 year old lad and had just got my first job. I’d been on benefits for 3 months whilst I was waiting, I rang the job centre to try and cancel my benefits, the guy on the line shouted “hello” in an aggressive manner. I tried to explain I’d got a job and wanted to come off benefits, he told me to “f*$% off” and hung up.

    The second is more recent. I had a nightmare journey home where the first bus went by without stopping, the second bus terminated early and the third bus had the wrong destination on the front and turned around bringing me back where I started. I tweeted the bus company and the bus driver unofficially tweeted me with abusive messages… the bus company apologised and said they were conducting an internal investigation.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear James,
      Thank you for adding your stories to this list. There is so much of the bad out there I think this list will continue to grow and grow. Yet we all keep working to stem that tide and make customer service better.

      I had some great service recently and will be writing about that soon — so nice to find some good service too.

      Warmest thanks for contributing!

  25. Sarah says:

    When we first bought our home, included was Blue Ribbon Warranty or something or nother. Anyway, I wanted to utilize it since our toilet wasn’t working. I called and they dispatched a couple “plumbers” from another company. They couldn’t find my place, and when I described the route one of the guys repeated it back with Strother Martin’s accent in “Cool Hand Luke” (fantastic movie, by the way). Already, I had a lump in my throat. They showed up with no uniforms looked at the toilet and read me the riot act about my bringing them over on a “phony” service call. They yelled at me in my own home. I told them if they weren’t out, I was calling the police. I had to actually push them out.

    But wait, it’s not over. I got a call from the Warranty company and they read ME the riot act, told me that I owed them money and if I didn’t pay, they would sue me. She was reading a script.

    Anyway, I paid the money because I was scared. The Warranty company had to pay a class action lawsuit.

    Guess what compensation the legal people proposed. . . .wait for it . . . .One full year of Blue Ribbon Warranty in which they “may” fix your broken appliances if they see fit. Ra ra ra ra. You just can’t win.

    I suspect CSR in the first example was probably planning on quitting anyway. The story gets around that the CSR swore at a customer and was fired. Later a friend says, “Ah, he was saving up the f-u for when he planned to quit.” This happens a lot. FYI, I didn’t file a class action lawsuit. Some other people filed it and I was included in the group. I was so pissed off that I didn’t want anything from it. I just wanted to find the plumbers and give them a beat down.

  26. Axel says:

    Hello there,
    I found these examples quite amusing and personally, being a CSR at the moment for eBay UK, I can indeed relate and say that we were trained extensively through the use of these examples.
    I have to ask though:

    How does one deal with someone for whom you actually cannot do anything due to your company’s policies? It’s still something I am yet to figure out, as it seems to be quite a sticky situation to be in.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear “Axel”,
      Customer service greatness takes customer focused vision/policies as well as great well-trained reps. Your question .. what do you do for a customer whom you can’t help because of your company’s polices. Does your company allow you to offer alternatives? Sometimes we think we can’t do anything because we can’t say yes to the exact thing the customer wants. Yet many companies do allow alternatives.

      Let me know!

  27. Sammy says:

    World’s most sarcastic manager with unfounded accusations and defensive nature

    User wrote to Salad Atelier: Found a hair and cheated by the waiter. My salad had a strand of hair in it.The waiter also did not give the free bread and water that comes with every salad.price is not cheap.above 13 for a small salad.

    DyLanTLLEE, Manager at Salad Atelier, responded to this review:
    First of all, thanks for reviewing us on TripAdvisor. We found that you have never give any good reviews for any restaurants that you visited in Kuala Lumpur. Hope that not all restaurants pissed you off in KL.

    Bread is given out when it is available and water is always free for dine in customers. Bread towards the end of the day is as hard as rock and thus we some times do not serve bread towards the end of the day. However, we are giving out free eggs since 1st of April. I hope you don’t feel cheated when you get the free egg.

    Secondly, if you found a strand of hair in the salad next time (we assume you are coming back), please prompt us and we are more than happy to make a new one for you.

    If you think price is expensive for such a big salad, then may be you are not a salad person. The ingredients we took are really expensive and if you compare our price to other western restaurants that serve salad, you will know our price is the cheapest in town.

    We are sorry for your horrible experience (if this is true). Thanks again for your review.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Wow Sammy. The manager’s reply is both a horrible response AND a horrible advertisement for the business. I would never go there once I read his/her reply.

  28. Joaquin says:

    I’m angry.
    UPS is the worst and their customer service is atrocious. I am BEYOND livid and have been for the past two weeks. So let me explain why.
    First of all, two weeks ago, I was expecting a package and realized I should have gotten it. I go check the tracking number and it says it was delivered to Walter and i dont know who the heck is Walter cause i am the only one who live here. I get packages delivered all the time and it’s never to my front door because I live in an apartment building I called them and they started some investigation that I HAVE STILL NOT HEARD FROM THEM ABOUT. It’s been almost 2 weeks.

  29. explained that everything in the network had worked perfectly until I powered the new item up lol

  30. […] a collection of poor customer service experiences compiled by people skills coach Kate Nasser, a number of individuals describe their experiences […]

  31. […] um conjunto de más experiências de atendimento ao cliente compiladas pelo coach de habilidades com pessoas Kate Nasser, várias pessoas descrevem suas […]

  32. Diana says:

    Kate what if the shoe is on the other foot and I was the one who had a rude customer on the phone demanding we give him quarterly statements. I admit I was wrong in getting my back up and instead of saying “lets see what we can do for you, I straight away said “thats not possible” at his arrogance ans rudeness but this bad behavior goes both ways. A customer also needs to call and be polite as I’m a human being too and deserve courtesy. What do you think? I havent been able to sleep in days thinking of this scenario. Diana

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Diana,
      Well first of all I empathize with your feelings. 25+ years of teaching this, it is one of the most frequent questions I get. I can also see from your remark about not being able to sleep that it goes deep inside of you. So my reply here has two parts:

      Part I. How can you feel good even when customers are rude? Answer: See their rudeness as a sign of their stress and discomfort. Picture them as a patient in a hospital or dentist office. Patients often snap at doctors/dentists yet the professionals don’t take it personally because they understand the fear and pain. YES it is the same with customers. You will feel much better if you see the snappiness you get as pain not as disrespect for you.

      Part II. With that understanding, we as customer service professionals look for ways to ease the pain and get the job done. Since we don’t use Novacaine or other medications (ha ha), we use words that ease the way. The reason we don’t start with “no that’s no possible” is because it enrages many customers who are in pain mode. The “let’s see what we can do” intro is magical because it helps the customer come out of emotion land and into thinking land.

      I applaud your self-awareness and your outreach (here) to find answers. To me that says you are looking to grow and get better and better every day. THAT is impressive.

      Stay positive, keep growing, and see the power you have to uplift customers rather than take them down.

      Warmest professional wishes,

  33. […] The 25 Worst Customer Service Stories To Train The Best Customer Service Reps […]

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